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The Red Dragon & The West Wind

The Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board


Hi. I'm Tom Sloper. Welcome to my bulletin board. Here you can ask questions about Mah-Jongg and get answers, usually the same day! But before you email, please check out the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

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  • She lines up her discards

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, June 28, 2023 at 03:52:52 PM EDT, ken wrote:
    ??????????????????
    Sent from Mail for Windows
    A member of our group likes to line up her discards in front of her rack. I say she needs to lay her discards on the table among the other discards. I find that her discards are difficult to see because they are neatly lined up in front of her rack. What are your thoughts on this.
    Terry Lavoie

    Hi, Terry! See FAQ 19-DJ. There's no rule against her line-them-up habit. In fact, she's giving you information about her hand by lining up her discards. In Japanese mah-jongg, it's a rule that every player must line up his discards, to aid strategizing and as a record of how the game has progressed.
    Since she isn't randomizing her discards among everyone else's, you don't have to memorize what she discarded or in what order, like you do with the other players.
    It's too bad you can't read her discards, because the information she's broadcasting is valuable. Maybe there needs to be more light on the table, or the table needs to be smaller.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is this really a rule?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, June 27, 2023 at 09:28:19 PM EDT, Bubbie wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Is there a rule against passing three same tiles in one pass during the Charleston?
    I couldn’t find any reference to this question anywhere. I’m assuming this may be a table rule.
    Thanks- Nancy F.
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Nancy!
    1. No, there's no such rule. I don't know why such a rule might be needed. It's a valid strategic principle, but strategies are not rules, and all strategies can go out the window when your tiles demand it.
    2. You can search for information about more nonexistent rules - I'm sure you won't find anything about those rules either! (^_^) The fact that you couldn't find anything about this alleged rule should tell you that there's probably no such rule.
    3. You're saying you tried to do this and were told by all the other players that it was against the rules? That's so weird! I guess you're right, it's a table rule at that table, anyway.
    Makes one wonder what other table rules they use! \(^_^)/ Or maybe they have decided that more strategic principles are actual rules.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 27, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    P.S. An afterthought. You might find these columns applicable:
    Introducing Yelda (column 387).
    Yelda Revisited (column 416).
    I'm not saying your group is mean like Yelda. This is how it sometimes feels when people have table rules and they don't tell you beforehand what their rules are. May your games be Yelda-free. - Tom


    Four questions, no, five, about my set, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, June 27, 2023 at 04:03:01 PM EDT, Susan H wrote:
    Tom:
    You asked about pictures? I am not sure what you are looking for. I took some more and hope that they will do. I have shown 1 of 4 and its seems the only one missing is one of the bird tiles. I believe I have found one on EBay that I purchased to replace it. Seems to be in a Celluloid as well. the counting sticks are just a couple of what’s in the box. No, did not count to make sure I had a full set of those.
    image0.jpegimage1.jpegimage2.jpegimage3.jpegimage4.jpegimage5.jpegimage6.jpeg

    Hi, Susan. I was complaining about the tiny size (320x240 pixels) of the pictures you sent before. These are all the same size, 320x240. It is hard to see details in such tiny images. Since I answered your questions yesterday, I don't have anything new to say today.
    If you have other questions, and if those questions necessitate me looking at the set, bigger pictures would be needed.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 27, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Four questions, no, five, about my set

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, June 26, 2023 at 04:47:18 PM EDT, Susan H wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I am retired and this was recently given to me by my sister. I have faint memories of playing with it when very young. Pretty sure we did not know how to set it up or play, it was just cool tiles at that age.
    It was my Grandmothers and has manufacturer and/or distributed by M.S. Cowan & Co., Distributors, 225 California st. S.F., California.
    Our family does have some history in San Franscisco.
    I am curious about the history of this specific game as the wood box it comes in is a puzzle to put back together. It has 4 long boxes with different tiles styles as well as a place for the counting sticks.
    1) Age
    2) material of the tiles…..Celluloid? Ivory? My vote is Celluloid (French Ivory)
    3) Was it a higher end piece due to the style of this puzzle
    4) Could this have been made in China and sent to SF for distribution?
    Any help tracking down some history on it would be great too
    I have attached pics
    Thank you
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Susan! It's too bad you couldn't provide better photos. But I think I can make a stab at your questions:
    1. It has all the hallmarks of a 1920s set. Probably made later in the mah-jongg craze cycle, as the craze was dying down. So 1924 or later.
    2. Yes, celluloid. NOT ivory. See Is It Ivory?.
    3. I wasn't around then. And I have not seen any contemporary advertisements or price lists. Celluloid tiles are highly prized today, but I don't think they were much more expensive to make than other plastics back then. The "Combination Box, Rack, and Scoring Sheet" packaging is dual-purpose: the box parts serve as racks in play. The design solves the problem of tiles and racks not fitting neatly into the set cases typical of the time. I suppose the novelty of the combo design and the "French Ivory" tiles did make the set more expensive than many. But I have no evidence other than what we can see in the photos.
    4. Probably not. My guess is that it was probably made in the USA. Chinese set makers weren't into making plastic items then, and that patent-pending box design was surely an American invention based on Americans' perceived need for racks, a need not served by the Chinese set makers at that time.
    5. Sorry, I'm not a manufacturer tracker. You can try the Other Excellent Mah-Jongg Sites links in FAQ 4-A.
    Good luck with your info search.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is this a legal play, part 2

    Re: question about procedure
    On Friday, June 23, 2023 at 05:54:34 PM EDT, Myra D wrote:
    Thank you for answering my questions.

    You're welcome, Myra!


    Is this a legal play? Can he really do that?

    On Thursday, June 22, 2023 at 04:16:52 PM EDT, Myra D wrote:
    question about procedure
    I can't find the answer anywhere to this scenario:
    A player picked a tile. He put the tile in his hand. After doing this, he wanted to take a different tile out of his hand and exchange that tile for a joker that was exposed in someone else's hand. After that, the player wanted to call for mah jongg. Is that legal or is his turn finished once he picked the tile from his hand? In other words, can a tile be picked from the wall, placed in the player's rack, and then call for joker from another player's hand to declare mahjongg? I thought doing this was the same as taking 2 turns at one time which is not legal.
    Please help clarify.
    Thank you

    Hi, Myra! Sorry for the delay in replying. I just now found your email in my Spam folder.
    Your player was not taking 2 turns. A turn doesn't end until you either discard or declare mah-jongg. Your player did the latter.
    The only time a joker can be exchanged is after obtaining a 14th tile in the hand and before discarding or declaring mah-jongg, so your player's move was legal. The move your player did is called a "finesse" move. Redeeming that joker gave him mah-jongg, which is treated as self-pick (everyone pays the winner double score for self-pick).
    See FAQ 19-M for the procedure for joker redemption. And see FAQ 19-AN for information about the "finesse."
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    6/23/23
    Donations appreciated



    FAQ 19 link


    Jokers in Chinese* mah-jongg

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, June 21, 2023 at 07:49:21 PM EDT, Wendy R wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I learned to play a form of Chinese type
    mahjong that uses 4 jokers( not 8 like
    American) Was taught by a friend.
    In this version the jokers are wild and if
    You draw one you can use it to redeem any
    Discarded tile thrown by any player, not just
    Most recent discard and you do not need to
    expose any sets. Then the next player can
    Choose to pick up that joker- which you have
    exchanged for a tile.
    You can not use a joker in any exposure
    ( pung, chow etc) and can’t go majong holding a joker.
    In other ways this version follows Betty
    Thompson book rules ( which was the book
    I was taught by)
    Is this a version you have heard about?
    Does it have a name? Or is it a table rule
    Version of Chinese ? It does make hands
    Go quicker and makes some of those very
    Difficult to collect hands like Civil War
    Possible.
    Thanks! Appreciate your expertise!!!
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Wendy!
    * You're not playing Chinese mah-jongg if you're making hands like "Civil War," which is a hand in Australian/British/Western mah-jongg. Especially if you have a play called the "goulash."
    I'm glad you mentioned Thompson & Maloney, because I have their books and can look up joker tiles (pages 11 and 21 in T&M's "The Game of Mah Jong Illustrated"). Unfortunately, T&M do not describe how to use jokers in play, not in that book anyway.
    Your questions:

    Q: Is this a version you have heard about?
    A: I've heard of using jokers in Chinese and Australian mah-jongg. But I never before heard the details you cited.

    Q: Does it have a name? Or is it a table rule Version of Chinese ?
    A: It's a table rule. If you were to give it a name, it would have a name.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Summer Solstice, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When is it too late to correct payment mistake, part 2

    On Wednesday, June 21, 2023 at 11:04:14 AM EDT, Carol D wrote:
    Re: When is it too late to correct payment mistake?
    Dear Tom Sloper,
    This email is about the Q&A entitled "When is it too late to
    correct payment mistake?" posted on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, concerning
    not initially asking for the bonus for a jokerless hand. Citing the Jan
    2014 newsletter, you answered, "Once she took payment, it was too late
    to correct her mistake." Sorry, but I forgot to ask whether this rule
    could also apply to forgetting to ask for the bonus for "self-picked"
    hands, so I'm asking now.
    Carol D.

