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(Frequently Asked Questions)

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1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
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  -   7c2. Is It Ivory?
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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

Hi. I'm Tom Sloper. Welcome to my bulletin board. Here you can ask questions about Mah-Jongg, and get answers, usually within hours!
  • But BEFORE YOU ASK YOUR QUESTION, PLEASE CHECK THE FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), and please scroll down and see if your question has already been asked and answered on the board.
  • PLEASE READ FAQ 19 BEFORE ASKING ABOUT AMERICAN / NMJL RULES. Your question has probably already been answered there.
  • IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT THE NMJL CARD, PLEASE READ FAQ 16.
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  • When you're ready to ask your question, email your question to TomSloperama.com. I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only - telephoned questions are not welcome.


    Ask "Mister Mah-Jongg" a question!

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    Keep scrolling - the Q&A is below.





  • Donation, part 2

    >From: Mary E
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 5:41 PM
    >Subject: Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Mary E
    >You're very welcome, Tom. (Still waiting for the 2nd edition of The Red Dragon & The West Wind) :D
    >Mary

    Getting the publisher to go along with that is easier said than done! - Tom


    Donation

    >From: PayPal
    >To: Thomas Sloper
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 4:49 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Mary E
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a payment of $25.00 USD from Mary E
    >You can view the details for this transaction by logging in to your PayPal account and clicking the "History" tab.View the details of this transaction online
    >Payment details
    >/Note
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Item/Product Number: MJ@Sloperama
    >Item/Product Name: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Buyer: Mary E
    >Message: Yours is the very best site, Tom! I recommend it to all my students. May the tiles be with you! Mary
    >/Note/Note/Note
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal
    >Copyright © 1999-2016 PayPal. All rights reserved.

    Thanks very much, Mary!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2016


    To what extent must exposures be viewer-friendly?

    >From: Vivian W
    >Sent: Sunday, December 4, 2016 7:56 AM
    >Subject: etiquette question
    >I was playing a consecutive hand & when partially (when I requested a tile) exposing I placed the tiles numbered hi to low. (facing me)Was told it's etiquette to place them in the rack when exposed : low to hi.(so that the other players can more easily figure out what hand I was playing.) I would like to know if this is mahjong etiquette or the player's wish.
    >Thank you.
    >vivianw

    Hi Vivian,
    I wrote in Frequently Asked Question 19-Z that it is accepted customary practice to place exposures in chronological order. Read that FAQ for an explanation (you can link to the FAQs above left).
    I am guilty of not always turning my tiles the same way (all "right side up," either readable by me or by my opposite), since I play in Asia where there are no corner indices and players there don't care which way tiles are rotated. But it's good etiquette in the Western world to have all your tiles oriented the same direction (accepted customary practice is for the tiles to be "right side up" from your own point of view). And as I wrote in FAQ 19-Z, to be viewer-friendly, there must be spaces between each exposed grouping. 
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 4, 2016


    She missed her turn. Now what?

    From: Robin P
    Sent: Monday, November 28, 2016 5:00 PM
    Subject: Mahjongg question
    Hi Tom,
    During the middle of a game with 3 players, the person left of East missed her turn. No one noticed it right away.
    East picked and discarded. The person to the right of East picked and had not yet racked or discarded when the error was noticed by the person who had missed her turn, player to the left of East. What should be done?
    Thank you,
    Robin P

    Hi, Robin.
    I suppose a tournament judge might say she's dead, or maybe not. I've never seen a ruling from the League that a missed turn is a valid reason for calling a player dead. She doesn't have too few tiles or too many tiles (both of which are death); she just didn't pick and discard when she was supposed to.
    So Lefty was sleeping - too bad for her, but she can't blame anyone else for it. In my opinion, she can have a turn again after East's next turn.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 28, 2016


    How to download the game to my Apple Book?

    >From: Anita D
    >Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2016 3:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I play on the internet on my computer — not an apple. I also want to play on my Apple Book. How do I download the game to my Book?

    Hi, Anita. I don't know how helpful my answer will be, since I am not The Tech Guy, and I don't know which game you're talking about. Depending on what game you play on your computer, you might just be able to go on the worldwide web with your Book (your MacBook?) and maybe the game will just work. If not, you may need to play a different game (a web game) on your Apple; or maybe you just need to go on the App Store to get it.
    This kind of question isn't what I do here. Read FAQ 24; you can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 25, 2016


    Not available in Australia

    >From: "tsmurf8
    >Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2016 9:58 PM
    >Subject: New/old hand
    >Hi Tom,
    >I purchased my first Mah Jong set in New Guinea in 1973 from “the Chinese Shop” (there was no TV nor even listenable radio). We fell in love with the game, don’t know exactly what game we were playing but from my current reading it was a mish mash of Chinese, Japanese with a little bit of local New Guinea thrown in. Game was put into storage when we returned.
    >It seems the American game is very big and it caught my interest. I tried to join one of their associations, couldn’t do that, the web site not set up to deal with anything outside of the US. I am fascinated by the Cards that are used in America, tried to buy some. No! “Not available outside of the US” It seems that Mah Jongg in the States stays in the States and is not available to Australians. Do you know why?
    >I have some of your publications and am in awe of your knowledge of the game and would be interested in the card system that seems to be the orbit around which the American game travels but I guess I’ll never know.
    >Kind regards
    >Terry M

    Hi, Terry. You wrote:

    I tried to join one of their associations,
    That's not how the League works. You become a member of the League for one year when you purchase a card, but membership just means your name is on a mailing list. There are no associations to join.

    the Cards that are used in America, tried to buy some. No! “Not available outside of the US”
    If you can't order it online through the NMJL website, there are other ways. You could make contact with the League through other means, or you could order a card from another online vendor.

    It seems that Mah Jongg in the States stays in the States and is not available to Australians. Do you know why?
    I was under the impression that the League did have players in Australia. I don't remember where I got that idea - maybe it was something in a conversation I had with the late president of the League. You could try sending snailmail to the League, and ask them directly.

    interested in the card system that seems to be the orbit around which the American game travels but I guess I’ll never know.
    Try contacting a vendor from FAQ 4a (the FAQ links are above left).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 25, 2016


    Am I teaching my students to be rude, part 2

    >From: R███ H
    >Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2016 9:59 AM
    >Subject: Re: Thank you
    >Thanks Tom, for your speedy response.
    >I must admit, though, that your answer stings because I'm such a big fan of yours. I did try (unsuccessfully) to find the answer to my question before bothering you with an email.
    >I purchased your excellent book years ago, and perused it frequently. I also visited your comprehensive site often and recommend both your book and your website to my students.
    >Your comment embarrasses me. I understand that it is your property, but if you would kindly remove my name (if not the entire topic) I'd be most grateful.
    >Again, thanks for all that you do.

    It's anonymized now. Sorry you were stung by my reply; just saying how I feel about the matter.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 24, 2016


    Am I teaching my students to be rude?

    >From: R███ H
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 8:03 PM
    >Subject: Re: Thank you
    >Dear Tom,
    >I'm being accused of teaching my NMJL students to be "rude." Am I?
    >I encourage my students to rack their new tiles after they're pulled as quickly as possible for two reasons:
    >1. It keeps the game moving.
    >2. It prevents the opponents from calling a discard, unless they're really quick!
    >So, is it rude to rack new tiles as soon as they're picked up? If so, how long should one wait before racking to prevent being called "rude?"
    >Your help is much appreciated.
    >R███

    Hi, R███.
    I guess you haven't read a lot of my answers here, or you'd know that this is one of my pet peeves. I don't approve of a game that moves so fast that players have very few chances to call a discard. I disagree that "preventing an opponent from calling a discard" is a good strategy. It's certainly not a friendly way to play. In my book, I wrote of "pickandrack" and said that it's aggressive and ungracious. The late president of the NMJL, Ruth Unger, quoted me in a newsletter a few years ago and added, "The League is in agreement." I recommend that players pause a beat before picking, in order to give others a chance to call for the current discard. Having first paused a beat, then you can pickandrack as quickly as you want.
    If you'd been following me here, you'd also know that I espouse the 3-second rule used in Chinese Official mah-jongg tournaments. I don't say that a player should pause 3 seconds before picking; I'm just saying that in Chinese tournaments, if a caller speaks within 3 seconds, he or she gets the discard. So "pickandrack" doesn't accomplish anything in China; and I wish people would give American players a reasonable window of opportunity to call a discard.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 24, 2016


    We designed a 2-player variant, part 2

    >From: Charlie V
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 5:31 PM
    >Subject: Re: A Two Handed AMJ Method
    >Tom - Thanks for responding - we have checked Gladys' method and it looks like the game play referred to in this paragraph of my original note:
    >There are numerous other variant forms of two handed play - one of them allows a full combination & exchange of tiles between a player's two "hands", essentially playing a "hand" of 26/27 tiles as play progresses, but we have found our method more satisfactory, since we feel it preserves the spirit of the traditional 13/14 tile play more closely, and does not permit concentration of Jokers.
    >Our method is the "13/14" tile play method and it looks like Gladys' is similar to the 26/27 version we mentioned.....either method could be fun for situations with only two players; we felt the 13/14 tile method just a bit more like the real four player ambiance for us......Thanks again for providing this forum. Players looking for alternate play have several options, with enough info in your post to help them go either way.....hope we helped someone looking for a good solution, and have a great Thanksgiving !!!
    >Charlie V

    Got it. Thanks, Charlie.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 24, 2016


    Confusing Charleston habits, part 2

    >From: Betty H
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 5:24 PM
    >Subject: Re: Question
    >Tom,
    >I've never been able to find the response you indicated was posted to my question. I just finished reading every Q/A--very helpful--but still don't see a response. Could you be more specific in directing me please. I'm quoting the question again below:
    >" find it confusing when doing the Charleston if players pass tiles and begin sorting them onto the board rather than waiting for all players to pass. It just seems more courteous and less confusing to me if everyone passes and then players pick up their tiles at the same time. Your thoughts?"
    >Betty H

    Hi, Betty. I posted my response to your question on November 16. As I wrote in the notification email I sent you, sometimes when you can't see the reply, you need to refresh your browser or use a different browser. If you can see this November 24 response, you can either scroll down to Nov. 16, or you can search the page for "Betty H" and you'll find what I wrote last week.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 24, 2016


    We designed a 2-player variant

    >From: Charlie V
    >Cc: Penny V
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 1:12 PM
    >Subject: A Two Handed AMJ Method
    >Tom - We are sending this along for your use in any way you see fit - not sure if there's anything new in it that you haven't seen a hundred times before, but if you can use it in your FAQ or any other part of your site, please consider it a donation that you will now own. Your book and site have been a great source of info and fun for Penny & me - keep up the good work !!.......Charlie
    >
    >A Two Handed American Mah Jongg Play Method
    >After my wife Penny taught me the basics of American Mah Jongg, I found there were very few men players around, and none I could locate on-line in my immediate area. The ladies of my wife's group kindly allowed me join a few of their weekly games, but, as regular Mah Jongg players know, player groups develop a kind of unique chemistry and ambience that makes "breaking into" a group difficult for any newcomer, much less a man - clearly, conversations were sometimes being restrained by the presence of a sometimes ineptly playing male, so it was not really a satisfactory way to learn and progress in the game.
    >
    > I also felt I was not ready for the experience of Mah Jongg "tournament play" as a way to advance in the game - typically these events were attended by experienced players who would have little patience with a player constantly holding up the game with "thinking" delays or worse, playing errors that make them "dead", thus having their tiles in play lost to the table.
    >
    >At first, Penny and I tried playing two handed with a "dummy wall", but that method really only works well with three players. I also tried practicing hands with a deck of Mah Jongg "cards" - basically playing cards with Mah Jongg tile faces instead of the usual four playing card suits. This worked pretty well for practicing hands solo, but was obviously not the same as game play.
    >
    >There are some online player games available (including one through the National Mag Jongg League), but we weren't excited about not being able see other players or playing against a computer with perfect odds-calculating abilities.
    >
    >What we finally came up with was a form of two-player game where each player actually plays two hands, with two tile trays [racks] in front of them. This was, as you might guess, a little confusing at first, with many more instances of 12 & 14 tile dead hands than usual, as we struggled to get used to a four-handed Charleston with only two players. The second most common problem was remembering whose turn it was, particularly after a tile "take". Obviously, a third issue was trying to deal with deciding on two hands, since for beginning level players, getting one hand decided upon is often quite a challenge.
    >
    >Physically, we used a table setup with a round table (could as easily be a square card table), with each player's two trays [sic] arranged in front of them in the shape of a shallow "V" so that they can easily see both of their trays [sic] at a glance. Looking down from above the table, the left and right players' trays [sic] would appear something like this, with the "V"'s a bit more open to permit easier viewing by each player of both their own trays [sic]:
    > Left Player | < > | Right Player
    >
    >Here are the basic rules as we finally developed them, trying to be as true to the game as possible:
    >1. Four walls are built as normal rules require.
    >2. East breaks their wall & deals tiles to the right as usual.
    >3. Play progresses to the right as usual.
    >4. During the Charleston, each player, who can now see two "hands", passes tiles in such as way as to benefit either one or both of their hands, but is not permitted to pass Jokers (as in normal play, but obviously this rule must be "self-enforcing" - players must trust each other not to pass Jokers so as to concentrate them in one hand). Tiles are passed normally between the players' two hands, under the normal Charleston rules ("ROLLOR", First Right, First Over, First Left, Second Left, Second Over, Final Right for those not familiar with this mnemonic acronym) plus a final optional "Courtesy" pass but, and this is the part that makes this form of play challenging and fun, each player is passing the tiles knowing what tiles their second hand needs to form a particular hand, so they are strategizing how to best help "themselves" with their Charleston passes.
    >5. Other than the changes noted in #4, play progresses under normal rules, except that each player gets two turns (one for each hand), unless a "take" is called, in which case the next turn after the take is the "hand" to the right of the taking hand (which obviously might be the same player, playing their second hand).
    >6. Walls are broken sequentially to the left of East, as normal rules dictate.
    >
    >After an initial period of learning and adapting, we have become quite adept at this form of play. The most entertaining aspect of playing two-handed was the opportunity for two "chances" at a winning hand rather than the normal single one. We found that sometimes we would actually be trying for two competing hands, while at other times, one of our two hands simply became sacrificial to the other, an interesting kind of play strategy not available in the normal game.
    >
    >There are some other "quirks" of playing this two-handed method that you'll discover after playing for a while. One involves the amount of time each player has after the opponent's discard to determine if they will "take" the discarded tile - after a player's first discard (playing their first "hand"), that player can turn quickly go to their second "hand" and discard there as well, giving their opponent very little time to consider a "take" of the first discarded tile. This is more like real four-handed play, where the next player to the right can quickly draw a tile from the wall after a discard, leaving the discarded tile un-claimable. But in two-player play, after an opponent's second discard, the other player has as much time as they wish before drawing from the wall to decide whether to "take" (assuming you both have not placed a timer on play), a small "breather" that can assist the newer player in keeping their two hands straight in their mind. In other words, since there are no other players who can potentially decide to "take" that second discard, but only you, being the only other player at the table, you are able to take bit of time to decide what to do.
    >
    >Another interesting strategic quirk in this two-handed world is the decision point for each player to elect whether to "take" an opponent's tile for their second hand, thereby foregoing the turn for their first hand, or to just use that next turn to draw from the wall as usual, guessing that might bring them a better tile (perhaps late in the game when the wall is growing short).
    >
    >One more fun "quirk" of the two-handed game is the ability to "stockpile" different single tiles in one hand that can become a winning discard (and then "take") at the critical moment when the player has come within one tile of Mah-Jongg. This obviously works very nicely when the last needed tile is one of a pair, or year-date groups, since these cannot be exposed except upon Mah-Jongg. This can make one of a player's two hands a "sacrificial" hand, but can set up a nice win when their other hand requires pairs.
    >
    >As mentioned above, a unique feature of this method of play is that a player may, of course, decide to either work both of their hands or just one of them to win - we have had games where both of a player's hands were competitive right up to Mah-Jongg, as well as games where it was obvious one of the hands had a far better chance of winning, and where the player could "feed" their good hand from the poorer hand during Charleston, or during play by discarding from one hand, quickly "tapping" it on the table, and then "taking" the discard for their other hand before the opponent across the table can react. This is a very different kind of strategy than normal play permits, and we found it to be an interesting and fun variation.
    >
    >There are numerous other variant forms of two handed play - one of them allows a full combination & exchange of tiles between a player's two "hands", essentially playing a "hand" of 26/27 tiles as play progresses, but we have found our method more satisfactory, since we feel it preserves the spirit of the traditional 13/14 tile play more closely, and does not permit concentration of Jokers.
    >
    >For true Mah Jongg disciples, this may not be a satisfactory alternative, as they desire the unique complexity of four "minds" in game play. But, for those game fans unable to find two other players, or to find any with a satisfactory experience level, it may be a way to experience the fun of the game and develop game skills that would not otherwise be possible.
    >May the tiles be with you !!!
    >Charlie V

    Hi, Charlie.
    I didn't read it thoroughly, but it sounds like it has similarities to Gladys Grad's "Siamese Mah Jongg." You should check it out (just Google it, or go to siamesemahjongg.com). Great minds thinking alike and all that. If you want to come back with a list of differences between your design and Gladys', I'll post that here.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 23, 2016


    Column 660, part 5

    >From: Kathryn Z
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 5:43 AM
    >Subject: Possible error
    >Dear Tom,
    >In your latest column, number 3. Would the hot tile be 1D not 1C as she has exposed the 1C's already?
    >Thank you and I love reading your column.
    >Kathryn Z

    Yep, I sometimes type a C when I should type a D. Good catch, Kathryn!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 23, 2016


    Conflicting claims, part 6

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2016 9:49 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A/in the junk fiolder again???
    >HI Tom, am I in your junk folder again?

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 9:07 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Concerning Donna’s letter 11/14: NMJL has said in a previous letter that if you take a called tile and put it on top of top rack you have begun your exposure so can’t change your mind and put it back. But in this letter they say that because player hasn’t exposed other tiles she must give her called tile to a player who called after her for Mah Jongg. So if the player who called the called tile and put it on her top rack had already exposed her other tiles then she wouldn’t have to give the tile to the player who called it for MJ. It seems unfair that because the player has begun her exposure by placing called tile on her rack thus can’t put it back she has to give it back (disrupt her exposure) to another player who called the same tile too late. Seems like it is OK to be sleeping/day dreaming while playing and still can get the tile she wants for MJ. Looks like a double edged sword for the alert player taking a called tile. So maybe player should display her tiles from her hand while taking the called tile or even before. I am ambidextrous so that would be no problem for me!! I actually play 2 handed some times! Then player of called tile just has to discard and hand is closed. I do play with some daydreaming players and it is not fair to the alert players who are on the ball! Daydreamers ask numerous questions throughout the game and interrupt the flow of the MJ game and many times they throw a tile and call it by wrong names. Love the 3 second rule but I know some players who won’t go along with that. Anyway MJ is so much fun and sometimes I make some money on my $3.00 purse. Where can you go for $3.00 for an afternoon with friends and even some great snacks and goodies!! Again I am glad you, Tom, are willing to host this question & answer page and to write your strategy column when you have the time. I have recommended your book, “The Red Dragon & The West Wind”, to all new players I meet. Many thanks, Lynn P

    Hi, Lynn.
    Yes, I did find your email of yesterday in my spam folder. The spam filter I created, to try to tell my mail settings that you're not a spammer, hasn't worked. I tried making a second filter today.
    To get to what you wrote:

    Seems like it is OK to be sleeping/day dreaming while playing and still can get the tile she wants for MJ. Looks like a double edged sword for the alert player taking a called tile. So maybe player should display her tiles from her hand while taking the called tile or even before.
    I don't know if the second caller really was sleeping or daydreaming. I don't assume she was. In my opinion, the second caller deserves a chance to make a call for the tile within a reasonable window of time. As with picking from the wall, the first caller should make her call and take the tile at a reasonable speed, not aggressively quickly, so that an uninterested observer could see whether the second caller had been sleeping.

    I am ambidextrous so that would be no problem for me!! I actually play 2 handed some times!
    My Japanese friends would not approve of two-handed play (as I said to you on Nov. 6). And I don't see a necessity to play aggressively. The 3-second window would be reasonable here.

    I do play with some daydreaming players and it is not fair to the alert players who are on the ball! Daydreamers ask numerous questions throughout the game and interrupt the flow of the MJ game and many times they throw a tile and call it by wrong names.
    That's a separate issue entirely. I don't think such players need to be subject to different rules.

    Love the 3 second rule but I know some players who won’t go along with that.
    Sure. It's not an official American rule (it's an official Chinese rule), and as such it's not beholden on anyone (and of course I know some players who make up their own table rules, not going along with certain official rules). It's the way I choose to comport myself, but I'm flexible in the interest of harmony.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 17, 2016


    Confusing Charleston habits

    >From: Betty H
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2016 1:35 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >I find it confusing when doing the Charleston if players pass tiles and begin sorting them onto the board rather than waiting for all players to pass. It just seems more courteous and less confusing to me if everyone passes and then players pick up their tiles. Your thoughts?
    >Betty H

    Hi, Betty.

    I don't think that you should be confused by other players picking up their passes and integrating their new tiles into their racked tiles. I think you should be confused by other players passing tiles when other players haven't yet completed a previous pass.
    To put it another way, it's not picking up that confuses a Charleston, but rather putting down.
    For example: a player picks up her first right, quickly decides what to pass across, and passes across to a player who hasn't yet received her first right. "Wait, what's that? I haven't gotten my right yet."
    See what I mean? It's the passes that can confuse one. I don't see how somebody picking up and integrating tiles affects anyone else in any way.

    Okay, so now that I've talked about the thing that's bothering you, I haven't talked about a solution. The solution is to talk to the other players and say "it's better if we don't go on to the next pass until everybody has picked up the previous pass, okay?" But then, even if they all agree that that's reasonable, it's necessary that people actually pay attention to the table goings-on beyond their own tiles. And for many people, that's difficult (especially beginners).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 16, 2016


    Column 660, part 4

    >From: "paula
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 6:01 PM
    >Subject: Comment on Defense Lesson 669
    >I believe you threw in #8 to see if anyone would catch the error.
    >"8. This must be Odds #...? No, she's making Consec. #3. Sixes are hot, and they're key tiles."
    >First of all, consecutive #3 is 1111 22 22 22 3333, a completely different hand. Secondly, consecutive #4 would require the fives and sevens to be pungs, not kongs. The six and dragons would be the kongs. The correct answer is call her dead. There is no such hand.
    >Paula

    Hi, Paula.
    Thanks for writing. Yes, consec. #3 is three consecutive numbers - but any three consecutive numbers; the numbers don't have to be ones, twos, and threes. The illustration shows fives as the low number, and sevens as the high number. The middle number, six, needs to be paired in all three suits.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 15, 2016


    Frequently Asked Question 19-BJ

    >From: Albert G
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 6:05 AM
    >Subject: Mah jongg during the Charleston
    >Hi,
    >I know it would be extremely rare (almost impossible) but what if you acquire mah jongg in the middle of the Charleston? Can you declare?
    >Thanks.
    >Al

    Timing is everything, Al. It depends on what you mean by "in the middle."
    Before passing first right: yes, you can.
    After passing first right: no
    After passing first across: you can blind pass left, stop the Charleston, and declare.
    After passing first left: you can stop the Charleston and declare.
    After passing second left: no, you can't.
    After passing second across: you can blind pass right, refuse the courtesy, and declare.
    After passing last right: you can refuse to exchange in the courtesy and declare.
    After the courtesy: you can declare.
    Of course, you have to be the dealer (no other player has 14 tiles). Read FAQ 19-BJ. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 15, 2016


    Column 660, part 3

    >From: Pamela W
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 6:57 AM
    >Subject: Column 660 #5
    >Could also be 2016 #4; right?
    >Pam W.

    >From: "johnh
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 2:08 PM
    >Subject: Column #660, Hand #5
    >I only learned to play Mah Jongg a few months ago & am very much enjoying it. I discovered your column via a google search & it has been very helpful to me. Thank you!
    >In your most recent quiz column, hand 5 has Flower Kong and a 2 Bam Kong. Your answer key said this would be either a Like Number hand or an Eleven hand. Couldn't it also be 2016 hand #4 (in which case the 1B and 6B could also be key tiles)?
    >John

    Very good, Pam and John! Quite right.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 15, 2016


    Conflicting claims, part 5

    >From: Donna <puffins
    >Sent: Monday, November 14, 2016 2:39 PM
    >Subject: Answer fm NMJL
    >Tom,
    >This confirms the scenario from Nov. 4. It's what we had thought.
    >Thank you!
    >Donna


    Click or tap image to see larger version, then use your browser's Back function to come back.

    Very good, Donna. This backs up what I said to Lynn on Nov. 5, too. Thanks for sharing the answer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 14, 2016


    New column, part 3

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Monday, November 14, 2016 2:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Column 660: #8. Consecutive #3 has no Dragons, only the sixes are key.
    >Cannot be Consecutive #4 as the fives and sevens would have to be pungs, not kongs.
    >Bee

    Very good, Bee. Guess my eye must have wandered there. I made that correction to the column.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 14, 2016


    New column, part 2

    >From: Daphne S
    >Sent: Sunday, November 13, 2016 2:49 PM
    >Subject: Column #660
    >Hi Tom-
    >Love and appreciate your work! In Column #660, item #7: Isn't another possibility Elevens #1?
    >Daphne

    Very good, Daphne. I made that correction to the column.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 14, 2016


    New column posted

    New column is up! Today's column is on defense (what do you do when an opponent is showing exposures).
    Tom
    Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016


    Frequently Asked Question 19-E, part 2

    >From: Tina M
    >Sent: Saturday, November 12, 2016 10:28 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah Jong Question
    >Too confusing. I'll find the answer elsewhere.

    Okay. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 13, 2016


    Got jokers but no dice

    >From: Beth P
    >Sent: Saturday, November 12, 2016 12:09 PM
    >Subject: Joker strategy
    >I have noticed on a few occasions over the past few years that someone including myself has been dealt a hand of four or five jokers, then had trouble determining a hand during charleston. And the result is NO win which seems shameful having those jokers. Often there are no pairs or friends and such a variety of tiles. Do you have advice/strategy for a hand when this occurs? Thanks and I love your website and appreciate your help. Beth
    >I also like the 3 second rule which our group pretty much uses without even being conscious of it.

    Hi, Beth.
    I'm glad you like the 3-second rule. As to your joker strategy question, it seems paradoxical, doesn't it, that when you get so many jokers the rest of the hand just won't come in. The thing I do when I have many jokers is I make sure I don't go for a hand that uses pairs (even just one pair), if I don't have the pair(s) already. If you've read my column, then you know that there's a hand on the card that I call "the most powerful hand on the card" (the 2nd hand in Consecutive Runs). Look at its structure: pung, pung, kong, kong. That structure is what makes it "powerful," since that structure aligns with other hands on the card - look at the 2nd hand in 2468, and in 13579, and in 369. It seems a shame to have to go for a 25¢ hand with all those jokers, but if you don't have a pair for a hand that needs one, and if you don't have tiles for a Quints hand, then go for safe pung-pung-kong-kong hands. The great thing is they're so switchable.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 13, 2016


    Frequently Asked Question 19-E

    >From: Tina M
    >Sent: Saturday, November 12, 2016 8:48 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jong Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >My friends and I play American MJ and the other day a question came up. I was playing one of the wind & dragon games. I had a NES and needed a W to complete the word NEWS. Another player threw out the W. Could I claim that W and put up my NEWS on the rack? This was not for MJ, just for part of the play.
    >Thanks for your help.

    Hi, Tina!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-E. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 13, 2016


    Conflicting claims, part 4

    >From: "lindaz...
    >Sent: Friday, November 11, 2016 5:17 PM
    >Subject: agressive play
    >Hi Tom--
    >Regarding your Nov.6 answer to Lynn--It's a wonder to me that the NMJL does not address courtesy or aggressive play. The "3 second rule" seems very fair. I imagine the NMJL assumes that an aggressive player will find herself without anyone to play with!

    Hi, Linda.
    I imagine the NMJL is making some assumptions, but isn't making that one. I'm glad you agree that the 3-second rule seems fair.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    11/11/2016


    I sorely miss your weekly WWYD columns

    >From: PG L
    >Sent: Sunday, November 6, 2016 4:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg
    >This is merely a comment--not a question.
    >I sorely miss your weekly WWYD columns. They, more than anything else, has helped me to improve my game. But I still
    >need a lot more improvement, so I hope you are planning to start those columns again. They were such a good idea.
    >From a fan.

    Hi, PG
    I wish I could write a column every week again, but I've taken on an extra load - in addition to teaching 3 courses a semester, I'm also taking a course each semester. After I finish the program I'm taking, perhaps I'll have more time. Until then, I'm trying to write one at least monthly, but sometimes I can't manage that. I'm gratified that you enjoy the columns, and at the same time I'm sorry I'm not making you happy. Perhaps I can write one next week (but that's not a promise).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 6, 2016


    Conflicting claims, part 3

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sunday, November 6, 2016 5:45 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Back to you about Donna’s question. She had said that the player called the tile and put it on her top rack so according to what NMJL wrote in letter to Lynn M. that exposure had begun and can’t be stopped so tile can’t be put back. I think the player who called Mah Jongg on that tile was “too late”. Obviously the player calling MJ was either not paying attention or spent too much time figuring out her hand. When you are waiting for a tile for MJ you should know what tile you are waiting for and call it immediately when it is thrown. (My opinion.) I have played with players who call a tile and as they are picking up that tile with one hand they are exposing with the other. Nothing’s going back for them!
    >We, Mah Jongg players, are so glad we have someone like you to turn to when we have a question, comment, or to just explain something or give added info about MJ like “ It is the year of the whatever”. As always thank you for being there with your expertise. Lynn P

    Thank you, Lynn.
    You may be right. I'm a proponent of the Chinese 3-second rule, as I've said before - because it doesn't honor aggressive play. In the case of Donna's question, I would consider how quickly the first claimant grabbed the live discard. And I know "not paying attention" and "spending too much time figuring out her hand" when I see it.
    As for that two-handed playing you describe: I played with Japanese, who play for high stakes (yes, I lost a lot of money I could ill afford); they have a strict "one hand" rule. Their reasoning was that it's easy to cheat when using two hands (think about magicians' sleight-of-hand). But I think you can guess from what I've said herein that I dislike two-handed play because it can become aggressive (making it difficult for other players when there isn't enough time to make a call).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 6, 2016


    Conflicting claims redux redux

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Saturday, November 5, 2016 9:40 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: In reference to your answer to Donna on 11/4 about calling a tile, exposing on your rack and then someone calling same tile for Mah Jongg,
    >I remember someone named Lynn M who wrote to the NMJL about exposing called tile. They said once a called tile has been exposed it cannot be put back since the “exposure has begun...”. So wouldn’t that mean that the person who called for the tile for Mah Jongg couldn’t have the tile since it is too late? From below it doesn’t seem that both placing the discard atop the rack AND exposing tiles from the slanted rack have to be completed.
    >A: 2. Calling a discard, either for an exposure or for mah-jongg. Once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play (you may not backtrack - it's too late).
    >For further reading:
    >RDWW - p. 65 (rule 111), p. 100
    >Sources:
    >NMJL - 2007
    >The Mah-Jongg Q&A BB March 2, 2015
    >Food for thought. Wondering...? Thanks, Lynn P

    That's a good point, Lynn. Touching the taken discard to the rack makes it too late for the taker to undo the action. Does it also make it too late for another claimant to claim the tile, even if for mah-jongg? The statement that "the exposure has begun" makes one think so. But when you mentioned the NMJL letter from March 2, 2015, I went back and looked at that post. In it I mentioned something the League said in January, 2007:

      "Once a tile has been called for exposure and the exposure is put on top of the rack... PLAYER CANNOT DECIDE THAT SHE DID NOT WANT THE TILE... A CALL FOR A TILE IS JUST LIKE A PICK FROM THE WALL, ONCE TAKEN... IT CANNOT BE PUT BACK."

    When a player picks a tile from the wall, she can't put it back... unless another player calls for the live discard. Then the tile has to go back on the wall. My point is, the picker crossed a line when she picked up the tile - but even though she crossed the line and can't decide to put it back, someone else can decide that for her. So, if one player wants a discard for exposure and puts it on her rack, she crossed a line and can't put it back. But maybe, since mah-jongg trumps most things, perhaps a claim for that discard for mah-jongg can trump the touch of the discard to the other player's rack. A claim for mah-jongg does outprioritize several other actions. I can accept that a mah-jongg claim is too late after the first claimant exposes tiles from her rack (even though that rule can cause some to decide to act aggressively) - but I find it hard (in the absence of a clear ruling from the League) to accept that a mah-jongg claim is too late after the first claimant merely touches the taken discard to her rack. The former is a considerably more obvious "exposure beginning" than the latter is. None of this tells us definitively what the League would rule, of course - just my opinion based on existing precedent.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 5, 2016


    Conflicting claims redux (FAQ 19-H)

    >From: Donna <puffins
    >Sent: Friday, November 4, 2016 9:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I love your whole site and your answers to the questions! You are the best.
    >Here's a question we can't figure out totally and would like your opinion.
    >Player A discards a tile. Player B calls it, picks up the tile and puts it on top of his rack correctly. Player C then says 'call for Mah Jongg'. Does player C get the tile or does it stay with B?
    >I know MJ trumps a call but the single tile was already on top of the rack. If the tiles from the rack had already been added to the tile on top prior to C calling for MJ, would that have changed the situation?
    >Thank you very much!
    >Donna

    Hi, Donna. Your question has two parts:

    Player A discards a tile. Player B calls it, picks up the tile and puts it on top of his rack correctly. Player C then says 'call for Mah Jongg'. Does player C get the tile
    I believe the answer is yes, because Player B has not exposed tiles from his rack. See FAQ 19-H, which relays what the League has said officially.

    If the tiles from the rack had already been added to the tile on top prior to C calling for MJ, would that have changed the situation?
    Definitely - Player C spoke too late. But now she has a problem, of her own making: everyone knows that is her maj tile. Once Player B exposed tiles, Player C should not have spoken.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 4, 2016


    You are rude, part 4

    From: Belinda - Frontier
    Sent: Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:23 PM
    Subject: You are NOT rude
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I, too, like Lynn, appreciate you and your website. Unfortunately, one cannot hear the tone of the writer of the written word as they would if it were spoken. Also depending on the mood of the reader at the time they read the written word, the reader may completely misunderstand the writer's mood or intent. I think I have read every word on your site regarding American MJ and it is easy to see that you have a great sense of humor. Your answers are very informative and to the point while also throwing in a special kind of humor. I hope you don't change.
    Bee

    Thank you, Bee. (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 4, 2016


    This is what I receive

    >From: Adel K
    >Sent: Thursday, November 3, 2016 1:53 AM
    >Subject: need your assistance
    >Hello Tom ,i have mahjong fortune telling 144 cards of Dereke walters the author and i practice for my self-and i have used for one issue concern me
    > Appreciate your response-- this what i receive -the below result:if you want charge me for this service it o.k for me via Pay pal.
    > (direction) (cards)
    > - CENTER = SEVEN STARS
    > EAST 1-2-3 = SOUTH --- - 2 CIRCLE(PINE) ----- 4 CIRCLE(JADE)
    > SOUTH 4-5-6 = NORTH---- 1 WAN(ENTER) ---- 5 WAN(HOUSE)
    > WEST 7-8-9 = 6 CIRCLE(PEACH) -- 5 CIRCLE(DRAGON) ---- 6CIRCLE(PEACH)
    > NORTH 10-11-12 = WEST -- 9 CIRCLE with CHRYSANTHEMUM -- 6 BAMBOO (WATER)

    Hi, Adel.
    I take it you are asking about a fortune reading, and that regular mah-jongg tiles would form the arrangement as follows (I do not have graphics for Walters' elaborate cards):

    I'm sorry, but I have not studied Walters' book, and I have never tried to do a reading from it. If you are looking for someone to interpret this particular set of cards, I can't help you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 3, 2016


    My tiles are peeling

    >From: Pat A
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 2:15 PM
    >Subject: Question about tile condition
    >Good afternoon, I have been going through the Q & A’s and have not found an answer to my question If I may take your time to inquire about tiles. I have a set given to me by my sister I believe from 1970’s. I play mahjongg regularly at our local senior center. I would like to sell the set given to me by my sister. I am not sure what they were made from. The tiles could be made from fish bone and appear to be peeling (some not all). I have taken several close up photos to show you what I mean. I have set out the full set as you describe, however, wanted to send you a few close up photos. One tile is cracked on the edge. Would the peeling of the tiles, still be a salable set to someone? I am not sure how to describe the defects other than peeling.
    >I have 152 tiles, two dice, 11 extra flowers, 1 additional joker and 2 blanks. A total of 166 tiles. Theset comes in a brown faux leather case.
    >Thank you for your time and input, and I will refer my player friends to your site when they have questions etc. It is a wonderful site for mahjongg players both beginner and advanced.
    >Pat A

    Hi Pat,
    I doubt that "peeling" is the right word, unless you are finding flakes in the case or on the table. I believe what we're seeing there are manufacturing defects. Take a look at photo #5 in the August 30, 2016 post From: Judy Faintich titled "Looking for what my set might go for, part 2." The tiles were probably molded and stamped that way.
    And yes, I would say that such defects make your set less valuable. You can find someone who's willing to buy the set, but it won't fetch the amount a well-made set will.
    Oh, and your tiles are definitely plastic, not reconstituted fishbone. Probably high-density polyethylene (see FAQ 7c3).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 2, 2016


    If I'm playing a concealed hand...

