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By Tom Sloper - 湯姆 斯洛珀
2015年 12月 27日
Column #647

As was established last year, the new "tradition" in this column is for the special Chinese New Year hand to be revealed at the beginning of the new Calendar year. If you need to understand the reasoning for this, you can see column #627. 2016 will be the Year of the Monkey, specifically the "Red Fire Monkey." And that's enough chitchat! Here is my hand for 2016, the Year of the Monkey.

This is written in American notation as follows:

RRR ESWN 2016 GGG (2016 any suit)

The bookend dragon pungs are exposable, but obviously the other two groupings are not, since they are composed of non-identical single tiles. For those unfamiliar with the ways of American mah-jongg, the zero is the white dragon, and when it's used as zero, it goes with any suit. Note that the 2016 may be made in any suit (craks, bams, or dots). The order of the single winds is inconsequential. I show them ordered ESWN according to the Chinese tradition. The first season of the year is Spring, when the wind comes from the East. The second season is Summer, when the wind comes from the South. The third season is Autumn; the wind comes from the West. And in the last season, Winter, the wind comes from the cold, cold North.

How much is the hand worth if you make it? Go with maximum value (whatever your maximum value is in the style of mah-jongg that you play).

Writing this put me in mind of the times I encountered monkeys in my mah-jongg travels. We don't have wild monkeys here in North America, but they're abundant in Asia. I wrote in 2009 of the monkeys I saw in Mumbai, on Elephanta Island (where there are no elephants). I also met monkeys in Nikko, when I was in Japan for the first ever World Championship of Mahjong. And there I saw and photographed the famous carving of sanzaru: the three wise monkeys who hear no evil, speak no evil, and see no evil.

According to Chinese tradition, those born under the sign of the Monkey are impish, street-smart, and fun to be around. Monkeys are unpredictable and full of surprises; just like mah-jongg!


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Join Tom in meeting the monkeys of Elephanta Island in Mumbai.

Tom's Mah-Jongg Adventure in Mumbai (2009).

Join Tom in seeing Nikko, Japan.

The FIRST World Mahjong Championship in Tokyo, Japan 2002).

See Tom Sloper's interview at sinovision.net:

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