    Yes, Carol. The rule applies to the entire payment. If a player says "everybody owes me 25 cents," that's all she gets, from the discarder and regardless of a jokerless bonus or self-pick or if it's the second Tuesday of the month. The amount the player asks for (as long as nobody objects that it's too much, mind you) is what the player rightfully gets. If you ask for too little, you get too little.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Summer Solstice, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Must a player retain an active tile that she/he draws either from the wall or from the discard area?

    On Wednesday, June 21, 2023 at 09:20:49 AM EDT, iteachmahjong wrote:
    Question re: Chinese Variant Mahjong
    Tom - Our Mahjong group plays the Chinese variant. I've searched the FAQs sections and am unable to find an answer: Is there a rule that addresses when a player must retain an active tile that she/he draws either from the wall or from the discard area?
    Thank you for your help.

    Hi, iteach!
    From the wall: a player can either keep it in the hand or discard it.
    From the discard floor: a player may not discard it. The price for taking the current live discard from the discard floor is that they MUST make an exposure with it, whether it be a chow, pung, kong, or mah-jongg.
    I hope I answered the question?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    First day of summer, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Column 791

    On Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 08:11:58 PM EDT, <debaronstam wrote:
    Column #791
    Hi Tom
    I am finally getting a chance to look at Column #791 and I have a question. In your solution to 3, you write 5D, 7C, and Wh work together for Odds #4. 7C? I think this is a typo…did you mean to write 7D?
    Best,
    Deborah

    Yep! That's my usual type o' typo, Deborah. Thanks, I'm fixing that right now.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 20, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What are ALL the possible conceivable ways, part 5

    Re: Rule Clarification
    On Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 03:39:09 PM EDT, Barney Gallassio wrote:
    To: Linda Long
    Cc: Gladys Grad, Tom Sloper
    I will make a few comments and will gladly chat with you live at any point that you like.
    1. Gladys had the best set of tournament rules that I had ever seen. I found them to be easy to read and very comprehensive.
    2. I have never played in a Gladys tournament (sadly) so I do not know how those rules were shared with players. I can’t imagine the large document was
    photo-copied and handed out at every tournament. My hunch tells me players knew where to find those rules and read them in advance. On the day of play,
    players were probably given an opportunity to ask questions before play began.
    3. I don’t have a website, so for my events, I email my rules (a fraction of the rules in Gladys’ document) to all the players in advance. On the day of the event,
    hard-copies are sitting on the breakfast tables so people can read them again and be ready to ask me questions before play officially starts.
    4. My two-sided rules sheets attempts to spell out the most important things to be mindful of while playing in this event. This includes the most important rules, rules
    that are different from the MJME booklet, how the scoring works, how table rotation works, reasons why a hand could be called dead, etc.
    5. If an issue arrises, the the rule sheet does not address it, I go to the MJME booklet. If the booklet does not cover, I make an immediate decision at that table, and then
    use that decision for the balance of he event. When I get home, I start to research my decision and once the research is done I will use that “rule” for all future
    events. Whether or not it makes its way to my rules sheet will depend on how common/important I think the topic was.
    6. For the specific question you asked below, I would have used the booklet since my rule sheet does not cover this topic. Truthfully, I can recall this issue ever coming
    up either from tournaments that I have run nor in tournaments that I have played in.
    7. I was an umpire for the USTA for 10 years and loved the fact that there was an official Rule Book for Tournament play. Yes, I do wish we had one for Mah Jongg too.
    I love to be on that committee. (wink wink)
    Sorry for all the typos above…I wanted too get this out the door before I head to my game tonight in NYC.
    Have a great evening all
    Cheers
    Barney

    So in this email, Barney didn't address the question I was being asked by Linda (reworded by me): "What are ALL the possible conceivable ways the window of opportunity can be closed, and why is it so hard to find out what they all are?" In Barney's #6 above, he refers to "the specific question... asked below." I went back to Linda's original email and found:

      Linda L wrote: 'a discard is available until an action is taken - discard, rack, or initiate a joker exchange. It's the last part of that sentence that we would like to see source and clarification.."or initiate a joker exchange." By initiate I would also think "verbalize" an exchange.
      But, that is not what we are hunting...we want to know where does it say initiating a joker exchange is one of three ways to close the window of opportunity to call for a discarded tile. That along with racking the tile and/or discarding a tile. I'm pretty sure I read it somewhere...'

      To which Modern Mahjong replied: 'it is from Mah Jongg Made Easy, page 24 #17.'
      (And Modern Mahjong also said to see my column 458. That rule is also spelled out in FAQ 19-C, as I mentioned in my reply below. So the rule can be found in multiple locations).
      And, may I add, my bulletized version of 19-C below clearly shows 5 things that can close the window of opportunity. (There may even be more than that.)

    All I can say to Linda's complaint that rule 17 isn't bunched together with the other "window of opportunity" rules is that those rules are stated, just not all bunched together. If you want to suggest that that change be made in MJME, I recommend you send your suggestions in writing to the League. There are other interconnected and related and trumping exception rules; if you have suggestions for how to arrange those rules more effectively, you can send those suggestions, too.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 20, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What are ALL the possible conceivable ways, part 4

    Re: Rule Clarification
    On Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 09:57:31 AM EDT, Barney G wrote:
    To: Linda L
    Cc: Gladys Grad, Tom Sloper
    Good Morning all. Busy day ahead for me…but I will get to this. Promise!!
    Cheers,
    Barney

    So it goes with group emails...


    What are ALL the possible conceivable ways, part 3

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 09:13:20 AM EDT, Linda L wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: The place to put the 4 ways to close the window of opportunity would be in a detailed, standardized set of rules for League and/or Tournaments, just like any other national game or sport does. Thank you, Tom, for the forum you provide on Sloperama!

    I am in no position to help you with rewrites to MJME or tournament rule sheets, Linda. You'll have to contact the League and the tournament organizers yourself with your suggestion. All I can do is change FAQ 19-C. I could possibly change it from a comma-delimited list:

      Q: When is it too late to claim a discard?
      A: The "window of opportunity" (during which a player may claim a discard) opens when a tile is "down," and closes when next player either racks, discards, declares mah-jongg, or exchanges a joker (new, 2020: or has merely announced a joker exchange). The window is also closed by a player claiming the discard and starting to make an exposure. (See FAQ 19.H.3.)

    To a bulleted list like this:

      Q: When is it too late to claim a discard?
      A: The "window of opportunity" (during which a player may claim a discard) opens when a tile is "down," and closes when next player

      • racks,
      • discards,
      • declares mah-jongg, or
      • exchanges a joker (new, 2020: or has merely announced a joker exchange).
      • The window is also closed by a player claiming the discard and starting to make an exposure. (See FAQ 19.H.3.)

    Do the bullets really make it clearer?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 20, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What are ALL the possible conceivable ways, part 2

    Re: Rule Clarification
    On Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 08:16:20 AM EDT, Linda L wrote:
    So, Tom, why not include all four ways to close the "window of opportunity" together as 1, 2, 3 and 4 bullets?
    Linda L.

    Where would you want those bullets exactly, Linda? If I can simplify something under my control, I'll give it a try.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 20, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 card, part 14+

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 07:19:19 AM EDT, Hedy G wrote:
    Thank you for your prompt reply. I guess I should have waited to see if I could have picked one more joker. I of course regret tossing my extra soap.
    Hedy
    Sent from my iPad

    You're welcome, Hedy!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 20, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What are ALL the possible conceivable ways the window of opportunity can be closed, and why is it so hard to find out what they all are?

    On Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 06:40:42 AM EDT, Linda L wrote:
    Fwd: Rule Clarification
    To: Gladys Grad, Barney Gallassio, Tom Sloper
    Tue, Jun 20 at 6:40 AM
    Dear Gladys and Barney, would love to "hear" your comments regarding the discussion contained herein! See below...
    Linda L.

    Begin forwarded message:
    From: Linda L
    Date: June 20, 2023 at 3:36:34 AM PDT
    To: Modern Mahjong
    Cc: Fern Rabinowitz Oliphant, Sheryl Perry, Donna Eschen, Anita Mullen, Debbie Barnett, Michele Frizzell
    Subject: Re: Rule Clarification
    ? Dear Dara and Donna, thank you for the time it took and your thoughtful responses to our questions. Yes, we agree, there are the two scenarios missing, and both are really important and worthy of being included in a standardized version of the rules, especially for tournament people.
    Being a former referee for college women's basketball and volleyball, where all scenarios are spelled out in detail, I find the looseness and disorganization of the the Rules of Mah Jongg appalling. But, such is the way of the world we live in. We are used to the NMJL leaving out details in the Standard Hands and Rules edition of Mah Jongg Made Easy, but perhaps one of the Tournament directors would comment about their published Rules distributed for Tournament Play (cced above).
    Have a wonderful day and thank you for your time! ??????? Sincerely yours, Linda
    Linda L.

