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By Tom Sloper
March 17, 2013

No. #558

American Mah Jongg (2012 NMJL card). The term "March Madness" has real meaning for players of the National Mah Jongg League game. By the time the month of March rolls around, NMJL players are fairly champing at the bit for the new card. The yearly card comes out at the end of March or early April (generally plan on it being April 1st).

Actually, I've heard the kvetching begin as early as Halloween (six months after the previous card was issued).

Now that I think of it, I suppose the kvetching goes on year 'round. When the new card arrives, players kvetch that certain hands are no longer present, or that the old card (despite any complaints heard about that old card before it was supplanted) is just bad, or makes no sense, or is too hard to get used to. I've been to tournaments that were held in mid- to late April, and the organizers have told me that they received numerous complaints because the organizers expect players to use the new card. "We haven't had time to get used to it," the organizers are told.

By the time Halloween rolls around, not only are all the players accustomed to the new card, but a lot of them are already tired of it and pining for the new one. And the number of complaints increases exponentially once the new year arrives, and the card is still labeled with the old year. It drives folks mad!

As for myself, I have a whole different kind of March Madness. Writing a strategy column, all the steam has gone out of me for writing about the old card when everybody is impatient for the new one. When the new card comes out, then I can write again!

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Question or comment about this column? I often, um... intentionally... "miss" something; maybe you'll be the first one to spot it! Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board.

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Where to order the yearly NMJL card: Read FAQ 7i.

Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book in existence about the American game. AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND get the official rulebook from the NMJL (see FAQ 3). Linda Fisher's website is the only website that describes American rules:

© 2013 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.