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By Tom Sloper (トム•スローパー)
1月18日, The Year of the Rat

Column #394

Breaking News About Mah Jongg. It's been a struggle coming up with topics for the past few weeks, but this past week enough stuff has happened to fill three columns! But news is very time-sensitive, so I have to put them all into this one column. And look at all the words I've already used up! Dang!

American Mah Jongg: The National Mah Jongg League released its annual bulletin this past week. As always, there are answers to frequently-asked rule questions. Of note this year: who's dead if a player redeems a flower joker with a 1B and the error is noticed later? The player with the erroneous 1B atop her rack! She should've noticed the error when it happened! You have to keep this bulletin every year - it always has important rulings. If you don't already receive the bulletin, that's because you don't buy your card direct from the NMJL; they don't have your name and address on their member rolls. Your membership dollars also fund a lot of wonderful charitable causes - check the list in the bulletin.

Japanese Mah Jongg: I wrote in previous columns about the death of Yakitori Online through the irresponsible flakiness of site creator Andy Barzaghi (photo 1 below), and how that saddened a lot of English-speaking fans of Riichi/Dora Majan, especially site partner Jenn Barr (photo 2 below), who definitely deserved better treatment. Well, Jenn is having the last laugh this weekend! Her awesome website,, inaugurated a new discussion forum yesterday. It's at http://www.reach - Or just go to and click the pink Forums tab.

And lastly, did you see Andrew Leonard's blog, "How The World Works," on on Jan. 15 and Jan. 17? He wrote about Oowaki Hideki's manga, The Legend of Koizumi, in which former prime minister Koizumi Junichiro plays mah-jongg against various world leaders.

  • Part 1, "How George Bush lost a mahjong battle for world domination" - htww/2009/01/15/the_legend_of_koizumi/index.html
  • Part 2, "And the Lord said, 'Let there be Mahjong tiles'" - the_legend_of_koizumi_2/index.html

    Leonard begins part 2, " matter how obscure I think the topic I choose to write about might be, somewhere on this great planet there is a reader who has made it his or her lifework to know everything there is to know about it." In this case, said "reader" was Benjamin Boas (photo 3 below).

    Question or comment about this column? Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board.

    Haven't ordered the 2009 NMJL card yet? 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).

    Watch the video by Jay Firestone of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, about a young man (himself) learning to play American mah-jongg. You can see it at

    Links about Japanese-style mah-jongg:

    Click the entries in the header frame, above, to read other columns.

    Copyright 2009 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.