    >From: Kathleen E
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 12:10 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:if I am working a closed hand can I take an exposed joker from another player?

    Hi, Kathleen!
    Welcome to my website. This question has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-BD. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 2, 2016


    Two people call for the discard, part 2

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    Thanks, Kay! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    November 1, 2016


    Two people call for the discard...

    >From: "kayc103
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 1, 2016 2:29 PM
    >Subject: book and Mah-J question
    >Mister Mah-Jongg,
    >Yes, I want to buy your book. I'm just learning. We do the Charleston exchange, does that mean American? Need to know which book to buy.
    >Question: If 2 people call a discarded tile at the same time, and one caller is next in turn, and is going to expose with that tile (not declaring Mah-Jongg), but the other player will declare mahjong AFTER switching the called tile with a joker in the hand of the next in turn. Who gets the tile? And since the one declaring mahjong is doing so with that exchange/trade out of turn, is that allowed...or is that a play out of turn and therefore he can't do so? Sorry that was so complicated. Thank you for your patience!
    >Kay

    Hi, Kay. You wrote:

    I want to buy your book. I'm just learning. We do the Charleston exchange, does that mean American? Need to know which book to buy.
    The Charleston is used in both American and British/Australian rules, but since you also mentioned joker redemption, the answer is yes, you're talking about American mah-jongg, and yes, my book is a good book to get for American mah-jongg - and I also recommend that someone in your group have the official NMJL rulebook, Mah Jongg Made Easy - and someone in your group should buy the card direct from the NMJL so you all have access to the yearly rule updates given in the January newsletter from the League. For info about books that describe American mah-jongg, see Frequently Asked Question #3 (you can link to the FAQs above left).

    If 2 people call a discarded tile at the same time, and one caller is next in turn, and is going to expose with that tile (not declaring Mah-Jongg), but the other player will declare mahjong AFTER switching the called tile with a joker in the hand of the next in turn.
    Okay, there was a lot in that question. The key part of your question (the part that causes me to answer the way I do) is this:

    the other player will declare mahjong AFTER switching the called tile with a joker in the hand of the next in turn.
    So, then, that player is NOT ready for mah-jongg, yet. Therefore the discard goes to the next in turn from the discarder.

    is that allowed...or is that a play out of turn and therefore he can't do so?
    No, a player may not call a discard for the purpose of redeeming it. But yes, a player can call a discard and make a complete exposure with it, and then redeem a joker and declare mah-jongg. That is a legal play. But such a player is not yet ready to make a mah-jongg call. Please read Frequently Asked Questions 19-G & 19-M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 1, 2016


    You are rude, part 3

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Monday, October 31, 2016 5:31 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I am shocked to see such a letter as the one on 10/31 from Nonee (can’t reveal his/her real name because he/she realizes emailing letter was wrong). Obviously this unpleasant, nasty person has too much time on his/her hands to defame Tom Sloper who has been nothing but pleasant, helpful, humorous and knowledgeable in his columns for the past several years that I have been following him. Through his column I have learned the rules of American Mah Jongg and many strategies that have helped me to be better player. I, in turn, have taught these to my fellow Mah Jongg players and we have played many enjoyable games thanks to Tom. Why would this sneaky person bother writing in to Tom’s column and use swear words, take quotes out of context, and denigrate this wonderful man who doesn’t get paid for his work in the Question and Answer section and the Strategy section. Tom, ignore this nothing of a person whose name is” Nonee”. You, Tom Sloper, are a wonderful man who devotes his time and life to helping us who love Mah Jong and are thankful for you and your help. Many thanks, Lynn P.

    Thanks very much for the continuing support, Lynn!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    November 1, 2016


    You are rude, part 2

    >From: Beth P
    >Sent: Monday, October 31, 2016 7:53 PM
    >Subject: tom's style
    >Please don’t change your style of writing. I love love your style and wit. You provide information as to why a rule works in certain ways and helps much with understanding the rule. (Also I have never seen your answer with blocked out words that would be unprintable as in your last e-mailer.) Thanks much for your web site. Beth

    Thanks for the kind words, Beth.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    November 1, 2016


    You are rude and condescending; here are some examples

    >From: Nonee Friend <noneefriend@mail.com>
    >Sent: Monday, October 31, 2016 11:56 AM
    >Subject: Is there any particular reason
    >you are such a p****? Your rudeness and condesccension is completely uncalled for. You must be very miserable person.
    >Is thess kinds of responses really necessary? People write to you for help and you berate them. You have a lot of chutzpah to talk about "harmonious playing." F*** you. BTW, I have never and will never write to you for advice.
    >No player is required to pass more than she wants to in the courtesy pass. If she only wants to pass two, you may not force her to give you three. Besides, you don't really expect anything new to get passed at this point, do you? Get real!
    >Secondly: it's not called "stealing." It's called the "blind pass." It doesn't make any sense whatsoever to call it "stealing," and the name "blind pass" should be self-explanatory. (See... it's not called the "peek pass.")
    >No, of course not. Don't be silly! Start using it as soon as everyone at the table has the new card.
    >I have no idea. I am not a mathematician or a statistician. I have never studied probabilities or combinatorics, and I have no desire to do so. That information goes way beyond what I am able to offer here. And I doubt that any of my readers has done this sort of calculation, or she would have surely shared the information already. But I'm sure players all across this great land would love to have a lot of information about probabilities of various things mah-jongg related, and would appreciate it greatly if you would run the numbers for us. Note that you might have to repeat the calculations every year when a new card comes out. If you Google "books on probability and statistics," you will find several good ones.

    >There are many more examples, but I think you get my drift.

    I'm sorry you were offended by my style of writing, Nonee.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    October 31, 2016


    What if the window of opportunity closes just as a player calls, part 4

    >From: Donna <puffins
    >Sent: Saturday, October 29, 2016 2:47 PM
    >Subject: Simultaneous rack and call
    >Tom,
    >Got the answer today! It goes to the caller and that's the way it is in most tournaments. How do they expect people to know this, I wonder?
    >Thank you,
    >Donna

    Very nice, Donna!
    That greatly simplifies the question. Time to update FAQ 19 and the RDWW errata!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 29, 2016


    Donation

    >From: Mary S via PayPal
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    >PayPal
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    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$25.00 USD from Mary S.
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    Thank you very much, Mary!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 28, 2016


    The value of the 2nd Chas., part 2

    >From: Catherine
    >Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2016 1:27 PM
    >Subject: Re: Value of 2nd charleston
    >Thank you for your quick response to our question.
    >Our group is very cooperative and it is rare that we have disagreements about stopping the Charleston.
    >Mahjongg is new to our community. I took a class about 3 years ago and was able to get 3 people in the class to play once a week.
    >We wanted to increase the number of players, so I started teaching classes, using the "The Beginner's Guide to American MahJongg" book and a PowerPoint presentation, I developed. Your book "The Red Dragon & The West Wind" is the resource for rules. Our classes are free but each attendee has to have the 'Beginner's Guide' book.
    >I also started a Community play group at our local library and send out periodic play reminders, etc. We now have 169 people on our email list.
    >Again, Thank you for responding to our question.

    You're welcome, Catherine. Maj on!


    The value of the 2nd Charleston

    >From: Catherine
    >Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2016 6:23 AM
    >Subject: Value of 2nd charleston
    >Dear Tom,
    >We don't have seasoned mahjongg players in this area to ask, so, we are coming to you.
    >My group has been playing American Mahjongg , NMJL card and rules , for 3 years. We find that we are usually stopping after the first charleston and not proceeding with the second.
    >Is this common? Is there a value to the second charleston, that we are missing?
    >I hope this question is something you can answer.
    >Thank you,
    >Catherine Y
    >"Life is a journey, not a destination" - Emerson

    Hi Catherine,
    I like the way you asked it in your subject line: "value of 2nd Charleston." The question says something important that many experienced players don't seem to get. You asked:

    Is this common?
    No. It isn't. Usually what happens goes something like this:
    Player A: "I'm stopping the Charleston."
    Players B, C, and D: "What?" "Why?" "Such a nasty woman!"

    Most players, you see, think something magical is going to happen in the second Charleston, and they get ticked off at she who decided to stop the Charleston.

    Is there a value to the second charleston, that we are missing?
    No. The most common kvetch you'll hear during the second dance is "Oy, same old stuff going around." Once in a while, you can get something good in the second dance - but usually, you don't have a hand to target anyway, so no way of knowing what's good and what isn't. It has (rarely) happened to me that I have one hand in mind during the first Charleston, and then it comes together with one good tile during the second. But most of the time, it's just the same old stuff going around the second time.

    But I have to say something about the way you prefaced your question:

    We find that we are usually stopping after the first charleston
    Stopping the Charleston is not normally a consensus decision. It's typically mandated by one player who declares that she's stopping it. The frequent complaint I get from my readers is, "we have a player who always stops the Charleston, and we're all angry with her but she keeps on doing it!" But you make it sound like a consensus decision. If your group discusses and agrees to stop, I think that's very harmonious and laudable. But maybe that's not what you meant to imply. Maybe one of your players says, "I'd like to stop," and the others say, "oh, okay," and that also is very harmonious and laudable. If you ever go to a tournament, you'll find that most players don't want to stop.

    I wrote column 494 about stopping the Charleston.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 27, 2016


    The Window of Opportunity

    >From: Judy M
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2016 4:56 PM
    >Subject: Question about Window of Opportunity
    >Quote from your web site:
    >The tile is "down" the instant a discarded tile is either named... or it touches the table top, whichever happens first. When the tile has been named and placed on the table top and the player has withdrawn her hand, the "window" opens. The discarded tile is available for claiming by another player. (And the discarder can no longer change her mind and take it back.)
    >Question: I am confused about "and the player has withdrawn her hand." I was taught that the window of opportunity closes when the discarded
    >tile is either named or it touches the table top, whichever happens first. If a tile is named but has not yet touched the table, the window is closed.
    >I also learned that even if the tile isn't named but it touches the table, the window is closed. What confuses me is the part that says "and the player has withdrawn her hand. Are you saying that the window remains open up until a person takes her hand off the tile? If yes, does this mean that even though it has been named and it has hit the table, the window is open because she hasn't removed her hand? If yes, does this also apply to when a player can take back her discarded tile? What if she names the tile and it hits the table
    >but she has changed her mind. If her hand is still on the tile can she take it back? Before reading the sentences from your web site, I would have always said no! It doesn't matter if your hand is still on the tile -- you named it and or it hit the table so you cannot take it back.
    >Second question: If a player is taking a tile from the wall and fumbles and drops it on the table, does she just pick it up and continue playing? A very fast player today, dropped a tile while she was picking it from the wall. I don't know if this was a mistake or deliberate.
    >The tile landed face up and she saw what tile it was (and didn't want it) and immediately said the window of opportunity to claim the previously discarded tile was closed because her tile hit the table. Is she right?
    >Thank you for your help. It is greatly appreciated.
    >Judy from Rochester

    Hi, Judy from Rochester. Your questions:

    I am confused about "and the player has withdrawn her hand."
    You're right. That phrase doesn't belong there. It's misleading. So just now I went to FAQ 19 and found that phrase and deleted it entirely. Thanks for finding that error for me!

    If a player is taking a tile from the wall and fumbles and drops it on the table, does she just pick it up and continue playing?
    I think it should be apparent to all that she simply had a hand tremor or something, or it just slipped from her fingers. I would advise her to quickly say, "oops, slippery fingers," and pick it up and go on. I don't think a reasonable player would deny her the right to do so.

    A very fast player today, dropped a tile while she was picking it from the wall. I don't know if this was a mistake or deliberate.
    >The tile landed face up and she saw what tile it was (and didn't want it) and immediately said the window of opportunity to claim the previously discarded tile was closed because her tile hit the table. Is she right?
    Sure, why not? As I wrote to Puffins Donna on October 18, I think it's gracious and kind to other players to pause a beat before picking from the wall. You say your player is "very fast." As long as nobody wanted to claim the previous discard, is there a reason to dispute that the tile is now down?
    "Oops, slippery fingers. Oh, I see what it is, let it stay there." What's wrong with that?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom from Rochester
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 25, 2016


    Do you still do that, part 2

    >From: Gwen B...
    >Sent: Monday, October 24, 2016 2:22 AM
    >Subject: mahjong set evaluation
    >Gwen B
    >Langley, BC
    >Canada
    >email: glb...
    >October 24, 2016
    >Attention:
    >email: tomster@sloperama
    >Re: Evaluation of mahjong set
    >Hello again,
    >A few months back I emailed you with some questions about my mahjong set. I now provide information in the order set out in the FAQ 7 Evaluation Checklist.
    >No. 1. list contents
    >Tiles:
    >Dots nos. 1 thru 9; 4 sets = 36
    >Bams nos. 1 thru 9; 4 sets = 36
    >Blank = 8
    >Craks nos. 1 thru 9; 4 sets = 36
    >Winds E,W,S,N - 4 of each = 16
    >Dragons 4 green and 4 red = 8
    >"Flowers" nos. 1 to 4/ 2 sets = 8 (different storeys)
    >Total = 148 tiles
    >Others:
    >Small (bone/ivory?) container; holds 4 disks with red and green markings;
    >Four (4) carved dice in wooden(?) box with sliding top;
    >40 hand carved 2 dot sticks;
    >36 hand carved 10 dot sticks; and
    >44 hand carved sticks (with either one dot or X in red).
    >Please note: sticks, dice and disks are all hand made as they are all different widths and sizes.
    >No. 2. Condition of tiles and container
    >The tiles and components are in very good condition with the obvious signs of age. The box itself is in good condition other then a portion at the top of sliding door which is slightly damaged. The box and contents weigh around 10 pounds or so.
    >No. 3. What are the tiles made of
    >I truly believe that these tiles are ivory. I have checked them so many times following your directions and can tell for sure that they are not plastic or bone. I also did the (unadvised) burn test. I heated a needle and put it on the ivory quite a few times without a single mark on the tiles (my finger is another matter).
    >No. 4. History of set
    >The set was left to me by my great great Aunt Thora and then actually given to me, by her sister, my Nana on my wedding in 1977. I remember sitting with my Aunt when I was little looking through all her "stuff" this set was one of our favorites. I was told the set was a gift from one of Thora's boyfriends who was a sailor. He gave it to her sometime in the late 30's early 40's (not sure and no one to ask). I can't recall if he got it in China or Singapore. However, I do remember Aunt Thora always saying it was ebony an ivory. I am now quite sure of the ivory although I can't say the same for the ebony as there isn't much online other then information on larger pieces for woodwork projects.
    >No. 5. Dimensions
    >Height 1 1/4 inches;
    >Width 7/8 inches; and
    >Depth 1/4 inches (but obviously a bit more where dove tailed)
    >No. 6. How many tiles
    > There are 148 tiles. pictures attached, 10 in total, for your review.
    >No. 7. List Other Pieces
    > Small (bone/ivory?) container; holds 4 disks with red and green markings;
    > Four (4) carved dice in wooden(?) box with sliding top;
    > 40 hand carved 2 dot sticks;
    > 36 hand carved 10 dot sticks; and
    > 44 hand carved sticks (with either one dot or X in red).
    >Please note: sticks, dice and disks are all hand made as they are all different widths and sizes.
    >No. 8. Type of container
    > Wooden hand crafted box with sliding door and 5 drawers.
    >No. 9. Condition of container
    > The box is in good condition. The door is slightly damaged at top, more like one upper side has been chipped. It all works perfectly and not really noticable. It, like the tiles, all just fit together no screws, glue etc. The drawers have slots for fingers not handles. Two per drawer.
    >No. 10. Are there any papers/manuals
    > Nope
    >No. 11. Craks older or later
    > It is the later (I think) re: #6 tile.
    >No.s 12 to 14.
    >Pictures attached
    >No. 15 If Jokers are blank there are 8.
    >There are 10 pictures attached. The 5th picture is of "flowers" tiles. I was unable to match them with anything similar and hope that you are able to share with me their story(s). I also note that at the tops, on opposite side from numbers, there are chinese characters and am curious if that is unusual or not. Also in picture number 9 you will note there is writing on the inside of of box door. I do not know if that helps or even means anything, my Aunt could have done it for all I know.
    >So dear Sir, I look forward to learning the story of the flowers (if you're able), the age and perhaps origin of my set and (yes) an idea of what this set is worth.
    >One last query, will you email me once you've had time to do an evaluation and will be posting it on your board? So I will know when to start looking. I await your timely and educated response,
    >truly yours,
    >Gwen B
    >Canada (Eh :))

    Hello, Gwen, eh. To reply to things you wrote:

    The tiles and components are in very good condition with the obvious signs of age.
    From what I see in your photos, your tiles are heavily discolored (very yellow blotches, and maybe mold on the ends).

    I truly believe that these tiles are ivory.
    You have not convinced me. I would need better photos, and a detailed run-through describing your step-by-step results from FAQ 7c2. Also, it's a mystery what your tiles are backed with. What is that blue material on your tiles' backs? I never saw ivory tiles backed with some unknown blue material, and I never saw ivory as yellow as your tiles. So, je répète: you have not convinced me that your tiles are ivory. I will not give you an ivory value since I am not convinced.

    I do remember Aunt Thora always saying it was ebony an ivory.
    Ebony? That blue backing is ebony? If the tile backs are ebony, then the colors in your photos are not trustworthy, and better photos are a must.

    pictures attached, 10 in total
    I received just 5 photos (plus 5 ghost duplicates). I did not receive 10 unique photos. I am only showing 4 of the 5 photos I received, since two showed essentially the same thing (what all the tile fronts look like).

    44 hand carved sticks (with either one dot or X in red).
    Your sticks all number in amounts divisible by 4, which indicates they might all be present. But I never saw sticks with an X instead of a dot, and I can't tell you what's up with that. I see in one photo a stick with 5 dots - is that what you mean by an X?

    See, in the photo above, there's a 5-dot stick between two 1-dot sticks.

    If Jokers are blank there are 8.
    They are not.

    The 5th picture is of "flowers" tiles. I was unable to match them with anything similar and hope that you are able to share with me their story(s).
    I did not receive a photo of just the flowers. And I can't read Chinese. I recommend you take a look at the Mystery Tiles FAQ (FAQ 7-E).

    I also note that at the tops, on opposite side from numbers, there are chinese characters and am curious if that is unusual or not.
    It is normal. Please see FAQ 7-E.

    Also in picture number 9 you will note there is writing on the inside of of box door. I do not know if that helps or even means anything, my Aunt could have done it for all I know.
    I did not receive that picture. I do not think it would influence a valuation (I could be wrong).

    the story of the flowers (if you're able),
    Probably not. But maybe your flowers match some flowers in FAQ 7-E that have been translated by others already.

    the age
    It was surely made in the 1920s.

    perhaps origin of my set
    It was surely made in China.

    an idea of what this set is worth.
    I could make a stab at its worth if we could agree that it is or is not ivory. I believe it isn't, but you are positive that it is, so you should convince me. You say that the backs are ebony, but they look blue to me (and the ends and faces of your tiles appear heavily discolored to me).

    will you email me once you've had time to do an evaluation and will be posting it on your board? So I will know when to start looking.
    I think you know the answer to those.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 24, 2016


    Don't know how much I should ask for, part 2

    >From: palframen palframen
    >Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2016 5:30 PM
    >Subject: Re: Query regarding mahjongg set
    >Thanks Tom!

    You're welcome, Erica.
    Tom


    Don't know how much I should ask for it/its worth

    >From: palframen palframen
    >Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2016 2:19 PM
    >Subject: Query regarding mahjongg set
    >Hello Tom,
    >I have inherited a mah-jongg set from my parents and wish to sell it, but don't know how much I should ask for it/its worth. I'm hoping you can give me your opinion.
    >The tiles are bone/bamboo (about 40% bone), in fine condition (a few of the tiles have worn lacquer). Each tile is 1 1/8" x 13/16" x 9/16".
    >It is a 148 tile set, with 36 dots, 36 craks, 36 bams, 16 winds, 12 dragons (4 of which are blanks), 8 flowers, 4 other/blank tiles, no jokers.
    >There are also 6 wooden dice, 4 hinged wooden racks in excellent condition, lots of coloured plastic discs, and a slide top wooden box in fair condition (the centre panel of the lid is loose).
    >I believe the set was purchased in India prior to 1955, and was likely purchased used (as opposed to brand new).
    >I have attached several photos of the set. I would like to know when you believe the set was made, and approximate value in today's market. Let me know if you need further photos, dimensions, or information (if I have it!).
    >Thank you so much, in advance.
    >Erica

    Hi, Erica.
    Okay, so you want to know its worth. Your comments and my responses:

    fine condition (a few of the tiles have worn lacquer).
    I'm skeptical that "Fine" applies - if any normal person would notice the worn lacquer upon close examination, then the tiles are Very Good.

    4 hinged wooden racks in excellent condition
    The racks look very nice, and are probably worth a sizeable chunk of the value of the overall collection. I have seen lacquered racks from the 20s before, but yours are simple wood, and I have not seen that sort before. They are attractive just as they are.

    lots of coloured plastic discs,
    The cardboard tray of poker chips is a hodgepodge collection of chips of different sizes (they should ideally all be of the same size). You didn't include a photo of how they fit into the slide-top box (if they do; I imagine they probably do not).

    a slide top wooden box in fair condition (the centre panel of the lid is loose).
    I agree, it's Fair, maybe even Poor.

    I would like to know when you believe the set was made,
    I believe the set and racks were made in the late 20s or early 30s. The plastic chips were likely added decades later. The racks could be newer, but they're still very nice.

    don't know how much I should ask for it/its worth
    I think the tiles and sliding top box together (VG tiles in a Fair/Poor box) are worth maybe $40-50. I think the racks are worth $50 or more. The poker chips can be included with the racks, but they add no value. Any buyer of the racks, if you sell those separately, will want to know the rack dimensions. How many modern plastic tiles can fit on a rack, and when modern plastic tiles are placed atop the rack, are they compatible with a wall stacked behind the rack (see image).

    1. The back of the rack should be at least as high as the thickness of two tiles. 
    2. The horizontal top surface of the rack should be at least as wide as the longest dimension of one of the tiles. You can see in example B what can happen when the back is too short and the top is not wide enough. 

    You can find tile sizes in FAQ 7A, and more about racks in FAQ 7D. Good luck with your sale.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 20, 2016


    What if the window of opportunity closes just as a player calls, part 3

    >From: "Puffins@
    >Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2016 11:33 AM
    >Subject: Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from donna...
    >Tom,
    >You know what, I'll send that question to the league. It seems every time I do that, I tend to get a "non answer answer".. I'll send it today and will report back when I get a reply.
    >Thank you for all that you do for the MJ Community!
    >Donna

    Cool.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 20, 2016


    What if the window of opportunity closes just as a player calls, part 2

    >From: donna e via PayPal
    >Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2016 10:46 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from donna e (puffins@
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$20.00 USD from donna e (puffins@). You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $20.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: donna e
    >Message: Thanks Tom, great answer but I wish the NMJL had a clear answer. Donna
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thanks for your generous donation, Donna. I echo your wish that the League would fill in its rule gaps.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 20, 2016


    Jokers in the goulash, part 2

    >From: Robyn and John
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 9:44 PM
    >Subject: Re: Goulash question
    >Thanks Tom
    >That is exactly the answer I needed. Very logical and fair.
    >Many thanks
    >Robyn

    You're welcome, Robyn! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 19, 2016


    BIG NEWS

    >From: "lindaz...
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 7:06 AM
    >Subject:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I enjoyed watching your videos on sinovision. Re # 24550--the jokers are marked "BIG" in green. What does this mean?
    >Also an unrelated question: My MJ buddies have lamented on "there are no NEWS" hands on the last 2 cards. Do you have any comment? As always, we enjoy your insight!
    > Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda.
    I think "big jokers" go back to the time when American players were treating flowers as "wild," and maybe those manufacturers thought American jokers were going to be wild also but somehow different from wild flowers. In short: I don't know.
    Here's news for you: no, I don't have any comment.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 19, 2016


    What if the window of opportunity closes just as a player calls for the discard?

    >From: "Puffins@
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 1:02 PM
    >Subject: "simulataneous occurence"
    >Tom,
    >I know that in most tournament play if someone racks a tile at the same moment as player A calls that tile, player A gets the tile.
    >When you are not in a tournament, I thought it was the "other way around" that the "racker" got to keep the tile because of the phrase "you snooze, you loose". However, I can't find this info in my search.
    >I would appreciate it if you would clarify this for me or point me in the direction of the rule.
    >Thank you very much,
    >Donna

    Actually, Donna, the League has never issued a written ruling on this. Or should I say, in the years from 1998 to now, I have never seen the League rule on this question (they might have, before 1998, for all I know). I have a definite opinion on this, though, and I've stated it many times (but not in FAQ 19 - and I guess I should). In my opinion, if the next player was picking and racking quickly, the caller should get the tile. I think every player should pause just a beat before picking from the wall, precisely to avoid the quandary you're asking about. If the next player paused a little before picking and racking, then a call simultaneous with the tile hitting the rack is too late.
    I've also said before that I like the Chinese Official rule: the window of opportunity is open for 3 seconds. So if the 3 seconds have passed and the caller speaks, she's too late. Cut and dried (as long as players can agree that 3 seconds had passed). I really like the 3-second rule. ... But, you aren't asking about Chinese mah-jongg.
    My opinion is sort of grounded in the Chinese rule, but without the 3 seconds - think back, did the next in turn act more quickly than is appropriate for a friendly and unhurried game? If so, give the caller the discard. Otherwise, caller is too late.
    For more related to your question, FAQ 19-B points readers to column 458, and there are a number of related emails beneath column 458. Column 458 points to column 639, but that doesn't come anywhere near your particular question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 18, 2016


    Frequently asked question #19-L 

    >From: Joanne Mc
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 1:43 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Hi Tom. Please answer this question..... about use of Jokers.
    >I am trying to make the following hand: CONSECUTIVE RUN 11 22 333 444 555 (Any one suit)
    >I have in DOTS: 11 22 333 555
    >Can you use Jokers (and only Jokers) for the missing 444 or do I have to have at lease one 4 DOT title to declare Mah Jongg ?
    > One can not use Jokers for/in a pairs or a single. But can you use them (and only them) in Pungs, Kongs, Quints, Sextets?
    >This came up at our game today and I can't find an answer to it.
    >Thank you very much.
    >Joanne Mc

    Hi, Joanne.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before (most recently, last week, by Bernadette on Oct. 12). Your question is a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-L. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 18, 2016


    Jokers in the goulash

    >From: Robyn and John
    >Sent: Monday, October 17, 2016 10:55 PM
    >Subject: Goulash question
    >Hi Tom
    >We play the Maloney and Thompson rules and have come across a situation we can't find in this book. We play a goulash when no-one goes Mahjong. We put in four blanks (I think you would call them jokers). We have been allowing that should you have a tile that could replace the blank another player has exposed on the top of her rack, you can swap it. Whether it is your turn or not. This has caused a bit of confusion, as when this happens a couple of times some can't remember who's turn it is. I did read on another website that you can only swap when it is your turn. Is this correct? Also when you do a swap and get a blank, you can be mahjong without indicating you have been "fishing". How do you sort it out, so it's fair for all?
    >Hope you can clarify this for me.
    >Much appreciated
    >Regards
    >Robyn

    Hi, Robyn.
    I don't have access to my library as I write this response, but I don't recall seeing many details in any of the Western books about optional joker usage. Since you've chosen to tread into undocumented territory, you have to make your own rules. See FAQ 14 about table rules - you have to explain your rules to strangers who join your game, and you have to adapt to their table rules when you join their game.
    As for joker redemption; as you noted, confusion ensues when someone can redeem a joker at just any old time. So make joker redemption permissible only on one's turn - after bringing in the 14th tile (either by picking from the wall or taking a discard). That's the way it's done in American mah-jongg, which has comparatively well-defined rules for joker usage. If you want to know more about how jokers are used in American mah-jongg, see FAQ 19 (but be advised that the Western and American games are VERY different from one another, so ignore everything else in that FAQ).
    As for fishing in conjunction with jokers, I don't see how acquiring a joker when one was not fishing before can suddenly make one mah-jongg. If, say, you are going to redeem a joker and on your turn you pick a wall tile and it makes you ready, you declare that you're fishing before you redeem the joker. And you're in line with the rules.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 17, 2016


    I am moving back to Orlando and looking for the group that I use to play with.

    >From: "Bobbie4335 aol.com"
    >Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2016 7:38 PM
    >Subject: Find Players/Teachers
    >Kissimmee Florida in Celebration): The mah-jongg variant I play is:
    >There is a group of women in Celebration (Kissimmee Florida ) that play Mah-jongg. I can't remember the persons name but she is a teacher also. I am moving back to Orlando and looking for the group that I use to play with. Can you help me.

    Your request is posted on the Find Players Bulletin Board, Bobbie. You can link to that board above left.
    May the players be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 13, 2016


    Unspecific question about two sets

    >From: Jodi F
    >Cc: Jodi F
    >Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2016 6:41 PM
    >Subject: Used MahJongg Sets (2)
    >Dear Tom:
    >I found you online and I’m inquiring about selling two sets that I currently have in my possession. I “inherited” them after my mom died and I would love to sell them who sees value in them, though I don’t know what they’re worth. They were originally in my mom’s family in Brooklyn, New York - somewhere in the time frame of the 1930s-1960s. My grandparents were avid mah jongg players.
    >I have attached pictures. Please let me know what you think. I didn’t know if your website was still active.
    >Please feel free to call or email. I look forward to hearing back from you.
    >Thanks!
    >Jodi F

    Hi, Jodi.
    Welcome to my website. I don't know what question or questions you have in mind. Please read Frequently Asked Question 7 (especially, since I don't know what you're asking, FAQs 7a, 7b, 7c, 7d, 7e, 7g, 7h, 7n, and 7p). You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've read those FAQs, if you have questions for me, ask about one set in one email (not two sets in one email). Yes, my site is still active.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 13, 2016


    Frequently Asked Question 19-G2: Can I claim a redeemable tile?

    >From: Debra K
    >Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2016 6:40 PM
    >Subject: Mahjongg Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have tried to read all your FAQ's but am sorry to say there are just to many to read them all.
    >Therefore if my question was asked before I am sorry and would appreciate an answer.
    >Question: If a player picks up a tile that could replace a joker on someone else's hand but does
    >not see this and disposes the tile. Can the next player pick up that tile and replace the joker?
    >Thank you,
    >Debra

    Hi, Debra. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-G. You can link to the FAQs above left. When you're on the FAQ 19 page, you can easily search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. I understand that this particular question ("can I claim a redeemable tile") isn't the way most folks would word the question. So just now I added words to the question in FAQ 19, to make it easier to find: "Can I claim a redeemable tile? (Somebody discarded it and I want to use it to redeem a joker)"
    Anyway, you'll find the answer to your question in FAQ 19-G2.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 13, 2016


    Frequently asked question #19-L

    >From: Bernadette
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 9:31 AM
    >Subject: Jokers
    >Can you use two jokers to pick up a discard to make three of a kind.

    Hello, Bernadette!
    Welcome to my website. This question has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-L. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 12, 2016


    Made an improper exposure

    >From: Wanda R
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 7:39 AM
    >Subject: Wrong Exposure
    >If I call for a discarded tile and make an exposure with it but it is immediately obvious that one of the tiles is the wrong suit....and there is no way for me to make an exposure with the discarded tile that I called for, what do we do? Am I dead and the game continues without me? Or can I return the discarded tile to the table (as long as I have not discarded a tile to finish "my turn") and continue with the game as if I had never called for the discard? The answer may be in the FAQ but I could not find it.
    >Thank you.

    Hi, Wanda.
    Rulings by the National Mah Jongg League in recent years (in their yearly bulletins) clearly indicate that moves made are moves committed to. You made the exposure, and there are no backsies.
    The League does specifically permit one exception - if you exposed a kong but only need a pung, for instance, you can put one of the tiles (not the taken discard) back on the sloping front of the rack.
    But you say there's no way to legally use the discarded tile you claimed, yet you'd made an exposure. That exposure is improper, so you're dead. According to the printed rules, an erroneous exposure must be moved to the sloping front of the rack, and you stop playing for the duration of the hand.


    The official rulebook, and a newsletter/bulletin.
    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription to
    the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    By the way, the reason you couldn't find that in the FAQs is that it isn't asked frequently.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 11, 2016


    How to play American mah-jongg with fewer than 4, part 3

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Saturday, October 8, 2016 10:23 PM
    >Subject: Two handed MJ
    >Hi Tom,
    >One recent question was about playing MJ with 2 or 3 players.
    >Gladys Grad has developed rules for playing with 2 players called Siamese Mah Jongg. Players use two racks and win with two Mah Jonggs. You can put up one MJ but any jokers used in it are not redeemable. The scoring is a bit different, but it is fun and challenging? She then developed a four player version using two sets of tiles and two racks for each player, also based on her 2 player version. It, too, is challenging.
    >The rules and scoring can be found here: http://www.siamesemahjongg.com
    >If you have not played it, try it! It too is addicting!
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee.
    I'm aware of so-called "Siamese"* mah-jongg. But based on many years of answering questions on this site, I've learned that the majority of questions are about NMJL rules, and most people want to know the real rules, with as few added complications as possible. In her question on Oct. 7, Mary Lou wanted to "pass information on to our students on how to play two and three player American MahJongg." When my students ask me how to play 2p or 3p, I tell them "just skip the Charleston." If I have a class with an incomplete table, I have the students at that table just skip the Charleston. If I tried to teach those students how to play Gladys' game, I'd be spending too much time working outside the official canon. My responsibility as a teacher is to teach the official rules, not unofficial variants or commercial products.

    *(The reason I say "so-called 'Siamese'" is because here on my site, I provide information on international variants, and Gladys' version is not from Thailand, but rather Florida. It is based on American/NMJL rules, and when it was first announced, I had someone contact me and ask if it was really from Thailand. I understand the logic behind the name, and it is cute logic, but the name can cause confusion.)

    BTW, I have links to Gladys' invention in FAQ 2B and FAQ 4B.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 9, 2016


    The frequently asked "change of heart" question

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Friday, October 7, 2016 2:44 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg this afternoon a player called a discarded soap tile and put it and a joker and another soap tile. Then she said she didn’t want the discarded soap tile and started to put it back on the table. I said she couldn’t put it back since she had already put it on her rack and exposed tiles. Another player said that our game is a friendly game so she should be allowed to put discard back. Other player was new and didn’t know. I insisted she keep the soap exposure on her rack. Then I looked in my MJ folder and found below:
    >2. Taking a discard": Can I change my mind about taking a discard?
    >A: 2. Not after you've exposed tiles from your hand, no. If you've only picked up the discard and put it atop your rack, without exposing, then yes - you can. But once you expose, you're committed, and there's no turning back.
    >So in reading #2 it seems that you can call a discard, put it on top of your rack and then put it back as long as you don’t expose any other tile? Then I remembered you had posted a letter from NMJL that said.

    >Reading this letter I think that by putting the called tile on your rack you are starting to make an exposure so you can’t put it back. Maybe you can just hold it in your hand while you decide whether to keep it or not. Please tell me the correct ruling for just putting the called tile on your rack. I know player could not put her called tile back since she had exposed other tiles. Thanks again. Lynn P.

    Hi, Lynn P.
    I always update my FAQs when I learn of new information. But I can't be responsible for updating your MJ folder when I learn of new information. Please take a look at FAQ 19-AM, which I updated after I got that letter from Lynn McD. See if that doesn't answer your question.
    FYI, I keep a log of FAQ updates. It's at http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/log.htm. The updates are listed in chronological order (newest updates are at the bottom).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 7, 2016


    How to play with fewer than 4, part 2

    >From: "Mlf1022
    >Sent: Friday, October 7, 2016 10:46 AM
    >Subject: Re: rules for 2 and 3 players
    >Tom,
    >I usually print the columns referring to the current card and work them out with paper and pencil. I'm about 85% correct according to your answers. It's very helpful.
    >Yes, I have heard you don't do the Charleston in 3 handed, but as you suggested we don't like that. We arrange tiles in 3's X 6 (the 7th is the first right) and use those for the Charleston. Both the way you described and what we do there is the chance of drawing a joker.
    >I will give the facts to our students and they can make their own table rule.
    >I will make a small donation next time I am on your site.
    >Thanks,
    >Mary Lou

    That would be nice, Mary Lou!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 7, 2016


    Sign up for Beginner or Intermediate class in American mah-jongg!

    My classes at American Jewish University start on Friday, Oct. 28 (3 weeks from today)!

    To sign up for the Beginners class, go to https://reg139.imperisoft.com/AJU/ProgramDetail/3430323636/Registration.aspx

    Seats for the Intermediate class are going fast! To sign up: https://reg139.imperisoft.com/AJU/ProgramDetail/3430323637/Registration.aspx

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 7, 2016


    How to play American mah-jongg with fewer than 4 players

    >From: "Mlf1022
    >Sent: Friday, October 7, 2016 4:57 AM
    >Subject: Re: rules for 2 and 3 players
    >Hi Tom,
    >Your column has been a great help to me and I always refer our students to your site. I especially find your worksheets worthwhile.
    >I would like to know and pass information on to our students on how to play two and three player American MahJongg. I have looked on the web and not found much.
    >Thanks, Mary Lou F

    Hi, Mary Lou. That information is given in FAQ 13A.
    By the way, I wonder which of my offerings you mean when you say "worksheets."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 7, 2016


    I know of a woman in Brooklyn who is looking for a Mah Jong game to play in.