    On Jun 20, 2023, at 1:35 AM, Modern Mahjong wrote:
    Linda,
    Interesting question.
    Most of the tournament rules we see include a sentence about a tile not being able to be called once the next player in turn, either racked or discarded
    but do not mention two other ways that the window of opportunity closes.
    In addition to not including initiating a Joker exchange, unless we are missing it when scanning common tournament rules,
    we also don't see that a tile cannot be called once a player calls Mah Jongg. We are not talking about two players calling Mah Jongg on the same discard.
    We are referring to Player A discaring a Three Bam, Player B picking their Mah Jogng tile and declaring Mah Jongg
    ends the window for player C to call Mah Jongg on the Three Bam.
    We can't answer for tournament directors, however, it seems that they can't include every rule in Mah Jongg Made Easy and the back of the card into a few pages of rules.
    We believe if you ask tournament directors they would agree that this is the rule without being written in their rules.
    For the most part, if a rule is in Mah Jongg Made Easy (MJME), and not addressed in tournament rules, it would appear that MJME rules govern.
    Hope this helps!

    On Mon, Jun 19, 2023 at 11:33?PM Linda L wrote:
    So, one last questions - why isn't this included in statements, like Tournament Rules? It's an important part of when the window of opportunity closes for a discarded tile. Your thoughts, please!
    Linda L.

    Begin forwarded message:
    From: Linda L
    Date: June 19, 2023 at 7:55:31 PM PDT
    To: Modern Mahjong
    Subject: Re: Rule Clarification
    ? Look down...
    Linda L.

    On Jun 19, 2023, at 7:13 PM, Linda Long wrote:
    ? You both are awesome! That is just what we needed! I think...calling Donna E. For confirmation...
    Linda L.

    On Jun 19, 2023, at 7:07 PM, Modern Mahjong wrote:
    Oh, that was an even easier question. Yes, we share that and it is from Mah Jongg Made Easy, page 24 #17
    Screen Shot 2023-06-19 at 10.05.22 PM.png
    On Mon, Jun 19, 2023 at 10:03?PM Linda L wrote:
    Yes, I agree the joker exchange has to be verbalized. But, that is not what we are hunting...we want to know where does it say initiating a joker exchange is one of three ways to close the window of opportunity to call for a discarded tile. That along with racking the tile and/or discarding a tile. I'm pretty sure I read it somewhere...and thought it might have been on one of your cue cards. Does that make sense?
    Linda L.

    On Jun 19, 2023, at 4:24 PM, Modern Mahjong wrote:
    Hi Linda,
    Great question.
    It appears that "Initiate a Joker exchange" would indicate a verbal call for the exchange.
    If a player simply held out the tile, they could be discarding.
    We don't see an official definition but we don't have access to all of their letter rulings. We can send a letter to the NMJL or you can send one with a SASE to ask for the meaning of initiating a Joker exchange.
    While we think the initial response would be verbalize, it may be argued that intent can be looked at. If a player put the tile on the player's rack next to the tiles that wouldn't be
    verbal but would be clear (yet not a recommended way) that they wanted to exchange the Joker.
    You may want to discuss within your group and decide what you all believe should be the deciding factor.
    Tom Sloper addressed it briefly on Sloperama.com in an older post. He said simply reaching isn't enough. https://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column458a.htm

    On Mon, Jun 19, 2023 at 4:56?PM Linda L wrote:
    Dear Dona and Dara,
    Donna E. and I can't find...a discard is available until an action is taken - discard, rack, or initiate a joker exchange. It's the last part of that sentence that we would like to see source and clarification.."or initiate a joker exchange." By initiate I would also think "verbalize" an exchange. Can you help us out?
    Linda L.

    Linda, I think that was a VERY long-winded and roundabout way of asking me:

      1. What are ALL the possible conceivable ways the window of opportunity can be closed, and
      2. why is it so hard to find out what they all are?

    (If that's NOT what you're asking me, I wish you would ask your question briefly without my having to read a whole confusing conversation thread.)

    1. I answered this question in FAQ 19-C. In FAQ 19, whenever possible, I cite sources and additional reading for any particular rule. For FAQ 19-C, the citations are:
    MJME 2020, p. 24
    Column #458 (as mentioned in your thread)
    Column #639

    2. I've made FAQ 19 as easy to find as I possibly can. And I've made navigation aids in FAQ 19 to make it a little easier to find an answer. For instance, there's a specific section for questions about Claiming A Discard, And The Window Of Opportunity (and it turns out there are a lot). As for the League's official rulebook, Mah Jongg Made Easy, I can attest that it's darn difficult to write down ALL the conceivable weird little exceptions, trumping rules, and things that could go wrong. Besides, when you put all the exceptions into writing, it adds more and more words to the description of a rule, which makes it harder for a reader to find the essence of the rule. I think the League needs to be cut some slack. They've been working hard to try to improve the rulebook in recent years. And they answer telephone questions, and they reply to snailmailed questions. They work darn hard to help answer questions like yours.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 20, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 card, part 14

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, June 19, 2023 at 07:27:59 PM EDT, Hedy G wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Today I was playing the third hand down on the2023 section. I had just called for a third red. I was waiting for a flower and either greens or soaps. I had an extra soap but no jokers. Two soaps were thrown , which I couldn’t call. Then another player called a green and exposed three more greens. By then I had two jokers but she was first in line so I couldn’t call. By then I had already thrown my extra soap. I then picked the last red dragon and called Mah Jongg. I was told that I couldn’t because it needed to be different dragons. I wouldn’t have disagreed but the card actually says “any dragons” not any two dragons even though it is shown in two colors. Did I have a legal Mah Jongg according to the wording? What are your thoughts? Thanks,
    Hedy G
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Hedy! Nice to see you again.
    You mean you made two dragon pungs, both red? You're not allowed to do that. The two dragon pungs do have to be different from one another. See FAQ 16-2023. Sorry! Have a good Juneteenth evening...
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Juneteenth, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    MCR- Loser Pays Again?

    On Monday, June 19, 2023 at 03:26:56 PM EDT, Connie W wrote:
    MCR- Loser Pays Again?
    So, we had a 3-player MCR table and one player declared (and displayed) a false mahjong. Our table rules say he becomes dead and pays the remaining two players 50 cents each. No problem. The remaining players agreed to continue, with a player winning a terrific hand and self-drawn. Question: Does the false mahjong player also pay the winner? And, what are the rules for continuing a game after a wrong mahjong? Your thoughts, please.
    Thank You,
    Connie

    Hi, Connie! Happy Juneteenth!
    The false mah-jongg penalty is an entirely separate thing from paying the rightful winner. In MCR, a player's hand may go "dead" but the player continues to pick and discard (can not win or make exposures). ALL non-winning players pay the winner. So yes, your player paid a penalty, but must also pay the winner. I believe I've answered both your questions.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Juneteenth, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    2 questions.

    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >On Friday, June 16, 2023 at 11:09:38 AM EDT, Shirley M wrote:
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I read A Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg & want clarification on 2 questions. I was told you cannot call for a tile on the fourth wall - only if it's for Mah Jongg. True or false?
    >Next, when playing with 3 players what is the proper way to pass tiles? Thank you!

    Hi, Shirley!
    1. Sandberg never mentioned that table rule in her book, and for good reason. Table rules are not part of the real rules. I did mention this in my book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, on page 118. See FAQ 19-Y. The real rule is that the rules don't change just because the wall is short.
    2. I've described the mythical Three-Player Charleston in FAQ 13-A, and I wrote about alternative 3-person dances in column 532. The real rule is, in a 3P game, skip the Charleston altogether. But NOBODY (it seems) cares about that real rule. So it becomes a table rule, and there's no "real" way to say what the table rule "ought" to be.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 16, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When a player picks the wrong tile from the wall, part 7

    On Wednesday, June 14, 2023 at 09:21:46 PM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Citation
    Hi Tom,
    It is in MJME, page 22, paragraph 21. Picking from the Wrong End: (b). If a player picks a tile from the wrong end of the wall, and racks the tile, the player's hand is "dead", and the other players continue playing from the proper end.
    Thanks Tom.
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Thanks, Debbie. I've added this clarification to FAQ 19 - specifically, FAQ 19-AM.1 (the "Backsies" section) and FAQ 19-AA.7 (the "You're Dead" section).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 14, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The card doesn't specify this, part 3

    On Wednesday, June 14, 2023 at 07:07:33 PM EDT, Nicole Rowe via PayPal wrote:
    Nicole_m_r sent you money
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    Thank you, Nicole!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper


    The card doesn't specify this, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, June 14, 2023 at 06:23:46 PM EDT, Nicole R wrote:
    Thank you for your help! I appreciate it!

