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By Tom Sloper
October 19, 2014

Column #621

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American mah-jongg (NMJL). I don't know why this is a bigger problem in American mah-jongg than any of the Asian variants; perhaps because American mah-jongg is actually more difficult. What I do know is that I am often asked "what do we do about our slow player?" Now, I'm no psychologist, but let's consider what may go on in the mind of the slow player.

I believe there are five things going on in every slow player: fear, defensiveness, competitiveness, disregard, and rationalization.

Fear: The slow player probably fears that others will see her as having low intelligence. She may even fear that she really is slow-witted.

Defensiveness: She is aware that the other players are upset about the time she takes in making her plays, but when someone complains, she interprets it as an attack; that the other is saying she is dim-witted. This makes her snap back angrily. She's got something to prove, and this puts a chip on her shoulder.

Competitiveness: She wants to win, and is determined to do so, in order to prove (to others, and also to herself) that she is not lacking in the brain department. This competitiveness may also extend to other areas of her life (not only mah-jongg).

Disregard: Her determination to win is so strong that she is willing to irritate everyone else by keeping them waiting while she thinks. Her desire to win and prove herself makes her insensitive to the desires and supplications of the group.

Rationalization: She justifies the consternation she's causing everyone else by thinking that she needs and deserves special consideration. Paradoxically, although she denies being slow or inferior, she perceives the others as smarter or superior, which makes her feel that she deserves special treatment.

Understanding why someone always takes a long time making a decision could help us in our dealings with her. But changing is all on her. I think a slow player should not try so hard to win. If she just plays to keep up, she will improve eventually; winning will happen in time. American mah-jongg is hard, and it takes some people longer to come up to speed.

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Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book about the American game, including official rules not in the outdated official rulebook. 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).

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

© 2014 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.