    >From: "pr2hopeⒶaol.com"
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 2:25 PM
    >Subject: From Alan Magill
    >I know of a woman in Brooklyn who is looking for a Mah Jong game to play in. Is there any help you can give in helping her to find it?
    >All the best.
    >Alan

    Hi, Alan. I'm posting your request on the Find Players bulletin board. Interested people might send you an email to learn more about your friend - but it would probably be best for you to be pro-active rather than wait for emails. Look for the search term "Brooklyn" (or your friend's zip code) on the Find Players bulletin board, then email those from Brooklyn who are looking for players to join them. You can link to the Find Players board above left. Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 5, 2016


    Broken link

    >From: HW Mystic
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 10:13 AM
    >Subject: ERRATA File - Page Cannot Be Found
    >Hi Tom,
    >I just picked up your book at Chapters in Toronto and plan to pencil in any updates. However, when I click on the ERRATA PDF file, I get the Page Cannot Be Found message.
    >Thanks,
    >Helene.

    Sorry about that, Helene. It's fixed now. If you still get an error, Refresh the page or use a different browser.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 5, 2016


    Column 659, problem #9

    >From: Linda M
    >Sent: Monday, October 3, 2016 9:46 AM
    >Subject: Column #659, #9
    >You refer to this as Consec #4 but I think it should be Consec #2 with hot tiles 2C and 3D??
    >I have been teaching Mahjongg here on the east coast of Canada for just over a year, so I would have folks to play with! Thank you so much for all the info on your site. It has been invaluable for demonstration purposes and explanations. Thank you!
    >L

    Hi, Linda,
    I appreciate you too, but I'm afraid your mind is playing tricks on you. For some reason, it's reading those two-dots as four-dots. Look again.

    9.

    Any way, keep on keepin' on! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 3, 2016


    A discard was misnamed, but then correctly named, but then...

    >From: Peggy G
    >Sent: Saturday, October 1, 2016 6:09 PM
    >Subject: American Mah jongg question
    >What happens if you discard a tile and miscall it, but immediately correct yourself? I discarded a 9 Bam, and for some reason said 4 Bam, but immediately correctly named the tile. After I correctly named the tile, a player said she needed a 4 Bam for Mah Jongg and I needed to pay her 4 times the hand. Is this correct since she didn't say anything until after I correctly called the tile. Thank you, Peggy G

    Hi, Peggy. I think your friend knows the rules, and decided to make use of that knowledge. If it really happened the way you say (you immediately corrected yourself, and then she invoked the rule), then she seems to have been taking advantage of the letter of the law, but maybe not the spirit of it. I believe the rule was intended to cover a situation in which the discarder's misnaming causes another player to blurt out that she needed the tile but then it turns out that the tile wasn't as advertised.
    But the rule is the rule. The wording of the rule (page 17, rule 6) doesn't say anything about the timing.
    If you want to pursue clarity on this with the League leadership, I recommend you send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address on the card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 1, 2016


    I try to remember, the last of September

    >From: Michele T
    >Sent: Friday, September 30, 2016 8:47 AM
    >Subject: Help please
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am a newbie learning American Mah Jongg. I was wondering if you could recommend how I can remember which hand I am playing on my card. The card is filled with so many hands and I am currently using my finger to remind me which hand I am playing but it is easy for the other players to look my way and see the hand I’m playing. I googled the internet for some answers and saw that some people are using a post it rectangle sticky to stick on the card but I would think other players can see this as well.
    >Any thoughts?
    >Thank you in advance for any advice you can recommend.
    >I love your column and will be studying it to learn more.
    >Regards,
    >Michele.

    Hi, Michele.
    As an experienced player, I certainly notice when an opponent is pointing to a hand on the card with her finger, or with a Post-It note, or whatever.
    How do you remember what your friend said in one sentence when she moves on to a second sentence? How do you remember your loved ones' full names? How do you remember where you parked your car? I can't teach you any memory enhancement tricks. That's not in my teaching repertoire.
    I suppose it comes from familiarity with the card. I look at my tiles to see what I have, and since I am very familiar with the yearly cards' organization, I can tell if I'm working an Evens, Odds, or 369 hand. If the tiles in my rack are consecutively numbered, I can usually tell by my tile organization which hand or hands I might have been thinking of before. Most players, myself included, rearrange the tiles once a hand is targeted. I think your problem will go away as you become more familiar with the card and the game.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 30, 2016


    A "what-if" question, part 2

    >From: Becca B
    >Sent: Friday, September 30, 2016 8:31 AM
    >Subject: Re: calling a tile
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks so much for your quick response to my question. We are just beginners and we definitely need time to think about calling for discarded tiles. We display lots of patience with ourselves and each other. We are not trying to be unkind or play cut-throat Mah Jongg. At this stage, we are looking at each other's hands, referring to the book, etc. However, in the book, Winning American Mah Jongg Strategies by Elaine Sandberg, on pages 42-44, she discusses that "racking is a legitimate defensive move and does what it is designed to do - keep opponents from calling a tile they need. If you choose to ignore it, you are not availing yourself of a powerful defensive strategy." Do you disagree with this? We were just wondering that, if and when we ever develop the skills to play faster, what the rule would be in the situation I described in my previous email?
    >Best,
    >Becca

    Hi, Becca. You wrote:

    in the book, Winning American Mah Jongg Strategies by Elaine Sandberg, on pages 42-44, she discusses that "racking is a legitimate defensive move and does what it is designed to do - keep opponents from calling a tile they need. If you choose to ignore it, you are not availing yourself of a powerful defensive strategy." Do you disagree with this?
    How can I state this strongly enough ... I absolutely disagree with that! In my own book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," I wrote: "... it's ungracious and aggressive. This practice, which can be called 'pick & rack,' makes it extremely difficult for anyone to claim the current live discard" (page 109). In its 2008 newsletter, the National Mah Jongg League's late president, Ruth Unger, quoted me (paraphrased) and added, "The League is in agreement." I espouse harmonious play, not aggressive, unkind, cutthroat screw-your-neighbor practices like pickandrack.

    if and when we ever develop the skills to play faster, what the rule would be in the situation I described in my previous email?
    The rules apply in all situations, no matter if you're at a corner and the next wall hasn't been served yet. There's no rule that says a player is supposed to grab the next wall tile as quickly as possible so another player has no chance to call the live discard. There's no rule that says a player has been wronged if she is unable to pick from the wall quickly enough to screw another player out of calling a discard. There's no rule that says a player is "screwed out of a turn" if another player calls a discard, changing the play order. As I said, I espouse harmonious play. I recommend that players pause a beat before picking, in order to give others a chance to call for the current discard. Pausing a beat does not slow the game down, and if players don't wrongly feel screwed out of a turn when another player calls a discard, pausing a beat leads to harmonious play. In official Chinese mah-jongg, there's a 3-second rule (a player has 3 seconds in which to claim a discard); that rule does not apply in American mah-jongg, but I wouldn't mind if it did - it would eliminate aggressive plays like pickandrack.

    Besides, I think your group is misreading Sandberg. Reread pages 43-44. She doesn't say "as soon as the player at your left has discarded, pick and rack as quickly as possible." All she says is "once you have picked a tile, rack it." She espouses firmly closing the window of opportunity (she doesn't use the phrase "window of opportunity" - that's mine, and it's explained in FAQ 19 and in my book) rather than leaving it open while you think about the picked tile you're looking at. A lot of experienced players have the ability to quickly look at the picked tile and knowing right away if it's wanted or not, and are able to discard it without racking (there's no rule that says a player must rack a picked tile). Sandberg does, however, say that preventing another player from claiming a discard is good defensive strategy. I disagree with that, too; in my opinion, an opponent making an exposure is a thing I don't mind that much, because I get information from those exposures. The small benefit you get from screwing another player out of making an exposure is balanced by the information gained thereby, AND it's outweighed by the overweening need for a harmonious game.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 30, 2016


    A "what-if" question

    >From: Becca B
    >Sent: Friday, September 30, 2016 6:27 AM
    >Subject: calling a tile
    >Hi Tom,
    >A group of beginners gathered at my house to play Mah Jongg. We are all just learning and the instructors among us have only a few more months of experience than the complete newbies. So we are certainly not playing fast and super-competitively. Nevertheless, a "what-if" question arose:
    >West picked the last tile from the wall in the middle (two walls remained against the racks) and then she discarded. So at that moment, a new wall had not been pushed out and North immediately calls for West's discarded tile. But....South interjects that she would have taken her turn,speedily and quickly drawing the next tile, thus preventing North from calling for the discarded tile, had there been a wall of tiles in the middle. She had nothing to draw from unless she reached across the table and drew from a wall which had not yet been pushed out.
    >What is the protocol for this situation? Again, at this stage, we are not playing so competitively that South would not have given North a moment to think and call for the just discarded tile. Considering the rule that once a tile has been picked and racked, then the most recently discarded tile is dead, we were just wondering the rule. I guess there are only 4 moments in a game in which this situation could occur.
    >Thank you for considering our question!
    >Best regards,
    >Becca

    Hi, Becca. Responding to your Q's:

    West picked the last tile from the wall in the middle (two walls remained against the racks) and then she discarded. So at that moment, a new wall had not been pushed out and North immediately calls for West's discarded tile. But....South interjects that she would have taken her turn,speedily and quickly drawing the next tile, thus preventing North from calling for the discarded tile, had there been a wall of tiles in the middle.
    Hold on right there. This raises a couple of questions in my mind.
    Does South think it's a player's job, or her right, to prevent other players from ever calling a discard? Is that the basis of her interjection? I do not condone that kind of behavior. I prefer a kinder, gentler style of play, in which all players have a chance to call any discard. Aggressive high-speed screw-your-neighbor play is downright unkind.
    When you say "West, North, South," I don't suppose you're using those compass directions the way they're used in the vast majority of the mah-jongg world. I suppose you're instead using them the way American tournament organizers do - as if the compass directions correspond to compass directions on a map, while looking down on the map from above. I suppose you imagine that South normally plays after West, and East plays after South? You might notice that I never refer to any compass directions except East when I'm talking about American mah-jongg, because American mah-jongg tournament organizers do it backwards compared to the rest of the mah-jongg world. And the official National Mah Jongg League rules do not refer to any compass direction except East (play order goes "East, Right From East, Across From East, Left of East"). It's not my intent to confuse you or any other American mah-jongg players by asking for this clarification from you - I ask only so that I can fully understand your question.

    What is the protocol for this situation?
    The protocol is that the player sitting at the next wall should push out her wall, without somebody complaining that she is too slow to push out her wall. The customary phrase is "Your wall, dear." And if somebody wants to call for a discard, that's her right. And the next wall can be pushed out while something else is going on. Let's be nice to each other. It's a game, and it's supposed to be fun.

    Again, at this stage, we are not playing so competitively that South would not have given North a moment to think and call for the just discarded tile.
    Really? Then why did she say what she said? It makes no sense to me. In essence, she was saying, "Wait, North, you can't call that discard, because I didn't have an opportunity to pickandrack so fast that you wouldn't be able to call that discard!" Huh? Just let North call for the discard, while the next wall is being pushed out!

    I guess there are only 4 moments in a game in which this situation could occur.
    There are zero moments in a game in which this situation should occur. A player's right to call a discard is not trumped by a player's "right" to prevent her from calling it. Besides, if you're thinking each corner offers an opportunity for a delay in picking and discarding (with an additional opportunity for somebody to complain about something or other), that's not correct. The first corner is encountered during the deal, not during play. And I've never heard of any reason for complaining about anything at wall corners more than any other time. I believe each player should pause just a beat before reaching to pick from the wall, precisely so that other players have a chance to call the live discard. And Ruth Unger, the late president of the League, agreed with me on that. She said so in print, in the League's 2008 newsletter.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 30, 2016


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now?

    >From: Kimberly B
    >Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2016 3:39 PM
    >Subject: Mispoken Discard
    >What should happen if a player discards a tile but uses the wrong name (i.e. calls 4 dot when it is actually a 4 bam). The next player, not realizing the error picks her next tile from the wall. Before racking it but after viewing it, another player realizes the error and wants to call the 4 bam, but the player wants the tile she already viewed?

    Hi, Kimberly. Welcome to my website. You asked:

    What should happen if a player discards a tile but uses the wrong name
    It depends on what else happens. There's more to your question, but I'll answer that part with my stock reply: "The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question, please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AY. You can link to the FAQs above left"

    The next player, not realizing the error picks her next tile from the wall. Before racking it but after viewing it, another player realizes the error and wants to call the 4 bam, but the player wants the tile she already viewed?
    As it says in FAQ 19-AY, the game can't continue until the discarder corrects her error (she must say the correct name of the tile she discarded). Then, once that is accomplished, your question is about the "window of opportunity." Read FAQ 19-C.

    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    You might have follow-up questions after you read the FAQs. You're always welcome to come back and ask those.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 29, 2016


    Column 659, problem 1

    >From: Elisegk
    >Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2016 6:43 AM
    >Subject: col 659 problem 1
    >Hi tom,
    >looked through the comments and surprisingly didn't see this one~
    >for problem 1, could also be making 1122 111222 3333, so 1 and 2 in dots and bams are also hot tiles!
    >love your column!
    >best regards,
    >Elise

    You're absolutely right, Elise. Consec. #5 is also an option, with key tiles. I'm adding this to the column.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 29, 2016


    Identify Maj Jongg set

    >From: Anne K
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 2:51 PM
    >Subject: Identify Maj Jongg set
    >At the senior cneter I play Mah Jongg at they have a set that I can't seem to identify. It has 3suits, 16 flowers, 16 winds and 12 dragons. There are no jokers. I've attached a photo of part of the set. Based on the number of tiles it may be Malaysian or Thai.
    >Included in the case are National Mah Jongg cards from 1967-1968. Not sure if they are related to the set or not.
    >Also, if you can identiy the type of set can you direct to to instructions on playing that version?
    >Thanks in advance for your time and assistance.

    Hello, Anne. To reply to parts of your email:

    At the senior cneter I play Mah Jongg at they have a set that I can't seem to identify.
    Not sure what you mean by "identify."

    Based on the number of tiles it may be Malaysian or Thai.
    So I take it you have read FAQ 2B or 7A. And I think you've helped me by pointing out that the FAQs don't cover the evolution of sets and styles. Did you see the older "Mah-Lowe" set in FAQ 7A? I'm going to add wording to that section to cover changes that American sets went through in the forties, fifties, and sixties. It's an American set, based on the photo. Those dragons and racks are a dead giveaway.

    It has 3suits, 16 flowers, 16 winds and 12 dragons. There are no jokers.
    So, 152 tiles.

    Included in the case are National Mah Jongg cards from 1967-1968. Not sure if they are related to the set or not.
    They are related.

    Also, if you can identiy the type of set can you direct to to instructions on playing that version?
    It's an American set, probably from 1967 (yet apparently in like-new condition). Read column 509. Eight of the flowers need to be stickered as jokers, and then the set can be used to play with today's NMJL card. As for how to play American mah-jongg, I recommend my own book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind." There is also the League's official rulebook, and Elaine Sandberg wrote a book for novices of the American game. See FAQ 3. But people who try to learn from a book often misconstrue some of the rules. My book is clear, for those inclined to read carefully. (^_^) But even so, the official rules are a must.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 27, 2016


    Column 659, problem 3

    >From: Colette S
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 7:21 AM
    >Subject: Column #659, #3
    >Please indulge a novice's confusion. It appears to me that Odds #2 would require a 7B pung and 7C kong. Odds #6 requires a 1D pair, 3D pair and a 7B pung. You state that 7D (not 7C) is hot but I don't see where it fits. Thanks for a great column. Colette S

    Colette, please don't knock yourself as a "confused novice." You're right, I goofed when I said 7D instead of 7C. I didn't proofread the column thoroughly enough before posting. The hot tiles are 7B 7C 1D 3D, with 1D 3D as key tiles. A tip o' the hat to you!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 27, 2016


    Column 659, problem 8

    >From: Beth P
    >Sent: Sunday, September 25, 2016 7:05 PM
    >Subject: Strategy column
    >Hello Tom, In your new column #659 #8 the consecutive run is # 3 not #4 with key tiles 7C,7D and 7B. Right? Thanks for your great web site! Beth

    Very good, Beth! My brain got dyslexically stuck on #4 as outer number kongs with a middle pung and a dragon pung (from a previous card). I'm appending your email to the column.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 25, 2016


    New column posted

    New column is up! Today's column is on defense (what do you do when an opponent is showing exposures).
    Tom
    Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016


    Sort order

    >From: Marilyn C
    >Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2016 10:34 AM
    >Subject: American mahj rack set up
    >Hi Tom,
    >Usually I set up my rack in American mah jong according to suits, numbers, etc. Is there an advantage to setting up numerically and then later arrange the tiles according to suit? Will it make more hands more visibly accessible.
    > Marilyn C

    Hi, Marilyn. You wrote:

    Usually I set up my rack in American mah jong according to suits, numbers, etc.
    That's the way I do it (see column 652, for instance).

    Is there an advantage to setting up numerically and then later arrange the tiles according to suit?
    None that I know of, which is why I don't do that.

    Will it make more hands more visibly accessible.
    Not for me, but everybody's brain works differently.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 22, 2016


    The final play... part 2

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Saturday, September 17, 2016 9:59 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >In the question/answer "final play" - I do not believe that after the last tile was picked up and displayed in an exposure, not for MJ, that anyone could exchange for the joker and call MJ legally as someone's turn does not begin until they either call a discard or pick from the wall and only then are they allowed to exchange a symbol tile for a joker. In this case, there is no tile in the wall to pick up, but there is a discard to call. So if the other player called for the discard, then exchanged for the joker would she be able to legally call MJ. She would not be able to just exchange the joker for MJ.
    >Do you agree?
    >Bee

    Very good, Bee. You are indeed correct. Nobody is holding 14 tiles, so nobody can redeem the joker. But you are also correct that there is an issue with someone calling the last discard to make an exposure - now she must discard (as you say), and that discard could possibly give someone mah-jongg. So the last discard, because someone called it for exposure, was not the last discard after all. I sit corrected, and you get a tip o' the top hat!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 17, 2016


    The final play... or was it?
    [With corrections]

    >From: Suzanne B
    >Sent: Saturday, September 17, 2016 8:40 AM
    >Subject: Best MJ question ever
    >First of all I did hunt through all your FAQ answers and just want to say you have endless patience with many of those qu's! Duh! Anyway could not find the answer I needed. So here goes.....
    >BTW I have taught 87 ladies in my community because when I retired here....no one played. Now I have many to play with. We don't gamble....fun only....therefore some rules are "bent" .
    >Here's the thing. The game ended with the LAST tile being picked up by a player and displayed but NOT for MJ. Just because she wanted to...so she displayed it with a joker. No prob....a wall game....no matter. BUT one of the other players would have been able to exchange that joker and make her MJ! Was the game already over as no more tiles were available? Or could the game have been regarded as still going seeing as a player had a "play"? I didn't know the answer. As its all friendly and fun we just left it as is and went for a glass of wine.
    >Would love to get your advice should it happen again....unlikely but....
    >And sorry if this answer is handled somewhere. I did search.....honest!
    >Thanks Suzanne??

    Hi, Suzanne. You asked:

    the LAST tile being picked up by a player and displayed but NOT for MJ. Just because she wanted to...so she displayed it with a joker.
    Incredibly bad play!

    Was the game already over as no more tiles were available?
    The game was over, if nobody could redeem the new joker and make mah-jongg. [I goofed with these responses to Suzanne. See Bee's subsequent post, above.]

    Or could the game have been regarded as still going seeing as a player had a "play"?
    The game wasn't still going. But somebody theoretically could have redeemed the new joker and declared mah-jongg.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 17, 2016


    My sets don't have white dragons but they have blanks

    >From: Claudia
    >Sent: Saturday, September 17, 2016 11:56 AM
    >Subject: old sets
    >I have two old mah Jongg sets, neither of which includes white dragons or jokers.
    >They do have four blank tiles. Were these used as white dragons?
    >Thanks for any help -
    >claudiag63

    Hi, Claudia.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 7-E. You can link to the FAQs above left. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 2, 2016


    Joker redemption fail, part 2

    >From: Anita M
    >Sent: Saturday, September 17, 2016 5:33 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Regarding: Joker redemption fail, not noticed until much later
    >My thoughts on this are different than your answer. I don’t believe Player C is dead. She made a mistake with the exchange but the ultimate responsibility lies with Player A. We are all responsible for what’s on and in our racks. Seeing as there are no NMJL rules saying a player is dead if he/she exchanges a wrong tile for a Joker, I believe only Player A is dead. This is one important reason for not exchanging a Joker yourself but handing it to the player for exchange. In this case I think that’s what occurred.
    >So I believe Player A is dead and Player C will be scowled at for the rest of the game.
    >Anita

    Hi, Anita.
    Thanks for your thoughts on the question. I believe the game is messed up in this instance. Player C has a joker she shouldn't have, and Player A was killed by another player's mistake (and yes, Players A, B, and D also erred). The error cannot be rectified, so the game should be thrown in. See FAQ 9, Philosophy 5.d.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 17, 2016


    Joker redemption fail, not noticed until much later

    >From: JoAnn S
    >Sent: Friday, September 16, 2016 1:39 PM
    >Subject: Dead hand penalty
    >I looked for the answer, but was unable to find it on my own.
    >Player A exposed 3- 2 Bams and a joker
    >Player B took her turn then Player C took her turn and gave Player A a 3 bam in exchange for the Joker. Players D, A, B all took their turns again, before it was discovered Player A exposer was not correct. I know that Player is dead, but my question is: is player C penalized for giving the wrong tile in exchange for the joker.
    >Thanks so much for your help.
    >JoAnn

    Hi, JoAnn. Thanks for looking for the answer before asking, but I don't remember anybody ever asking me this before! This is decidedly not a frequently asked question.
    Because Player C screwed up royally, she's dead. Because Player A has an illegal exposure atop her rack, she's dead. The hand should be thrown in (seriously - all players screwed up), and all players should go see their eye doctors to have their eyes checked for new prescriptions. (Either that, or simply look at what's going on, instead of wearing horse blinders.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 16, 2016


    Who gets a discard, part 5

    >From: Alva L
    >Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2016 9:27 AM
    >Subject: Re: Question regarding discards and window of opportunity
    >I appreciate your extensive knowledge and willingness to share.


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now?

    >From: Anne F
    >Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2016 8:45 AM
    >Subject: mis-named tile
    >Hi Tom,
    >Sorry if this has already been covered in previous questions, but, a player discards a tile – says “7 crack”. Other player calls the “7 crack” and exposes her two “7 cracks”. At this time discarder realizes and others realize that discarder has thrown a “7 bam”…Is anyone dead? Exposer is annoyed that she has now “exposed herself” and puts tiles back…everyone yells/chastises the discarder for being an idiot and play continues…What’s the correct protocol???
    >Thanks for any clarity you can give here…Anne F

    Hi, Anne.
    For one thing, correct protocol does not include yelling and chastising! (^_^) Misnamer made "an honest mistake" (that's in quotes because I recently wrote column 657 on that topic), and if there's a penalty to be applied, it can be done without raised voices or blaming. Anyway, the question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AY. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Make sure you read the whole FAQ (don't stop reading FAQ 19-AY before you get to FAQ 19-AZ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 15, 2016


    Who gets a discard, part 4

    >From: Alva L
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 14, 2016 10:59 AM
    >Subject: Question regarding discards and window of opportunity
    >I understand that that once a player's tiles are exposed after picking up a discard, the window of opportunity for others to claim that tile is over.
    >However, does this general rule apply if, after the first player exposes the discard with tiles from her hand on her rack, but not for Mah Jong, a second player then states that she needed that tile for Mah Jong?
    >This occurred in a recent game, and our group is very curious as to the answer.
    >Thanks for your time and expertise.
    >Best wishes, Alva L

    Hi, Alva.
    In the majority of cases, "mah-jongg trumps everything." The claim for mah-jongg overrides the claim for exposure. But I can imagine a case where the maj claimant spoke too slowly. See "who gets a discard, part 3" (August 11, 2016 8:07 AM, below). The League has made it clear that the next in line acted too slowly if she waited until after the first claimant has already exposed - and it follows that this could also apply to a call for mah-jongg. I was not present at your table to witness your event, so I don't know if the first claimant acted aggressively fast or if the erstwhile winner spoke very quickly. Because I think the timing matters, but I don't know how much the timing matters to the League. If you want an official ruling from the League, you should send them your question in a self-addressed stamped envelope. And if you do that, you should provide more detail about the timing of the two calls. Then it would be great if you could come back and share what they said.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 14, 2016


    Exposure etiquette, part 3

    I just had a thought regarding Lynn P's email of the 8th, in which she wrote:

    >2. A player was playing a concealed hand, called the discarded winning tile and said she had Mah jongg but instead of displaying her tiles on the top rack she turned the whole rack around so we all could see it. I said she was supposed to put all the tiles on her top rack but she disagreed.

    There is a good reason why this is not a good alternative to putting her tiles atop the rack. All players need to study her hand thoroughly so they know (a) what hand it is and (b) that it's correctly formed, and (c) what it's worth. If she's going to turn the rack around and hold it in the air for all to see, her arms can get tired while she waits for some players to finish the study. She would have a reason for impatience with that wait, and would tend to either hold it for too short a time, or to put pressure on the other player(s) to hurry up and agree that the hand is valid. If she turns the rack around and holds it in the air, that could amount to a subtle form of controlling behavior.
    If, on the other hand, she turns the rack around and rests it on the table for all to study without pressure, then I see no problem with that. Many players seem to regard the rack as a stationary piece of furniture, never to be moved. But in fact, moving the rack is recommended when the dealer is serving out the first wall (and when others serve their walls, of course).

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 13, 2016


    Looking to buy a vintage set and don't know the diff between Chinese and American sets

    >From: Louise W
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 2:29 AM
    >Subject: Question
    >Dear Tom,
    >I”m sorry but for some reason I couldn’t link to your FAQ page. I’m sure the answer would have been there. My question is probably something you’re asked all the time and have a cut-and-paste answer to.
    >I’m looking into buying a Vintage set and don’t know the difference between Chinese and American (Western) It seems to be Chinese have 144 and are missing (for Americans) either jokers or flowers.
    >Can you clarify for me
    >Thanks
    >Louise

    Louise,
    I don't understand what you mean when you say you couldn't link to FAQ 7a. If you mean you couldn't figure out which FAQ is the one that explains the difference between Chinese and American sets, then the one you need is FAQ 7a. If you mean when you click an FAQ 7a link, your browser doesn't open FAQ 7a, then I don't know what's wrong. Maybe you need to use a different browser, or a different computer. It's impractical for me to put the information from FAQ 7a here on the Q&A board, so you really need to find a way to view FAQ 7a.

    [Added later] Some businesses or institutions might block sites about games. China's "great firewall" blocked my site some years back - I don't know if it still does. If my site is blocked where you tried reading my website, then try again from somewhere else.

    Then there are two other questions:

    Why does it matter what the difference is, unless you don't know the requirements of the kind of mah-jongg that you play? If you play American mah-jongg, you know you need 8 jokers and 8 flowers beyond the customary basic 136 (for a total of 152 tiles), and you know you need corner indices on the tiles because most Americans can't read Chinese numbers (craks) or Chinese words (winds), and you know you need racks. So all you have to do is find a set that contains the parts that you require.

    Why do you want a "vintage" set, and what does "vintage" mean to you? The word "vintage" does not have a hard-and-fast definition that means the same thing to every buyer or seller. Some sellers might call a set "vintage" if it's 20 years old (made before 1996) - would you agree that an early nineties set was "vintage"? (I wouldn't.) And what's the difference between a set made in the early nineties versus a set made this year, or last year, other than the passage of time?

    Rather than worry about how a Chinese set differs from an American set, just look for a set that contains the parts needed by the variant you play. Don't go seeking out sets labeled "vintage," but rather look for whatever characteristics you want in the set.

    May the tiles be with you (literally).
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 13, 2016


    Help me out, part 2

    >From: "loriⒶnarvar.com"
    >Sent: Monday, September 12, 2016 7:10 PM
    >Subject: Re: mah jongg
    >Thank you!!!

    You're welcome.


    Help me out in finding a group

    >From: Lori Tenan <lorinarvar.com>
    >Sent: Monday, September 12, 2016 4:47 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg
    >Hi Tom,
    >I found your name in searching for Mah Jongg groups to play in Los Angeles. Could you help me out in finding a group or lessons in the LA area?
    >Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    >Thank you!
    >-Lori

    Done. (I posted your email on the Find Players Bulletin Board). And I have a list of "just teachers" in FAQ 4-A.
    May the players be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 12, 2016


    Exposure etiquette, part 2

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Thursday, September 8, 2016 9:22 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I am looking forward to reading your Sunday column. I think you did another column concerning an email I sent you a while back. Well my lady Mah Jongg friends will keep you in columns for the rest of the year maybe. We are a great fun loving bunch with the oldest being 89 and the youngest 69. We do try so hard to wear our poker faces but it seems they can always tell when mine is crooked like today!!!! Thanks to you we play by the NMJL rules and we all enjoy playing Mah Jongg as often as we can. Enjoy the weekend. Muchas Gracias, Muito Obrigado, Merci Beaucoup, Veel Dank, Vielen Dank, Thank you very much, Lynn P

    Bitte and dou itashimashite, Lynn. The column is live now.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 9, 2016


    Exposure etiquette

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Thursday, September 8, 2016 3:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg this afternoon some incidents happened: 1. Player called a 9 bam, displayed it with a joker and another 9 bam on her top rack. Then she said she meant to put another 9 bam she had in her hand with the other 2 and not the joker. Another player said because she hadn’t discarded she could. We all agreed.
    >2. A player was playing a concealed hand, called the discarded winning tile and said she had Mah jongg but instead of displaying her tiles on the top rack she turned the whole rack around so we all could see it. I said she was supposed to put all the tiles on her top rack but she disagreed.
    >3. A player displayed her called tiles on the top rack all close together so it was hard to tell what hand she was playing. She was showing consecutive tiles . She had displayed three 2s, three 3s, and three 5s which she had called and then for no reason displayed two 4s and a joker. We told her she can’t display the 4 s since she didn’t call for a 4. She said she wanted to put them all out. Another player said to separate the displayed sets to make it easier for other players to tell her intended hand. She said that was her point because she wanted it to be difficult for the others to tell what her hand was. I told her it was a courtesy to separate the tiles on her top rack so she did. She did put the 4s back on her slanted rack and separated the displayed tiles. Then it dawned on us she was playing a concealed hand!!
    >These seem to be minor but these gals want the correct answers so I told them I would write to my Mah Jongg Guru, Tom. Whew what a day but I was the big winner!!!! Appreciate all your help and thank you a bunch. Lynn P

    Hi, Lynn. Responding to your items, by the numbers:
    Correct.
    Turning the rack around accomplishes the desired purpose, although it is not standard practice. If all agree that her hand is correct, then no harm done. But she needs to act according to standard practices.
    I'm going to need to break this one down:

    A player displayed her called tiles on the top rack all close together
    That's not good etiquette. Called exposures must be placed with spaces between them.

    so it was hard to tell what hand she was playing.
    It is not her job to broadcast to everyone what hand she is playing, unless she claims mah-jongg. If she claims mah-jongg, she must place the exposed groupings in card order, with spaces between them. But if she's not claiming mah-jongg, it's up to the other players to try to figure out what hand she might be making.

    She had displayed three 2s, three 3s, and three 5s which she had called
    And nobody called her dead for exposing a concealed hand?

    and then for no reason displayed two 4s and a joker. ... She said she wanted to put them all out.
    Is this the same person Kathy B wrote about on August 19 ("She exposes her tiles, part 2"), below?

    Another player said to separate the displayed sets to make it easier for other players to tell her intended hand.
    That's wrong. As I explained above, the reason why the sets must be spaced is because that's good etiquette (so players can tell which tiles are part of which set) - not so other players can decipher the hand.

    She said that was her point because she wanted it to be difficult for the others to tell what her hand was.
    That's good strategy, but there must be spaces between sets.

    She did put the 4s back on her slanted rack and separated the displayed tiles. Then it dawned on us she was playing a concealed hand!!
    It's about time! You all should have figured that out with the exposure of the fives third set.

    I am inspired by this with a topic for a column for this Sunday! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 8, 2016


    What if I have mahj after the second left?

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Thursday, September 8, 2016 6:52 AM
    >Subject: I could not find this answer
    >Hi Tom,
    > If I have MJ after the second left in the Charleston, can I stop the Charleston then? I know that "MJ trumps all" but does it trump the Charleston?
    >Thanks, Linda

    Linda, you should have stopped the Charleston before the second left. The second across is mandatory (I call that the "sticky second across" because it can often screw you up if you didn't stop the Charleston). Read FAQ 19-BJ and column 636. On the plus side, if you pass wisely, you'll probably still win the hand.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 8, 2016


    Heading to Mumbai, part 2

    >From: Joan S
    >Sent: Saturday, September 3, 2016 9:28 PM
    >Subject: Re: Any ideas how to get a MJ game in Mumbai? I will be there this month. Thanks.
    >Thanks so much.
    >Your trip looked amazing.
    >I have met so many interesting people and learned so much by playing MJ in different countries I have visited.
    >Hope to meet you if you ever make it to NYC.
    >Joan


    Heading to Mumbai

    >From: Joan S
    >Sent: Saturday, September 3, 2016 8:56 PM
    >Subject: Any ideas how to get a MJ game in Mumbai? I will be there this month. Thanks.
    >Joan S
    >tel: [deleted]
    >fax: [deleted]
    >cell: [deleted]
    >email: [deleted]
    >Skype: [deleted]

    Hi, Joan.
    I suppose you saw my story about visiting Mumbai (http://www.sloperama.com/Mumbai/mumbai1.htm). As I wrote above, "Please do not ask to be put in touch with other people who've posted here, if their email addresses are not shown here. Please don't put me in that uncomfortable position." So I'm not giving you Sushila Singh's contact information. I forwarded your email to her. Whether she gets back to you or not is up to her.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 3, 2016


    These flowers are a hodgepodge, part 2

    >From: Wanda H
    >Sent: Saturday, September 3, 2016 2:40 PM
    >Subject: Re: Question about Mah Jongg set
    >Tom -
    >Thanks for your reply and for the notification.
    >Since it is so usual for the flower tiles NOT to be in a orderly, symmetric set, I'm thinking that the value range you have given for such a set assumes it will have a hodgepodge of flower tiles such as these.
    >Wanda

    No. My valuations do not assume hodgepodges.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 3, 2016


    These flowers are a hodgepodge

    >From: Wanda H
    >Sent: Saturday, September 3, 2016 10:56 AM
    >Subject: Question about Mah Jongg set
    >Tom -
    >I am a new player of American Mah Jongg. I just found your site this week. Very helpful! Thanks. I've ordered your book.
    >I am looking on eBay for a set. I have found one that I like (starting bid $100). The set is described as "Vintage Cardinal MAH JONGG Set 152 Catalin Tiles 4 BAKELITE Racks." The description of the set seems accurate. Adequate pictures are provided to evaluate. From my reading of your site, the starting bid seems to be at the bottom of the range that you quote for such a set.
    >The set has 8 Jokers, 4 of them with stickers. I understand that this is normal and is acceptable to me. I have asked for confirmation that these 8 Joker tiles match the rest in size and appearance.
    >My question is about the Flowers. They are a hodgepodge, but there are 8. I have attached the image provided on eBay. I've also asked for confirmation that these tiles match the set in appearance.
    >My question: Does this make-up of Flower tiles decrease the value of the set appreciably?
    >Thank you for your time and expertise.
    >Wanda

    Hi, Wanda.
    I'm not sure what you're asking. Are you talking about the fact that there are four ones, two twos, and one 3 and 4 respectively? Or the fact that there are 5 that depict flowers and 3 that depict people? Because none of that is unusual in these old sets. A previous owner gave away some of her flowers to others (perhaps to use as jokers), and turned some into jokers. You could always remove the stickers from the stickered jokers and reassign which ones should be stickered, if you are looking for some kind of symmetry. The owner who chose to keep these 8 tiles as flowers wasn't worried about non-hodge-podginess, for a simple reason: the designs and numbers on flower tiles are inconsequential in play. As a perfectionist myself, I would have kept a set of 1234 and another set of 1234, not only for the sake of orderliness but also so the set could be used to play Chinese mah-jongg.
    I suppose I haven't answered your question?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 3, 2016


    Donation

    >From: Julia B via PayPal
    >Sent: Friday, September 2, 2016 8:18 PM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $5.00 USD from Julia B
    >The number above is the donor's receipt ID for this transaction. Please retain it for your records so that you will be able to reference this transaction for customer service.
    >View the details of this transaction online
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Julia B
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thanks, Julia.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 3, 2016


    Looking for what my set might go for, part 3

    >From: Judy F
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 5:48 AM
    >Subject: Thank you Tom for your time
    >Thank you Tom.
    >Yes you were right I miss counted the jokers first time around. It was good you had me lay them out as you did.
    >The lines you see in the tiles is a manufacturing defect no cracks. A number of them have that. Was hoping that would make them more valuable like the errors in printing money.
    >You are probably right with the age of the set since her first card was 1979.
    >Now next step is to sell it. Thinking $100, cards and all.
    >Can I put it back on your board?
    >Thanks much
    >Judy

    Hi, Judy.
    I don't know why you think I took your post down from the Sets For Sale board - you could have just looked there, and seen that it's still there. However, it has an error in it. Tell you what, I'll fix the error, and change 10 jokers to 8.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 31, 2016


    Looking for what my set might go for, part 2

    >From: Judy Faintich
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 6:02 AM
    >Subject: I'm looking for a valuation and what kind of plastic on this set. My grandmother had in the Sixties
    >Tom,
    >I'm so sorry for the confusion. Thought I read you wanted photos listed in a URL :(
    >Let's try this again:
    >Set For Sale:
    >1960s Cardinal American
    ># of tiles: 152 total which include 8 jokers, 8 flowers, and 8 dragons
    > Color of tiles: white
    > Material the tiles are made of: plastic and like new
    > Description of case: green alligator and very good condition
    > Accessories included: 5 racks all different colors and very good condition and a set of dice. There are also a few cards from 1979 and 1980 in perfect condition.
    > Overall condition of set: very good complete set of racks and tiles.
    > Below JPGs of the set
    >Thank you so much
    >Judy

    Judy, sorry for the confusion.
    When you posted your set for sale on my Sets For Sale board, I didn't want you to email me pictures because I don't need the extra work posting your pictures for your sale. But when you asked me to evaluate your set for you, I wanted you to email me pictures because I don't need the extra work involved in going and getting your pictures.
    Now it's my turn to be confused. When you posted your set for sale, you said the set had 10 jokers, but now you tell me it has 8. You say it has 8 dragons, but your pictures show that all 12 dragons are present. You should read FAQ 7-E and FAQ 7-B.
    You say your set is from the sixties but you didn't say where you get that information. If your set was made in the sixties, it was made no earlier than 1968, since the National Mah Jongg League didn't mandate 8 jokers until then. It could have been made any time between 1968 and 1979 (most likely, the seventies, in my opinion).
    Next, you say the set is in VG condition. It has defects, but you didn't mention them in your sales pitch. See the photo of the 8 Craks - the one at the left appears to have cracks. Looking at the one on the right, there are lines that look like manufacturing defects, so maybe the one on the left isn't cracked but simply has the same manufacturing defects. It's hard to tell from the photo, and when you talk to a potential buyer you have to honestly describe these flaws.
    The cards in your set are worth money on their own - they're probably worth $5 each, maybe more. Many collectors desire to build complete collections of cards. You might sell those separately rather than sell them with the set.
    You said there is "a set of dice," but you didn't say how many or what color or size, and you didn't show them in your photo. You didn't mention chips (see FAQ 7-D), so I assume there are none.
    Your dragons and jokers have gold paint on them, which is an attractive feature of the set. So it has flaws and good things. Odd that there are no extra tiles in the set (only the bare minimum of 152). Maybe the extras were given to another player for the purpose of creating jokers. You asked what kind of plastic the tiles are; I don't know. Read FAQ 7-C3.
    I believe the set is worth $120, give or take, assuming no other tiles but those two 8 Craks are flawed.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 30, 2016


    Looking for what my set might go for. Can you help please Tom?