    You're welcome, Nicole!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 14, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When a player picks the wrong tile from the wall, part 6

    On Wednesday, June 14, 2023 at 05:45:33 PM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Picking from the wrong end
    Hi Tom,
    Yes, as long as you have not racked the tile, you can put it back. That also confirms what is stated in MJME. I spoke with Joy at the NMJL and she said, "As long as the tile is not racked you can put it back."
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Debbie, can you specify an MJME citation? I've been through MJME and newsletters today, pursuant to your emails, and haven't found this in MJME.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 14, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The card doesn't specify this...

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, June 14, 2023 at 05:24:56 PM EDT, Nicole R wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    FF 2023 2222 3333
    I see it is a three suit hand. However, does it have to be actual twos and threes? Or is it consecutive?
    Thank you!

    It has to be twos and threes.
    Nobody asked this before, but I'll add your question to FAQ 16, which answers frequently asked questions about the 2023 NMJL card. You might also find FAQ 19's card section helpful, especially FAQ 19-AJ, which indirectly addresses your question (you wouldn't be asking this if there was a clarifying parenthetical on that hand). You might want to bookmark FAQ 16 and FAQ 19 for your future reference!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 14, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    The 2023 NMJL card, part 14



    FAQ 19 link


    FAQ 16 link


    When a player picks the wrong tile from the wall, part 5

    On Wednesday, June 14, 2023 at 03:59:01 PM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Re: Hello
    Hi Tom,
    Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to your comparison of picking from the wrong end of the wall which you used to compare to Susan B's question. What I was saying is that the comparison is not apples to apples because picking a tile from the wrong end can be put back if it has not been racked, whereas picking from the right end regardless of the right or wrong tile, cannot be put back once it moved.
    Does this make sense now?
    Again, sorry for the confusion.
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    So you're saying picking from a wrong place on the wall is a rescindable act, and this is what you were told when you called the League?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 14, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When a player picks the wrong tile from the wall, part 4

    On Wednesday, June 14, 2023 at 02:19:52 PM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Hello from Florida!
    Hi Tom,
    Hello! I hope everything is going well for you. I recently read your Sunday June 11 post, both part 1 and part 2 (RuthieB).
    In your response, you stated, picking from the wrong end of the wall is also a death declaration, however, according to MJME that only applies, if you rack it. I did verify by phone (today with Joy) that lifting or even looking at the tile as long as it is not racked, is okay to put back. In this case, I don't believe the two rules, picking from the wrong end and picking from the wall are not identical with regard to their death declaration.
    Your thoughts Tom?
    Thank you as always for your dedication and the time you devote to the Mah Jongg community!
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Hello from Upstate New York, Debbie.
    The League stated in the annual newsletters of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, and 2018 that once a wall tile is lifted, it is yours.

      2018.4. Q. When is a player committed to taking a tile from the wall?
      A. A player is committed to taking a tile from the wall if the tile has been moved in any way. A player can change their mind if the tile has been merely touched.
      (Source for FAQ 19.AM.1.)

    But more recently, the 2022 newsletter supports what you just said - there is an exception to the "once you move it/lift it" rule. Answer 2022.6 says if you picked out of turn (a death-penalty rule violation) but it's noticed before you rack the tile, you can put the tile back.

      2022.6. Q. A player in my game picked out of turn. The player's hand is dead. What happens to the tile?
      A. If the tile is racked, it remains in the player's hand. If it has been thrown, it remains on the table. If the tile is in the player's hand* when someone notices, it goes back into the same position in the wall from where it came.

    The question says the player is already dead, but the answer doesn't specifically say that the player is dead - your call today seems to mean that the player is not dead, and if that's true, then it appears that the "once you lift it" rule (my FAQ 19.AM.1) now has an exception codicil, and the whole rule should be stated as follows:

      19.AM.1. Picking from the wall. After you've lifted or moved the wall tile, you may not change your mind and put it back. (You can reach for it and change your mind. You can even touch it and change your mind. But if you lift it or move it, it's yours and you have committed to taking it.) Exception: if the wall tile was taken out of turn or from the wrong part of the wall (which would normally incur a death penalty, per FAQ 19.AA), and the tile has not yet been racked, then and only then can the tile be put back on the wall where it came from.

    I don't make the rules. Those are the rules as I see them in print. Rule 2022.6 either adds an exception to rule 2018.4, or supercedes it.
    Too bad that two callers got two different rulings when phoning the League. That doesn't happen often, but it did in this case (see Ruthie's June 12 email in part 3 of this thread, below). This is another reason why it's better to request rulings by snailmail. I'll add this to FAQ 19-BN. When you phone, your call is answered by the person on phone duty, and it's possible that she will tell you the rule from memory, without referring to MJME (and certainly without checking past newsletters). But when you mail your question in, staffers may well confer to come to a definitive answer based on written rules and consistent rule principles. Heck, if you phone me to ask me a rule (please don't!) I too would first reply from memory, before checking FAQ 19 or MJME or the stack of newsletters, and you could get a wrong answer from me. Snailmail and email give a person more time to ensure a proper answer. Phone puts a person on the spot and under time pressure.
    So, summer in Florida (well, almost summer anyway). Guess you're not a snowbird.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 14, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Those confusing "change of heart" rules

    On Tuesday, June 13, 2023 at 05:00:31 PM EDT, Star F wrote:
    Re: Change of Heart
    Good morning Tom,
    I understand if you call for a tile, expose your tiles, and add the discarded tile to your exposure, then realize it was a mistake, it's too late. It's a done deal. But what if you call for a tile, expose your two tiles and realize you made a mistake BEFORE touching the discarded tile? It would be like saying "I want it", but not taking it because you changed your mind. You can do it. But can you change your mind after exposing your tiles, without touching the discarded tile, and return your tiles to your rack? I realize it disrupts the flow of the game, but can it be done?
    Thanks so much
    Star Fire

    Hi, Star! This is answered in the Change Of Heart FAQs in FAQ 19 - specifically, FAQ 19-AM: "Calling a discard / making an exposure... once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play... you may not backtrack". The point is, an ACTION commits you to a play. Putting tiles atop the rack is not a rescindable action.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 13, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    FAQ 19 link


    Kongs mess up the tile count of fourteen ("un-American" variants)

    On Monday, June 12, 2023 at 04:07:40 PM EDT, ptmcd wrote:
    Calling Mah Jongg with kongs
    Hi,
    Question about "going out" with kongs in your hand.
    Since kongs are 4 tiles, to go out, you'll need another kong to go out, correct?
    Otherwise, it doesn't seem like you'll be able to make any pairs, etc. as there will always be a single tile if you must close with 14 tiles. Is this correct?
    I've combed through as much as I could and I don't see any direct answer to this question.
    I would much appreciate your help! Thanks in advance!

    Hi, ptmcd! I explained this in FAQ 20, my article "Commonly Misunderstood Rules of Asian Forms of Mah-Jongg." It's also explained in my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," on page 174. The typical hand is "four groups and a pair" - fourteen tiles in all. A "group" is usually "three tiles." So when a group is a kong (four tiles), then it messes up the tile count (that's what you're saying). So just think of the kong as a "glorified pung" with a fourth one on its head like a crown. Although you see four tiles, it's considered a pung. This is why a replacement tile must be taken from the back end of the wall, just as is done with flowers, when you meld a kong. If you make a hand with four kongs and a pair, you'll have 18 tiles there, but it fits the four-sets-and-a-pair requirement. And it's allowed because a kong is just a glorified pung.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 12, 2023
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Donations appreciated


    When a player picks the wrong tile from the wall, part 3

    Re: question
    On Monday, June 12, 2023 at 12:54:15 PM EDT, Ruthie B wrote:
    Thanks again. Called the league this morning. Once the tile was moved it was her tile and she was dead. Just like we all thought. The throw in girl is 88, so we just deal with her.
    Have s great day!

    Yeah, I've met players like that.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 12, 2023
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Donations appreciated


    When a player picks the wrong tile from the wall, part 2

    Re: question
    On Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 11:38:05 PM EDT, Ruthie B wrote:
    Thanks for your prompt response. I still don’t see a direct answer. This player picked the second tile not the next tile. Another player went wacko because she said we should all throw it in. The other two of us said she is dead and the three of us continue. Please help!

    On Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 11:39:37 PM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from ruth b
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
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    It would be crazy to throw the game in because one player picked the wrong tile. Calling her dead is a much better solution than throwing the whole game. Thanks for the dollar.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 12, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When a player picks the wrong tile from the wall, what happens?

