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By Tom Sloper
January 29, 2012

Column #505

American-style Mah-Jongg. The 2012 Marvelous Mah-Jongg card has shipped; herewith, a review. In the interest of full disclosure: I am the "editor" of the AMJA card, which means that I proofread the AMJA's card and check it for errors before that card goes to print (I do not create the AMJA card). I should mention that the AMJA card is not to be confused with the NMJL card. The AMJA and MMJ cards are not affiliated with the NMJL. And the AMJA and MMJ cards are not affiliated with each other. Whew, that was a lot of disclosure!

Cute Category Names
Like the AMJA card, the MMJ card uses cute names for the various categories or "families" of hands on the card. Some notable categories on the MMJ card: "Even I Can Do It" (2468), "Odd Man Out" (13579), and "She Runs Around" (Consecutive). On the obscure side: "5 O'Clock Somewhere" (I'm not sure what that refers to). By contrast, the AMJA card's categories appear to be named after the designers' grandchildren.

Letter Substitutions
Like the AMJA card, the MMJ card has hands that spell out words or phrases, using letters to represent particular tiles. The AMJA card initiated the use of the letter I, represented by the number 1 (I have to confess, that one was my idea), and uses the letters O (white dragon as zero) and J (joker). The MMJ card follows those conventions, but also adds M (the West tile turned upside down), L (the number seven turned upside down), and A ("Any" tile). These letters permit the spelling of phrases like "GOLDEN," "DIAL MJ," and "FFFF S 4 ALGERNON" (get the movie reference?). One that I didn't get: "FFFF GO WWW NNN EE." Doesn't ring a Horace Greeley bell for me...

Atomic Hand
The MMJ card lists Atomic as one of the hands; seven pairs of anything except flowers or jokers. No special restrictions listed.

The MMJ card is a marvelous alternative for those seeking a change of pace.

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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:

© 2012 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.