    >From: Judy Faintich
    >Sent: Monday, August 29, 2016 7:17 PM
    >Subject: Looking for what my set might go for. Can you help please Tom?
    >Set For Sale:
    ># of tiles: 152, 10 jokers, 1960s Cardinal American
    >Color of tiles: white
    >Material the tiles are made of: plastic
    >Description of case: green alligator
    >Accessories included: 5 racks all different colors
    >Overall condition of set: very good
    >URL where you can see pictures:
    >mailto:jfaintich.24571@uploads.photobucket.com?subject=Mobile+Uploads

    Sorry, Judy, I can't help unless you give me the information I need and email me the photos I need (like it says above, I don't follow links for you). Please read Frequently Asked Question 7-H. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    I see that this is exactly the same thing you posted on my Sets For Sale board yesterday. I need better information, like for instance does "152, 10 jokers" mean "152 tiles" or does it mean "162 tiles"? I can't tell what those 2 numbers mean. And when you send me the pictures, please don't send me a boatload (and don't send just 2 or 3). See the FAQ. You may also need to read FAQ 7-D.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 29, 2016


    Robbing the kong

    >From: Veronica H
    >Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2016 6:41 PM
    >Subject: Chinese MJ
    >You have answered questions for me before and I appreciate your time and expertise.
    >As I have told you before, when I joined this MJ club, I was told we play the Hong Kong version. We don't. Whoever taught these women to play customized the game for ease of scoring. Pure hands worth 6, semi pure worth 3, all Pung hand worth 3, your flower worth 1, your wind worth 1 and so on. Our score sheet also states robbing the Kong is worth one point.
    >We also pay (immediately) one dime to a person who gets a Kong or 20 cents (immediately) to someone with a hidden/concealed Kong.
    >If someone draws in her own MJ everyone pays. If someone throws the discarded tile that someone calls up for MJ, only that person pays. Again, these are probably club rules rather than official.
    >My dilemma is robbing the Kong. No one agrees on how this should be paid out. Just wanted your opinion (or rule if there is one) on how the one who MJ'D should be paid.
    >Some players say that the person who kongs her exposed Pung should be paid for her Kong before the person calling MJ calls for that tile. In my mind that would not be robbing the Kong. But going along with our scoring structure, if I draw a Kong to my exposed Pung and someone robs me, am I the one who pays her (which would be treating it as a discarded tile)?
    >There may not be an "official" rule to cover this as I said this club modified some version of the game. Just wanted your opinion on how you would rule.
    >Thanks again for your time.
    >Roni

    Hi, Roni.
    It's a shame that the person who set your club's rules failed to document this often-misunderstood rule. We can look at how this rule is handled in two popular forms: Japanese riichi/dora majan and Chinese Majiang Competition Rules.
    - In Japanese rules, robbing the kong (chankan) is considered win by discard (the player who was robbed being the "discarder"). So your group's argument about whether the konger should collect for konging is moot; the kong is robbed, so she pays (she does not collect). I imagine your group understands that robbing the kong happens at the instant that the konger is promoting her exposed pung to a kong, and only if robbing it completes the hand, giving the robber mah-jongg. See FAQ 25.
    - In Chinese MCR, too, robbing the kong is treated as win by discard. So again, the konger doesn't get paid - she just pays.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 29, 2016


    Teaching the American card, part 2

    >From: HW M
    >Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2016 4:29 PM
    >Subject: Teaching to Play using the Card - Part 2
    >Thanks Tom for your speedy reply. I did read that before - I may have misinterpreted it, but would love to clarify. I assumed what I read to mean that after the explanation of the card that players would then pick a combination and form it from tiles that are all face-up on the table in order to demonstrate to all players what it would look like. However, when they actually start to play and have their 13 tiles dealt face up in front of them, is that the time you are referring to when you have each player choose a combination that they will try to build as that specific round is played?
    >Thanks again.
    >Helene.

    No. When they deal and get a raw hand, I walk them through choosing a hand based on the tiles. All players play the first few hands face up atop the rack, for learning purposes. I guide them along the way.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 28, 2016


    Teaching the American card

    >From: HW M
    >Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2016 2:08 PM
    >Subject: Teaching to play using the Card
    >Hi Tom - I am teaching a few friends to play American style Mah-Jongg. I have followed advice from your site and have started with the big square, identification of tiles, playing exposed with pungs, kongs, pairs, then introducing walls and charleston. Those 2 sessions went well. Tomorrow I will introduce the card and explain how that works. My question: when we start to play some games using the card (and still exposed for all to see), do you think it a good idea to only play from a portion of the card? For example only look at the far left side to start (or even just subsets from the far left), next time from the middle, then finally the far right. Do you use a different strategy when starting to play from the card?
    >Many Thanks,
    >Helene

    No. Have the players choose any hand from the card and form it (with all the tiles face up). Each player should make whatever hand she picks from the card. If you start with just part of the card, that could influence the students' future thinking, and make them fearful of trying other sections.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 28, 2016


    Can I claim a discarded redeemable tile? (FAQ 19-M2)

    >From: Glen K
    >Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2016 11:07 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong question
    >Hi Tom
    >Sorry to bother you but we have a question that we don’t seem to understand the response.
    >A player has on his stand visible N, N, Joker, N. The player who plays just before him draws a North tile, misses exchanging it with the other player’s Joker and discards the N tile. Can the next player who has the Joker with his 3 North tiles pick up the North tile that has been discarded, replace his joker with the North tile and keep his own joker for another use?
    >Sharron

    Hi, Sharron.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-M2. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 28, 2016


    Was she right to call me dead?

    >From: Judy M
    >Sent: Friday, August 26, 2016 4:37 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >I have never contacted you before, and am eager to get an answer to my question! Please let me know how I will receive your answer.
    >Today at Mah Jongg I had the following exposure on my rack:
    >777(bams) 9999(craks)
    >I was called dead. I was playing the hand below.
    >13579 Group
    >2nd hand to the right: 555 777 7777 9999
    >The player called me dead because she had an exposure of three 7 craks and said that I couldn't make the hand that she thought I was playing. I challenged her and said that I was not dead for two reasons.
    >I had one 7crak in my hand and certainly had the possibility of getting three jokers before the game ends (there were at least 45-ish tiles left in the walls). She said that I couldn't use the possibility of acquiring three jokers as justification of my hand not being dead. She said that she was
    >calling me dead based on what was in my hand at that moment and not what I might get before the game is over.
    >What do you say about my hand at that moment vs. the hand I could get before the game is over.
    >Also, there was another hand on the card I could have played based on my exposure:
    >6th hand under 13579 Group
    >11 33 555 777 9999
    >I had not ruled out trying to do this hand -- even though I didn't have the two pairs, the two pairs were not in the discard pile or in anyone's exposures.
    >The player who called me dead is absolutely adorable. We both thought we knew the rule but then decided that we needed the help of
    >experts.
    >i love mah jongg.
    >Judy M
    >I understand calling someone dead because they need a pair or pairs (or a single or singles) for their hand and based on the discards it is obvious that their hand is dead -- and they can't use jokers for a single or pair.

    Hi, Judy.
    She is wrong. You can't legally be called dead unless, as you say, a needed pair cannot possibly be made - or you're making a concealed hand - or there is no hand on the card you could possibly be making. [And the proof of it is visible to all.*] Read FAQs 19-AA and 19-AB. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2016

    * [Bracketed text added later, Aug. 28.]


    Can I use zero in Consecutive Runs? 

    >From: Carol S
    >Sent: Friday, August 26, 2016 5:47 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I’ve been playing Mah Jongg for nearly 15 years, but today, a relatively new member to the group asked a question that we veterans had never considered. Of course, we all assume the answer is “no” as it usually is, but consider this: If white dragons may be used as zeros and to be considered “suit-less,” shouldn’t it be possible to use them, for instance, in a consecutive run hand? When the card says that the hand can be, for instance, any three consecutive numbers…couldn’t the run begin with zeros, then ones and twos? I can’t find any rule that tells me that the lowest number in a hand has to be “ones…” Why not zeros?
    >Carol

    Hi, Carol.
    Please read FAQ 19-BH. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left.
    If you want a reason for, or justification of, a National Mah Jongg League rule, you need to send your question with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the League. Their address is on the card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2016


    Used the wrong wall, part 3

    >From: "bill@mahjonggfunla.com"
    >Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2016 8:00 PM
    >Subject: RE: Re: Answer
    >Actually, I looked again and it was from the 1995-1996 bulletin

    Your collection goes back farther than mine!


    Used the wrong wall, part 2

    >From: "bill@mahjonggfunla.com"
    >Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2016 11:44 AM
    >Subject: Answer
    >Hi Tom,
    >The following is the answer to Ellen PF's question dated 8/22
    >This was taken from the 1998 NMJL Bulletin:

    Great, Bill! Thanks! Now to add that to my errata...
    Um, wait. I have a photocopy of the 1998 bulletin, and I can't find that in there...
    Okay, I checked the 1997 and 1999 bulletins, and it's in both of those. I believe your scan is from 1999. Thanks again!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 24, 2016


    A player misnamed a discard, part 2

    A follow-up on my reply to Lori today.
    The pertinent ruling from the NMJL can be seen at http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive34.htm#nmjl150302. FAQ 19-AY and FAQ 19-AM and FAQ 9 all come into play here.
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom


    A player misnamed a discard, and another player exposed. Now what?

    >From: Lori Berti P
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 12:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I really have spent the better of an hour looking through the FAQ and the column of Q & A for the answer to a recent situation/disagreement that came up at my MJ group’s last game. And I think I know the answer but want to hear it from you so it becomes “gospel” for the group.
    >Player A discarded a tile and miscalled it. Player C called it and exposed some of her tiles. Player A said, I’m sorry I miscalled the tile. Player C was very upset and felt there should be some penalty or what else I’m not sure because she felt she had been wronged. I was the 5th sitting out and said, “You should have looked to see the tile was on the table before you started to expose” and that only upset C more. She claimed she did nothing wrong by exposing to receive the tile she called for. I read and re-read FAQ AY #2 however, I would like to know if Player C has any option other than returning her tiles to her rack and continuing to play which of course she has now shown the table part of her hand.
    >Thank you for you wonderful strategy columns and of course the hundreds of answers to the never-ending questions.
    >May the craks and bams be with you.
    >Lori P

    Hi, Lori.
    Sorry you spent an hour on that! You probably took so long to find it in FAQ 19 because you searched for the term "miscalled" but I don't use that term - if you had searched for "misnamed" you would have found FAQ 19-AY faster. (I explained my reasoning for not liking the term "miscalled" in column 353 - because the term "call" is ambiguous - it can mean, and be interpreted to mean, more than one thing.)
    However... although FAQ 19-AY is the "misnamed" FAQ, this exact circumstance (caller exposed after discarder misnamed) is not mentioned (as you noticed). And I don't know if I ever saw a written rule on that from the League. So, you did good finding what I'd written about this. Let's put this together from two official rules and with principles in FAQ 9 as well.

    - Rule (see FAQ 19-AY): when a player wants a misnamed tile for exposure, there is no penalty to the misnamer.
    - Rule (per different rulings given in yearly newsletters): when a player has exposed tiles from her hand, she has committed to the action and may not undo her action.
    - Principle (see FAQ 9): when an error occurs, determine who erred to see if a penalty should apply. In this case, two players erred. The discarder erred when she misnamed the discard. The caller erred when she exposed tiles from her hand without bothering to look at the discarded tile first. I have often written about how foolish it is to play with one's ears only (without bothering to also use one's eyes).

    So, how do we put these rules and principles together?
    - In a friendly home game, you could permit the foolish exposer to put her tiles back on the sloping front of her rack.
    - In a strict tournament setting, the tournament judge might call the foolish exposer dead, and might even penalize the misnamer as well.

    By the way, as the 5th player, you should not have spoken up (especially if you were betting on who would win) - unless asked for an opinion by all the other players.
    And lastly, my answer is not "gospel." I'm an interpreter of the official rules, not the maker of the rules. If you want a "gospel" answer, send the question with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the NMJL (the snailmail address is on the card).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 24, 2016


    Used the wrong wall

    >From: Ellen P F
    >Sent: Monday, August 22, 2016 5:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >Hi Tom,
    >During our American Mah Jongg game today, I accidentally pushed out my wall out of turn. We continued to play and
    >finally realized my mistake after we pushed out the next wall. One of the players stated that playing with the wrong wall
    >is against the rules.
    >I am not familiar with this rule. Should we have ended the game? Several of us agreed that it was okey to continue the game.
    >However, we’re thinking of creating a table rule which states that, in future games, the tiles should all be thrown in if tiles are removed from the wrong
    >wall during play.
    >Thank you,
    >Ellen F

    Hi, Ellen.
    That rule isn't in the official rulebook. I wrote in my book (page 59, rule 90.c.) that if a wrong wall is used, it's not discovered until it can't be remedied (players can't replace tiles on the wall), that the remaining walls "should be rearranged in any manner deemed satisfactory, so as to prevent further errors."
    I don't recall what source I took that rule from. I may have based it on something I read in a newsletter, or I may have based it on an understanding of what the vast majority of players would do if there was no written rule from the League. Basically, what your group decided to do.
    To obtain the Official rule from the League, you should send the question in writing, with a self-addressed stamped envelope, to the address on the card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 22, 2016


    Column 630 (March 22, 2015)

    >From: Chris K
    >Sent: Saturday, August 20, 2016 11:27 AM
    >Subject: Column 630, Charleston Strategy part 1 -- minor oopsie
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for your many online MahJongg topics, and your book (which I’ve purchased). I’ve taught some beginners, and now that they’ve been playing for a short while, they’ve approached me with questions about how to select a hand, how to change hands, etc. Because I’m still a relative newbie myself, I mine your writings and those of Elaine Sandberg to get solid advice I can share with the learners.
    >I noticed in your column 630 the text, “Are twos and nines friends? No; not unless the card includes a "2+9=11" hand. And I've never seen that combination yet.”
    >Maybe you’d consider updating that text and the related “Not Friends” graphic example, since the 2016 card includes a 2+9=11 hand.
    >Cheerio,
    >Chris(tine) K

    Hi, Chris.
    Okay, I'm considering...
    No. In March 2015, when I wrote that, the 2015 card had not yet arrived in our mailboxes. The 2+9=11 hand didn't arrive until the 2016 card. So I don't think the word "oopsie" applies in the least. Rather than amend that column, I'll append this email to it. Frosted Flakes back at you!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 20, 2016


    She exposes her tiles, part 2

    >From: Kathy B
    >To: Jan K; Tom Sloper
    >Cc: Irene R; Kathy B
    >Sent: Friday, August 19, 2016 4:22 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question and Answer
    >As you know I was concerned about a player exposing tiles without calling for a discarded tile and/or calling Mah Jongg. She stated keeping the tiles on her rack confused her and there was no Nat'l Mah Jongg rule against it.
    >I received the response from Tom Sloper and now, attached is the National Mah Jongg League, Inc.'s response.
    >It is not legal and the player's play may call her/him dead.
    >Kathy


    Click the image to view larger

    Well done, Kathy.
    Now you do have the rule in writing.
    I've observed some of my students insisting on putting gaps between their tile groupings, and I've observed them turning tiles upside down. I got an email from someone who told of a player who turned her tiles sideways, and I've gotten email from people who told of players who wanted to put some of their tiles on the card instead of the sloping front of the rack. There are players who get confused by an uninterrupted row of 13 or 14 tiles! Those players should get a mah-jongg tile-matching app, and improve their ability to see tiles without so much confusion.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 19, 2016


    Seven Sisters, part 2

    >From: Jana B
    >Sent: Friday, August 19, 2016 8:32 AM
    >Subject: Re: Question about 7 sisters
    >Hi,
    >Thanks so much for your quick response. Well since I’m the person who won with the 4 identical tiles and our group doesn’t have a book we use to settle matters I will advocate adopting the MCR!
    >(I apologize about the capitalizations in my 1st email — I did not realize they are considered "shouting.” ??
    >Best,
    >Jana

    >From: Jana B
    >Sent: Friday, August 19, 2016 8:34 AM
    >Subject: Re: Question about 7 sisters
    >Sorry for this extra email — but I just realized I already have your book - it was a great gift from a good friend. Thanks for writing it!

    You're welcome, Jana. Since you already have my book, you can show your friends page 180, and you're off the hook!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 19, 2016


    Seven Sisters (two of whom are identical twins)

    >From: Jana B
    >Sent: Friday, August 19, 2016 7:47 AM
    >Subject: Question about 7 sisters
    >Hi,
    >We play Chinese Mahjongg. A BIG disagreement came up about a Seven Sisters hand that I don’t think you have already answered. Is it acceptable to have two identical pairs in the hand, i.e. 4 of the same suit, 4 winds, or 4 honors —(I.e. identical twins!) to make up the 7 pairs — or does each pair have to be different?
    >Many thanks. I LOVE your site.
    >Jana

    Hi, Jana.
    It depends. Which Chinese variant do you play? Is there a book you use as your guide to your rules? In MCR (Majiang Competition Rules), it is permitted. But you didn't say what rules you play by.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 19, 2016


    Pickandrack

    >From: "historyadc
    >Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2016 10:13 PM
    >Subject: Picking/calling speed?
    >Hi: was wondering if u would kindly clarify a point for our players. I believe I read somewhere that there is a rule "of seconds" for American mahjongg after a tile is thrown between that point and when the next tile is picked. One of our players claims she plays defensively and speedily grabs & racks her tile to prevent anyone else from calling said tile. I mentioned that I thought there was a rule perhaps 4 seconds between a thrown tile, and when the next person can pick. Would you know if there is a rule pertaining to the speed of picking by the National Mahjongg League, or any American supporting organization?
    >Many thanks.
    >Arlene Cohen

    Hi, Arlene. You wrote:

    I believe I read somewhere that there is a rule "of seconds" for American mahjongg after a tile is thrown between that point and when the next tile is picked.
    If you read something like that here on this bulletin board, you read exactly the opposite. In my response to Lee S on Thursday, August 11 ("Who gets a discard, part 3," below), I said that the NMJL does not specify a time window.

    One of our players claims she plays defensively and speedily grabs & racks her tile to prevent anyone else from calling said tile.
    That's not "defensive," that's "highly aggressive." In my book, I wrote: "... it's ungracious and aggressive. This practice, which can be called 'pick & rack,' makes it extremely difficult for anyone to claim the current live discard" (page 109). In its 2008 newsletter, the National Mah Jongg League's late president, Ruth Unger, quoted me (paraphrased) and added, "The League is in agreement."
    I wonder why your player thinks this is such a good idea? Perhaps she thinks that the rule permitting another player to call for a discard (therefore causing her own turn to be skipped) is unfair? But at the same time, it's perfectly fair if she herself calls for a discard (therefore causing someone else's turn to be skipped)? I wonder where this thinking comes from. I wrote a lot more about pick & rack (or "pickandrack") in FAQ 19-AD and in an extensive rant at the bottom of FAQ 19.

    I mentioned that I thought there was a rule perhaps 4 seconds between a thrown tile, and when the next person can pick. Would you know if there is a rule pertaining to the speed of picking by the National Mahjongg League, or any American supporting organization?
    No. I mentioned to Lee S that the official Chinese rule is that as long as a claim for a discard happens within 3 seconds, the claim is honored. The NMJL has no such rule. Perhaps that's what you read, but misremembered?
    What I wrote in FAQ 19 and in my book (page 109) is that a player should simply pause a beat at the start of her turn before reaching and taking a tile from the wall (thus giving another player a chance to claim the current live discard).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 19, 2016


    Which newsletter, part 3

    >From: Helynn P via PayPal
    >Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2016 9:49 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Helynn P
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Helynn P. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Helynn P
    >Message: Tom, I appreciate all the time you spent answering all my questions about playing MJ. Also like you strategy columns and advice. Now when I look at my new tiles I think "What would Tom do?" Thanks, Lynn P.
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Lynn! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 18, 2016


    Can I redeem a joker from my own rack, part 2

    >From: Carol S
    >Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2016 9:30 AM
    >Subject: Re: self picked
    >Thank you for this clarification and timely response

    You're welcome, Carol. But I wish you'd tell me where you read that contradictory information!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 2, 2016


    Can I redeem a joker from my own rack, for mah-jongg?

    >From: Carol S
    >Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2016 6:55 AM
    >Subject: self picked
    >> A player discards a tile I need and I call for it. I then exchange a tile from my hand for joker from an exposure on top of my rack. I then use it to add to another suit and call mah jongg. Is this considered self picked? I read recently to have a self picked mah jongg the exchange of a tile from my hand for a joker has to be from someone else’s rack not mine.

    Hi, Carol.
    Yes, it's self-pick (nobody threw that joker that gave you mah-jongg, not that anybody can ever take a discarded joker anyway). However, others may cry foul that you are asking everyone to pay double since you already had that joker replacement tile in hand. On June 13, Mary E wrote (in "Holding back, part 2") describing this exact play... I mean, ploy. Please scroll down (about halfway down the board) and read what I wrote in response to her.
    As I wrote in FAQ 19-M, you can redeem a joker from your own rack. There's nothing in the rules that forbid redeeming from your own rack for mah-jongg, but doing it the way you describe could make people mad at you.
    Lastly - you said you "read recently to have a self picked mah jongg the exchange of a tile from my hand for a joker has to be from someone else’s rack not mine." Can you please tell me where you read that? Because you surely didn't read that in the official rulebook or in a newsletter from the NMJL.


    The official rulebook, and a newsletter/bulletin.
    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription to
    the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    If you DID read it in the rulebook or a newsletter, please tell me where so I can check the official wording. Because I don't recall ever seeing that, and I regularly scour those publications thoroughly. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 18, 2016


    Which newsletter, part 2

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 8:24 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: re: my August 16 email; I told the lady mentioned in this email what was written on page 24 of NMJL rule book. She got hers out, turned to the page and read what it said. Then she said that players could vote on how they wanted to proceed. When I explained the difference in time lapse of time between the NMJL’s way and her way she sort of agreed to the MJL’s way to play so we shall see what happens next time we have only 5 players. So this little book is the Bible and contains the RULES for playing MJ according to the NMJL! Then the newsletters must have the new rules and updates in them. I ordered a NMJL book for myself tonight so now I will have yours, theirs and the newsletters. Thanks again for all your help over the years. I certainly appreciate all the work you do helping us be better players. Lynn P.

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    She got hers out, turned to the page and read what it said. Then she said that players could vote on how they wanted to proceed.
    So, she acknowledged that the way she'd been doing it all those years is not according to the official rules after all. Very good. Then she played the FAQ 14 card: we can set our own table rules. Also very good. I think when your players all understand that no player will ever sit out all by herself for longer than 15-20 minutes at a time, I think they'll vote for the official rule. When I was in a fivesome, I used to take some reading with me. I often didn't get that much reading done!

    So this little book is the Bible and contains the RULES for playing MJ according to the NMJL! Then the newsletters must have the new rules and updates in them.
    I thought I'd been saying exactly that all along. I'm glad you see it!

    I ordered a NMJL book for myself tonight
    YES!!

    so now I will have yours, theirs and the newsletters.
    You're a newsletter keeper!! Excellent!

    Thanks again for all your help over the years. I certainly appreciate all the work you do helping us be better players.
    Aw, shucks.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 17, 2016


    Which newsletter is this rule from?

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2016 7:28 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is Playing American Mah Jongg with 5 players: In your book “The Red Dragon & The West Wind” on p. 66 #120 is says “After each game, the player who dealt the just-completed hand shall relinquish her seat to the fifth player.” So the person who was just EAST (Dealer) moves to be the player sitting out. Is this a NMJL rule? Do you know which NMJL Bulletin it was stated in? I just began playing in another group and when we have 5 players the leader insists that the “official way to play” is to have the 5th player sit out until every player at the table has a turn being east. So figuring each game takes about 15 minutes to play that 5th player would be sitting out almost an hour before she even got to play one game. I plan on bringing your book in to show her but she has been playing for years and insists she is correct. Any help will be appreciated since the others just go along with whatever she says. Thanks, Lynn P.

    Hi, Lynn.
    That rule isn't from a yearly newsletter. It's straight out of the official rulebook. Page 24.
    You say you're going to take my book to the next game to prove the rule to your experienced player? DON'T DO THAT. I keep telling everyone: my book is not the official rules. If you want to prove to someone the officialness of a rule, show it to them in the official rulebook! If it's not in the rulebook, then show them the rule in a yearly newsletter. If it's not in a newsletter either, then send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the League and get the rule in writing from the source. My book does contain all the rules I knew of in 2007, and it explains them in language that's more explanatory than the official rules -- so my book is informative, but it's not official, so you can't use it to prove something to a doubter.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 16, 2016


    Who gets a discard, part 3

    >From: Lee S
    >Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2016 8:07 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >With regard to the question posed as to who gets a discard, I understand that a player who claims a tile for Mahjongg has the right to the discard. However in the situation mentioned another player had claimed the tile and made her exposure. How much time must be given before a player wakes up to claim the tile for Mahjongg?
    >Lee

    Hi, Lee.
    You are of course right that mah-jongg trumps a call for exposure. The National Mah Jongg League rules do not specify a time limit, unfortunately.* Actions by other players can shut the window on a slow player, under the NMJL rules. If a player exposes tiles from her hand before another player realizes she needed the tile for mah-jongg, she snoozed so she loses.
    That's how I understand the League's rule - if you have doubts and need confirmation, you should send a stamped self-addressed envelope to the League; the address is on the card.
    *Official Chinese rules are friendlier about this - there's a 3-second window in which a player can make a claim. But hey, this is America.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 11, 2016


    Can I combine, part 2

    >From: Lynn and Steve P
    >Cc: Kay W; Webber J; Lynn and Steve P; Helen W; Evanne J; Lea K; Debb C
    >Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2016 8:23 AM
    >Subject: Re: chinese mah jong question on scoring pairs cosisting of honors/terminals
    >The answer is already there! And yes…we can!  I will go read the prohibitions again.. super info. Super Tom!  Thanks Debb!

    You're welcome Debb. Lynn. Steve. Et al.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 11, 2016


    Can I combine Seven Pairs with All Terminals and Honors?

    >From: Debb C
    >Cc: Kay W; Webber J; Lynn and Steve P; Helen W; Evanne J; Lea K
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 9:27 PM
    >Subject: chinese mah jong question on scoring pairs cosisting of honors/terminals
    >we play chinese using your most recent book as our guide
    >I checked your FAQs and didn't find the answer to our question:
    >With a 'hand ' of pairs (24 points) that are all honors and terminals, can one take the terminal and honors points (32 points) as well?
    >for example: DD, GG, WW, EE, 99B, 11C, SS
    >thanks for the expert claification
    >debb C

    Hi, Debb.
    Looking at those two fan on page 149 of my book, neither hand says it may not be combined with the other. That should tell you that they can. And if that doesn't convince you, take a look at rule 64 on page 139 (also defined in FAQ 22 here on my site). Examine each prohibition, and you will see that none of them applies to the two fan you mentioned.
    a. Is it inevitable, when making Seven Pairs, that each pair must be honors or terminals? No. How about the other way around: when making All Terminals and Honors, is it inevitable that they'd be pairs? No.
    b. Is there an untoward "separation" that can occur? Not applicable.
    c. Are you forming identical patterns with a set that has already been combined? No.
    d. Do we have to make a choice between different patterns? No.
    e. Is this repetitive set usage? No.

    Or instead of going through all the above, just read rule 62 at the bottom of page 138. You're permitted to combine fan if not otherwise indicated, and if not prohibited by the principles in rule 64. So: how much is 24 points plus 32 points (plus 8 points for going mah-jongg)? \(^_^)/

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 11, 2016


    She exposes her tiles so she can keep from being confused

    >From: Kathy B
    >Cc: Jan K; Kathy B
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 7:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Tom...
    >I don't see this question/answer in your file.
    >I was referred to you by my friend, Jan, who swears by your advise. We ran into this very bizarre situation last week and need expert Nat'l Mah Jongg advise. I also sent a letter to the National Mah Jongg League, in New York, asking the same question, but don't know long it takes to receive a response.
    >ISSUE:
    >Player exposes her tiles, on her rack, without calling for a discarded tile or calling Mah Jongg. Of course she only does this when she's not playing a closed hand.
    >Example: Player exposes 4 Flowers and three Jokers on her rack, stating the Jokers are 8 Bams. When questioned why she did this, she says she does this all the time and by doing so, she doesn't get confused by what's in her hand, and there's no National Mah Jongg rule that says she can't do this.
    >Is this practice acceptable? Is she correct? It's a very strange practice but if there is a rule regarding this practice, I would surely like to know about it. Yes ... She can. No ...She can't and show me the ruling that states that.
    >Thank you, in advance, for your expert advise regarding this very bizarre practice.
    >Kathy B

    Hi, Kathy.
    I'm sure the League will tell you it's an improper move. I'll have a look at the official rulebook and see if there's applicable wording there. But let me explain why this is a terrible thing to do first.
    First, she's giving away information to her opponents. By showing exposures, opponents can figure out what hand she's making, and they can act to prevent her from winning. Exposing tiles from your hand is not a privilege, it's an onerous obligation! You're required to expose a set completed by a taken discard (exposure is the price of taking the discard).
    Second, if she really exposes an all-joker set, she's foolishly pre-assigning her jokers, destroying their usefulness as other tiles they might be, and opening the door for opponents to redeem them. I always teach my students (novices and intermediate alike) not to pre-assign jokers, until and unless the hand is nearly complete.
    You say she says she does this all the time. She must play with lax or inexperienced players (yourselves not included), and she must not win very much.
    Okay. I've said what I wanted about how terrible this is, strategically. Next, I'll see if I can find wording in the rulebook. There might not be, but it should be obvious that under the rules, a player should not act in such a way as to give information unnecessarily to her opponents.
    Well. I looked, and I can't say that I found any wording expressly forbidding this. That does not mean it's permitted. There is also nothing in the rulebook that says "a player may not look at tiles in the wall," but isn't it obvious that a player may not look at tiles in the wall? Just because there's no rule, that doesn't mean she can do what she does. As previously noted, it certainly isn't wise to do what she does.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 10, 2016


    Who gets a discard, part 2

    >From: curtis h
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 3:08 PM
    >Subject: Re: calling for a discarded tile
    >Thanks for your response. Another person involved in this game did find your FAQ and forwarded it to me. Guess I stopped reading too soon.
    >May the jokers be with you.
    >Bette

    No problem, Bette! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 9, 2016


    Who gets a discard if two want it for the same thing? What if one of them exposed?

    >From: curtis h
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 12:20 PM
    >Subject: calling for a discarded tile
    >Hi Tom
    >I did read your responses to when you can call for a discarded tile but did not see this question addressed. Here's the situation:
    >A tile was discarded and called for by a player not next to the discarder. The person who called for the tile picked it up and exposed her tiles. This was not for a mahjongg. Only after the tiles were exposed did the person next to the discarder call for the tile. We reverted to the rule that the person next in line gets the tile as long as it is not called by another for mahjongg.
    >Is there a rule for this?
    >Thanks for your help.
    >~Bette
    >Curt H

    Hi, Bette.
    I don't know what responses you read, but this is answered in Frequently Asked Question 19-H. You have to read the entire FAQ (don't stop until you see " Q: Who gets a discard if one wants it for mah-jongg?" because if you stop reading before you get to FAQ 19-I, you might miss the answer to your question!).
    You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 9, 2016


    Can I claim a discarded joker redeemable tile? (part 2)

    >From: maureen
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 12:09 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Question
    >Please see my question below. I looked at the answer you posted. I think I need to clarify my question. It's not the joker that is discarded it's a regular tile (for example 9 circle). Can I call for that tile and replace my joker with it. Can I then keep my joker. The player discarded the 9 circle rather than taking my joker for it because she has no use for a joker. Hope this makes sense 

    Doh! Sorry, Maureen. My bad. I misread your question.
    The correct answer (the answer I should have given you before) is, please read Frequently Asked Question 19-G2, "Can I claim a discarded redeemable tile?" I have written answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions, and you can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA, USA

    August 9, 2016


    Picking from wrong end of wall

    >From: Jeanne P
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 11:28 AM
    >Subject: Picking from wrong end of wall
    >Both players A and B pick from the wrong end of the pushed out wall. Player C notices the error. What happens?

    Hi, Jeanne.
    I assume we're talking about American mah-jongg, since you mentioned pushing out the wall. If this happened during the deal, then what I would hope would happen is that player C would tell the other players to put their tiles back on the wall.
    If it's not during the deal, and two players took turns picking from the wrong end of the wall, then the game is ruined and all tiles need to be thrown in.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 9, 2016


    Can I claim a discarded joker?

    >From: maureen
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 9:36 AM
    >Subject: Question
    >I have for example a quad exposed and one of the tiles in it is a joker. My neighbor discards a tile that matches my run but because she doesn't want my joker she doesn't exchange the tile for my joker. Can I I know up her discard and replace my joker with it. Do I keep the joker in my hand?

    Hi, Maureen. Welcome to my website.
    I believe you are asking Frequently Asked Question 19-G, "Can I claim a discarded joker?" I have written answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions, and you can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    Oh - and also see column 463! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA, USA

    August 9, 2016


    Picked this up at a flea market, part 2

    >From: "cathkais
    >Sent: Monday, August 8, 2016 7:19 PM
    >Subject: Re: Question about Mahjong set value
    >I have attached additional jpgs to illustrate the tiles' condition. I would describe the condition as "fine." I had previously described the tiles as needing to be cleaned. I took the time to wipe several tiles and while cleaner, a close observation reveals a residual "motleyed" appearance to the surface. Photo #1 illustrates the motleyed appearance. The fourth photo shows two tiles side by side: the left one (S) has not yet been cleaned; the right tile (W) is after being cleaned. The surface is still a little motleyed. The second photo shows the "shine," hopefully allowing you to suggest whether it is bakelite or Chinese plastic. The third photo shows a bam tile that has a discolored back. Those are the only defects that I can detect. I did not mention in my first email that there is one die (green) and about half the chips (I'm not sure how many chips there are supposed to be, but two of the racks are only about half full. One other detail I just noticed is that the "white-colored" tiles in the photo of "other" tiles I sent with my first email have slightly different dimensions that the other tiles, so presumably came from a different set?
    >
    >From: "cathkais
    >Sent: Monday, August 8, 2016 7:37 PM
    >Subject: PS
    >I forgot to address the condition of the racks. They seem to be in fine condition, as indicated in the attached photo.