    On Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 05:09:56 PM EDT, Ruthie B wrote:
    question
    hi! Have not been able to find an answer anywhere, so I have come to the expert!
    When a player picks the wrong tile from the wall, not the next tile but the NEXT tile, what happens? She was supposed to pick the next bottom tile but instead picked the next top tile, she didn't see the bottom one. All I have been able to find is picking from the wrong end of the wall which we know the consequences of. I thought it would be the same, once the tile in your hand, you are dead, tile stays in hand and the next player goes.
    Thanks for your expert advice!
    Ruthie B

    Hi, Ruthie! The rule about picking a wall tile is that "if you lift it or move it, it's yours." But it is the wrong tile. That gives us a cross between the rule you cited (picking from wrong end) and the playing out of turn rule. Not that it matters which; both are death penalty infractions. See FAQ 19-AA for details.
    If your group decides not to impose the death penalty, the player has to keep the tile she picked. She can't put it back. See FAQ 19-AM. But letting someone slide once leads to a slippery slope of rule laxity.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 11, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    FAQ 19 link


    Redeeming a joker for mahj, what's the procedure?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 11:42:49 AM EDT, Laura H wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: about the NMJL game. If a player A needs a pair to complete a hand for Mah Jongg and needs to do a joker swap to complete a pung, may player A call for Mah Jongg when the tile for the pair is discarded, put called tile on rack, then do joker swap, and expose the remaining tiles? This situation would arise when one of the players makes an exposure with a joker after player A’s turn and before player A’s next turn.
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Laura! You asked:
    "... may player A call for Mah Jongg when the tile for the pair is discarded, put called tile on rack, then do joker swap, and expose the remaining tiles?"
    Answer: no. The hand has to be ready without needing to "also" do a joker exchange, before she can legally call "mah jongg." See FAQ 19-M for complete details.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 11, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Mailing list

    On Friday, June 9, 2023 at 07:24:42 AM EDT, Anna Mae S wrote:
    Mailing list
    How do I get on your weekly column list?
    Sent from my iPad

    There's no mailing list, Anna Mae.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 9, 2023
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    So is it double, or is it 4x??

    On Thursday, June 8, 2023 at 08:04:04 AM EDT, dawn l wrote:
    Question on Jokeless Hand
    Hello –
    My question is: Jokerless hand: Back of the card says double is paid by all. The Mah Jongg Made Easy book, says, if the player picks her mah jongg, everyone pays 4x.
    Can you clarify.
    Thank you
    Dawn L
    Boynton Beach Fl

    Hi, Dawn! Double double score is the same thing as quadruple score. The back of the card says jokerless is double, and self-pick is also double: double double if it's jokerless AND self-picked.
    If you win jokerless by discard, the discarder pays you double double (4x) score, and the others pay you double score. If you win jokerless by self-pick, everybody pays you double double (4x) score.
    Have I clarified?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 8, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I am starting to teach a group

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at 07:36:35 AM EDT, Terry L wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for Windows
    I am starting to teach a group of 4 players who know the basis of the game but have never been exposed to interesting defense or strategies. The first time I played with them, they were shocked as they watched me switch to another hand when the hand I was playing became dead.
    From that first experience, they started throwing questions at me right and left. New to the group, I was very hesitant to butt in and change the way they played. But, honestly, for me, it was too boring to return to another session with them.
    They played with one dice, the dealer passed out the tiles to each player, made a wall but had no idea why
    (not that playing a hot wall is necessary), and, without any defensive knowledge and nothing to lose, discarded tiles randomly just to improve their own hand.
    They are very enthusiastic and seem to be interested enough that I would like to continue working with them. I like the idea of starting to play with beans or some form of payment other than money. But I don’t believe one can play defensively or strategically without some sort of reward other than the group clapping when someone gets a Maj.
    In my opinion, because they know the tiles and can read the card, learning to switch hands, and defensive playing (understanding exposures and discards) are the best way to begin the process.
    What other suggestions can you provide? My goal is not only to make them better players but I would like to develop their enthusiasm to get more involved with the smaller details that really make the game, at least for me, an absolute delight.
    Thank you.
    Terry L

    Hi, Terry!
    I would educate the group on the normal procedures (two dice,* and each player taking their own tiles from the wall, for starters) just so they'll be prepared to join other tables someday as circumstances permit.
    You don't have to use beans to teach scoring. Most mah-jongg sets come with colored chips. Easier than beans, since beans are not denominated. I guess one bean could be 5 points/cents. If there are no chips in the set they're using, another way is to keep score on paper.
    You might find other useful teaching tips in FAQ 26.
    * (By the way, the singular of "dice" is "die.")
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When I say "same," part 2

    Re: Mahj Question
    On Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at 07:03:48 AM EDT, Lisa K wrote:
    Thanks so much for your quick response, Tom! Glad my question was explained. I appreciate it.
    Lisa

    You're welcome, Lisa!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When I say "same," can another player pick up the previous discard before mine?

    On Monday, June 5, 2023 at 07:25:23 PM EDT, Lisa K wrote:
    Mahj Question
    > ?Hi Tom!
    > I was playing with a group today and the following scenario occurred:
    > The player before me discarded a flower. I needed a pair and discarded a joker. Upon doing this, I said, “same.” This is how I was taught to throw a joker.
    > The player whose turn was after me called my tile, but thought she was calling a flower. She did not see the tile I discarded. She missed the first opportunity thrown out by the player before me. She obviously couldn’t pick up my joker, but was she eligible to pick up the flower that player discarded?
    > Many Thanks,
    > Lisa

    You weren't taught wrong, Lisa! Your other player missed out. Once you threw the joker, all previous discards were dead, "covered" by the last discard. See FAQ 19-G.3, the last 2 sentences.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Column 791

    On Monday, June 5, 2023 at 06:47:42 PM EDT, Julia S wrote:
    Column #791
    Hello Tom,
    1. You say "Evens #4 is a reasonable starting point. Pass 4D R N." But this doesn't have 4D (?) I would pass 2C, R, and N, looking at Consec #2.
    10. You say " Got eight tiles towards Odds #2 and eight towards Consec #3." Did you mean Consec #5?
    It's good to see the column again.
    Julia

    Sharp eye, Julia!
    1. I was thinking about that 6D when I wrote "4D." My pass keeps Consec #2 and Evens #4 both open for the time being.
    10. I was thinking about Consec #2 when I wrote "Consec #3." My fingers are starting to get arthritic, yeah, I'll blame it on my fingers!
    Good work. Keep me honest! Glad to see that somebody read that column already! Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Why wouldn't the computer let me call that tile?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, June 4, 2023 at 01:58:03 PM EDT, galem wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I’m a beginner Online: ILovemahj (BRAVE-PC) I’m able to Ignore but not Call A tile I need and Display Tiles from the one I want to Call. Also, All them have bubbles over them?
    Gale M

    Hi, Gale!
    It's not my job to provide technical support for that game, but I can tell you that most of the time when the computer won't let you do something, it's because what you're trying to do violates a rule or would otherwise make you subject to a penalty (especially the "death penalty"). See FAQ 19.


    FAQ 19 link

    As for those bubbles you mention, you'd have to talk to the creator/publisher of ILoveMahj. A screenshot would definitely be needed. In fact, a screenshot of the game when it doesn't let you call a discard would also be needed. See FAQ 24 for more about how to obtain tech support for a computer game. Good luck!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Support for Sloperama!

    On Sunday, June 4, 2023 at 06:04:25 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
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    Thank you again, Evelyn!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I am thinking about selling this set

    On Friday, June 2, 2023 at 01:58:23 PM EDT, Robin R wrote:
    Mom's Mahjongg Set
    Dear Mr. Slopper, I have been doing research to be able to sell my mom's mahjongg set. She is 93 and is now in Memory Care and I remember her playing as a child (I am now 69). This research brought me to you. I read your list of questions to find out about the set and to the best of my knowledge, this is what I know:
    1) # of tiles is 161
    2) Bakelite; buyterscotch color
    3) Case has no markings but there is an unreadable blue fabric label inside of it. No key to lock case.
    4) There are 5 racks with "coin" holders. Each is a different color. The material that the racks are made of is almost shimmery. I do not know what the material is.
    5) There are round "coin" chips (42 red, 23 white, 23 green, 22 navy blue, 4 yellow, 5 blue)
    6) There is NO instruction manual or cards
    7) There are 2 red dice and a round bakelite disk with window
    8) I do not know the year of the set but I am thinking 1950's
    Tiles: 161 Total
    1. 36 Dots
    2. 36 Craks
    3. 36 Bams
    4. 16 Winds
    5. 8 Jokers
    6. 8 Dragons
    7. 4 Blanks
    8. 17 Flowers/Seasons I do not kmow how to distinquish these two
    Condition: Since I do not play mahjongg, I have to look at this from my own point of view.
    Everything seems to be in very good condition. My mom was a meticulous type of person, so like everything she owned, she took care of it.
    I am thinking about selling this set on Facebook Marketplace. I am not sure how I send a donation to you for your advice and skill in getting to a selling price, but please let me know. Thank you so much.
    Robin R
    I am located in Florida.

    Hi, Robin!
    The photos are very low-resolution and did not tell me much more than what your email said. I can't just take your word for it that "everything" is in "very good" condition. The phrase "Very Good" (VG) has a particular meaning. As I wrote in that FAQ that you read, VG means "Item has a few defects that any normal person would notice upon close examination. All defects must be noted." You didn't note them. It looks to me like all the brass is tarnished, lackluster. It looks like the paper joker stickers are degraded and need replacing. I think there may be scratches on the case.
    You said that you are thinking about selling it on FB Marketplace, but you never asked me a question. I assume what you want to know is how much to ask for it, or maybe how much you might get for it (those are two different questions). I think you can ask $250 for it, if the tiles are shiny and not too scuffed or otherwise worn. Interested parties might try to negotiate you down. You should not accept less than $150 for it.
    May the sale be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    All four 8 dot tiles have been exposed. Can I use jokers to represent even more 8 dot tiles?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, June 2, 2023 at 11:34:46 AM EDT, Andree M wrote:
    In the 2021 card I was playing Any Like Number, second option:
    FFFF 1111 11 1111.
    My hand held 8888 (bams) 88 (craks) and 1111 (jokers). Another player had already exposed 8888 (dots)
    Can I correctly use the jokers for the needed 8 dots when another player had already exposed them?

    Yes, Andree. If jokers didn't exist, you could have only four of any non-flower tile. But since there are eight jokers in the mah-jongg set, you can have as many as twelve of any non-flower tile, and as many as sixteen flowers.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    June 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is there research supporting the idea that playing for money makes you a better player?

    On Tuesday, May 30, 2023 at 10:15:57 AM EDT, Mkbudronis wrote:
    Research that supports playing for consequences increases skill level
    GM - my name is Marianne B and I have been a MJ player for over 40years. I have taught and lectured on the subject over the years both in New York and now in Florida. One of the groups that I currently play in has a leader who “demoralizes the use of money or points” and feels that it should just be played for fun. The players within the group love playing for a small purse of $4 and understand the value of it. Despite my conversations with her regarding “game theory” and basic behavioral science principals regarding positive/ negative reinforcers she continues to insist that consequences will never improve skill. Personally I feel it is disrespectful of the culture of Mahjongg not to play it as the competitive game that it was created to be .I have reached out and received wonderful supportive responses from some “heavy hitters “ in the MJ community. Most have provided opinions but no research data to support this view. Aside from advice to join another group do you have any research data to support this view. Thank you so much for any time /consideration you can give to this matter . Marianne K. B
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Marianne!
    I'm not aware of any research along those lines. Personally, I enjoy playing mah-jongg without any money involved. Maybe that's because for several years I played with high-rolling Japanese players, during which time I lost hundreds of dollars. Most of my American games have been $5 "pie" games. I enjoy those games too. In my opinion, it's a personal choice. Some people enjoy the gambling "thrill," and some people don't. Players who don't want to play for money surely enjoy the game in their own way. Most people probably play the game for enjoyment, not for the idea of becoming more skillful.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Was "Olive Oil" Bakelite an intentional or accidental discovery?

    On Saturday, May 27, 2023 at 06:28:16 AM EDT, Mia K wrote:
    Olive Oil tiles
    Hello Tom -
    So grateful for your site and for the wealth of knowledge you share!
    I can’t seem to find an answer to my question…which is about vintage Olive Oil tiles that are semi-translucent (and glow green under bright light). Was this an intended feature, or an accidental side-effect, or ? Thanks, I’ve always wondered!
    Best,
    Mia
    Sent from my iPhone, which often confuses "o" and "i"

    囧 I'm sorry, Mia, but I don't know. You might assuage your curiosity by reading up on Leo Baekeland, the inventor of Bakelite, and Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation, which bought his invention from him. A quick Google search gave me these resources:

  • sciencehistory.org/historical-profile/leo-hendrik-baekeland
  • acs.org/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/bakelite.html
  • britannica.com/science/Bakelite

    I don't know any details about Baekeland's invention process, what mixtures didn't work and what mixtures did work, nor do I know whether the "olive oil" looking plastic was found asymptotically or intentionally. From what I've learned about inventors, I imagine they try a lot of things to find a few solutions that work well. For instance, Thomas Edison tried over 6,000 filaments in order to pick the perfect one that would glow well and last a long time. (Found that wording via a Google search too.) So, was the tungsten incandescent bulb intentional or serendipitous?

    I don't have any "olive oil" tiles in my collection. I have seen "applejuice" tiles, which are similar only with less green in them. I wish you'd sent a picture along with your question!
    Good luck with your quest. Maybe you'll find more details about Baekeland and Union Carbide, and when/how he/they came up with that olive oil mixture. Or maybe olive oil plastic was produced by the American Catalin Corporation or the Bakelite Corporation. Sorry that I can't answer your question for you. I'll append this exchange to FAQ 7c3, where there are other discussions about the plastics mah-jongg tiles are made of.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 27, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Please confirm these NMJL rules

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, May 26, 2023 at 07:38:27 AM EDT, Cheryl B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Is it wrong for a player to say call for a discard and then expose tiles from her hand on the rack before adding the called tile? I don’t see a rule against doing it in that order. If the person exposes tiles she can not change her mind, is that correct? She must then take the discard and make an exposure. If for example by mistake she only has a pair her hand would be dead. Please confirm a person needs to say Call or something and not just pick up a discard. Thank you.
    Cheryl
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Cheryl! You wrote:

    CB: Is it wrong for a player to say call for a discard and then expose tiles from her hand on the rack before adding the called tile? I don’t see a rule against doing it in that order.
    TS: The official rulebook says "it is preferable to place the called tile on top of your rack before taking the tiles in your rack to make the exposure." Page 14, MJME 2020.


    Mah Jongg Made Easy

    So it's "preferable," which means it's not a hard rule, and there's no penalty for doing it the non-preferred way.

    CB: If the person exposes tiles she can not change her mind, is that correct?
    TS: Correct. See ALL the "can she change her mind" rules in FAQ 19-AM.


    FAQ 19 link

    CB: Please confirm a person needs to say Call or something and not just pick up a discard.
    TS: Read the back of the card. Middle pane, just above the section on Mah Jongg In Error. It says so right there.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    My 2023 card has 2022 hands!

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 07:15:23 PM EDT, Frank C wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    My 2023 card has 2022 hands. Am I missing 2023 somewhere?

    囧 You mean your card is blue and says "2023" on the front, but there are no 2023 hands inside? (-o-)'

    I've heard that there are counterfeit cards out there, and that some scammers are using Amazon.com to sell them. Sounds to me like you got ripped off. I totally recommend that people buy their card directly from the NationalMahJonggLeague.org store every year. Trust me on this, you'll thank me later.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 24, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I have 2 jokers but no 4C in hand, can I pung a discarded 4C anyway?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 08:03:19 PM EDT, JoAnn T wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    If a player needs a final Pung of 4 Crack to declare Mahjong and they're holding two "available" jokers (but do not have a 4 Crack on their rack) and a 4 Crack is discarded, can they call for the 4 Crack to make the Pung and declare Mahjong?
    Thank you!
    JoAnn T

    Yes, they can, JoAnn. A player doesn't need to have a matching natural in hand in order to call a discard (they can call a discard with "just" jokers). See FAQ 19-L, which answers the question you asked: "Can I claim a discard with just jokers? Do I have to have a natural? Do I have to have a matching non-joker (a "natural") to claim a discard?" (There are so many ways this question can be worded.)
    You'll find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg in FAQ 19. You might want to bookmark it!


    FAQ 19 link

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 24, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When is it too late to correct payment mistake?

    On Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 02:35:51 PM EDT, Carol D wrote:
    When is it too late to correct payment mistake?
    I've read W.6.5 of FAQ 19 but not finding an answer for my question.
    A player claimed a valid Mah Jongg but when she initially asked for
    payment, she forgot to ask for 2x for a jokerless hand. We all paid her
    what she asked. After about maybe 30 seconds later, the player
    remembered her hand was jokerless and asked for the extra money. She
    said we should pay her since the next game had not started.
    I don't remember what tiles had been thrown in at that point, if
    any, so I'll ask two questions. (1) If all the tiles had been thrown in,
    was she too late? (I'm assuming yes.) (2) If her tiles were still
    intact, was she too late?
    Thanks in advance for your answer.
    Carol D.

    Hi, Carol!
    Once she took payment, it was too late to correct her mistake. Read FAQ 19-W.5 again:

      From the January 2014 newsletter:
      If a player declares Mah Jongg without jokers, she/he must announce it as jokerless. If not announced, the player would NOT be entitled to the bonus.

    She asked for payment. She was paid. That's the end of it. She can't go back and demand more payment. That's the rule.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 23, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Somebody said something about returning tiles to my rack when I'm dead?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, May 22, 2023 at 04:32:50 PM EDT, Susan F wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Once a player declares a hand is dead, dies that mean that all tiles that player has exposed are also dead? Someone told me that that tiles exposed before the player declared hand dead are still in play.
    Thank you,
    Susan
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Susan!
    "Someone" told you correctly, or very nearly. See FAQ 19-CK.


    FAQ 19 link

    If you were called dead for an erroneous exposure, or for something related to an exposure atop your rack, the tiles that were erroneously exposed must be returned to the sloping front of your rack.
    Assuming the exposures that were up before the hand became dead were ambiguous (could have been used with a legal hand), those exposures remain atop the rack.
    Play safe out there! And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 22, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 13, cont'd.