    Hi, Cathy.
    You say the tiles are Fine, so you deny that "any normal person would notice the defects without having to look for them," or even "any normal person would notice upon close examination." I think you're in denial. The tiles are Good or Very Good, not Fine. You say the racks are Fine, but the brass looks dull and tarnished to me (from the one small photo you sent). I'm going to say the tiles are Good and the racks are Very Good, giving you the benefit of the doubt. The set cannot be used to play modern American mah-jongg, since your mismatched tiles can't be stickered as jokers (they'd stand out like sore thumbs). The case is trashed, but it did a reasonable job of containing the parts. A collector wouldn't buy your set (it's not pretty enough), and a player who might buy your set would have to buy eight matching tiles to make jokers with, and would have to buy a new case and a pair of dice. So I'd say it's worth no more than $50, give or take.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 8, 2016


    Picked this up at a flea market in the 80s

    >From: "cathkais
    >Sent: Monday, August 8, 2016 2:58 PM
    >Subject: Question about Mahjong set value
    >Hi Tom - I picked up this mahjong set at a flea market in the 80s but have never done anything with it. Can you give me a guestimate as to its value? I include below the "checklist" information and have attached five photos (jpgs). Thanks in advance! - Cathy
    >Checklist:
    >The 144-tile set is complete. The tiles are 1 ¼ inches high, 7/8 inch wide and ½ inch deep. Although some tiles need to be wiped clean, the tiles themselves do not appear to have any defects. There is one joker and two blank tiles. There are no paper materials. I believe that the material is bakelite, but I am only basing that on a comparison with photos on the web. In addition, there are two miscellaneous groups of “other” tiles (jpgs attached). There are four green racks and an “alligator” box that is definitely in worn condition.
    >Attached jpgs:
    >1. The 144-tile set
    >2. The craks
    >3. One bam and one flower
    >4. Dragons
    >5. The miscellaneous extras and joker

    Hi, Cathy.
    I can't tell from your photos if the yellow tiles are Bakelite (which is shiny) or what collectors call "Chinese Bakelite" (which is not shiny). You didn't tell me enough to give you a valuation. You didn't tell me the condition of the tiles and the racks. You said the tiles are dirty but have no defects - that's not good enough. Please see FAQ 7H again and tell me the condition of the tiles and the racks (I understand the case is "definitely worn" and that there are no dice or chips). By the way, it's a good thing you told me the photos are JPGs because otherwise I would have had no clue (you stripped the file extension off when you renamed the pictures).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 8, 2016


    Two 50+ year old sets I inherited (do you still do that?)

    >From: animeprincess
    >Sent: Monday, August 8, 2016 10:35 AM
    >Subject: Mah jong web page
    >Dear Tom,
    >I have found your information packed website while trying to research information and valuation on two (50 + year old)sets that I inherited. Before I submitted pictures to you I wanted to confirm that you are still accepting pictures for valuation purposes.
    >I thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.
    >Leslie A S

    Hello, Leslie. You wrote:

    I wanted to confirm that you are still accepting pictures for valuation purposes.
    You can just scroll down (or page down) this board, notice the dates, and see for yourself!

    I thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.
    Woo-eee! You sure talk fancy! (^_^) I can hardly wait to see these two treasures. Please follow the guidelines in FAQ 7H, and please read FAQ 7P. From here, you can link to the FAQs using the links above left. Please don't send information about two sets in one email - keep them separate.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 8, 2016


    Why five racks?

    >From: Emily P H
    >Sent: Sunday, August 7, 2016 12:14 PM
    >Subject: mj question
    >My question is why do many old mahjongg sets come with 5 racks?
    >Is it possible for 5 people to play a game, and did they ever do that?
    >Thanks,
    >Emily P. H

    Hi, Emily. You asked:

    why do many old mahjongg sets come with 5 racks?
    That's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ), and I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. This question is answered in FAQ 7-D (all about racks, chips, and other bits & pieces of mah-jongg sets). You can link to the FAQs above left.

    Is it possible for 5 people to play a game
    Anything is possible except two things: time travel to the past, and the Star Trek holodeck.

    did they ever do that?
    They did. And they still do. Read FAQ 13-A. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 7, 2016


    She just blurted out information

    >From: franklin c
    >Sent: Sunday, August 7, 2016 6:45 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Alice discards red. Betty says "maj." Betty shows her tiles, and it's a hand comprised of pungs, kongs, and/or quints, with or without pairs (it is not a hand from the singles and pairs section of the card), and it doesn't have any jokers. Before Betty can announce her score another player says "It's Jokerless!". (Or, Betty does not mention the hand is Jokerless when she announces her score but another player does). Is there a rule about what just happened?

    Hi, Franklin.
    The only applicable rule in American mah-jongg about this incident is that the winner is to be paid only as much as she asks for. If a winner doesn't claim a jokerless bonus but only claims regular payment, she is to be paid what she asked for. A player who blurts out what the payment really ought to be is doing the winner a favor - IF she blurts it before the other non-winners have paid the winner. Once paid, payment is complete.

    That's the official rule, anyway. But I think it's kinder and gentler if players just pay what's due the winner. Fewer arguments, fewer discussions about rules.

    The official Chinese rules prescribe a penalty for players who give information about the game, but the American rules do not. So in American mah-jongg, table talk is more a matter of maintaining harmony. Players who blurt information don't exhibit much sophistication, and may annoy other players who keep information closer to the vest, but there isn't necessarily a rule violation for doing so.

    By the way, Lynn P wrote to me about a player who blurted information about a discarded joker, on June 11 (you can scroll down and read it). After I got that email, I wrote column 654.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 7, 2016


    Wash moves, part 2

    >From: "d-lau
    >Sent: Saturday, August 6, 2016 5:31 PM
    >Subject: Re: Are you still playing MJ?
    > Thanks for the quick answer, Tom.  I forgot about other rule sets where "shifting" the sequence is significant (but not in HKOS).  Thanks.  I'll have to visit your web site more often.  :-)
    > -Dee

    Glad I could help, Dee!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 6, 2016


    Wash moves

    >From: "d-lau
    >Sent: Saturday, August 6, 2016 4:43 PM
    >Subject: Are you still playing MJ?
    >Tom, it has been a long time since we communicated. Since the MJ news group is now dead, I don't know where to ask questions. But if you are still interested in MJ, here is a question for you.
    >The other day I was playing MJ (as usual, HKOS rules) and a novice player did a "wash" move during the game. I have never seen it done before. What I call a "wash" move is a do-nothing move, for example, to chow a tile and then discard exactly the same time, or to chow a tile and discard the other end of a triple (e.g., pick up a 6 to form 4-5-6 and discard a 3 of the same suit). Such a move does nothing except to skip the rotation of the draw. Has there been any discussions on such a move? As far as I know, there are no rules that prohibit it. But I don't know if there is a real case where such a move is useful. Any comments?
    >If you know of MJ web sites where such discussions take place, please let me know. Thanks.
    > -Dee

    Hi, Dee! It's great to hear from you again! I know of a website where they discuss Japanese mah-jongg - it's http://reachmahjong.com/en/forum/ - and there's a Facebook discussion group for American mah-jongg, "Mah Jongg, That's It!" There's also MahjongNews, which is more news than discussion, and there are a couple other blogs about American mah-jongg. Other than those, there's this board right here. People ask me mah-jongg questions all the time, and I answer them here. Today you wrote:

    a novice player did a "wash" move during the game. I have never seen it done before. ... Such a move does nothing except to skip the rotation of the draw. Has there been any discussions on such a move?
    Yes. The Japanese do not permit such a move. Not on one turn, anyway (if you wanted to discard the other end of a chow, you'd have to do it on a subsequent turn). Most rule sets are not codified in so much detail, and I don't know offhand if any other rule set prohibits a "wash move." As you noted, it's usually beginners who do it.

    I don't know if there is a real case where such a move is useful. Any comments?
    It would definitely be useful, in some cases, to have a chow shift up or down. To make two identical chows, when one has shifted chows (or vice versa) - or to make a "dragon" or "snake," for instance.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 6, 2016


    I don't see that on the card, part 2

    >From: "dm...
    >Sent: Friday, August 5, 2016 6:27 PM
    >Subject: I don't see that on the card!
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for your prompt response. The reason for my question was that today I legitimately called someone “dead” in our game for the first time in the three years we’ve been together. The game continued and wouldn’t you know I picked my own MJ.
    >Two players took offense and it was decided that we should wait until our fifth (the tie breaking vote) was there next week to see if the group wants to accept this rule. It was deemed unfriendly and then I pointed out that our rule of paying for the table for throwing MJ to a definite hand could be interpreted unfriendly as well. Wonder how the distinction between friendly and fair will be viewed.
    >I know the card will be looked at for this rule and that’s why I wrote to you. I did find the rule on page 28 of the NMJL booklet.
    >Your mention of paragraph two was a bit misleading. It’s the NMJL that should give some kind of reference to other instances. And it would be nice if they published the rules on their website instead of saying they are “copyrighted”.
    >In my eyes, you are the most accurate source on-line and in your book for the rules.
    >I’ve made a donation to further express my thanks for all you do.
    >With much appreciation,
    >Donna
    >
    >From: Donna M
    >Sent: Friday, August 5, 2016 5:55 PM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.00 USD from Donna M
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Donna Miller-Small
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thanks for the donation, Donna. To respond to what you wrote:

    I legitimately called someone “dead” in our game for the first time in the three years
    Wow, a group who never called anybody dead before!

    Two players took offense
    I guess they never read the official rulebook!

    It was deemed unfriendly
    Death challenges are a perfectly normal part of the game. If your players ever go to a tournament, or play with other groups, they'll experience death challenges. You can bet on it.

    our rule of paying for the table for throwing MJ to a definite hand could be interpreted unfriendly as well.
    It IS unfriendly. It's not part of the official rules, and in my opinion that's a very harsh rule.

    Your mention of paragraph two was a bit misleading.
    I have deleted it.

    It’s the NMJL that should give some kind of reference to other instances.
    They did - in the rulebook. There isn't room enough on the card for all the rules.

    And it would be nice if they published the rules on their website instead of saying they are “copyrighted”.
    The thing they're so jealously protecting is the front of the card (the collection of hands).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 5, 2016


    I don't see that on the card!

    >From: "dm....
    >Sent: Friday, August 5, 2016 2:44 PM
    >Subject: question
    >Tom,
    >I’m not seeing this on any of the NMJL cards I have have. Am I missing it?
    >In American mah-jongg, there is a rather harsh rule that permits any player to call any other player's hand "dead" (paragraph 2 of the middle pane of the back of the NMJL card) at any time (a player does not have to wait for her turn to call someone dead). A player may make such a "death challenge" for a number of reasons:
    >Thanks,
    >Donna

    Hi, Donna.
    Look on the back of the 2016 card. There's a section called MAH JONGG IN ERROR. Under that you'll find:

    If a player declares Mah Jongg in error... game continues but declarer's hand is dead... DEAD HAND DISCONTINUES PLAYING, DOES NOT PICK OR DISCARD.

    That particular rule on the card covers just one circumstance that qualifies a player for being declared dead. There isn't enough room on the card to thoroughly define every League rule, so FAQ 19-AA goes into a bit of detail about other circumstances that qualify a player for being declared dead. You can also see the official rulebook on p. 18-19, and you can also find rulings about death challenges in the 2005, 2009, and 2013 newsletters (and probably others as well). If you think the mention of paragraph 2 is misleading, maybe I should delete it from FAQ 19-AA.


    The official rulebook, and a newsletter/bulletin.
    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription to
    the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 5, 2016


    Verbalizing the blind pass

    >From: Beth P
    >Sent: Friday, August 5, 2016 2:09 PM
    >Subject: Verbalizing Blind Pass
    >Hello Tom,Thanks for your site and book. I have used the blind pass on several occasions lately and usually verbalize what I am doing. I can’t find a rule that says I must tell everyone and if they watch it would be obvious. I think I’ll stop the telling. What say you? Beth

    Hi, Beth.
    I hadn't given it much thought. But now that you mention it, I realize that when I blind pass, I don't say "blind passing." I don't see a need to telegraph the action to the other players. If you want an official ruling, you can send your question with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the League (their address is on the card).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 5, 2016


    What does "natural joker" mean?

    >From: Don W
    >Sent: Thursday, August 4, 2016 9:46 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: what does "natural joker" mean?

    Hi, Don. You didn't tell me where you found that term, so I can't see it in context, but I assume it means a manufactured (embossed) joker rather than a stickered joker.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA, USA

    August 4, 2016


    Frequently-Asked Questions about the 2016 National Mah Jongg League card

    >From: Laura G
    >To: Tom@sloperama
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 3, 2016 5:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thank you in advance for answering these questions related to the 2016 card...
    >Two questions of clarification related to the 2016 card in the 2016 section and in the Quints section, first hand....
    >a. In the year, 2016, I think each tile is considered a single tile and therefore JOKERS cannot be used. Is this correct. Also, if tiles in 2016 are considered single tiles, can you call a "needed" tile for this grouping and expose it on your rack?
    >b. In the first hand under QUINTS on the 2016 card, in the first grouping "1123", are these tiles considered single tiles and therefore jokers cannot be used? If so, can you "call" a needed tile for this grouping and expose it on your rack?
    >Thank you for answering and clarifying this part of the 2016 card as related to the rules of Mah Jongg..
    >Laura Green

    >From: Laura G
    >To: Tom@sloperama
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 3, 2016 5:56 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Mah Jongg Question
    >Tom,
    >I am sending questions again. Not sure that I typed your email correctly.
    >Laura Green
    >---------- Forwarded message ----------
    [omitted]

    Hi, Laura. You wrote:

    In the year, 2016, I think each tile is considered a single tile and therefore JOKERS cannot be used. Is this correct.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 16. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    Also, if tiles in 2016 are considered single tiles, can you call a "needed" tile for this grouping and expose it on your rack?
    Again: see FAQ 16.

    In the first hand under QUINTS on the 2016 card, in the first grouping "1123", are these tiles considered single tiles and therefore jokers cannot be used?
    Again: see FAQ 16. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    I am sending questions again. Not sure that I typed your email correctly.
    You could have looked in your Sent folder to check. But no harm done!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 3, 2016


    In need of a new strategy, part 2

    >From: claire h
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 3, 2016 10:35 AM
    >Subject: Tactics
    >Hi Tom,
    >In reply to your question's..........
    >When I have an uncertain hand at the start/ deal, yes I try to lay my least dangerous tiles whilst looking out for anything useful.
    >Unconnected is a hand that can be built from 14 tiles that do not make a chow or a pung or any other normal sequence, worth 6 Fan. So it is a good one if your whole hand at a deal looks really varied & full of Honours, but quite tricky to build whilst not discarding badly.We use the Jelte Rep "The Great Mahjong Book" which I love & I have many Ha! but we also have added in quite a few hands from Mahjong.wikidot.com which is where "Unconnected" came from.
    >When I say I let my hand build it's self I only mean in terms of careful discards, & not allowing my self to get fixed on one direction if it starts to lead in another after a few turns or so.
    >Thank you for reminding me about FAQ: 8 I had another little read of that & funnily enough I have been having much more luck of late.........Ha!
    >How do you deal with tricky, not going any where deals?
    >Thanks very much
    >Claire

    Hi, Claire. You wrote:

    I try to lay my least dangerous tiles whilst looking out for anything useful.
    So that's what you mean by "sabotage," then. Okay.

    We use the Jelte Rep "The Great Mahjong Book" which I love ...
    Oh. I could have looked in it, if I'd known. I suppose you mentioned that in your April 23 post, but I'd forgotten.

    ... & I have many Ha!
    Sorry, you lost me again. I presume that's a typo.

    about FAQ: 8 I had another little read of that & funnily enough I have been having much more luck of late.........Ha!
    Funnily enough!

    How do you deal with tricky, not going any where deals?
    I look to connections among my suit tiles, and strengthen those while discarding outliers. I try to clump suit tiles together numerically, usually to find chow combinations, but not always.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 3, 2016


    Why so many players are Jewish (FAQ 19-T)

    >From: "karenkd
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 4:39 PM
    >Subject: further insight into one of your questions
    >Hi Tom! While perusing your sight - again, it's my go-to place for MJ guidance - I came across the question:
    >Q: Why are so many players of American mah-jongg Jewish?
    >As a Jewish woman I was interested in this myself and found this explanation some time ago - one possible reason is that until relativiely recently, many country clubs were restricted and wouldn't admit Jews, so Jewish women were not able to join these venues to socialize and with other women, and so, began playing Mah Jongg as an alternative.
    >Just thought I'd share! Thanks, Karen

    Thanks, Karen. That's a plausible factor, added in to the other theories described in FAQ 19-T!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 2, 2016


    Give me some information, part 2

    >From: oldschoollee b
    >Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2016 3:18 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjongg set
    >Thank you Tom for getting back with me.  Ok  I re-took some photos of the set.  Is the red cube like a doubling cube in Backgammon? There are 112  1/2 scoring  sticks ,,< *one is broken in half. has 1 red dot> 
    >Hope I have the pictures lined up as so you can see all the faces.  

    Hi, Lee.
    No, the red die is not a doubling cube. I said it's a wind indicator. See FAQ 7D. I don't know what's going on with your four mystery tiles (the ones between the red dragons and the flowers). If those are stickers on here, then they can be removed - but it looks like serious damage and carving. Also I can see that a lot of your tiles have lost paint, which reduces the set's value. And since you didn't give me a breakdown of the scoring sticks, I have to assume some are missing. It's very hard to give you a good valuation on the set, since it has exceptional good points (black backs, the red die) and horrendous bad points (bad paint, cracked backs, missing sticks, missing papers). So I'd have to say it's worth no less than $25 and no more than $55 - just guessing.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 31, 2016


    Give me some information about it

    >From: oldschoollee b
    >Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2016 12:00 PM
    >Subject: Mahjongg set
    >Hello Tom,
    > I have a Mahjong set that I had acquired back in the early 90's when the Japanese were stationed at one of our Air Force Bases. I've tried looking on line to find a set close to the one I have but with no luck. The major difference is that my set doesn't have any numbers and just about every set I've seen has numbers on them. I believe they are bakelite for the pieces are quite heavy.
    > I'm enclosing photos of the set , *everything about it. I'm hoping you can give me some information about it and maybe what I can sell it for. I'm trying to get my life back in order and need to sell some things unfortunately.
    > If you need any other photos that would help just let me know and I'll do best on getting the shot you need.
    >Thank you for your time and what ever information you can enlighten me with.
    > Sincerely,
    >Lee W
    >
    >From: oldschoollee b
    >Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2016 12:07 PM
    >Subject: "When you email me, I own it."
    >I'm so sorry forgot to add that to my email I just sent to you. with the photos of my set .
    > Lee W
    >
    >From: oldschoollee b
    >Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2016 12:11 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong set
    >This is Lee again..
    >I'm really must be losing my mind, It wasn't the Japanese that were stationed at Luke AFB it was the Chinese.
    > I know your busy and sorry for the two extra emails ..
    > Lee W

    Hi, Lee. You asked:

    I'm hoping you can give me some information about it
    That question is too vague and open-ended. Please read Frequently Asked Question 7-P. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    and maybe what I can sell it for.
    Well, let's see. First off, it's a Japanese set (see FAQ 7-A). You apparently want me to infer the set's condition from the photos. All I can tell is that the paint is worn off on some of your tiles. So: it's a black-backed Japanese set of uncertain condition. It has an unusual wind indicator. You didn't give me a count on the scoring sticks, so I don't know if they're all there. You didn't show any paper materials in your photos, so I assume there are none. The pencil markings on the case bottom probably indicate the date of manufacture; they say "S 49.10.25." A reasonable person might conclude that the set was made in 1949, but that ignores the "S." I lived in Japan for a while, and I am sure the "S" stands for Showa, the dating system of the reign of Emperor Hirohito. Showa 49 is 1974. The set doesn't look that old, but I suppose it could be. I can't tell, and I can't give you a valuation, because you didn't give me enough information. If you want to sell the set, you need to let potential buyers see the faces of all the tiles, in an organized way. Read FAQ 7-N, and organize your tiles as shown (your tiles will not include the tiles at the right side of the image there). Or you could organize your Japanese tiles the way shown in FAQ 7-A (the Japanese set). A Japanese set usually doesn't have 8 flowers - it probably has 4, but then what are the other 4 (assuming your set has all 144 tiles it's supposed to have)? Until I know that, and have a better idea of the set's condition and completeness, I can't tell you what it's worth. See FAQ 7-H.

    my set doesn't have any numbers
    Yes, it does. You just aren't familiar with the Asian numbering system. These tiles all have numbers on them:

    I believe they are bakelite for the pieces are quite heavy.
    No, they're not. Bakelite tiles are yellow. See FAQ 7C3 - your Japanese tiles are surely dense polystyrene (not that anybody cares).

    Subject: "When you email me, I own it."
    >I'm so sorry forgot to add that to my email I just sent to you.
    I don't know what you mean. If you're giving me express permission to show and use the photos you sent me, you don't need to; permission is automatically implied by the terms of this service that I offer.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 31, 2016


    New column posted

    New column is up! This week's column is a tirade on the timeworn defense, "but it was an honest mistake!" (Based on the post, "Should she give the money back?" From: jdbassoc, Sent: Wednesday, July 27.)
    Tom
    Sunday, July 31, 2016


    How does the color-coding work on the card? What if there's no parenthetical?

    >From: Stephanie S
    >Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2016 4:59 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Following card instructions
    >Sent from my iPad
    >Begin forwarded message:
    >From: Stephanie S
    >Date: July 30, 2016 at 4:57:02 PM PDT
    >To: amermja@gmail
    >Subject: Following card instructions
    >When making a hand that is printed on the card in all the color, and there are no following linstuctions like "any two suits, any 3 consecutive numbers, etc", may the player use another color to make the hand? I.e. Printed in blue, but made in red.
    >Thank you,
    >Stephanie S
    >Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Stephanie.
    If you're asking about the National Mah Jongg League card, the color-coding is explained on the back. You wrote:

    When making a hand that is printed on the card in all the color,
    I assume you meant to say "all three colors"? That's explained on the back of the card. And it's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-BY, "How does the color-coding work on the card?" You can link to the FAQs above left.

    and there are no following linstuctions like "any two suits, any 3 consecutive numbers, etc",
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AJ, "What if there's no parenthetical?"
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    may the player use another color to make the hand? I.e. Printed in blue, but made in red.
    After you read those FAQs (and the back of the National Mah Jongg League card), you'll see that this question makes no sense.

    If, after honestly reading those two FAQs, you still don't understand what a hand printed in three colors means, then you can ask me again. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 30, 2016


    Confirm my conclusion(s)

    >From: Justin C
    >Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2016 3:07 PM
    >Subject: MahJongg Set
    >Hi Tom - thanks for maintaining your incredibly detailed and informative website! I played mahjong with my parents as a kid (Singapore style - what a kick to see the cat/rat rooster/centipede flowers!) I recently picked up the attached MSCA set at a local antique store and wondered if you could tell me more about it or confirm my conclusions. As requested, I've attached a few pictures and provided information from your checklist, below.
    >1. Write a factual detailed list of all the contents of your set. Describe all the contents, listing all dice, chips, racks, etc.
    >Set is a complete 148 tile set but is missing one "mingg" counter
    >All bams, cracks and dots included - seem to be 50/50 (see lower right corner of dragons/winds)
    >Four dice in wooden box
    >Mingg included but missing the "East" wind chip
    >9 five dot sticks
    >41 ten dot sticks
    >50 one dot sticks
    >54 two dot sticks
    >All sixteen wind tiles
    >Four red dragons (phoenix character, not the red "Chong")
    >Four green dragons (dragon character, not the green "Fa")
    >Four white dragons
    >Four spare white dragons
    >Wooden box with spring loaded fold-down cover
    >5 drawers with bone drawer pulls
    >No manual
    >No sticker
    >No racks
    >2. IMPORTANT: Describe the condition of all the components of the set.
    >Case is still solid - some minor separation at the joints but the brass corners are in good condition and holding the box together well
    >Tiles are in good condition with most dovetails still crisp - there are some tiles in which the tiles are pulled away from the dovetails but this is fairly minor
    >One flower tile has a crack running down the face of the tile
    >A few tiles have discolorations
    >3. What are the tiles made of ? (See our FAQ 7c .)
    >Bamboo/Bone
    >4. Describe what you know about when the set was made or purchased, if you know.
    >I believe this to be an earlier Mah-jongg Sales Company of America set due to the style of dragons. Flowers line up to form a landscape scene as shown.
    >5. What are the dimensions of the tiles? Use either inches or metric (one or the other, not both - doesn't matter which; just be precise). Height, width, depth. If the tiles are bone & bamboo, give thickness of the bone portion. (Same goes for ivory & bamboo tiles.)
    ><<I can provide this later - don't have a good ruler handy where I am right now>>
    >6. How many tiles are there in the set? Your best bet is to lay out the tiles on a table like this:
    >148
    >7. What other pieces (besides tiles) are included with the set? Give descriptions and exact counts. If you do not know what to call the pieces, see our FAQ 7d . NOTE: If you already listed, counted, and described all other pieces in #1 above, then there's no need to do it twice.
    >See above
    >8. What kind of container does the set come in? If it's wood, is it one of those flat boxes with a sliding top, or is it one of those squarish boxes with drawers, and if so how many drawers?
    >Described above and see picture
    >9. What condition is the container in? If it has brass doodads, is the brass all there and in good condition?
    >All brass accounted for but heavily patina-ed
    >10. Does the set have any paper materials -- a manual, a label, anything at all? What's the condition?
    >Nope
    >11. Which kind of craks are in this set -- the older kind or the later kind? Take a picture to provide to the appraiser.
    >Simpler style old crack
    >12. Provide a picture of the One Bams . These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which part of China the set came from.
    >13. Provide a picture of the dragons too. These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which era of mah-jongg history the set came from.
    >14. And provide a picture of the flowers /seasons. These tiles are sometimes exotic and can enhance the set's value.
    >15. How many jokers (if any) does the set have?
    >All pictures attached.
    >Thanks Tom!
    >Justin
    >Stone Ridge, NY

    Hi, Justin. You asked me to:

    tell me more about it
    That request is too open-ended. I don't have time to write everything I know about this type of set, hoping that one of my shotgun pellets will hit the target. Tell me what you want to know (see FAQ 7-P).

    or confirm my conclusions.
    Let's see what conclusion(s?) you made:

    I believe this to be an earlier Mah-jongg Sales Company of America set
    It seems likely that it's from that company, based on the carving on the front panel of the box and on the One Dot tiles. But I don't know why you say it's "earlier" - you mean because of the phoenix/dragon tiles rather than the fa/chung dragons?
    Your box is unusual - apparently the drawers slide out of a narrow side of the box rather than the wide front as was normally done. It's either an oddity of manufacturing (and a highly desirable collectible) or a mistake by someone who tried to counterfeit a Babcock set. I don't know why anyone would want to counterfeit a set, since they're so common. So it's probably not counterfeit. You say the box has a spring mechanism in it? That's unusual too. I don't know what to make of that.

    One thing bothers me, and that's the fact that your tiles don't fit the drawers properly (or so it seems from how you've got them in there). Have you tried turning the tiles sideways to see if a suit fits in a drawer this way...?

    I tried rotating the image and that didn't seem to doesn't work, though, which means that the box was made from a flawed design. The drawers are square rather than rectangular? Perhaps you're right, and it was an early model.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 30, 2016

    P.S. In hindsight, I see that the box is a cube. I'm not familiar with that configuration, but perhaps another reader is. Justin, you could try researching this set on some of the sites listed at the bottom of FAQ 4A, "Other Excellent Mah-Jongg Sites."
    Tom
    August 1, 2016


    In need of a new strategy

    >From: claire h
    >Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2016 5:27 AM
    >Subject: Hong Kong
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have been playing Hong Kong new style for nearly 2 years. I am wondering if you have any helpful tips for when your hand is very mixed at the start of the game. I find it tricky to build a hand when I have even amounts of all suits at the very start, but no clear chow or pung leads. I try & sabotage usually but is there something else I can do to try & mahjong? I play often on Mahjong Time which does not allow as many hands as our game, so no five doors or unconnected possible. It seems that more mixed hands are common at most deals, rather than easier more obvious deals, one suit or pung hands, or chow hands.
    >I try & let my hand build its self in these situations........what would you do?
    >Love this site thank you for all the great advise & info.
    >Kind Regards
    >Claire

    Hi, Claire. Let's see what you wrote:

    I try & sabotage usually
    Not sure what you mean. You forego any win attempt and just throw defensively, so as to thwart other players?

    I play often on Mahjong Time which does not allow as many hands as our game, so no five doors or unconnected possible.
    I haven't played this style on MJT. Which book do you use as your bible? I get "five doors," but what is "unconnected"?

    I try & let my hand build its self in these situations........what would you do?
    Instead of letting chance blow you this way or that, why not go where the set's strength is? Suit tiles. Discard winds and dragons (unless you have a pair of them). Discard terminals (unless you have some that are strongly connected). Look to connections among your suit tiles, and strengthen those while discarding outliers. But remember that in the overall scheme of things, odds are that you will lose 75-80% of the time, if the other players are equally as skilled as you - so you shouldn't kick yourself if the tiles resist your best efforts.

    Lastly, it's probably been a while since you read FAQ 8. Why not read it again?
    Cheers! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 30, 2016


    Should she give the money back?

    >From: jdbassoc
    >Cc: jdbassoc
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 5:46 PM
    >Subject: Forfit game or not
    >A player begins the game (accidently) using last years card. This player calls MahJongg and the others pay since she got it herself. Three more games in another player calls MahJongg with a quint. Player #1 can't find it on her card and it's discovered she is using a 2015 card. Everyone laughs...but the three other players say her win is disqualified and she should return the money won. She says it was an honest mistake and the other players had the responsibility to check out her win. No one remembers what game she won. Who is right, player one or the other three players?
    >Thanks for your response.
    >Marie

    Hi, Marie.
    As I mentioned in FAQ 19-W, nobody gives money back. It is every player's responsibility to verify a winning hand before she pays a winner. Once paid, that's it. What's done is done. "What's done is done" is a mantra of American mah-jongg - there is no going back, there are no backsies. BTW, aren't all mistakes honest? "It's an honest mistake" is not any kind of defense. Penalties apply to honest mistakes. As for dishonesty, there's no such thing as a "dishonest mistake" - dishonesty is dishonesty, and anyone who acts dishonestly should be barred permanently from a game.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 27, 2016


    Is it considered racked, part 2

    >From: Karen M
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 2:01 PM
    >Subject: RE: Racking Question
    >Thanks, Tom.
    >
    >From: Karen M via PayPal
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 1:53 PM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $5.00 USD from Karen M
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Karen M
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Karen!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 27, 2016


    Is it considered racked if she hasn't let go of it?

    >From: Karen M
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 8:38 AM
    >Subject: Racking Question
    >Tom, I’ve read all your information about racking, but something else came up yesterday. Sometimes a player puts the tile in position D on your diagram, but still has her hand on it. Does the tile have to be untouched to be considered racked or not?
    >Thanks,
    >Karen M.

    Hi Karen,
    You're referring to my diagram from FAQ 19-AD and my July 17, 2015 post at http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive35.htm#whenisitracked -

    Let me put it this way: the instant the tile touched bottom, it became "racked." Her fingers had to be touching the tile at that instant, did they not? Should the tile subsequently become "unracked, and more importantly, never was racked in the first place" if she doesn't take her fingers off it?
    Of course the tile is racked. It touched bottom on the rack... fingers notwithstanding.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 26, 2016


    Can I use zero in Consecutive Runs? (FAQ 19-BH)

    >From: JoAnn S
    >Sent: Monday, July 25, 2016 10:02 AM
    >Subject: using white dragon
    >can you use white dragons as a number in a run, example
    >when doing the closed hand ff 111 222 333 444 ( use any numbers)
    >can you use ff 000 111 222 333.
    >Thanks
    >JoAnn S

    Hello, JoAnn.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-BH. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 25, 2016


    British flower rules

    >From: Kent P
    >Sent: Sunday, July 24, 2016 8:08 PM
    >Subject: Rules for Doubling With Flowers and Seasons
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >We are playing Mahjong by the rules of the British Mahjong Association.
    >When we play with the addition of flower and season tiles, we have come across a question of the application of doubling scores when achieving Mahjong with special hands.
    >Question: When are scores doubled with flower and season tiles for special hands?
    >The special hand "Purity" is scored double three times upon going Mahjong and even when fishing. Do flower and season tiles continue the doubling of the score?
    >The special hand "Knitting" is scored 500 points going Mahjong, and 200 points when fishing. Do flower and season tiles double these scores?
    >Most other special hands are scored 1000 points going Mahjong and 400 points when fishing. Do flower and season tiles double the fishing score?
    >Are flower and season tiles used in Mahjong tournament play?
    >Thank you for your consideration.
    >Kent P

    Hello, Kent. Your questions:

    When are scores doubled with flower and season tiles for special hands?
    >The special hand "Purity" is scored double three times upon going Mahjong and even when fishing. Do flower and season tiles continue the doubling of the score?
    Yes, but if the result exceeds the limit, only the limit is paid (1,000 to a non-dealer, and 2,000 to East).

    The special hand "Knitting" is scored 500 points going Mahjong, and 200 points when fishing.
    Yes - Half Limit and One Fifth Limit respectively.

    Do flower and season tiles double these scores?
    Own flower/season double the score for a winner or a non-winner. See page 9 (I assume you're using Know The Game by Headley and Seeley).

    Most other special hands are scored 1000 points going Mahjong and 400 points when fishing. Do flower and season tiles double the fishing score?
    Same answer as above. Own flower/season doubles the score. Winner and non-winner alike.

    Are flower and season tiles used in Mahjong tournament play?
    You would have to ask the tournament organizer.

    May the tiles be with you. Cheers!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 24, 2016


    Donation, so grateful

    >From: Scott B via PayPal
    >Sent: Sunday, July 24, 2016 3:53 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Scott B
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$100.00 USD from Scott B. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $100.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Scott B
    >Message: So grateful for your love of this game, and your commitment to it. Respectfully, Susanne W
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Wow, Susanne. Thank you very much!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 24, 2016


    New column posted

    New column is up! This one is another entry in the occasional series on "words." This week's word is "Hold," used for "Call Waiting."
    Tom
    Sunday, July 24, 2016


    Did you hear about this new rule?

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Friday, July 22, 2016 6:10 AM
    >Subject: Fw: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom, Did my email make your spam again? Hope this one doesn’t. Thanks for checking. Lynn P.
    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2016 12:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg. I have a friend in TX who plays Mah Jongg according to NMJL rules and she told me there is a new rule when players have a wall game. Instead of starting a new game , the players keep the tiles they want in their hands and put the rest on the table. They turn over all the table tiles, shuffle and then in order start picking until someone gets Mah Jongg. They don’t play for money so that is not an issue. They also throw the tile that they know another player needs to make Mah Jongg sometimes. So they always don’t play defensively. I told her I never heard of this new rule for wall games and I check in with you daily and you would know. I told her it has to be a table rule someone in her group made up but she said it is a new rule. Have you heard of anything like this? Thanks again. Lynn P.

    Hi, Lynn.
    Yes, I found this in Spam again. Just now I tried creating a filter that expressly takes emails from you and "moves" them to the Inbox (after checking all my filters to try to see if there was a filter that was moving you to spam - of course there wasn't).
    As for your question: you say your friend told you "there is a new rule." Did she happen to say who created the rule, or whether she'd seen the rule in writing from the League? If it isn't in writing from the League, it's not a rule.

    ... when players have a wall game. Instead of starting a new game , the players keep the tiles they want in their hands and put the rest on the table. They turn over all the table tiles, shuffle and then in order start picking until someone gets Mah Jongg.
    This isn't an official rule. And it isn't even "new." Look in "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," in the glossary in the back, for the term "Mish." That's what she's describing.

    They also throw the tile that they know another player needs to make Mah Jongg sometimes.
    Of course that's not an official rule. "We have a new rule we use" is a very different thing from "there's a new rule."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 23, 2016


    Must I place a picked tile in the rack, part 2

    >From: Maureen S
    >Sent: Saturday, July 23, 2016 8:00 AM
    >Subject: Re: [No Subject]
    >Thank you for answering. However, I'm not asking about the availability of the previously discarded tile. I just want to know if there is a rule that you have to place the tile you've picked from the wall on your rack before you discard it. Or, can you pick the tile, look at it, and discard it without ever putting it on your rack, knowing that the previously discarded tile is available until the tile I've just picked up is discarded or racked. Thanks again.

    Hello, Maureen.
    Are you sure you read FAQ 19-BL? The first of the three variations on "must I place a picked tile in my rack" is:

      (1) We have a player who picks a tile, then discards a tile without ever putting the picked tile on her rack. Is she allowed to do that? Aren't we always required to rack the tile after picking it? 
      A.1. No. There is no rule that says a player must rack before discarding. 

    I fail to see how that does not answer the question you asked. Looks to me like that's EXACTLY what you asked. It isn't? What am I missing? There are two other variations on "doesn't she have to put her tiles on the rack," but those don't push the first one out of existence.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 23, 2016


    Must I place a picked tile in the rack?

    >From: Maureen S
    >Sent: Friday, July 22, 2016 7:42 AM
    >Subject: [No Subject]
    >Is it against the rules (American Mah Jongg) to, in one fluid motion, pick your tile from the wall, look at it and discard it, without ever putting it on or touching your rack? Thanks!

    Hi, Maureen.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-BL. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 22, 2016


    Can she change her exposure or is she dead instantly?