    On Monday, May 22, 2023 at 05:17:01 PM EDT, <lindaz wrote:
    (No Subject)
    Ooops sorry! Just read your FAQ--the dragons need to be 2 different suits. I should have checked!
    Linda

    No prob, Linda!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 22, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 13

    On Monday, May 22, 2023 at 04:11:39 PM EDT, lindaz wrote:
    stupid question?
    Hi Tom--
    I was playing 2023 number 3 today. I wonder if it's legal to have 2023 in Dots, and all 6 dragons in reds. What if I had lots of jokers and wanted to have 2023 in dots and all dragons in soaps? The card shows different colors so that's why I'm a little confused. I mean "any" means "any", right? Never encountered this question before.
    Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda!
    This question was already answered in FAQ 16 from day one. Every year as soon as I have the new card I anticipate the questions that will be asked, and I answer them in FAQ 16. Then, as more questions come in about the new card, I add those to FAQ 16.


    FAQ 16 link

    The two dragon pungs must be two different dragons. Since the 2023 can be any suit, AND the dragons can be any two dragons, this hand can be made in 2 or 3 suits. As it turns out, this hand was on the 2014 card, and in 2014 I made this infographic in FAQ 16 (the 2014 edition):

    This illustrates some of the different ways this hand can be made in 3 suits (top) and in 2 suits (bottom). I'll add this infographic to FAQ 16 (the 2023 edition) soon (I'll have to change the 2014s to 2023s).
    Play safe out there! And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 22, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When is a discard "down"?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, May 15, 2023 at 05:14:29 PM EDT, Gay R wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    If a player names a tile that they intend to discard, but do not place it on the table, can they exchange it for a joker.
    Gay

    No, Gay. Once the discard is named, it's "down." A discarded tile is "down" when its name is spoken OR it's touched to the table, whichever occurs first.* So if a player names the tile, the player must put it on the table and take their hand off it. See FAQ 19-A, and scroll down and read FAQ 19-B just below that.
    FAQ 19 answers all the frequently asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg. You might want to bookmark it.


    FAQ 19 link

    And every table should have a copy of the most up-to-date printing of Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the NMJL.*


    Mah Jongg Made Easy

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 15, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    * On 3/29 and 4/1 below, I discovered that rule 7 on page 19 of my copy of 2020 MJME said the discard was "down" when it was both named AND on the table, but other readers' 2020 MJME editions showed that the discard is "down" when named OR touched to the table. I confirmed with the League this week that the "or" rule is the correct rule; the "and" rule was a misprint, an accidental throwback to the 1984 rule. The League is working on a new edition. - Tom


    Mahjong set evaluation please, part 2

    On Monday, May 15, 2023 at 12:53:00 PM EDT, Kathy C wrote:
    Re: Mahjong set evaluation please
    Thank you so much! Absolutely hilarious and still very interesting to know about. Tells me a lot about my family history!
    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    You're welcome, Kathy! I don't know that it tells you a lot, maybe just that they went to China and bought a colorful souvenir, or maybe were given it by relatives there as a keepsake of the visit. But I'm glad you enjoyed what you learned!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 15, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When to and not to say "same," part 2

    On Monday, May 15, 2023 at 09:23:18 AM EDT, Sue Z wrote:
    When to say “same” redux Mah Jongg Q&A
    When to say “same” redux
    Hi Tom-
    I personally do not have the actual citations but am relying on Michele and Debbie’s access to them. Here is what I found.
    Michele Frizzell’s mahjlife wiki NMJL rules database has Article 124 Same Discard in Succession which reads: Question from a player: When the same tile is discarded one after the other, can it be called “same”? Answer from the NMJL: “A follow-up tile should be named by the discarder…not the word “same.” Her listed sources are NMJL Bulletin/Newsletter Q&A 1976 page 3, 1977 p3, 1981 p2, 1982 p4, 1986 p5, 1991 p12.
    Debbie Barnet in her mahjcon mahjpedia NMJL rules database has article ID16 Same Discards in a Row which reads: “The League recommends that a player not call a follow up tile that is identical to the previously discarded tile “same.” This ruling is not found in MJME.” Her listed sources are NMJL Bulletin/Newsletter Q&A 1976 p3, 1977 p3, 1981 p2, 1982 p4 and 1986 p5.
    I will contact them and see if they can supply imagery or the actual citations.
    Thanks for your help.
    Regards-
    Sue Z

    Thanks, Sue! My newsletters don't go that far back. A recommendation is not the same thing as a rule. Checking NMJL2020, p.22, I find: "3. Jokers may be discarded at any time during the game and called the same as the previous discard." So there's no repeat of the recommendation not to use the word "same." Still, maybe it is better to say the name of the previous discard in both cases (when discarding same and when discarding joker).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 15, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Mahjong set evaluation please

    On Sunday, May 14, 2023 at 11:31:30 PM EDT, Kathy C wrote:
    Mahjong set evaluation please
    Hi! Looking for a price and age estimate on this mahjong set I found in my grandparents' closet. 144 piece set, including 8 seasons/flowers, 16 directions, 4 red "middle"?, 4 green dragons?, and 4 white dragons? No papers included, tiles appear to be 2/3s bone and 1/3 some kind of dark wood sandwiched in the middle with dovetails. The box is reddish wood, pretty heavy and hard. Could have been purchased anytime before 2000's, most likely by my grandpa in China. Tiles and box are both in good to excellent condition. Very clean, no discolored tiles, mild scratches on outside of box. Box has a sliding top. Estimate of age and value would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks in advance,
    Katharine

    Hi, Kathy!
    I hope you'll be not too disappointed to learn that this is not a valuable antique (Oxford says "antique" means something "that has a high value because of its considerable age"). The set is neither valuable nor considerably aged.
    Not a lot of quality went into the crafting or manufacturing of the tiles. The dovetailing is very poor quality - gaps filled with putty, dark stain on the wood. The designs are not carved but rather stamped, or otherwise inlaid into the surface, and the paint is too colorful, garish. The lack of Western indices makes the set difficult to use in play, for players unfamiliar with Chinese numerals or cardinals. The middle wood layer is novel, I haven't seen that before.
    A lot of enterprises were formed in the 1990s to manufacture antique-looking mah-jongg sets, and this appears to have been made during that decade. Those brass coins. Those brass coins...! The four large ones are useless, and there aren't enough of the small ones to be useful in play. There are three sets of dice: three bone, four white plastic, and two red plastic. The maker of the set couldn't make up his mind how many dice to include! I'm guessing the set was sold in shops for tourists to buy and take home to their respective homelands as a souvenir of their visit to China.
    As a novelty set for a collector, it might be worth up to $60, give or take.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 15, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When to and not to say "same"?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, May 14, 2023 at 12:41:54 PM EDT, Sue Z wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi Tom.
    A question about naming discards.
    MJME page 23 #12 states “When discarding a Joker a player may say “Joker, “Same”, or actually repeat the name of the previously discarded tile.” The League even recommends that you name the discarded Joker “same” or the name of the previous discarded tile so as not to alert an inattentive player that a Joker has been discarded.
    How, then, should you name a discard that is identical to the previously discarded tile? My habit is to say “same”, following the logic of naming a Joker when discarding. There is nothing I can find in MJME 2020, annual newsletters from 2010 to 2023 or RDWW that addresses this issue.
    After doing some research I have found that both Michele Frizzell and Debbie Barnett have NMJL rules online databases that reference not only MJME, but a treasure trove of NMJL annual newsletters going back over 40 years. There are multiple newsletters from 30+ years ago when the League answered questions about naming an identical discard by saying that the preferred naming of an identical discard is to actually name the tile, not say “same.” I can get you the specifics if you would like.
    My conundrum is that if the only discard that can/should be named “same” is a Joker, then why don’t I just name it Joker and not be concerned about alerting an inattentive opponent?
    What do you think” Am I missing something?
    Play safely and thanks for your time.
    Regards,
    Sue Z

    Hi, Sue!
    I wrote about reasons for saying "same" in
    FAQ 19-G.3. I do not recall ever reading in a newsletter that one should not say same when discarding same tile (rather than a joker). If you could send me citations, I can discuss how those citations could be interpreted. If the only time you ever say "same" is when discarding a joker, maybe the others will catch on that "same" ALWAYS means a joker. So I don't recommend that practice.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 14, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Where can I find an archive of past NMJL bulletins, part 2, and
    We need a Charleston tracker, part 2


    On Thursday, May 11, 2023 at 07:30:31 PM EDT, Donna E wrote:
    answers
    Tom hi,
    This is in response to the last two questions you received.
    In the files section of the Facebook Group Mah Jongg That's It there are copies of the Bulletin dating back to 2010.
    Also, I read on Facebook that there is a new Ap called Mah Jongg Passer to keep track of where you are in the Charleston.
    I appreciate all of your hard work for the Mah Jongg community.
    Donna E

    Thanks for the info about the MJTI Files, Donna! MJ Passer was already listed in FAQ 5.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 12, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Where can I find an archive of past NMJL bulletins?