    >From: "lraitt
    >Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2016 7:28 PM
    >Subject: question
    >Hi Tom ~
    >Tried to find my exact question, found something similar but not exact.
    >A player calls for exposure. She needs 4 1 Bams and puts up 3 of them with a green Dragon by mistake. My group says that makes you dead. My understanding is that you can change anything in your exposure as long as you have not discarded yet. What I found on your website mentioned an extra joker exposed, but not a completely different tile from what you need. I assume it doesn't matter - that if it is still your turn and you haven't discarded, you can take that green Dragon back, and put up either another 1 Bam or a joker with it to make the correct exposure.. Yes?
    >Thank you!
    >Lois

    Lois, you're referring to Frequently Asked Question 19-AF. I believe I have seen something like your question in a newsletter from the NMJL, with flowers in a set of 1B. I believe that you are correct and your other players are too hasty with the death challenges. Our interpretation (yours and mine) is, I believe, in keeping with the principle behind the rule in 19-AF. If you want official confirmation, you can send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the League.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 21, 2016


    Column 655

    >From: Beth P
    >Sent: Friday, July 15, 2016 3:32 PM
    >Subject: column #655
    >Tom: Column #655 Item 10. Another possibility is odds number 6. Hot tiles 1,3 in dots or craks and 9 in dots or craks with 1 and 3 as key tiles. Beth

    Very good, Beth! A tip o' the hat to you. If any of those ones or threes go dead, then you have one less possibility to worry about.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 15, 2016


    How specific does a call have to be?

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Friday, July 15, 2016 5:08 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is Playing American Mah Jongg when claiming a discard, the back of the 2016 card says that the player must verbalize her call... They may say “call”, “take”, “I want that”, etc. But does the claiming player have to name the tile ex. “I want that 8 bam, flower, etc.”? We had a discussion today at our weekly Mah Jongg game about whether the name of the tile must be spoken so everyone knows what tile is being claimed. Sometimes the tables we play on are big and round and it is hard to see the exposed tiles. Thanks for your answer and continued advice so that all our players are on the same page (yours and now mine) for enjoyable games of Mah Jongg. Just wish those jokers would be in my hand more often. Hope your summer is going well. Lynn P.

    Hi Lynn,
    Under normal circumstances, all players are expected to be observant and up to date on what tile is the current live discard, so it's normally not necessary to name the tile. If you're playing at a big table with dim lighting and sight-impaired or hearing-impaired players, then it's just good common sense to adapt the rules to your situation. But the rules assume small well lit tables and players with good eyesight and hearing, so the rules do not anticipate your question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 15, 2016


    Can Half Flush be combined, part 2

    >From: Ken A
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2016 9:46 AM
    >Subject: Inevitable
    >Tom,
    >Many thanks for the quick answer. In an effort to clarify my question, let me extend the wording of your answer over to the 7 Pairs Fan element. "It isn't inevitable that Seven Pairs must always come with a Concealed Hand. The other possibility is that the hand may be Fully Concealed. Concealed Hand [2 points] is actually the lesser of the two possible combinations, the other being Fully Concealed [4 points]. So I don't know why you question whether Concealed can be combined. Anything that isn't inevitable (implied)."
    >Yet we know that Concealed Hand (2 points) is not a permitted add-on for the Seven Pairs Fan element. Isn't this a bit puzzling if we expect consistency from the scoring approaches?
    >Ken A

    Hi, Ken.
    First off, I’m sorry if my response yesterday was snippy. I had posted a response after inadequately skimming your email, and later discovered that you had mentioned the points I’d raised in my first response. Then, embarrassed, I rather hastily edited what I’d first posted, and after all that it may have come across with a bit of attitude.

    Anyway. Some hands are just special, by dint of their unusual structure, requiring special rules for what scoring combinations may and may not be added. When in doubt, first check the Scoring Principles (FAQ 22), and also check the rulebook description of the hand itself. Seven Pairs is just such a special case; Scoring Principles probably don’t tell the whole story. Because Seven Pairs is "special" (i.e., weird), its scoring rules are spelled out in the official MCR rulebook. Seven Pairs may not combine with Concealed or Single Wait. May combine with All Types and Tile Hog. Fully Concealed may be added. So specifyeth the rules, in keeping with the way Seven Pairs is handled in numerous Asian variants.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA, USA

    July 13, 2016


    Can Half Flush be combined with Little Four Winds?

    >From: Ken A
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 10:55 AM
    >Subject: Quandary
    >Tom,
    >Many thanks for your methodical answer to the question I posed on 1/28/16. Our Majiang group here in tiny Red Lodge, Montana continues to follow the outstanding advice you included therein.
    >
    >Here's a new quandary we've recently encountered. Can a hand that wins with a Fan element of "Little Four Winds" receive the added 6 points for "Half Flush?" The hand in question is shown below:
    >
    >
    >
    >The hand was neither fully melded nor fully concealed, and was won with a call of a 9 Bam discard. Also, the prevailing wind was N, as was the seat wind of the winner---thus none of those Fan elements applied. So when we first scored the hand we awarded 64 points for "Little Four Winds," 32 points for "All Terminals & Honors," and 6 points for "Half Flush." Then we added the obligatory 8 points for the successful "Hu" and 2 more points for melded Flowers---for a total of 112 points.
    >
    >But after further thought I wondered whether the Half Flush points were justified. I had talked myself out of those points when I considered that Little Four Winds requires only one more set (Kong, Pung, or Chow) to complete the win. That set will necessarily be either Honors or Suit Tiles. If it is Honors, clearly the hand will qualify for 32 additional points for "All Honors." But if the extra set is Suit Tiles, does the hand qualify for the lesser award of 6 points for Half Flush?
    >
    >It seems to me when this scenario---there being only two, semi-implied, possibilities, Chinese official scoring allows the award of the larger Fan score but not the smaller. For example, a player winning with an "Seven Pairs" hand either calls the winning tile or draws it from the wall. Thus one might argue that the player is entitled to either 2 points for a "Concealed Hand" or 4 points for a "Fully Concealed Hand." But official scoring clearly excludes the 2-point Concealed Hand award. So consistency would dictate that the same approach be used in the Little Four Winds situation. Maybe that's an unfair expectation, given the organic evolution of the game's details.
    >
    >To further complicate matters, I consulted a popular website---Mahjong.com (https://mahjong.com/chinese-official-mahjong-scoring-7.html)---and studied their Example #51 (on Page 7) only to find that the 6 points for Half Flush were to be awarded. Do you have any incites on this type of situation? Thanking you in advance for your valued thoughts, I am
    >Ken A in Red Lodge, Montana

    Hi, Ken.
    As you noted: It isn't inevitable that Little Four Winds must always come with a pung of suit tiles. The other possibility is that the pung could be a dragon. Half Flush is actually the lesser of the two possible combinations, the other being All Honors. So I don't know why you question whether Half Flush can be combined. Anything that isn't inevitable (implied).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 12, 2016


    Can I use a consecutive number instead of a dragon?

    >From: Barbara H
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 4:47 PM
    >Subject: Matching dragons
    >Is matching dragons -
    >1112222333DDDD(red)
    >Can I use 4 -4 cracks instead of the red dragon?
    >not sure how matching dragons aare used
    >Thank you
    >Barbara

    Hi, Barbara. You're actually asking either two or three questions. I'm going to answer two, and I'm not sure if you have a third question:

    Can I use 4 -4 cracks instead of the red dragon?
    This is actually two questions. Or at least I'm giving you two answers, whether or not you thought it was just one question.

    No, you cannot substitute a number tile for a dragon. Where the card shows a D, you must use a dragon. The Consecutive Runs section does list a lot of flexible hands, and that's what makes this section of the card so powerful. But the flexibility is always spelled out clearly in the parentheticals. (Note, though, that when you see a hand with no parenthetical describing flexibility, then there isn't flexibility in that hand.)

    But the hand does not require craks or reds. Read the back of the card, and read Frequently Asked Question 19-BY and FAQ 19-J. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    not sure how matching dragons aare used
    If you have a third question, I can help if you just ask it. You clearly know that reds go with craks, so I don't know what else you might need to know about this concept.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 12, 2016


    This week’s column, part 2

    >From: Daphne S
    >Sent: Monday, July 11, 2016 10:57 AM
    >Subject: Re: Column#655
    >Hi Tom-
    >Hot tiles would be 2 Bam and 4 Bam.
    >Thank you for everything you do!
    >Daphne

    Not only are those hot tiles, they’re key tiles! If either 2B or 4B is dead on the table, you can forget about Evens and focus your defense on the other possible hands. If they aren't dead, 4C is also a hot tile.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA, USA

    7/11, 2016


    This week’s column

    >From: Daphne S
    >Sent: Monday, July 11, 2016 9:33 AM
    >Subject: Column#655
    >Hello Tom-
    >Re Column #655- Item 3. Couldn't another possibility be Evens #4?
    >Daphne

    Quite right, Daphne. Can you take it to the next step and tell us what the hot tiles are? Any new key tiles that could help the defense?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA, USA

    7/11, 2016


    New column posted

    New column is up! It's a Defense column. I had the TV on while I was writing it, so I might have messed up somewhere. If I did, let me know! (^_^)
    Tom
    Sunday, July 10, 2016


    Change of heart when picking up a discarded tile

    >From: Minnie C
    >Sent: Monday, July 4, 2016 10:29 PM
    >Subject: Question - Change of Heart
    >Hello,
    >My question is about a Change of Heart. If a player touches and picks up a discarded tile and then decides that they do not want the discarded, is this permitted? My understanding was that once you touched the discarded tile, it was your tile; no matter whether you racked it and placed other tiles with it on the top of your rack. Is this correct? If not, what is the correct rule application please?
    >Thank you.
    >Minnie C

    Hi, Minnie.
    I can't tell from the way you ask your question if you saw Jeanne P's question on June 28 (below), or if you have read FAQ 19-AM, or if you checked out the sources for the answer in FAQ 19-AM. One of those sources is a written response from the League to Lynn McD on March 2, 2015. She sent me a photo of that response, and FAQ 19-AM's source citation includes a link to http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive34.htm#nmjl150302, where you see this:

    FAQ 19-AM also cites the 2007 newsletter from the League. I realize that the majority of players who get the newsletter don't keep them as I do. In the 2007 newsletter, it says essentially the same thing as the reply to Lynn. The flaw with the League's ruling in 2007 and to Lynn in 2015 is that the rule addresses placement of a discarded tile onto the rack, but not the act of lifting the discarded tile from the table. I believe the League said (in a newsletter) that a player could put a lifted discard back on the table, but I don't have time to pore through 18 or 19 newsletters to find that this morning. If you want to know definitively if a lifted discard may be replaced, you should do what Lynn McD did - send the question with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the League.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 5, 2016


    Tips on how to find games and play in Japan and Thailand

    >From: Beth B
    >Sent: Sunday, July 3, 2016 10:00 AM
    >Subject: Japan
    >Hello Tom,
    >I am planning a trip to Japan in Mid September. I am going on my own and then heading to Bangkok.
    >I am presently playing Chinese Mahjong (or a version of...two women from Hong Kong are kind enough to oversee a roomful of us) at the Cypress Senior Center two days a week and American Mahjong one day a week...I have attended about five american tourneys and finished in the top fifty percent.
    >The reason I am writing is that I would love to play mahjong while in Asia. Can you please give some tips on how to find games.
    >Thank you!
    >Beth
    >[Telephone number deleted]

    >From: Equipro via PayPal
    >Sent: Sunday, July 3, 2016 9:54 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Equipro (bethb...)
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Equipro (bethb...). You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Equipro
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Beth, thanks for the $10, but my answer is not likely to make you happy.
    In Japan, players are very hardcore, and usually don't speak English. There are English-speaking pro players but they are coming to the US in September. In Japanese parlors they play only Japanese riichi-dora majan, which is very different from Hong Kong style. You can ask the concierge of your hotel to help you find a parlor, but many parlors don't accept individual walk-ins (they expect a player to bring 3 other players along with him). You would also need a translator, one who's conversant with mah-jongg terms in both English and Japanese.
    I can't tell you anything about mah-jongg in Bangkok.
    I hope you enjoy your trip!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 3, 2016


    Is it technically not jokerless if there was a joker in it at one time?

    From: Marilyn M
    Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2016 7:13 PM
    Subject: Jokerless hands
    Dear Tom,
    I could not find the answer to this question on your site so am asking here.
    Played with someone who thinks you cannot have a jokerless hand if at any point in the game you had an exposure with a joker that was traded for the correct tile prior to getting mah Jong without a joker in your hand. I say that is not accurate. Can you please set us straight?
    Thanks so much
    Marilyn.

    Hi, Marilyn.
    It's possible that what she's saying was the rule at one time, but the League has said several times in recent yearly newsletters that a hand that's jokerless at the time of mah-jongg is truly jokerless, and the jokerless bonus is due. You can send a self-addressed stamped envelope together with your written question to the League, to get the official ruling.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 30, 2016


    Does she discard after she was called dead?

    >From: JoAnn S
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 7:10 PM
    >Subject: dead hand
    >player A has two parts to a hand on her rack she picks up a tile and displays
    >the third part of the hand which is now clear that this is a concealed hand, the players call her dead, does she still have to make a discard or do we just continue with the game??

    JoAnn, Louise asked me the exact same question 3 days ago, on the 26th (below). Please scroll down and read the response I gave Lou, and please read FAQ 19-CK. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 2, 2016


    She, too, had a "change of heart"

    >From: Jeanne P
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 8:43 PM
    >Subject: Calling a discard
    >If a player calls for a tile, picks it up but does not expose any tiles on her rack, may she change her mind and put the tile back on the table?
    >Thanks for the help.

    Hi, Jeanne.
    As I told Paula earlier today, the "change of heart" FAQ is FAQ 19-AM. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 28, 2016


    She had a "change of heart"

    >From: Paula J
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 7:09 AM
    >Subject: MJ question
    >A player redeems a joker and realizes she needs the tile for a single set in her hand. She has the joker racked. Can she change her mind and put the joker back and take her tile?
    >Thank you,
    >Paula

    Hi, Paula.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AM. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 28, 2016


    A very rare event!

    >From: Beth G
    >Sent: Monday, June 27, 2016 6:36 PM
    >Subject: What are the odds? Making Mah-Jongg Immediately after Charleston!
    >Hi Tom.
    >Today, during our weekly Mah-Jongg game, something happened that NONE of us had ever seen or heard of! We completed the Charleston, and East looked up and said she could not discard a tile, then, after a dramatic pause, went on to say that she couldn't because she had Mah-jongg!
    >I could not find any references to this anywhere, and am wondering if you have ever seen this happen. Any sense of what the odds would be of this?
    >Amazing!
    >Cheers,
    >Beth G

    Hi, Beth. Very cool story! You wrote:

    I could not find any references to this anywhere
    Well, I wrote of an even rarer event, "Heavenly Hand," in FAQ 19-BJ and column 476. You can link to the FAQs and columns above left.

    and am wondering if you have ever seen this happen.
    Nope.

    Any sense of what the odds would be of this?
    No, but FAQ 19-CI lists some books on probabilities and statistics. If you find the answer, please let us know!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 27, 2016


    Animal flowers, and enjoying the autumn moon

    >From: Suzanne C
    >Sent: Saturday, June 25, 2016 4:58 PM
    >Subject: question on animal tiles and comment on FAQ 7e from Johni & Lori
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >I am new to writing to your FAQs and don’t know if this is the proper way to send my question. I am 75 and not very computer savvy. I do read many of your FAQs as well as your book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind. I apologize if this is incorrect. I did follow your instructions and read all of FAQ 7, 7e Mystery Tiles, before sending my question.
    >
    >I am Suzanne C and I live in South Texas. I learned Mah Jong from my mother, who lived in the Philippines about 1938. She taught the cleared hand version, I guess the early part of the “Mah Jong wars”. About 25 years later I lived in Taiwan and played with a group of women using the book by Strauser and Evans, Mah Jong, Anyone? Now, I am teaching a few close friends who want to learn the game. I am writing notes for them and I like to include some background or brief history with these notes to make the experience more interesting.
    >
    >My question is about the history of the use of the animal tiles. I originally assumed the idea of the cat capturing the mouse or the rich man grabbing the bag of gold, to be something the women made up during the period of making up special hands in the 1920’s. Then I realized that animal tiles seemed to be found in old sets way before the 1920’s. From your FAQs it seemed that Singapore was the area where animal tiles were included with flower tiles, but I cannot find any information that they used these tiles to capture another tile as a predator-prey relationship. My mother’s set contained the cat/mouse and rich man/gold tiles, but these tiles only gave extra points and doubles. It was not until I played in Taiwan, that I learned about this aspect of the animal tiles. So, did some Chinese players invent this, or was this a Westernized idea? I am guessing it came from a small area in China or elsewhere in the Orient. In Taiwan the sets only had 8 flowers, but there were 4 extra blank tiles that were taken to carvers to create the 4 animal tiles. There doesn’t seem to be much information about this. Mah Jong, Anyone? seems to be only place this has been taught, but there is not any background.
    >
    >In your FAQ 7-7e from Johni and Lori, Sept., 2008, there was much discussion about the meaning of 2 sets of flower tiles. The top row was translated, put in the proper order of ESWN, and then said, mid-autumn-enjoy/appreciate-moon. This jogged my memory. I remember in Taiwan that the Chinese neighbors celebrated the Moon Festival. They would sit outside during the whole night, watch the moon, and eat moon cakes. I am not sure when this occurred, but I think it might have been in the fall. Perhaps this might be a clue to the meaning of those flower tiles.
    >
    >I have really enjoyed your book, especially the wonderful research you have done on the history. I enjoy the game very much, but also love history. I also enjoyed your pictures on your trip to Ningbo and the Mah Jong Museum.
    >I am sorry if this is the wrong way to ask a FAQ and this is sort of long. I appreciate your time.
    >Sincerely, Suzanne C

    Hi, Suzanne. You wrote:

    My question is about the history of the use of the animal tiles. I originally assumed the idea of the cat capturing the mouse or the rich man grabbing the bag of gold, to be something the women made up during the period of making up special hands in the 1920’s.
    I have never come across any documentation of the origin of animal tiles. I have also not come across any documentation of the period between 1924 and 1937 in America, or what women across the continent did with the rules then. I have to assume that the animal tiles were created in Asia, not America. As Ray Heaton has written, the tiles seem to be based on Chinese folk tales, legends, and lore.

    Then I realized that animal tiles seemed to be found in old sets way before the 1920’s.
    I have never seen Singapore-style animal flowers in any sets from before the 1930s. Can you show me evidence otherwise?

    I cannot find any information that they used these tiles to capture another tile as a predator-prey relationship.
    I assume you were looking for printed information. The only description I found of that in print was in "Mahjong, Anyone?" by Strauser & Evans, the first edition.

    My mother’s set contained the cat/mouse and rich man/gold tiles, but these tiles only gave extra points and doubles.
    That's the way you were told those tiles were used. Or are you saying that your mother's set had printed instructions, which said nothing about this capture option?

    In Taiwan the sets only had 8 flowers, but there were 4 extra blank tiles that were taken to carvers to create the 4 animal tiles.
    Sets have come with 4 extra blanks since the 1920s. Their purpose is to be used as replacements should a tile be lost.

    In your FAQ 7-7e from Johni and Lori, Sept., 2008... The top row was translated, put in the proper order of ESWN, and then said, mid-autumn-enjoy/appreciate-moon. This jogged my memory. I remember in Taiwan that the Chinese neighbors celebrated the Moon Festival. They would sit outside during the whole night, watch the moon, and eat moon cakes. I am not sure when this occurred, but I think it might have been in the fall. Perhaps this might be a clue to the meaning of those flower tiles.
    Certainly. That's what Amy Chapman said on June 6, 2010 (just beneath the image from Johni and Lori): "中秋賞月 is a clear reference to celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival." Also see the Wikipedia entry on Mid-Autumn Festival, which refers to moon worship and mooncakes, and says that the festival is also called "Moon Festival."

    I am sorry if this is the wrong way to ask a FAQ
    You certainly didn't ask your question in a wrong way. But the Question you asked has not been Asked Frequently, so it actually wasn't a Frequently Asked Question at all. (The "right way" to ask an FAQ is to not ask it at all, but instead to find the answer in the FAQs.) You did the right thing - you emailed an interesting question, with accompanying information.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 26, 2016


    Does she discard after she was called dead?

    >From: Louise
    >Sent: Sunday, June 26, 2016 5:06 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player called for a tile, exposed, then called herself dead (I know you’re not supposed to, but we all agreed she was ). But she hadn’t discarded yet. Since we all agreed she was dead, did she have to discard a tile?
    >Lou

    Louise,
    A dead player doesn't make any kind of play. She simply stops playing. I guess I need to add this to FAQ 19. I guess it's a new FAQ, so it'll be 19-CK. (I really need to reorganize them all...)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 26, 2016


    MJ trumps all, right? (Part 4)

    After some thought, another scenario:

    Player A is pretty sure she's close to mah-jongg. She watches player D discard 3B. Not a tile player A wants, so player A reaches for the wall, takes a tile, and racks it. The window of opportunity is now closed on the 3B, and whatever happens next is not likely to be controversial.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 22, 2016


    MJ trumps all, right? (Part 3)

    >From: Sam A
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 6:51 AM
    >Subject: Sloper on Mah-Jongg - The Window of Opportunity, v1.0
    >http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column458a.htm
    >This is what I read. The last paragraph of the article states pretty much what happened in my case. Once again thank you for your time. Here is a quote from the article. "If someone voices a claim for the live discard while the picker sees that the tile she's taken is her mj tile,, then she doesn't have to put that tile back on the wall and she gets to declare mj." This is the last paragraph of the column 458.

    Hi, Sam. Okay, I see now. Let's consider some different scenarios.

    Player A is waiting for mah-jongg. She knows she can win on 7D or 7C or F or Joker, let's say. She watches player D to see if one of her maj tiles is thrown. Player D discards 3B. Not a maj tile for player A, so player A reaches for the wall, takes a tile, and looks at it (holding it in the air, unracked), and instantly observes that it is indeed one of her maj tiles, but before she can say "maj" player C says "I want that." Before player C can expose tiles from her hand, player A says "no, this is mah-jongg," and exposes her hand.

    Player D discards 3B. Player A reaches for the wall, takes a tile, and looks at it (holding it in the air, unracked), and thinks about whether or not that tile is something she wants.
    And thinks.
    And thinks.
    Player C says, "I want that." Then a discussion ensues, and disharmony prevails.

    What I wrote in column 458 describes scenario 1. What you wrote me sounded to me like scenario 2, which is why I replied the way I did yesterday. Be sure ahead of time (before you pick a tile and hold it unracked in the air) that one or more certain tiles will definitely complete your hand, and act decisively. It's better for everyone, and more conducive to harmonious play.

    Hope that clarifies?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 22, 2016


    MJ trumps all, right? (Part 2)

    >From: Sam A
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 9:20 PM
    >Subject: RE: Window of opportunity
    >Thank you for your quick response. Before contacting you originally I read your q and a board and discussion on 458. I thought my situation fit what you wrote in the last paragraph. And I was just confirming that but now I'm totally confused. I did say it was my mj tile after she called the tile. I seem to be misunderstanding what you wrote. If possible could you clarify. Thank you again. I want to get this right.

    >From: Sam A
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 10:07 PM
    >Subject: PS
    >She called the 3 bam but did not pick it up because I said I had my mj tile. Official tournament rules say if you pick your mj tile from the wall you MAY rack it. It doesn't say you must. That confuses the situation more.

    Sam, that's right. You did not violate any rules by keeping the window of opportunity open for someone else to try to shut it on you. The problem is that you left the window of opportunity open for someone else to try to climb right on through it, and someone did!
    I'm sorry you're still confused. You say there's a contradiction between my answer of yesterday and something else I wrote. If you tell me exactly what I said that's contradictory, I'll try to resolve it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 22, 2016


    Explaining one mystery, part 5

    >From: Raymond L
    >Sent: Monday, June 20, 2016 11:00 AM
    >Subject: Re: More obscure dora tiles and the Thai set
    >Hi Tom,
    >The key things from my last email that you can share with your readers is that there are red terminals which you can add to 13c, that modern Vietnamese sets can come with 188 tiles but only 184 will be used as four of the tiles are alternate jokers, and that the red 皇 tile in 7e is also found in Vietnamese mahjong, possibly as a flower joker.
    >Best regards,
    >Ray L.

    Thanks, Ray. I'll add that info to those FAQs.
    Regards,
    Tom


    MJ trumps all, right?

    >From: Sam A
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 5:48 PM
    >Subject: Window of opportunity
    >A 3 bam was discarded. My turn next and I picked a 7 dot. I was doing the like hand with 7s. I was holding the tile and checking to see if I had all the right tiles for mj. Before I could call mj another player called the 3 bam. We had a discussion but no one really seemed to know the rule that mj trumps all. In other words I get to keep the tile for mj. Am I right? Thanks for your help.

    Sam, it sounds to me like you were too slow, and the other person gets the tile. But I wasn't there. You were sitting there holding the tile, in other words holding the window open for somebody to shut it on you, and then when the other person spoke, what did you do? What I would have done is either racked the tile while thinking, or as soon as the other person started to speak, I'd talk over her and say "Mah-jongg." Or if she spoke too quickly, I might speak over her last syllable and say, "No, it's mah-jongg," and show the tile, then show my hand quickly, before she can pick up the live discard. It isn't always a race, but sometimes you have to be quick.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 21, 2016


    Do you still do that?

    >From: Gwen
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 9:47 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong set
    >Good morning,
    >My name is Gwen and I have an old set given to me by great Aunt (who received it from a sailor boyfriend). I'm looking for an estimate of it's worth and out of much online searching I think you're the fellow to help me. I'm emailing to check if you are still providing this service and await your response or (if no longer available) the lack of said response .??
    >Sincerely
    >Gwen B
    >British Columbia. Canada (eh)

    Hi, Gwen.
    I'm still alive and well. Please read Frequently Asked Question 7-H, and send me the information I need, if you want a free valuation. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 21, 2016


    Does the number of flowers in a set have any significance in determining its age?

    >From: Sandee C
    >Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2016 5:31 PM
    >Subject: age of bakelite set
    >i just purchased a bakelite mahjongg set and it has 27 flowers, does that have any signifacence in judging the age of the product.
    >thank you.
    >sandee c

    Hi, Sandee.
    Have you checked Frequently Asked Question 19-AI or column 509? You can link to the FAQs and columns above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 16, 2016


    Donation

    >From: Nancy D via Paypal
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 6:06 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Nancy D
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Nancy D. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Nancy D
    >Message: A small donation to help. I appreciate being able to get the Mah Jongg information on your website. Thanks, Nancy D
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Nancy!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    Table talk, part 3

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 10:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Great Column #654 “Table Talk” June 12, 2016. Hopefully enough players will read this column, maybe see themselves, and learn to be quiet and show their “poker face”. I have been practicing mine these past few days! I know ladies especially redheads have a hard time not saying what they thinking and I speak from experience. Thank you for the answer to my previous question and for writing this great column. Poker face Lynn P

    (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you, Lynn.
    Tom


    Holding back, part ∑

    >From: Mary E
    >Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 8:39 PM
    >Subject: response to the "holding/held back'
    >?Hi, again, Tom,
    >I do, indeed, thank you most heartily for getting back to me so quickly with your ideas. This sounded very sneaky but worth considering, strategy-wise, esp. if one were to play for money/points, which I do not.
    >You mean to tell me you didn't recognize my '7' as a backwards "F'....... ?? It wasn't until I started using your site that I realized what Control F was for! I use it all the time now! And thanks for that, too!!
    >High regards,
    >Mary

    High regards back atcha, Mary! I rhink it's a valid strategy when redeeming from someone else's rack, or when you pick the joker after having made the exposure. But the way she did it bordered on the underhanded. Sorry your smiley emoji didn't survive the conversion to HTML. (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 13, 2016


    Holding back, part 2

    >From: Mary E
    >Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 10:00 AM
    >Subject: "Holding Back" (not the same as in your FAQ response which I Ctrl 7'd to find)
    >Hi, Tom,
    >Just came across this scenario on Mah Jongg Mentor today from a lady who was at a recent (2016) tournament. I teach American MJ and I doubt I'll ever play in a tournament (I think it would be too stressful for me!) but it's a question that might someday come up (I edited slightly for clarification and parentheticals are mine) and I'd like your opinion please:
    >But today I experienced something that truly feels wrong. It was all legal but it was still not nice in my eyes. But in the last round I learned something — it is a strategy called “holding back”. Now I had never heard of it because I guess I am not cutthroat. Here is the scenario. Player B calls for an 8 Bam. She places on her rack an 8 Bam, Joker, Joker and another 8 Bam but then removes the second 8 Bam and replaces it with another Joker. I thought that was strange but maybe she had a reason for it or whatever. (We know this is legal).
    >A couple of plays later, an 8 crack was thrown.
    >Player B called for the 8 crack, placing it on her rack with 3 other 8 cracks. Then she replaced (her) Joker with the 8 Bam and declared Mah Jongg revealing 3 flowers now with the Joker and 2 eight dots – claiming a self pick. (That is what my question is about).My neighbor player immediately questioned the validity of this play and brought the director over. (She doesn't state the ruling here.) Player B explained that this is called "holding back". It is a strategy used to allow for a self pick reward of extra points when you win on the hand. She clearly “called” for the 8 crack first and then made the changes in her hand to make it a winning hand. So legally it was viable but I thought it was a sneaky move.

    >Thanks, Mary E

    Hi, Mary.
    I'm guessing that Mah Jongg Mentor must be the source of the term Ellen T asked about on June 2. I asked her to give me the phrase in context, and to let me know if my guess as to the term's meaning fit with what she'd read. But she never got back to me. That happens a lot; people ask me something, I answer, and they never come back to say thank you, or to follow up on the matter in any way. I don't know why Ellen wrote me to ask for clarification on the phrase, when it's clearly described in the article on Mah Jongg Mentor. Maybe she just didn't want to read 3 or 4 paragraphs, and was hoping I'd describe it more briefly. I think she shot herself in the foot by not providing more information with her question. But let's take a look at the situation described in the article, in brief (which I could have done for Ellen T if she'd just told me the source).

    The player "held back" a redeemable tile, so she could redeem it as her last play and thus claim self-pick. In fact, she tipped her hand (revealing her ploy) when she initially exposed the tile and quickly replaced it with a joker. I agree that it's a sneaky move, definitely. Taking advantage of a loophole in the rules. The rules do have loopholes. This is one. There's no rule against doing this, so it is legal. It's even a valid strategy. In this case, she redeemed a joker atop her own rack, which makes it seem sneakier than if she redeemed it atop someone else's - but as I said, the really sneaky part is that she clearly planned it from the moment she made the exposure with jokers.

    By the way, this board is not an FAQ - it's Q&A (people ask questions, I answer them). If somebody asks a question that's been asked frequently before, then I refer them to the FAQs. So Q&A is an entirely different thing from FAQs; Q&A is real-time, meaning you can ask me a question now, and you'll get an answer soon. But the FAQs are archived, meaning you can just go there and find the canned answer that's already been written. That's how FAQs are different from Q&As.
    And I don't know what Control-7 does. I use Chrome as my browser (I'm running Windows 10 on a PC), and control-7 doesn't do anything. I also tried control-F7. That didn't do anything either. I use control-F all the time to find things on a web page, and I use Google to find information (even on my own website). I googled "Control-7" but wasn't able to find any information on it...?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 2, 2016


    Table Talk (part 2)

    >From: Beth P
    >Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 7:26 AM
    >Subject: Table talk
    >I had played Mah Jongg for two years and still considered myself new at the game when I was invited to play with some experienced players. I was nervous. I discarded a redeemable tile (by mistake) and someone made a comment about it. It was done and too late so I made no gasp or expression whatsoever. By luck, in the next 3 turns, I drew 3 needed tiles including my MJ tile and made a jokerless hand. These players were impressed thinking I had had a "method to my madness".
    >Sloper gets the credit as I have learned much from your web site.
    >Thanks. Beth

    Hi, Beth. I'm guessing you read yesterday's column. Well played, Grasshopper!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 13, 2016


    She just blurts out unwelcome observations (Table talk, part 1)

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Saturday, June 11, 2016 7:18 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is Playing American Mah Jongg, one player has three 4 bams and a joker exposed. Next player picks a 4 bam and discards it. Another player questions whether or not she wanted the joker among the three 4 bams that were exposed. Is this questioning the thing to do or should the other 3 players just continue playing without commenting? I would prefer that no comment be made if I was the one who discarded the 4 bam tile especially if I had wanted that joker. I realize that sometimes a player doesn’t want to make another player jokerless so doesn’t redeem a joker that is exposed. Sometimes the player is not paying attention to others’ exposures and really wanted that joker and could kick herself for missing the exposed joker. Does it really matter what is said or is there any etiquette regarding this occurrence? I know there is no rule regarding this. Thanks again for your help and just to let you know that nasty player I emailed you about last month went back to her other house for the summer but let it be known she will receive an email from me when she returns as to the proper placement of a called discard. I value all your answers. Enjoy your summer. Lynn P

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    Is this questioning the thing to do
    You have a sophisticated understanding of, and appreciation for, the finer points of strategy and etiquette... and she does not. It might be futile to try and educate her and bring her up to your level.

    should the other 3 players just continue playing without commenting?
    I maintain a façade of implacable inscrutability* in such situations.
    * Read: "poker face."

    I would prefer that no comment be made if I was the one who discarded the 4 bam tile especially if I had wanted that joker. ... Sometimes the player is not paying attention to others’ exposures and really wanted that joker and could kick herself for missing the exposed joker.
    Of course. Let me describe a situation I've been in more than once. I pick a tile and discard it, then realize that [doh!] I should have redeemed it. An opponent silently and subtly (without any head movements) shoots me a quizzical look. I maintain a façade of implacable inscrutability, possibly with the slightest of smirks. She sighs inaudibly. The other players notice nothing, or if they notice what I discarded, they say nothing. (Can you tell from the foregoing that I play with people who have a sophisticated understanding and appreciation for the finer points of strategy, and table manners?)

    Does it really matter what is said or is there any etiquette regarding this occurrence?
    You know that she who blurts without the ability to meter her thoughts-to-verbalizations* has a predictable behavior, which you can use in your strategy and/or in your behavior at the table.
    * Read: no faucet valve that shuts off thoughts before they emerge audibly from the mouth and vocal cords. Also known as "blurting," the verbal issuance of divulgences impulsively, inadvertently, and/or unadvisedly.

    Some women are constantly in "sharing" mode among friends, and cannot turn it off even during a competitive game. You know that's what she does, so you can use that understanding to your advantage. You also have the ability to keep your own lips zipped after she blurts, and that's a rare ability - a trait of the most highly skilled players.

    The official Chinese rules prohibit and penalize table talk (they call it "giving information"). It's a shame that the American rules include no such thing.

    I think this is a great topic for a column!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 12, 2016


    She exposed a pung with two jokers!?

    >From: Adrienne G
    >Sent: Friday, June 10, 2016 9:55 PM
    >Subject: question
    >Hi,
    >A situation came up at my beginner group's game, and I want to check the rules with you. A player called a 7 bam, and then used the 7 bam and two jokers from her rack to expose a Pung. Is that a "legal" move?
    >Adrienne

    Hi, Adrienne.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-L. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 11, 2016


    Explaining one mystery, part 4*

    >From: Raymond L
    >Sent: Thursday, June 9, 2016 2:29 PM
    >Subject: Re: More obscure dora tiles and the Thai set
    >Hi Tom,
    >I read your article on the first issue of The Mahjong Collector and I encountered some new tiles you may be interested in. I've been searching for the "皇" mystery tile in FAQ 7e and may have found the answer but it is quite long of I'm attaching it to this email. Feel free to break it into smaller pieces.
    >Best regards,
    >Ray L.
    Attachment: Current trends in Vietnamese and Japanese tiles.doc

    Hi, Ray.
    There's a lot of interesting stuff in there. Too much work for me to try to convert it to HTML, if your intention was to share it with my readers. If you want me to share it with my readers, I can make the file available in my "downlode" folder. Thanks for sharing your findings with me.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 2, 2016

    * (Counting "Putting two and two together" as part 3)


    I think I can call her dead, part 2

    >From: Bernice V
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 10:08 PM
    >Subject: Re: Dead Hand
    >Thanks so much!!
    >Bernice V


    I think I can call her dead....what do you say??

    >From: Bernice V
    >To: Questions Sloper
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 5:20 PM
    >Subject: Dead Hand
    >If a player is playing a winds hand and has 4 easts and 4 wests exposed and I have three souths in my hand and there are 4 whites on the table....I think I can call her dead....what do you say??
    >Bernice V

    Hi, Bernice. Your question is ambiguous:

    I think I can call her dead....what do you say??
    There are 3 different ways your question can be interpreted:

    Under the rules of the National Mah Jongg League, am I allowed to call her dead?
    Yes. Players are permitted to call someone dead. See the rulebook; the death challenge is mentioned on pages 16 and 18. Also see the yearly newsletters for clarifications on the rules surrounding death challenges.

    Is it good strategy to call her dead?
    If someone's exposures show conclusively, based on exposed or discarded tiles visible to all, that she cannot make a valid hand, or that she is exposing a concealed hand, it is excellent strategy to call her dead, since you can get more picks from the wall.

    Based on her exposures, would I be correct to call her dead?
    Nobody but you knows that she'll never be able to get a 2nd South. It's a secret of which only you are aware. She's not dead if you discard one of yours, so you can't call her dead. All you can do is not discard a South.

    Okay, so I thought of a 4th one. So shoot me! Is it bad etiquette to call someone dead? My group never calls anyone dead.
    It's not bad etiquette to call someone dead, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do, even though they're silly Romans.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 8, 2016


    What do you know about Mah Jongg, part 2

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 8:56 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Hello Donna Eschen,
    >Tom,
    >I got the first email tonight like you did and I responded and said, 'please clarify what you are looking for'.
    >Here is email number two. I just deleted it. I see a scam here!
    >Donna
    >Begin forwarded message:
    >From: James Graham <james.graham115@outlook.com>
    >Date: June 7, 2016 at 7:11:34 PM PDT
    >To: Donna
    >Subject: Hello Donna E
    >Hello Donna E
    >I want to partner with you, i had a Mah Jongg instructor that passed away and since then nothing has been done about tracing his family and relatives, i am his personal attorney and he has fund which will soon be confiscated if nothing is done and that is the reason i have contacted you so that we can partner together concerning this transaction which will not cause any problem for me and you.
    >Can i trust you about this? feel free with me and ask me any question and i will clarify you.
    >Take care and let me hear from you.
    >Regards,
    >James Graham.

    Hi, Donna.
    He's most definitely a scammer. Let's all email him and offer him a fortune left by our departed uncles who were Nigerian princes before they got stuck penniless in Switzerland and starved while waiting for us to send a wire for $300... Or make up something else just as outlandish... Or just delete his email. Whatever.
    So I guess James' departed mah-jongg instructor was mysteriously wealthy, hmm? A good personal attorney would figure out a way to get hold of that wealth without involving strangers from the internet, don't you think?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 7, 2016


    What do you know about Mah Jongg instructor ? Where are you located now?

    From: James Graham <james.graham115@outlook.com>
    To: [blank]
    Sent: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 5:43 PM
    Subject: What do you know about Mah Jongg instructor ?
    Hello,
    What do you know about Mah Jongg instructor ?
    Where are you located now?
    Take care and let me hear from you.
    Sincerely,
    James Graham.

    Hi, James.
    I have to tell you, I'm very suspicious of your email. It was in my spam folder, for one thing. And the "To:" line was blank, for another. And your question is vague in the extreme. It's as if you are not familiar with the English language, and are not familiar with Western norms of communication.
    Perhaps you are looking for someone to teach you mah-jongg? If so, where are YOU located?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 7, 2016

    [Dear readers, note - I do not recommend you contact James, until and unless he responds and clarifies his query. Also, if any players or teachers whose contact info is on this site receive similar emails from James, please let me know right away! - Tom]


    2 FAQs about the dealer's wall

    >From: Carroll L
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 6:26 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >Good evening Tom,
    >I have a couple of questions re American Mah-jongg.
    >Question 1: Why do we break a wall?
    >Question 2: After wall has been broken and put aside and all other walls have been played,
    >and it is time to bring out the last remaining wall. Is it a rule that the last remaining tiles in
    >that wall can not be “called”
    >Thank you, I really enjoy your site,
    >Carroll L

    Hi, Carroll. Your 2 answers:
    Read Frequently Asked Question 19-AP. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    Read Frequently Asked Question 19-Y. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 7, 2016


    Which ones are my winds, dragons, and flowers, part 3

    >From: Ray H
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 12:13 AM
    >Subject: Booklet-Magic_Dragon_Set-1.pdf
    >Tom,
    >You may have missed this posted on the Mah Jongg Collectors Facebook group...the file was uploaded by Jan Fenner a couple of weeks back.
    >Ray
    >Attachment: Booklet-Magic_Dragon_Set-1.pdf

    Ray, you're amazing. I had indeed missed that. I'll put this in my downlode folder with other downloadable mah-jongg-related resources. http://www.sloperama.com/downlode/mahjongg/
    Skimming through the booklet, the game is clearly based on mah-jongg, by someone in Missouri named Jeng. In the 2000s, I was contacted by someone in Toronto who had done a similar thing - created a set of mah-jongg-like tiles designed to look less intimidating to players, and a set of rules to be easier to learn than mah-jongg. I guess it's an idea that somebody pursues every now and again.
    Anyway, thanks very much, Ray. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 7, 2016


    My Hispanic-theme decoupage, part 2

    >From: Linda K
    >Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 6:49 PM
    >Subject: Re: Fwd: Majong tiles pic
    >Very interesting! You are exactly right, both have decals.
    >These are all of the tiles I have, they came from an estate sale, I found them interesting and beautiful. Thank you for your insight.

    You're welcome. One problem with estate sales is that sometimes they separate things that ought to be sold together. Somebody else might have gotten the rest of the tiles from your set.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    6/6/16


    Which ones are my winds, dragons, and flowers, part 2 (continued from April 25, 2014) - and a donation

    >From: Dinah B
    >Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 5:46 PM
    >Subject: Answer to a question asked in FAQ 7e
    >Hi Tom,
    >I started Mah Jongg a year and a half ago, and am totally hooked. I love your site, and have poured over almost every word and picture. While reading the FAQ, I came across one that I had found more info on, and thought you would want this info too.
    >Thanks for reading.
    >Dinah
    >*****
    >In regard to FAQ 7e. Those Mysterious Special Tiles...
    >The last question -
    >>"Which ones are my winds, dragons, and flowers?
    >> From: vivian m
    >> Sent: Friday, April 25, 2014 2:45 PM
    >> Subject: Can you identify winds and flowers in this set?
    >>This set has 4 of each of the pictured tiles, plus 8 jokers made with stickers on blanks. My question concerns the bottom row. I infer that 1,2,3 are white, red, and green dragons, respectively. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) I assume the 24 tiles represented by 4-9 are flowers and winds. Can you identify them for me?
    >>Thanks.
    >> Vivian M"
    >
    >*****
    >The reason these tiles are so puzzling is that this is not a Mah Jongg set at all. It is a similar game called "Magic Dragon". I came across it listed on ebay as a MJ set, and then found it accidentally while researching something else:
    >https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/225168/magic-dragon
    >The Mah Jongg Museum has a picture of the box and tiles
    >http://www.mahjongmuseum.com/mj023.htm

    >From: Dinah B via PayPal
    >Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 5:51 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Dinah B
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Dinah B. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Dinah B
    >Message: Thank you for the great resource you provide. I have your book also.
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Hi, Dinah -
    Great work, finding that set on the MahjongMuseum! I never saw that there. Now if only I could see the rules for that game so I could see if it's at all mah-jongg-like! And thanks very much for the donation.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    6/6/16


    My Hispanic-theme decoupage tiles

    >From: Linda K
    >Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 7:25 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Majong tiles pic
    >---------- Forwarded message ----------
    >From: Linda K
    >Date: Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 10:13 AM
    >Subject: Majong tiles pic
    >To: LINDA K
    >I recently came upon these tiles, which I admire for their artistic beauty; each is a miniature work of art.
    >I have since learned that they are indeed mahjong tiles, but I have yet to find any information on the lower tiles in the photo, they have Hispanic images which appear to have been decoupaged onto the tile which is bamboo backed. Are you familiar with these types of tiles? If so, can you tell m e more about the tiles with Hispanic images? Are they mahjong tiles or for a different game?
    >Thank you for sharing your expertise.
    >Linda


    Click image to see larger version

    Hi, Linda.
    My guess is that those "Hispanic" tiles (your second image above) were stickered to make extra flowers. If you take a look at column 509, you'll see that the National Mah Jongg League required varying amounts of "wild flowers" in the 1940s and 1950s - as many as 24 flowers in 1950-1955. The original owner of your set probably made those tiles to enable NMJL play in the early fifties.
    That's my guess.
    But I am much more curious about the yellow plastic tiles in your image. I cut your image into 2 separate images, and am making them clickable to see in detail. You showed yellow plastic tiles in the upper part of your image (that's the first of the 2 above), and the bone-and-bamboo tiles in the bottom part of your image (the second image above). While your bone tiles are stickered with "Hispanic" imagery, your yellow plastic tiles have Asian designs on them. This all raises another point I want to make, which raises a question I have for you.

    When the League required players to add as many as 16 extra flowers into a set (given that a set normally came with only 8 flowers), many players had to add in mismatched tiles. It would then be no secret that some of the tiles in the wall were flowers, since those tiles (even though stacked face-down) did not match the other tiles, either in color or material or size or any combination thereof. So that's why your set has both bone/bam and plastic tiles in it.

    My question for you is: what is the rest of your set made of? Is it a bone/bam set with these added in? Or is it a yellow plastic set with these added in?

    And another question for you: your yellow plastic tiles have images of what appear to be Japanese women on them. That's unusual given the history at the time: that Japan had been a mortal enemy in the previous decade. But my question is, are those also "decoupage"? Looking closely at the Five Dot tile, for instance, and the Five Bam in the bottom row, it looks like the image was applied over the original design and has deteriorated away. It looks like those were decals, like the ones I used on model airplanes in the fifties. Those decals would be very thin and brittle, and it appears that's what I'm looking at. Seem right to you?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    6/6/16


    Do tournament winners get tax forms?

    >From: Belle M
    >Sent: Friday, June 3, 2016 5:02 PM
    >Subject: Tax forms for winners
    >Hi Tom,
    >If I attend a 3 day tournament and win $2000 should I expect a w2-g or a 1099??
    >Thanks so much,
    >Belle

    Belle, I have no idea. Why don't you ask the tournament organizers? Of course, if you do win any money, it should be reported on your taxes (whether or not the organizers report it).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 3, 2016


    "Holding back"

    >From: Ellen T
    >Sent: Thursday, June 2, 2016 6:14 PM
    >Subject: Holding Back
    >Hi Tom,
    >I came across this term recently and the example given to illustrate it made no sense to me. Have you heard of "holding back" and if so can you explain it?
    >Thanks,
    >Ellen

    Hi Ellen,
    I wish you could have given me the phrase in context (how someone used the phrase in a sentence, and what was going on at the time). My best guess is that whoever said that was talking about "defensive playing." Have you seen my Defense columns? When a player is showing two exposures, you can often tell what hand she's making, right? And when you know what hand she's making, and she's displaying body language that indicates she is ready to win, what do you do -- do you throw a "hot tile"? Or do you "hold back" so she doesn't win on your discard (because you don't want to be the one to have to pay her double)?
    Did that parable help explicate the possible meaning of the phrase?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 2, 2016


    Column 653

    >From: "S... Libby"
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 1:48 PM
    >Subject: Column #653 Question
    >Hi, Tom! I have a question about hand #2 in column #653:
    >You say we must choose between Consec. #1 (7 tiles toward this -- I agree with this count) and Consec. #6 (9 tiles toward this -- I only come up with 8, whether we go with FF5-8 or FF6-9). That said, would you also consider Odds #5 (8 tiles toward this hand, but need the pair of 7s)? Discarding those 3 6s would be painful, but those 3 jokers help!
    >Thanks,
    >Libby

    Hi, Libby.
    As for Odds #5, not having the full pair is a strike against it, so I would not be inclined to go that way.
    As for Consec. #6, you are right - I was probably counting all three flowers, when the hand can use only two. It is indeed just eight tiles, not nine.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    6/1/16


    Donation

    >From: deborah P
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 2:06 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from deborah P
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from deborah P. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number:
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: deborah P
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Deborah! Much appreciated.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    6/1/16


    We do only one Charleston

    >From: Mark B
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 11:10 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I have been playing for one and a half years love the game, my group of ladies do only one charleston are we missing something by not doing two rounds, thanks for your help, love you're column. Peggy. My mah-jongg question or comment is:

    Hi, Peggy.
    Are you missing something? I can't tell you that. I can only tell you two things:
    It's very common to hear someone kvetch during the second Charleston, "Oy, the same junk going around again."
    Sometimes you get good tiles in the second Charleston. It's happened to me several times.
    I think it's worth having a conversation. Ask them why they never do a second Charleston. Ask them if a player is permitted to request a second Charleston. Mention that the rules specify two Charlestons (one with RALph and one with LARry). See what they say. Maybe they decided to permanently skip the second one for some reason you weren't informed of. Mention that you were never party to that decision, and that you'd like to bring it up for a new vote.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 1, 2016


    How much does the bettor get, part 2

    >From: Sandy B
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 9:46 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >Thanks! Got It!


    Can you order copies of the Mah Jongg newsletters from previous years?

    >From: Robin M
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 6:51 PM
    >Subject: Re: Who Gets the Tile
    >Hi Tom,
    >Can you order copies of the Mah Jongg newsletters from previous years?
    >I've only been playing two years. I think it would help to have the questions and answers from previous years (after 2000).
    >I just received your book.
    >Robin

    Hi, Robin. I'm glad you have my book!
    I don't know if you can get past newsletters! You can contact the League and ask. What I did was start collecting them when I started playing. I recommend all players do the same. You don't really need to go back 15 years with them, though - they're pretty repetitive. Once you have 3 or 4 of them in a row, you've seen just about all the rulings that have been issued in the past 15 years. One never knows if the League will issue new rulings, and that's the real reason to start collecting them.


    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription to
    the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 31, 2016


    How much does the bettor get?

    >From: Sandy B
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 6:14 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >The fifth player bets on a wall game. If he/she wins, how much does he/she win?

    Hi, Sandy.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-W. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 31, 2016


    Column 653

    >From: Fran S
    >Sent: Monday, May 30, 2016 6:47 PM
    >Subject: May 29 Sloperama Column Comment
    >Hi Tom!
    >I noticed that you missed an obvious hand for #5 of your Column #653. Rather than giving up an 8D to delay a decision for Evens #4, I would go for Evens #3, and discard either the 2D or the 4D. This hand already has its pairs for Evens #3 (the 4B, the 8D and the 8C), and the 3 jokers can be used to fill in the remaining 2Bs and 6Bs that are needed for the kongs.
    >Love your website!
    >Fran S

    >From: Fran S
    >Sent: Monday, May 30, 2016 7:06 PM
    >Subject: Column #653 Comment
    >Hi Tom!
    >It's me again! I also see a better hand for your #8 of Column #653. I see 9 tiles towards Consecutive #3, including two of the three necessary pairs. Therefore, I would toss either the 6D, 6B or the 7Ds, and go for a consecutive run of the 4C, 5C, 5D, 5B, and 6C, and pray that I don't see the remaining 5Ds tossed before I can call it for mahj!
    >Fran S

    Hi, Fran.
    You're right, that is a choice I hadn't considered. Let's count (you didn't, so let's do now): Evens #3: nine tiles. Evens #4: eight. So, good on you!
    You're right again. Nine tiles is better than eight. Nice work!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 30, 2016


    New column posted

    New column is up! It's a WWYD (What Would You Discard). Check it out, and let me know if I screwed up somewhere! (^_^)
    Tom
    Sunday, May 29, 2016


    Can a player put a called discard into the concealed hand, part 2

    >From: Judith B
    >Sent: Friday, May 27, 2016 9:23 AM
    >Subject: Re: Legal draw?
    >You didn't interpret my question correctly. The players are picking up the previous person's discard without calling or disclosing - when they cannot complete a pun, Kong,etc. So I'm guessing this is so far from legal that you wouldn't even guess that was my question.

    Okay, Judy. You're correct - I would never have guessed that that was what you were describing. I guess your players never had a good teacher, and never read the rulebook! Get the official rulebook, and read page 14.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    Since nobody ever asked this question before, it's not listed in FAQ 19. But if you read FAQ 20-A, you'll see the original rule from the Chinese game (the ancestor of the American game) before your ordered copy of "Mah Jongg Made Easy" can arrive in the mail. Of course, you could also just get my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," instead of (or - better - in addition to) the official rulebook! You can link to the FAQs above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 27, 2016


    Can next in line call the discard? Can a player put a called discard into the concealed hand?

    >From: Judith B
    >Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 2:15 PM
    >Subject: Legal draw?
    >I'm learning American mah Jong - the group I've joined (mostly new players) besides picking tiles from the wall and calling discards, permit the player after the discarding player to pick up the discard rather than picking from the wall. Is this legal?
    >Judy B. Thank you

    Hi, Judy. Your email was in my spam folder, which is why it took so long for me to find it and reply.

    the group I've joined ... permit the player after the discarding player to pick up the discard rather than picking from the wall. Is this legal?
    If I understand your question, you're questioning whether a discard may be called by ANY player at the table (even the person whose turn follows the discarder). If I understand your question correctly, my answer is "of course - why shouldn't that player be permitted to do what either other player is permitted to do?" The only person who cannot call the fresh discard is the discarder herself.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 26, 2016


    Using zero as an even number and/or in Consecutive Runs

    >From: ROBERT A
    >Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2016 5:35 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Valid Mah Jongg hands
    >----- Forwarded Message -----
    > --- the forwarded message follows ---
    >----- Forwarded Message -----
    > --- the forwarded message follows ---
    >I am waiting again for a response to my second letter to the NMJL.
    >PLEASE refer to the attached copy of that letter. I would like your
    >opinion. My basic question is - using just one hand as the example; as
    >per existing 2016 NMJL rules for use of the White Dragon: Is the
    >following hand - which I presented as a Mah Jongg - FF 000 111 222 333
    >a valid Mah Jong? Since I presented that hand in early April most
    >players now support the reasoning that it is. The mere fact that the
    >NMJL has never printed hands to demonstrate using the White Dragon as
    >the even number zero or never had a clear and definitive rule that
    >states the White Dragon can only be used in year hands AND they do not
    >like the idea of having players using many Jokers to create a Mah
    >Jongg..... Last week in tournament play I had 7 Jokers in a Mah Jongg
    >hand. Enough said.. What is your opinion based on the long standing
    >NMJL rules that state the White Dragon MUST be used a the even number
    >Zero (0) and MAY (permissive) be use in any of the three suits. Thank
    >You. Have a good day, Bob A.

    >
    >Filename: May 2016 President Letter.docx
    >May 2, 2016
    >President
    >National Mah Jongg League, Inc.
    >450 Seventh Avenue
    >New York City
    >New York
    >Dear President:
    >First I would like to say; I thank the “League” for responding to my letter dated April 2016 regarding the use of the White Dragon as the number zero in any Mah Jongg hand.
    >Secondly, I would like you to know the response from the “League” has been viewed by many as unofficial, and perhaps even drafted by myself, since it was not on official National Mah Jongg League, Inc. stationary. It was on plain paper and not signed by the author. One does think an organization with such a huge membership would have official printed stationary.
    >Regardless, I was happy to realize the League does agree that I have, for many years, read the rules properly with regard to the White Dragon being used as the even number zero, without prejudice.
    >I am less happy to be left confused that the “League” finds it “difficult to sanction hands that require five or more jokers in order for a Mah Jongg to be made.” Having to use five or more jokers is not the issue of concern. I find the greater the challenge the more fun it is to try and complete a hand.
    >Tradition seems to prevent a more definitive response that would assure a completed hand such as FF 000 111 222 333 is in fact a valid Mah Jongg, as per existing rules.
    >The “League” response stated “It might be clearer to state that white dragons may only be used as zeros in those hands involving the current year, and in no other hands.” However, for as long as I can remember the white dragon could have been used in any hand as the even number zero.
    >I had no intention to be critical, I was, and still seek definitive clarification. In the future, it might be easier to leave the rules as is and not discriminate against the number zero. In my opinion it would be easy to educate players by simply printing one hand in each group that would easily demonstrate the use of the white dragon as a zero. This would leave all National Mah Jongg League players to decide on their own if they want to try for a hand that would require any number of jokers, up to all eight (8), in order to complete.
    >Thank You again.
    >
    >Filename: FF 000 111 222 333.docx
    >CHATHAM MAH JONGG – SPECIAL HANDS
    >X 35 NN 00 SS EE 111 222
    >X 35 WW 00 EE SS 111 222
    >C 40 FF 00 11 22 33 44 DD
    >X 45 FF 000 111 222 333
    >X 50 0000 11 11 11 2222
    >X 75 0000 11111 22222
    >C 100 WE WON 10 10 WE WON (can use 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90)
    >C 150 00 DD 000 DDD 0000 (requires use of 5 Jokers)

    Hi, Bob.
    To reply to what you said to me:

    I would like your
    >opinion. My basic question is - using just one hand as the example; as
    >per existing 2016 NMJL rules for use of the White Dragon: Is the
    >following hand - which I presented as a Mah Jongg - FF 000 111 222 333
    >a valid Mah Jong?
    No. As I wrote in FAQ 19-BH, the League clearly intends white dragon to be used as zero ONLY where a 0 is shown on the card.

      The use of white dragons as zeroes is the solution to the League's problem "how do we make a year that has a zero in it?" It's also conceivable that the League might make a hand that uses tens or something, like: FFFF 5555 + 5555 = 10

    Since I presented that hand in early April most
    >players now support the reasoning that it is.
    I don't know where you presented it, or to whom, and I don't know the size of the sample you polled. But I disagree, and I believe the majority of my readers will also disagree with you on this.

    AND they do not
    >like the idea of having players using many Jokers to create a Mah
    >Jongg.....
    Who is "they"? The League?

    Last week in tournament play I had 7 Jokers in a Mah Jongg
    >hand. Enough said..
    What's your point? You may have as many as 8 jokers.

    What is your opinion based on the long standing
    >NMJL rules that state the White Dragon MUST be used a the even number
    >Zero (0) and MAY (permissive) be use in any of the three suits.
    When you see a 0 on the card, the only tile you may use for that is soap. When soap is used as zero, it's suitless.

    CHATHAM MAH JONGG – SPECIAL HANDS
    I don't know why you sent me this. You didn't mention if Chatham is a person, a facility, or a city... Anyway, anyone can make up special table rules, as I wrote in FAQ 14. If you make up your own rules, the League is not in charge of your game's rules any longer. Read FAQ 14.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 26, 2016


    Donation, part 2

    >From: Elisegk
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 10:43 AM
    >Subject: Re: Notification of donation received
    >You are welcome. I really enjoy your column and am happy to make a donation !


    Can't get the "nav frame" to show up

    >From: "pleusink
    >Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 8:36 PM
    >Subject: nav frame
    >I assume by nav frame you mean a search box.....? If so, none comes up no matter how many times I click on the line asking me to. ;( Soooo much info on the site, very difficult to find subjects (such as concealed game)!
    >Thanks for possible help.
    >Penny L
    >Wisconsin

    Hi, Penny.
    The nav frame isn't a search box. It's a vertical list of the titles of all the FAQs and bulletin boards, and it's shown on the left side of the screen (to the left of the main content frame where an FAQ or a column is displayed). If you are never shown a vertical list of links at the left side of the screen and you want help making that appear, you'll need to tell me what kind of device you're using (is it a desktop/laptop, or is it a small smartphone, is it a tablet computer, is it an older featurephone) and where you are when trying to access the nav frame (what URL), and a screen shot would also help me help you.
    You mentioned that you were looking for information on "concealed game"? If you tell me what you're looking for, I can either point you to the FAQ or give you an answer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA

    May 24, 2016


    Donation

    >From: Elise K via PayPal
    >Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 8:36 PM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.00 USD from Elise K (elisegk
    >View the details of this transaction online
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number:
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Elise K
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal
    >Copyright © 1999-2016 PayPal. All rights reserved.

    Thank you, Elise!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper


    Column 652, part 4

    >From: Elisegk
    >To: tom@sloperama.com
    >Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 8:30 PM
    >Subject: Re: another suggestion for hand #7 in col 652
    >yes, I would have passed 5d, south, 9 crack, so would have still kept some of the other options alive!!

    Gotcha, Elise. That's a fine option. Some folks are intimidated by concealed hands.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA

    May 24, 2016


    Column 652, part 3

    >From: "lindaz...
    >Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 6:36 AM
    >Subject: column 652
    >Hi Tom,
    >For problem # 6, there are 7 tiles toward CR #6 in bams. They are also useful for CR # 1 (6 tiles) as another option.
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi Linda,
    Yes, Consec. #6 is a good option. So you'd have to keep a flower, which means you'd have to give up one of the options I mentioned in the column. Not Consec. #1, I gather.
    - Consec. #1: 6 tiles
    - Consec. #2: 5 tiles
    - Consec. #4: 6 tiles
    Since Consec. #2 is outnumbered, I presume that's the one you'd kill. So what 3 tiles would you pass?
    As I alluded in my response to Elise last night (below), when going for a concealed hand, a one-tile advantage is cancelled out by the concealment requirement. A 7-tile concealed hand is about the same as a 6-tile exposed hand. If I had a 2-tile lead for a concealed hand, then that would definitely sway me.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA

    May 23, 2016


    Column 652, part 2

    >From: Elisegk
    >Sent: Sunday, May 22, 2016 6:57 PM
    >Subject: another suggestion for hand #7 in col 652
    >There are 6 tiles toward the closed 2016 hand: FF, two 1 dots, one 6 dot and a white so I would have kept the 6 dot and passed the 5 dot instead!

    Hi, Elise.
    Not sure what three tiles you would pass. It's unclear if you saw Barbara's email about the 369 option. Were you saying you would pass 5D 9C and S (working off my initial pass of 6D 9C S which also kept other options open but ignored the 369 option Elise pointed out)? Or just go for 2016 and ignore all those lesser options? What about the fact that going just for the 2016 hand means never calling someone's discard (Concealed hands being harder, which needs to be taken into consideration when bypassing "lesser" but exposable options)?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA

    May 22, 2016


    Column 652

    >From: Barbara B
    >Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 8:27 AM
    >Subject: Charleston - Column #652
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am puzzled about your analysis of hand #7. I agree on the Odds #5,
    >but don't understand why you would pick Elevens or Like Numbers, with
    >no pairs other than Flowers and no 7s. My thoughts were: Odds #5 and
    >369 #3 (long shot, but let's face it: everything with this hand is a
    >long shot). I usually hang onto Whites, at least through the first
    >round (and a 2016 is also a possible, though another long-shot).
    >Of course, all this analysis leaves me with nothing to throw; I
    >decided to keep the Odds and 369s alive, discarding 2D, 5D and S.
    >What do you think?
    >Barbara

    Hi, Barbara. Let's take your email point by point:

    don't understand why you would pick Elevens or Like Numbers
    With three ones, we have five tiles (as many as we have with Odds #5). With the 9C, we have five tiles towards Elevens #1 (again, five tiles) - but then I recommended discarding the 9C anyway, so moot point.

    369 #3 (long shot
    That's good, actually. 3B 6D 9C - again, five tiles with the flowers.

    Of course, all this analysis leaves me with nothing to throw
    Could pass 5D S and soap.

    discarding 2D, 5D and S.
    What 2D? (^_^) I like 5D S and soap as an alternative pass. But I agree with you that passing soaps goes against the grain on the first right.
    I'm appending this to column 652. May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 20, 2016


    Who gets a discard, part 2

    Odette, my apologies! When I first responded to your email (below,) I totally missed part of your question:

    >Also I think this answer may be in error for Question 1.
    >http://www.sloperama.com/images/letb.gifhttp://www.sloperama.com/images/letl.gifQ: Am I required to put a tile in my rack? Three variations on this question:
    >>(1) We have a player who picks a tile, then discards a tile without ever putting the picked tile on her rack. Is she allowed to do that? Aren't we always required to rack the tile after picking it?
    >>A.1. No. There is no rule that says a player must rack before discarding.
    >I was always taught that you had to have 13 tiles in your rack at all times. If you do not rack your picked tile, when you discard, you only have 12 tiles on your rack with one
    >on the table. I was always told in a Tournament you would be called dead if you did this. Please let me know.

    Sorry I missed that part of your question, Odette. To clarify for other readers, you were asking about FAQ 19-BL, part 1.
    A player does always have 13 tiles in the hand at all times, except when it's her turn and she acquires a 14th tile briefly. Picking a tile from the wall is one way to acquire a 14th tile. As I wrote, there is no rule that says that the player must put that 14th tile into the hand - she is permitted to discard it if she so desires.
    Now I've addressed your question. And now I'm going to say more (which might result in further discussion with a reader of this board, which includes you)...
    Discarding the picked tile without racking doesn't close the window of opportunity on the previous discard, but that only matters to highly aggressive in-your-face players (or fraidy-cat beginner players who overestimate the likelihood of picking a joker from the wall, and have not learned to feel a joker with the fingertips). And it's for this reason that many players assume that it's wrong to discard the picked tile without racking it.
    A player must have 14 tiles in the hand in order to declare mah-jongg (all mah-jongg hands require 14 tiles). A player has 13 tiles in the hand most of the time, bringing the 14th tile into the hand on each turn (without which she would never have the ability to make mah-jongg).
    Scroll down to read my reply to your first question. (These posts are in reverse chronological order.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 19, 2016


    Who gets a discard if two want it for the same thing? (Conflicting claim)

    >From: "obythec
    >Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2016 2:43 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >I have not seen anything on this topic. It came up for the first time in 5 years that I have played. I would love to know your thoughts on this.
    >During a MJ tournament, East threw out a Flower. Before anyone could say anything, West (directly across from her) pushed 3 Flowers to expose them on her rack in one fell swoop with her hand BEFORE
    >calling for it. After they were exposed she then proceeded to call the flower. The next person whose turn it was supposed to be wanted the Flower. The lady who exposed her 3 Flowers said it was hers because she exposed her 3 Flowers.
    >The Tournament director said the person who exposed the 3 Flowers should get it even though it was the other person's turn next.
    >I do not agree with this ruling. It should be the next person's turn to the right of East. Am I wrong?
    >Also I think this answer may be in error for Question 1.
    >http://www.sloperama.com/images/letb.gifhttp://www.sloperama.com/images/letl.gifQ: Am I required to put a tile in my rack? Three variations on this question:
    >(1) We have a player who picks a tile, then discards a tile without ever putting the picked tile on her rack. Is she allowed to do that? Aren't we always required to rack the tile after picking it?
    >A.1. No. There is no rule that says a player must rack before discarding.
    >I was always taught that you had to have 13 tiles in your rack at all times. If you do not rack your picked tile, when you discard, you only have 12 tiles on your rack with one
    >on the table. I was always told in a Tournament you would be called dead if you did this. Please let me know.
    >I appreciate your thoughts as I am always learning.
    >Best regards,
    >Odette L

    Hi, Odette.
    The player, West, who hurriedly exposed her tiles was aggressive and unkind, but I assume she must have read the 2007 and/or 2013 newsletters from the League. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-H. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    The League's rule is probably intended to cover a situation in which the next-in-line was slow to speak, but the way the rule is worded, your tournament organizer was correct. If you want to get confirmation from the League, write them (don't call). See FAQ 19-BN.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 19, 2016


    When is a discard "down" (and can't be taken back)?

    >From: Clement M
    >Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2016 3:10 PM
    >Subject: Mahjongg Question
    >If a player takes a tile out of his rack to discard and has it in his hand and calls it (such as 3 Bam) and another player says, ' I want that', can the first player with the tile then say 'I don't want to give that" and change the tile they are going to put down?
    >This happened during our play and the player said since they did not put it on the table they could change it even though another player called for it after the tile had been named, or do they have to continue discarding that particular tile since it had been named and called for by another player already?
    >Thank you.
    >Appreciate your taking the time to answer this.

    Hi, Clement.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-A. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 19, 2016


    Putting two and two together

    Sometimes seemingly unrelated bits of information go unrecognized as being related after all. So it is with Ray L's post of May 17 and Marcia W's post of March 12. Marcia described a mysterious new variant form of mah-jongg called "The Complete Year," which included a new fourth dragon tile called "the Golden Dragon." She described it as "a tile with a rhinestone glued to the middle." And Ray provided a link to an image of just such a tile, the infrequently found shiro potchi (白ポッチ) of Japanese mah-jongg.

    A year ago, I'd written an article for Mahjong Collector magazine, mentioning such a tile - but was unable to find a photo at that time. I suppose that a Japanese set with shiro potchi would have included just one (replacing a regular blank tile, which is what the Japanese use for white dragon), but "The Complete Year" would need four of them.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 19, 2016


    Explaining one mystery, part 2

    >From: Raymond L
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 2:12 PM
    >Subject: More obscure dora tiles and the Thai set
    >Hi Tom,
    >Here's a followup on the white potchi tile. If you go on google image search and put in 白ポッチ 麻雀 you will find some that look like Adam's and all sorts of rare dora tiles like green and gold 5s. I believe they're parlor house tiles. I found one website that makes custom tiles: http://www.1kawaya.com/mj/custom/bees01.html
    >Moving on to another topic is the rare and mysterious Thai set. I've never found the rules which I believe may have gone extinct. After several years I've only managed to find one small photo of that set at the Japanese mahjong museum's website: http://museum.takeshobo.co.jp/houmotsu/world/asia/index.html
    >I'll do a rough translation:
    >"Plastic Thai mahjong tiles are manufactured in Hong Kong. There are many flower tiles [sic includes jokers], 8 groups of 32 tiles. 「春夏秋冬」 (seasons), 「梅蘭菊竹」 (the four gentlemen flowers), 「漁樵耕読」 (four noble professions), 「琴棋書画」 (four scholarly arts) along with Zhao Gongming and his treasure pot, Jiang Ziya and the fish, rooster and the centipede, and the cat and the rat from the "cornered rat". Furthermore there are the almighty tiles 「花合喜元」「総萬筒索」 [they are identical to the Vietnamese jokers], which are examples of the many flowers."
    >
    >This explains some of the mystery tiles in FAQ 7e like the fisherman and the fish. The rooster and the centipede and the cat and rat are also Chinese folktales that you can online. Turning our attention the the jokers, you will find that they are exactly like the eight in the Vietnamese set. If you remember, these eight are nearly identical to the Changsha wang maque that Michael Stanwick and Hongbing Xu wrote about here: http://www.themahjongtileset.co.uk/tile-set-history/flowers-and-kings-an-hypothesis-of-their-function-in-early-ma-que/
    >
    >The only difference is that instead of a 陞 joker in wang maque, there is a 花 (flower) joker. In wang maque, 陞and 総 can act as any suit or honor tile but not as flower tiles. In Vietnam, the 総 can also act as a flower while the 花 joker behaves just like the animal flowers in Singapore and Malaysia. I do not know the origin of the animal tiles in SE Asia, it's best to consult with Thierry Depaulis or Stanwick on this issue. The strange thing about the Thai set is that it seems to be a combination of the 164 tile Malaysian set with the Vietnamese set. As the Thai set already has eight animals, the flower joker would just be the ninth animal but as we don't know the rules we can't be sure. As I can't make a table on email, I'm sending an excel sheet comparing the various sets of SE Asia.
    >
    >I've also included the northern Chinese game of hua maque into the spreadsheet. Stanwick reports that there is a "no honors no flowers" hand just like in Vietnamese game but is played with 16 tiles at hand like in Taiwan and the Philippines. Best regards,
    >Ray L.


    Hi, Ray.
    You wrote:

    If you go on google image search and put in 白ポッチ 麻雀 you will find some[.]
    Cool! Until you told me the name of the haku dora tile yesterday, I wouldn't have known to do that.

    another topic is the rare and mysterious Thai set. I've never found the rules which I believe may have gone extinct. After several years I've only managed to find one small photo of that set at the Japanese mahjong museum's website:
    That photo is indeed small! The full-size image is in the Mahjong Museum's beautiful MAJAN HAKUBUTSUKAN DAI ZUROKU ("Illustrated Book of the Mah-Jongg Museum," or "Mah-Jongg Museum Big Encyclopedia"), which I list in FAQ 3. I have a copy of the book, which is extremely rare. I didn't want to break the book's spine and scan the image, so I took a photo of the image with my iPhone. I don't like the images on this board to be larger than 400 pixels in either direction, so my apologies that this is shrunk:

    All the other tiles in the image are ordinary mah-jongg tiles, so I just zoomed in on the meaty portion (flowers and jokers).

    I'll do a rough translation:
    >"Plastic Thai mahjong tiles are manufactured in Hong Kong...
    My book is in both Japanese and English, but the English is always less detailed than the Japanese. But thank you for the translation. Essentially, the set has 16 flowers plus the Singapore-style flowers plus the 8 basic Vietnamese jokers.

    This explains some of the mystery tiles in FAQ 7e like the fisherman and the fish. The rooster and the centipede and the cat and rat are also Chinese folktales that you can online.
    That's nice to know! I've always just referred to them as "Singapore style" because in Singapore they have a documented use for those tiles.

    I'm sending an excel sheet comparing the various sets of SE Asia.
    >I've also included the northern Chinese game of hua maque
    Thanks. It never occurred to me to make such a grid for comparison.

    By the way, perhaps it's helpful to explain why I call FAQ 7E "the mystery tiles FAQ." I often get people writing me and saying, "I have a mah-jongg set and I've figured out what most of the tiles are, but some of the tiles are a mystery!" Those tiles aren't so much a mystery to me - I explain what they are in the FAQ. And now I'll add this email to the FAQ. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 18, 2016


    Explaining one mystery

    >From: Raymond L
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 2:24 PM
    >Subject: Explanation of Adam's special unknown tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >I've been going through your FAQ's and noticed an old mystery from 2005. Allow me to shed some light on the rhinestone star tile first. The set was made by Nintendo so logically it might have been a Japanese mahjong set. Remember Nicholas Cheung's 2012 alert that there are lesser known variants that contained red 3s and 7s? There's also red white dragons! They are called 白ポッチ (shiro potchi) in Japanese. These two websites will provide more information:
    >The first is the Japanese wiki for dora.
    >https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%89%E3%83%A9_%28%E9%BA%BB%E9%9B%80%29
    >The second shows a tile that's almost like Adam's.
    >http://arcturus.su/wiki/Dora
    >The second tile is a bit more puzzling. 皇 means emperor which is also found in Vietnamese flower tiles. You suggested that it could mean white king (白王) but I consider it unlikely. If it were two words, they would be colored differently to avoid confusion. Searching 皇麻雀牌 after confining it to Japanese led me nowhere (my Japanese is horrendous).
    >I've also noticed some errors in the FAQ's which I will help you correct but that's for another day.
    >Best regards,
    >Ray L.

    Hi, Ray.
    Great information! Thanks. You're referring to this image:

    At the sites you cited, I see these images:

    Those sites do confirm that these are "red whites" (white dragons acting as score doublers). As for the 皇 emperor tile, I guess the mystery continues.
    I look forward to getting further info that I can use to improve the accuracy of my site. Thanks again, Ray!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 17, 2016


    Tile sorting

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Monday, May 16, 2016 3:21 PM
    >Subject: organizing your hand
    >Hi Tom,
    >Your columns have been very helpful to me so I'm hoping you can give me some advice. I looked in FAQ but did not find an answer--what is the best way to organize your dealt hand on your rack before the first Charleston begins? By suits, odds, or evens? Some possibilities are obvious, some not.
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda.
    You wouldn't find this in FAQ 19, because FAQ 19 is about rules, not strategy. You didn't look in FAQ 8, the Strategy FAQ!
    Anyway, I would think the answer to this question could be inferred by simply looking at the images in my columns. I always start every Charleston column by organizing my tiles the same way:

    I teach my beginning students to put flowers at the left, then organize numerically by suit, then dragons and winds and jokers. I teach my students not to put bams next to flowers because 1B is too easy to confuse for a flower. (I did put 1B next to flowers in the #7 example in the image above, but only because those are easily-distinguished colored graphics and not actual tiles.)
    I teach all my students (even in advanced/intermediate class) not to pre-assign jokers but put them as dividers between keepers and tossers, once keepers have been identified.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 16, 2016


    Set valuation, part 5

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, May 16, 2016 11:21 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Esther's flowers
    >Hi Tom,
    >I looked in my copy of Eberhard too, and you are right, he uses 張國老 for Zhang Guolao. This seems to be a rather less commonly used way to write Zhang Guolao's name (and has a slightly different pronunciation, the central character, 國, is Guo with a rising tone, whereas the more common 果, also Guo, has a tone that falls and then rises).
    >Regards
    >Ray

    Interesting! I detect a chink in the armor of the Chinese tonality system. Not as though English armor, I mean armour(!), doesn't have chinks too (you say tomato, I say you're wrong).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 16, 2016


    New column posted

    New column is up! Check it out, and let me know if I screwed something up! (^_^)


    Settle these arguments

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2016 6:25 PM
    >Subject: MY PREVIOUS EMAILS from 5/12 & 5/13
    >Hi Tom, Hope this question didn’t go into your spam like my last one. Noticed some questions dated 5/13 were answered today so I am just checking. It seems that when playing Mah Jongg there is always a question or two. Today our friendly game players decided that it would be OK to touch and even move the tile from the wall and put it back to take the discard instead as long as it wasn’t looked at. I agreed but ... I am a “play by the riles gal!” Enjoy your weekend. Lynn P.

    >From: Lynn Peters
    >Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2016 10:10 PM
    >To: webmaster@sloperama.com
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg today with 2 new subs (A & B) and 2 seasoned players (C & D), A called a discard and placed it on the sloping side of her rack with her other tiles. She didn’t expose the called discard nor other tiles that went with it. D said she must place the called discard on her top rack with the other tiles but C said she didn’t have to. B questioned why A couldn’t place the called discard on the sloping rack and then put up all the necessary tiles at once and both A & B said they had not learned that. I explained that was the “rule” while the C continued to argue with me. C said she has played a long time and never placed her called tile on the top rack and that she doesn’t play by some made-up rules because she plays friendly games. I finally told the 2 subs that it is not a made-up rule but is the rule of NMJL. C is also the one who refuses to put any of her tiles on the slanted rack if she is called dead. I know you have discussed both of these rules but I can’t seem to find the discussions so I can email them both to C who plays “friendly games”. She made the snide remark that I think I am a MJ expert because I quote Tom!! Again thanks for your help and answers that make me an “expert” in playing Mah Jongg!! Lynn P

    Hi, Lynn.
    Yep, I found both emails in my spam folder. I earmarked them as Not Spam, so I hope your future emails won't go there again.
    So, you have 2 questions:

    Where's the rule about not putting a called discard within the concealed tiles on the sloping front of the rack?
    See the 2013 newsletter from the League. It's permitted to put the taken discard into the hand just prior to exposing the hand for a win. (FAQ 19-K)

    But are you saying your seasoned player C calls a discard, then just puts it into the hand and discards without exposing? Seriously? Show her the rulebook, page 14. "The claimant must then expose on the rack the Pung, Kong or Quint which has been completed by the discarded tile." Mah-jongg isn't Rummy! A discarded mah-jongg tile may be claimed for two things only: for "exposure" (of a pung, kong, or quint) or for mah-jongg (which also has to be exposed immediately). The newsletters contain multitudinous mentions of claiming a discard "for exposure" and none whatsoever of claiming a discard to put it within the concealed hand.


    The official rulebook, and a newsletter/bulletin.
    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription to
    the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    Where's the rule about putting erroneous mahj tiles back on the sloping front of the rack?
    Again, it's in the rulebook.
    Page 16 of the rulebook says that a "hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg must be returned to the rack". FAQ 19-P.
    And see the 2007 newsletter, too: "Once a hand is declared "dead," any Jokers that were exposed with that declaration cannot be redeemed." (This rule was stated not only in 2007 but also other newsletters.)

    I don't know why you want to refer your players to discussions on this board rather than the FAQs (which always come with citations as to the source), or better yet, the rulebook and the newsletters. But to find other places on this board where I've discussed the "return to the rack" rule on page 16 with readers, just search this page for "page 16". The rule has been discussed several times.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 14, 2016


    She had a change of heart, part 2

    >From: "bcl...
    >Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2016 6:52 AM
    >Subject: Re: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I apologize for this automatic reply to your email.
    >To control spam, I now allow incoming messages only from senders I have approved beforehand.
    >If you would like to be added to my list of approved senders, please fill out the short request form (see link below). Once I approve you, I will receive your original message in my inbox. You do not need to resend your message. I apologize for this one-time inconvenience.
    >Click the link below to fill out the request:
    >https://webmail.pas.blah blah blah

    I was just trying to tell you that I'd answered your question and let you know how to return to the board and read your answer, Bonnie. I'm not clicking that link; too much bother. Hope you come back and get the answer to your question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 14, 2016


    She had a change of heart

    >From: Bonnie C
    >Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2016 6:06 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player pick up a tile from the currently presented wall. She is holding it face down therefore does not know what it is, nor has she racked it. Can she put it back into the exposed wall and instead claim the last discarded tile?
    >Thank you,
    >Bonnie C

    Hi, Bonnie.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    The "Change of Heart" Frequently Asked Question is FAQ 19-AM. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 14, 2016


    There's a 5th player who's not betting, and...

    >From: DONNA
    >Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 5:49 PM
    >Subject: question
    >When playing with 5 players and 1 sits out and does not bet is there a rule regarding the 5th player sitting out giving one of the players advice on which hand to target? We had this happen and the player taking the advice MahJongged.

    Hi, DONNA.
    You're asking if there's a rule. So let's consult the official rulebook (which I did not write and I do not get any money from):


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    The rulebook describes the 5-player game, starting on page 23. The rulebook assumes that the 5th player is acting as "bettor." But in your game, your 5th player does NOT act as bettor, you say. So, is that player no longer subject to what the rulebook says, since your group has agreed to deviate from the rulebook at this point? You described this 5th person as "the 5th player." If she is a "player," then she IS subject to what the rulebook says, even if she is not betting. In fact, the last paragraph (on page 24) states that she is subject to the rules. The rulebook itself does not go into enough detail. So now we need to consult my comprehensive collection of yearly newsletters, going back to 1997.


    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription to
    the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    From the January, 2014 newsletter:

      Q: Is the bettor allowed to say anything during the game?
      A: No...if the bettor in any way interferes with the play of the game, their bet is cancelled.

    As I said above, the League assumes that the 5th player is betting. And the League says that if the 5th player is not betting, the rules still apply. So, although your non-bettor doesn't have a bet that can be cancelled, she did interfere with the play of the game, and that is definitely not allowed. The League has not stated what penalty should apply in a case such as you describe. I can suggest what I think the League would say the penalty should be, but that would be my guess.
    My guess is that your 5th player who interfered should compensate every player who paid the winner the exact amount that player paid the winner. (She should pay the winner for everyone.) But that's just my guess.
    To find out definitively what penalty the League would apply, you would need to write to the League and get the response in writing. Their current address is on the 2016 card (don't use the address on the 2015 card). Read FAQ 19-BN for more about why you should write and not call the League with questions, and read FAQ 19-W for the rules applying to bettors (thus, any 5th person involved in the game). You can link to FAQ 19 above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the 13th, May, 2016


    Clockwise? Counterclockwise? It's so confusing!

    >From: Arleen
    >Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 3:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:after first wall is used up does right or left go next?

    Hi, Arleen.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-Q. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every player should have a copy!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the 13th, May, 2016


    Mystery object, 2" x 1.5" x .5"

    >From: Morton
    >Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 8:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I found this in a Hong Kong set. It measures 2 in. by 1½ in. It is about ½ in. thick. I believe it is not a Wind indicator since a Wind Indicator came with the set. What is it?
    >Morton W.

    Hi, Morton.
    Without more of an idea what it might look like, I can't tell you what it is. Have you looked at the images in the Bits & Pieces FAQ (Frequently Asked Question 7-D)? You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the Thirteenth, May, 2016

    P.S. If it looks like this (below), then your mystery object's use is described in FAQ 7-D. - Tom


    Chengdu mah-jongg, part 2

    >From: Joseph S
    >Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2016 10:36 PM
    >Subject: Chengdu
    >I'm interested!
    >Forgot to add that chows cannot be melded, only made in hand.

    Joe,
    My correspondent is currently in the US, graduating from university. And after returning to Chengdu she will have a lot on her plate. But after she's played a few times she says she'll get back to me with scoring information. She confirms that this variant is called "blood battle" since after the first two players have won, it's a battle for survival between the last two players. She says this variant is the "most commonly played type in Western China."
    Let's give her time to start her life; she'll send information when she can catch her breath.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the 13th, May, 2016


    Chengdu mah-jongg

    >From: Joseph S
    >Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2016 2:18 PM
    >Subject: Chengdu mahjong
    >Hi Mr. Sloper,
    >Some info on 'Chengdu Mahjong.'
    >I got an app that uses these rules. It's in broken English, so I still don't know what the scoring is. The rules are these
    >-108 tiles, no honors
    >-13 tiles in hand
    >-to win, you must be lacking at least one suit in your hand
    >-when someone wins, the other players continue until the wall runs out, or three people win.
    >-again, scoring is beyond me. I've been trying to figure it out for some years.
    >If one googles 'chengdu mahjong', there are some other websites with rules, which seem to be a little different with the scoring than this one from what I can tell, but the same gameplay. Numerous websites say that the game is nicknamed 'bloody battle' or 'blood game' or something like that due to everyone getting a chance to win.
    >If anyone else has info on this variant, please tell the bulletin board!
    >Joe

    That's interesting stuff, Joe! I might possibly have a new Chengdu connection, and I'll see if I can find out anything.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 12, 2016


    Set valuation, part 4

    >From: Esther L
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 10:19 PM
    >Subject: Re: Set Valuation
    >Hi Tom,
    >Sorry for using the wrong word. I'd also like to thank Ray for clarifying the flower. But would these pictures depict Haversin system lines? I'm not familiar with the term so I think that's what I'm seeing.
    >Thank you so much for all your help!
    >Sincerely,
    >Esther Leung

    Hi, Esther.
    Yes, that does look like Haversian system, but oddly white and shiny. It looks as though the sticks are coated with shiny white paint or lacquer. It's unusual. Not being able to touch them or examine them in person, I can't be certain what's going on with these. They do appear to be bone, but they are definitely not typical of the 1920s, so I'm sticking with my assessment of 1930s or later.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 12, 2016


    Set valuation, part 3

    >From: Ray H
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 1:03 PM
    >Subject: Esther's flowers
    >Hi Tom,
    >In your answer to Esther's question on her flower tiles, you referred her to FAQ 7-e, but there's at least one tile that I don't think is included in 7-e; the figure riding a donkey.
    >It's not too easy to see the images, but the figure looks to be riding the donkey while facing backwards - if so, the figure represents Zhang Guolao, 張果老, the oldest of the eight immortals (at three thousand years old). His emblem is a fish drum, a tube-shaped bamboo drum with two iron rods or mallets that he carries with him. He often, too, carries a phoenix feather or a peach, representing a desire for a long life. Zhang could shrink his donkey to a tiny size, keeping it under his cap between rides.
    >Best wishes,
    >Ray

    Hi, Ray.
    As always, your encyclopedic knowledge of Chinese personages is amazing. I should probably actually read my Eberhard book sometime! I looked under Z and there he is indeed. Eberhard shows a different middle character in the immortal's name. Maybe I need a better book (not that I use the one I have). Heck, I wouldn't have known to look under Z (it would have taken me a long time to get that far, and I would have long since given up).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 11, 2016


    Set valuation, part 2

    >From: Esther L
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 11:37 AM
    >Subject: Re: Set Valuation
    >Hi tom,
    >Just to clarify, the sticks have obvious Bavarian markings and are not plastic, would that potentially place my set in the 1920s?

    Hi, Esther.
    I saw your email a couple of hours ago but haven't been able to respond until now, and I have to say, I was completely mystified by these 'Bavarian markings' you mentioned. But when I reopened your email just now, it occurred to me you might have been referring to Haversian system lines? I'm proceeding on that assumption. See this photo you sent me (I zoomed in on some of the sticks)...

    There is no Haversian system present on those sticks, and they are glossy like plastic. Bone doesn't gleam like that. Also, the sticks all have well-formed ends - very different from the way bone sticks look. It's possible that your sticks are bone but are simply made with better craftsmanship than what we usually see, but in my opinion these are made of plastic.

    would that [Haversian system markings on the sticks] potentially place my set in the 1920s?
    As I said before, this sort of slide-top box is more common to the thirties and later. If the sticks are indeed bone and not plastic, then that would only mean that plastic sticks were not added later or that the set was not made much later than the thirties.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 11, 2016


    Who pays double? (Which domino rang the bell?)

    >From: Brenda H
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 9:12 AM
    >Subject: Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Firstly, I love your site and really find it a wonderful resource. Thank you. I play with a group of relatively new players and occasionally procedural questions come up and we often refer to your site as a way of resolving disagreements. We had an issue recently and I was hoping to get some clarification as I could not find anything specific about it on your site already.
    >My question relates to a particular scenario and whether it should be double pay for everyone…..…..?
    >Player A has one exposure.
    >Player B discards a tile which player A calls and player A uses the tile to make a correct second exposure (Player A now has 2 exposures and has not discarded a tile).
    >Then player A exchanges a tile for an exposed joker and declares Mah Jongg using the joker to complete her hand for Mah Jongg.
    >Is this considered a self pick for player A and payable as double for all other players or is just a double pay for player B as she discarded the tile player A needed before she exchanging the joker?
    >Also does it matter that the joker she exchanged was from her own rack (from the first exposure she had).
    >Thanking you in advance for your time.
    >Brenda

    Hi, Brenda. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Questions 19-AN & 19-BO. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 11, 2016


    Four jokers complicate the Goulash wall

    >From: Elaine K
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 7:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Q&A
    >Hi,
    >When inserting four blank tiles into the walls for Goulash, which walls will contain the extra blank tiles?
    >E & W will contain 38 tiles
    >or
    >N & S will contain 38 tiles
    >Thanks so much.

    Hi, Elaine.
    The use of four jokers in Western mah-jongg variants (other than American-style mah-jongg) is unofficial, so therefore how one builds walls of unequal length is also unofficial. It's likely that some tables do what you suggest (adding one stack each to two opposite walls) and some tables just add two stacks to the first or last wall. In American mah-jongg, some players who are bothered by the fact that the walls are one stack longer than the racks make a "tail" of four stacks, and where that's placed is a matter of agreement between the players.
    In terms of probabilities and statistics, it doesn't matter. If you want something that pleases your sense of symmetry, do it however you like.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 11, 2016


    Set valuation

    >From: Esther L
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 2:59 AM
    >Subject: Set Valuation
    >Hi Tom,
    >I recently acquired a mah jong set that is very interesting and wanted to know if you might be able to provide me with a set valuation. I have a number of questions about this set. I purchased it after I saw an advertisement on kijiji from a lady that explained that she was helping to sell some of the belongings of her friend that just recently moved into a care home. Her friend had this set handed down to her from her mother who was married to a doctor and they did some travelling. They are unsure when this set was purchased or any other information about it. I purchased two sets from her, one which is newer and not shown in any of these pictures as I'm sure that one will not be worth as much though in what I would define as mint condition.
    >
    >The following is the information based on your set valuation checklist.
    >
    >Contents
    >Sticks: bone sticks in very good condition except for minor bleeding of some paint on 2 sticks. One of the color 3 stick has some of the ink smudged and one of the color 4 stick has some bleeding of the green ink. Otherwise there has been no yellowing at all, all sticks are of consistent coloring except for some very minor fading of ink on some sticks.
    >Color 1 (12 dots) = 6
    >Color 2 (2 dots) = 32
    >Color 3 (8 dots) = 41
    >Color 4 (4 dots) = 46
    >Dice: tiny bone dice “1” has no paint with indentation only and “4” is with red paint in very good condition, one of the dice has some discoloring more yellowish than others.
    >Racks: 4 burgandy colored wooden racks. Two of the racks are perfectly intact and two racks have identically cracked off corners as shown in the photo.
    >
    >Mahjong Tiles: I believe the tiles are bone and they are dovetailed into bamboo. They are carved along with arabic numerals and alphabets. The tiles include the older-style “crak”character. Only a few tiles show some signs of separation between the bone and the bamboo noticeable only on inspection and only in the areas of where the dovetailing occurs. There is noticeable smudging of the ink or fading on some of the tiles. There are a number of tiles that are also discolored turning more yellowish-brown. The bamboo side of the tiles are in fine or excellent condition, no noticeable wear or tear at all.
    >Dimensions: 2.5cm height, 1.7cm width, 1.2cm depth, 0.4cm thickness of bone. It's a bit difficult as the bamboo is thicker in the middle as it is rounded slightly but at most a .1cm difference in the depth depending if you are measuring from the middle or from the side.
    >Suites: The 152-tile set is complete and includes dots, bams, craks (old-style), winds, dragons, flowers, joker and blanks. It is noted that the white dragon is identical to the 4 blanks and there are 4 jokers with the image of a rabbit.
    >
    >Container: the tiles came in a wooden flat box with a sliding lid and there is a chinese verse from the moon goddess carved onto the lid. There is a piece of wood missing from the middle of the lid which causes the middle part of the lid to sink into the box making it difficult to open at times and requires some maneuvering to make sure it does not catch. The box is painted a dark brown and the paint is noticeably smudged on the inside of the box as well. The container side of the box is in good condition with very minor scratches on the edge where you can see a little bit of the original color wood but barely.
    >
    >Paper Material: Because I bought two sets of mah jong, The paperwork for the two sets are all together and I am unsure which material came with this particular set. I’ve included all the material in this description and have found them particularly interesting.
    >
    >Count Table and Counting the Points. (n.d.). Is a leaflet with title page, two tables on the inside pages indicating count tables and the back outlining counting the points. There is no information on publication or author.
    >Directions of Playing Mah-Jong “Chinese Game of Four Winds”. (n.d.). Is a 22 paged booklet. Noticed that there are chinese typed words in this booklet and illustrations show the “chak” with the newer-style.
    >Standard Rules for the Chinese Domino Game of Mah Jong. (n.d.). Is a 25 paged booklet. No printed chinese words, but drawn illustrations of counting sticks and noted newer-style “chak” are seen in the illustrations.
    >Leekun, Y. G. (n.d.). How to Play Mah Jong Standard Rules (1st ed.). Victoria, B.C.: Diggon’s Printing. This booklet is in mint condition, it indicate son its cover that it is the first edition “All Rights Reserved” and “Prince One Dollar”. On further research I discovered that Y.G. Leekun also known as Y. George Leekun was party of the Hobbyist club and was also found to have been involved involved in smuggling arms to China after being offered money by the Gongzhou government for this purpose (found in the book Arming the Chinese: The Western Armaments Trade in Warlord China, 1920-1928 Second Ed. by Anthony B. Chan) From what I can gather this book is circa 192-.
    >3 obviously computer printed pages with “Seating Arrangement”, “Bones”, “Scoring Table”, “Limit Hands”, “Payment”, and “Lucky Tiles” information
    >6 typed pages with title Mah Jong in black ink, with red ink for numbered section titles. There are a number of mis-typed letters and on the last page at the very end it states:
    > “The Game of Mah Jong”, by Max Robertson.
    > Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd., LONDON.
    >I’m unsure if someone just typed out Max Robertson’s book, unsure which edition this is, or whether this is a manuscript, galley, or proof of one of the editions or even the first edition of his book. My research indicates that Max Robertson’s first book “The Game of Mah Jong” was published in 1938 and I wonder if this was typed prior to this publishing but I was unable to find any information about one that was published in London as his books are all published in Auckland or Christchurch, NewZealand. Attached to the 6 typewritten pages are two photocopies of the same 6 pages on obviously different, thicker quality paper and they are all stapled together. On the last page of there is an obvious rusted on imprint of a paperclip. There is no writing on any of the pages.
    >
    >Questions:
    >1. Am I correct in that my set is bone and bamboo? (I wasn't sure if it was bakelite or bone)
    >2. What year is my set from?
    >3. What value do you think my set is worth?
    >4. Where do you think my set originated from?
    >5. Is this a common set or is it a rare set?
    >6. Do you know the authors and years for the documents?
    >7. Is there any way to find out if the typewritten document in #6 is a manuscript, galley or proof? Who should I ask, how do I find out? I have not been able to find the first edition of Max Robertson's first book in 1938 to compare.
    >8. What is the value for these documents?
    >9. Why are some of the tiles more yellow/brown than others?
    >10. Why are the bones in the sticks not yellow/brown and in fact are much whiter than the bone in the tiles.
    >11. What do the flowers mean or represent?
    >
    >Any information or comments would be greatly appreciated. I can be contacted at this email or if you need you can also call me at ##########. Thank you so much for your time and expertise.
    >Sincerely,
    >Esther L

    Hi, Esther. Your questions:

    Am I correct in that my set is bone and bamboo?
    Of course.

    (I wasn't sure if it was bakelite or bone)
    Bakelite is never that white, and I've never seen Bakelite backed with bamboo.

    What year is my set from?
    This type of sliding-top boxed set with small tiles (and rabbit jokers) is probably from the 1930s, or possibly the 40s or 50s.

    What value do you think my set is worth?
    If it was in better condition, it could be worth $60-80. In its present condition, I'm guessing $40. The flowers in particular are badly smudged. The racks were sold separately, and are worth maybe $10.

    Where do you think my set originated from?
    China.

    Is this a common set or is it a rare set?
    It's not rare.

    Do you know the authors and years for the documents?
    The authors are unknown. "Directions of Playing Mah-Jongg" is of recent origin. I'm not sure but "Standard Rules" might also be of recent origin (see comment below). You told me more about the Y. G. Leekun Blue Book than I ever knew!

    Is there any way to find out if the typewritten document in #6 is a manuscript, galley or proof?
    Perhaps.

    Who should I ask, how do I find out?
    I doubt that the trouble you would go through to definitively determine this would be worth it in the end. I think it's likely that someone typed the document so that the rules could be shared with other players, or with students. The fact that you have photocopies bears this out. I compared the Ordinary Suit Hands section with Robertson's description (I don't have his First Edition, but I doubt the wording is any different), and your typist used different words, fewer words, substituting "one" for "1," etc. Conclusion: teaching aid or playing aid, not manuscript.

    What is the value for these documents?
    Your booklet "Directions of Playing Mah-Jong" is worthless. Your booklet "Standard Rules" might or might not have value; I would need to see it with the cover opened to the first page. I believe I have one of those in my collection, but it's a lot of work to go looking for it. Your Y. G. Leekun Blue Book has value, maybe around $15. Your "Count Table" might have value, but not a lot.

    Why are some of the tiles more yellow/brown than others?
    Because they are not new.

    Why are the bones in the sticks not yellow/brown and in fact are much whiter than the bone in the tiles.
    Those are plastic, which suggests that the set is probably newer than the 1930s, or that the sticks have been added to the set.

    What do the flowers mean or represent?
    Read Frequently Asked Question 7-E. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 11, 2016


    Player C made the first discard, part 6

    >From: "judi@mahjonggfunla dot com
    >Sent: Monday, May 9, 2016 10:41 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >Hi Tom,
    >I got an answer from the National Mah Jongg League in writing regarding my question.
    >Q. Player A was East, but player C made the first discard. Was player C dead?
    >A. If a player, other than East, makes the first discard of the game, she is "dead". Technically, this player has too few tiles in her hand and, thus she discontinues play for that hand.
    >Bill and I had always thought that this was correct, but when Gladys starting saying that the game does not begin until East makes the first discard, we changed our ruling to follow Gladys's rule. We are now going back to our original ruling.
    >Thanks again for your help. Hope to see you soon.
    >Bill & Judi Nachenberg
    >Mah Jongg Fun L.A.

    I love getting things confirmed in writing, Judi! Way to go!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 10, 2016


    How does doubling work?

    >From: "Joank...
    >Sent: Monday, May 9, 2016 3:57 PM
    >Subject: Maj Question
    >If a person makes Maj Jongg on her own and it's a jokerless hand, is she paid double?
    >That is, if it's a $.25 game is she paid $1.00? Thanks in advance for your help. Joan K

    Hi, Joan. You wrote:

    If a person makes Maj Jongg on her own and it's a jokerless hand, is she paid double?
    No...* Let's break down your question into two parts:

    If a person makes Maj Jongg on her own
    Read the back of the card, 2nd line from the top. "When a player picks OWN Mah Jongg tile, all players pay double value." Got it? It's double for self-pick. No exceptions - self-pick doubles the amount others must pay. It says so on the card.

    and it's a jokerless hand, is she paid double?
    Read the back of the card, the next sentence in red: "WHEN ... NO JOKERS ARE PART OF THE HAND... DOUBLE VALUE." So, it's double for jokerless, too. Your answer is right there on the card!

    If the hand has no jokers (and isn't a Singles & Pairs hand), the amount others must pay is doubled, regardless of any other scoring circumstances. No score doubler is ever invalidated or trumped by another score doubler. It's not double for jokerless OR double for self-pick... It's double for jokerless, AND it's double for self-pick!

    if it's a $.25 game is she paid $1.00?
    Hard to believe, isn't it? Read Frequently Asked Question 19-W. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 9, 2016

    * No. Self-pick and jokerless is not just double. It's double double!


    Etiquette with a slow player (how do we handle a slow player, part 4)

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sunday, May 8, 2016 9:25 PM
    >Subject: Fw: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sunday, May 08, 2016 2:48 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: When playing American Mah Jongg with 4 players, when player A, whose turn it is, takes several minutes to make up her mind as to which tile to discard or in the Charleston which 3 tiles to pass, sometimes the other players forget whose turn it is. Is it rude for another player to ask whose turn it is or is it my turn? Sometimes this happens and one player said the player who asked is rude and is calling attention to the fact that the slow person is taking too much time. Can a player ask these questions of the group or is not correct Mah Jongg etiquette? We are all over age 65, some over 70, so sometimes our minds wander while we are waiting. I know it would not be polite to talk while a player is thinking or rearranging her tiles different ways. So far we are enjoying playing with the 2016 card but we miss some of the old hands. Thanks again for all your answers to my questions. Haven’t had time to check out your Sunday strategies but plan to do so in the next few weeks when I will have more time. Lynn P.

    Hi Lynn,
    Etiquette can be so tricky sometimes, can't it? Let's see your questions:

    Is it rude for another player to ask "whose turn it is or is it my turn?"
    No. It isn't. She is expressing an honest question.

    one player said the player who asked is rude and is calling attention to the fact that the slow person is taking too much time.
    That assumes that the person who asks "whose turn is it" is aware that it isn't her turn, and is intentionally rubbing the slow player's nose in it. Where does she get that assumption from? In my opinion, it's normal and expected that one or more players will forget whose turn it is when a slow player is being slow. Oops, is it rude of me to categorize the slow person as "slow"? Oh, no! What euphemism can I use instead? She's not a "slow player" - she's a "player who's necessarily taking lengthy temporal interludes." Sorry about being politically incorrect before! </sarcasm>

    I know it would not be polite to talk while a player is thinking or rearranging her tiles different ways.
    Really? That differs from what Linda Z said on April 26, below ("How do we handle a slow player, part 3").

    Here's what I think. I think the slow player is being rude and inconsiderate of everyone else by selfishly taking so much time at making a decision, rather than letting go in favor of a smooth flowing harmonious game. BUT is it impolite to tell a slow player she's selfish, rude, and inconsiderate? Unfortunately, yes. It's much less impolite to point out to her that she's taking an inordinately long time, and that by so doing, she's making the game unenjoyable for everyone else.

    If you haven't read columns 375 and 621, and FAQ 19-BA yet, I recommend you do.

    Haven’t had time to check out your Sunday strategies but plan to do so in the next few weeks when I will have more time.
    I've been rather tight on time myself, but the semester is ending this week, so I expect I'll be able to catch up and write some columns.

    P.S. I was wondering why your email was a forward of an earlier email that I never saw, so I decided I should have a look in my spam folder, and there it was! Don't know why. Sorry about that!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Mother's Day, 2016


    Donation, part 2

    >From: Beth B
    >Sent: Sunday, May 8, 2016 9:51 AM
    >Subject: Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Equipro (bethb
    >Thank you Tom...I live for your columns! I'm visiting PA the month of May and will be attending a tournament in Long Branch NJ on the 13th. I'm cutting myself a lot of slack for this first year...don't get me wrong I'm trying my best but not being hard on myself.
    >To be honest...I wish there were more men playing...(not that I'm looking for a man but I do appreciate a more yin yang environment) I figure after a year I may go back to scrabble and then when I'm in my seventies (## this month) I'll come back to Mahjong....we'll see.
    >In the meantime...get to work on those papers!
    >Happy Mother's Day
    >Beth

    Funny you should mention Scrabble, Beth. When I talked to my mom, she told me there was supposed to be a Scrabble game event in her rec room but when she got there, there were just two ladies playing Rummikub. So she played that with them instead of Scrabble.
    P.S. I wasn't confident that you wanted your age to be public, so I edited it out. (^_~)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Mother's Day, 2016


    Who gets a discard if two want it for the same thing? (FAQ 19-H)

    >From: Sandra H
    >Sent: Saturday, May 7, 2016 7:49 PM
    >Subject: Question from your former classmates
    >Hello Mr. Sloper:
    >Hope you are well. You will smile if you knew how much we "quote" you from our mah jong dates...after a year and a half, we have become lovely friends and enjoy the game tremendously!!
    >So, we came across a situation and here is what happened: (please excuse if I don't use the right lingo or words)
    >When Lisa discarded the 5 dot, Susan was behind her and announced "Mah Jong".....I was the next player and, after she said it quickly, I said Mah Jong as well...turns out we both had mah jong with the 5 dot...
    >We just assumed that Susan said it first and she won the game. However, we were speaking to a friend of mine who plays "by the book" and she said that I should have been the winner because I was the next one to pick a tile....
    >I hope I explained it correctly...can you clarify this situation? We are all interested in knowing the correct rules...
    >Either way, we love the game and give you lots of credit for it!!
    >Best regards,
    >Sandra H

    Hi, Sandra! Always good to hear from a former student.
    Since you were a student, you ought to have my book, and you can find the answer to this question in rule 63 (page 53), and also on the bottom of page 96. And anytime you don't have my book handy, you can read the answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions about American mah-jongg in FAQ 19. You can link to the FAQs above left; you've asked FAQ 19-H. By the way, I started a new session of classes just 2 days ago, and I started off the Intermediate class with a quiz, and FAQ 19-H generated some classroom discussion.
    Anyway, after you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Once you're in the FAQ, you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Mother's Day, 2016


    Donation

    >From: Equipro via PayPal
    >Sent: Saturday, May 7, 2016 3:22 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Equipro (bethb
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Equipro (bethb. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Equipro
    >Message: Tom, Thank you so much for your awesome website! Because of you I have become a tournament player in less than two months from learning to play....still have a long, long way to go. I live in Long Beach CA and I am looking forward to playing Asian mahjong.
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Beth! I'm so glad my website has been helpful. I was thinking I might write a column this weekend, but it's taking longer than expected to grade final exams.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Mother's Day, 2016


    After breaking the wall, where do the leftover tiles go?

    >From: Dorothy H
    >Sent: Friday, May 6, 2016 6:56 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >After East shakes and puts the remaining tiles in the center of the table, what does she do with the tiles she counted? Does she leave it on the right or shove it to the left?
    >Rezzie

    Hi, Rezzie.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-CH. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer.

    Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 6, 2016


    When did breaking the wall appear, part 4

    >From: Anne P
    >Sent: Thursday, May 5, 2016 5:43 AM
    >Subject: Answer
    >Thank you for your patience and comprehensive answer. Anne P

    You're welcome, Anne, I'm glad the information I gave you satisfied your question. But I still wish I knew what this was all about! /^ ^\!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Cinco de Mayo, 2016


    When did breaking the wall appear, part 3

    >From: Anne P
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 1:07 PM
    >Subject: Breaking the wall
    >What year did breaking the wall appear on the back of the mah Jong card? Our group does break the wall. The oldest card that a friend had was 1976 and the rule did appear on the card. Many of the groups in the Maryland area do not break the wall, as well as my sister's group in the big apple. Thank you for your assistance. Anne P

    Anne, I still don't understand the point. Breaking the wall by rolling dice was always a rule, whether or not it was on the card. So I really don't know what difference it makes when it appeared on the card. You want me to do some work for you, but you won't tell me why you want me to do it!

    The first NMJL rulebook was Viola Cecil's 1938 book. She was the president of the League then. "BREAKING THE WALL" is described in detail on page 9. The League didn't have a card at that time (the book itself was the card).
    The rule to roll dice and break the wall was never dropped -- it wasn't on cards in the 1950s, but it was on cards in the 1960s -- but regardless whether it was on a card or not, it was always the rule. There isn't enough room on the card to print every rule. There have always been rules that are not on the card, for lack of space. I really wish you would tell me what this is all about. If you're having an argument with somebody, a rule's date of first appearance on the card is not the way to resolve it. I don't have a 1959, 1960, or 1961 card in my collection, so I can't give you an exact date.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 4, 2016


    When did breaking the wall appear, part 2

    >From: Anne P
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 5:19 AM
    >Subject: Breaking the wall
    >What year did breaking the wall appear? Your assistance is greatly appreciated....Anne P

    Anne, please see the answer I posted yesterday (below). If your question is, "when did the rule begin," the answer is "when mah-jongg was created, in China, in the late 1800s." If your question really is, "when was the rule first shown on the card," then I really wonder why you're asking. If you're really asking "why roll dice," then ask that - I have written an FAQ about that. If you're looking for me to settle an argument, then tell me about the argument. I love settling arguments!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 4, 2016


    When did breaking the wall appear on the NMJL card?

    >From: Anne P
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 3, 2016 7:43 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When did breaking the wall appear on the mahjong card?

    Hi, Anne.
    Breaking the wall was part of mah-jongg long before the National Mah Jongg League was formed, and long before the League printed a card. It's the way the deal works in China, and Japan, and the Philippines, and India, and Australia...
    But is it that your real question is "what year did the card first mention breaking the wall"? If so, why do you ask -- do you have an old card that doesn't mention it? If so, which card is that?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 3, 2016


    Player C made the first discard, part 5

    >From: Jeanne P
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 3, 2016 12:25 PM
    >Subject: playing out of turn
    >If a player, who is not East, discards first in a game, what is the penalty?
    >Thanks for your help.

    Hi, Jeanne.
    As I wrote in response to Judi Nachenberg last week (below), that player should be called dead. But if you play at a tournament organized by Gladys Grad, that player may put the tile back without penalty (scroll down to see the April 29 post).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 3, 2016


    If I accidentally put up two exposures in one turn, can I put it back?

    >From: Barbara D
    >Sent: Sunday, May 1, 2016 6:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >After calling a tile, I put it in my rack and completed the exposure. I went on nd put up another exposure which I wanted to take back BEFORE discarding. I did not call Mah Jongg. Can I put the second exposure back in my rack before discarding or am I dead? I look forward to your reply. Thank you. Barbara D

    Hi, Barbara.
    This is the first time in the 15+ years I've had this bulletin board that I've been asked this question! And I've never seen this question asked and answered in a yearly NMJL bulletin, either. I can only guess, then, at what the League would say, based on their other rulings.
    The way I read the League's other exposure rules: Actions in mah-jongg are a commitment. Once you've put up a second exposure in one turn, you are expected to expose all the rest of your hand. If you can't, you're dead.
    It's possible I'm wrong. To confirm with the League officially, you would need to send a letter to the League (don't telephone them). Read FAQ 19 -BN. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May Day, 2016


    Can I redeem a joker from a dead player's rack?

    >From: Greetings <tashara
    >Sent: Sunday, May 1, 2016 4:34 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can jokers be redeemed from a Mahj in error that was totally exposed as play continues? Thanks!

    Greetings, Greetings! (^_^)
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-P. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May Day, 2016


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