    On Thursday, May 11, 2023 at 05:46:54 AM EDT, Natasha J wrote:
    Where can I find an archive of past NMJL bulletins?
    Are they only sent once per year, or do some years have multiple bulletins? What year did they start sending bulletins?

    Hi, Natasha!
    1. I know of no place where you can find such an archive.
    2. In January only.
    3. I don't know. I started playing NMJL in the late nineties, which is when my collection begins.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 11, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    We need a Charleston tracker

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at 11:16:57 PM EDT, Pete S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi Tom,
    Do you know of any card or device for tracking where players are in the Charleston? I remember reading about a download or something to take the confusion out of that portion of the game but now I can’t find it again. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
    TIA
    -Pete-
    “No seas Gallina”

    Hi, Pete!
    Charleston confusion is caused by
    1. Players not verbalizing each pass;
    2. Players moving on to next pass before all players have made one pass;
    3. Players who take forever to think, trying way too hard.
    My recommendation is that every player verbalize every pass, and nobody move on to the next pass until everyone has moved. In my opinion, using a device or app would not simplify the Charleston any more than that. Nevertheless...
    There have been entrepreneurs who've created apps and devices. You can find apps in FAQ 5. The best-known American mah-jongg vendors may carry other Charleston aids.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 11, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is it just my group or are a lot of people getting in each other's hair?

    Mah-Jongg Q A
    On Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 06:00:57 PM EDT, Pamela S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    It seems the 2023 card, with the new ADDITION section in conjuction with the LIKE NUMBERS section is causing greater difficulty in completing a hand, causing more wall games? Is that the case or just a beginner adjusting to a new card? If ADDITION section is causing more wall games, how should we adjust our strategy?
    Thank you.

    Hi, Pamela! I haven't heard other groups mention a difficulty due to the Addition Hands this year. I'd say that Addition #1 would mostly affect players of Consec kong hands. Addition #2 and #4 would mostly get in the hair of 2468 players, and Addition #3 would mostly get in the hair of 369 players. Like Numbers has to compete with all the sections except for S&P.
    As for adjusting your strategy, I'd be watchful of the numbers that go out, think about what card families/sections they could fit, and whether or not those numbers interfere with your hand. If it's early enough, you may be able to switch families. If it's late and your hand is far away, discard wisely.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 9, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How should this clusterflub have been handled?

    On Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 07:18:54 AM EDT, Carol D wrote:
    Question about misnamed discard
    Hi Tom Sloper,
    Yesterday, Melissa discarded a tile and called it a 3-crak. Klara
    said "Mah Jongg," picked up a tile from the discard pile, put it atop
    her rack and exposed these tiles: FF NNNN 2022 (craks) SSSS, Winds and
    Dragons #4. I pointed out that Klara had the wrong year.
    Unfortunately (and my bad), I had not been watching what Melissa
    discarded and what Klara picked up. Melissa claimed that she had
    discarded a 3-crak. Klara claimed she had just picked up the wrong tile
    (the 2-crak) by mistake. The fourth player said nothing.
    Next, Klara replaced the 2-crak with the only 3-crak in the discard
    pile and collected 50 cents from Melissa and 25 cents from the other
    player. (I had already gone PIE so I did not pay anything.)
    My question is, what should have happened? Was Klara's Mah Jongg
    invalid and her hand dead? Or should Melissa have paid Klara 4x the
    value of the hand? Or did Klara do the right thing? Or is this question
    unanswerable because I had not watched that discard or pick-up? (It was
    the last game of the day, I'd gone PIE, I was tired ... excuses excuses.)
    Carol D.

    Hi, Klara! Let's take your questions one by one:

    CD: what should have happened?
    TS: Klara should have been declared dead for an illegal mah-jongg, and all her tiles should have been returned to the sloping front of her rack. Then the game should have continued with 3 players. FAQ 19-AA.

    CD: should Melissa have paid Klara 4x the
    value of the hand?
    TS: No, since Klara said (according to your first sentence) "3 Crak" and discarded a 3 Crak, as far as anybody knows - nobody knows for sure that she misnamed the discard. You can't assess a penalty based on "maybe."

    CD: did Klara do the right thing?
    TS: No. Once she made the incorrect exposure showing "2022" with a tile from the discard floor, she is stuck with her mistake of picking up a 2 Crak, as she admits that's what she did. FAQ 19-AM.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 9, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How is win by joker redemption scored?

    On Monday, May 8, 2023 at 03:31:02 PM EDT, Fiona wrote:
    Re: 2023 Mahjong Card Question
    Hi,
    If a person pulls a tile and then exchanges it for someone else’s joker to Mahjong, what is the payout?? Does everyone pay or just the person whose joker was exchanged, for example, pay extra?
    Thanks so much.
    Fiona

    Hi, Fiona! Nice to hear from you again.
    Win by joker redemption is regarded as "self-pick," so everyone pays double. See FAQ 19-AN. All the most frequently asked questions about American/NMJL mah-jongg are answered in FAQ 19. You might want to bookmark it!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 8, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    My group wants to roll just one die

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, May 7, 2023 at 10:10:20 PM EDT, Michele B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    My group wants to play with one die to break the wall, they think it speeds up the game and not necessary, I think it changes dynamic of game as you most likely have more tiles at play earlier in the game, they don’t agree, your thoughts? We don’t play for money.
    Sent from Michele's iPhone

    Hi, Michele!
    The number of tiles dealt to the players is the same, no matter how many dice you roll. All it gets you, if you roll just one, is a shorter last wall. And since it doesn't matter how long the last end of the wall is, it doesn't make a difference to the game. I suppose it's quicker to count to 6 than it is to count to 12 - I suppose that's their reason. Read the Rules of Table Rules (FAQ 14), print it out, then discuss it with your group again.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May 7, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Do fives have to be present in "Middle Tiles"?

    On Friday, May 5, 2023 at 06:41:30 PM EDT, Connie W wrote:
    MCR Scoring Question
    Hi, Tom. I would like to know if the following hand receives "middle tiles (456)" credit in MCR.
    444C 444B 444D 666D 66C
    Credit was given for ALL EVEN and Triple Pungs. Must the 5 be represented for "Middle Tiles?"
    Thank You,
    Connie

    Hi, Connie!
    Fours and sixes are middle tiles. It's not necessary to have fives to qualify. The CMCR rulebook permits combining Middle Tiles with All Even, and Triple Pungs - it forbids combining only All Simples and No Honors, so you don't want to claim those lesser fans.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Cinco de Mayo, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What if I have a complete hand before the Charleston?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, May 4, 2023 at 02:10:36 AM EDT, Kelana bin S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: If at the start of the game I have a complete set can I just called Mahjong

    Yes, Kelana. If East has a complete and correct mah-jongg hand after the deal, there is no Charleston. The other players pay East double. This extremely rare event is called "Heavenly Hand."
    Play safe out there. And May the fourth be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May the fourth, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Sloperama support-a-rama

    On Thursday, May 4, 2023 at 07:14:52 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    Hello, Thomas Sloper
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Customer name Evelyn H
    Amount received $10.00 USD
    For Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Amount paid each time $10.00 USD
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    Thank you for your continuing support, Evelyn! May the fourth be with you.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May the Fourth, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Can the player take it back?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, May 1, 2023 at 04:37:46 PM EDT, Beverly B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    A person exposes 3 tiles and immediately realizes the hand is concealed , the next player did not go,can the player take back exposure and proceed with game.
    Thank you
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Beverly! No, the player cannot take it back. In American/NMJL rules, the act of making an exposure cannot be rescinded.
    All the "backsies" rules can be found in FAQ 19.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    May Day, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    where to purchase the best vintage sets?

    On Sunday, April 30, 2023 at 08:54:26 PM EDT, Kathie M wrote:
    where to purchase the best vintage sets
    good evening,
    I'm a beginner collector of vintage sets. where do you suggest I go to get the best sets? I'm not too worried about cost I just want unique sets.
    Thank you
    Kathie M

    I don't have any easy answer for you, Kathie. The "best" "vintage" sets come up for sale only rarely, and they don't reliably appear on any one site. eBay is where I'd begin. Read the Tips For Buyers FAQ. Then be patient, and careful.
    May the tiles be with you. Literally.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is there a rule about placement of discards, part 2

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, April 29, 2023 at 09:29:38 AM EDT, C. B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Similar to Barbara’s about Placement of Discarded Tiles
    The discarded tiles are placed in front of an empty rack where the wall is empty. The same place is used for all discarded tiles and are facing out so others can easily see them (they would only be upside down to the person whose rack they are in front of). They say they were taught this way as it is easier to see all the discarded tiles. I believe you said there is no rule about discarded tiles, but should this be allowed?
    Carol

    Hi, Carol!
    There's no rule permitting it, and there's no rule prohibiting it. If placement reveals who discarded what, you can take advantage of the unwise behavior those people were taught by who-knows-who. Once they have some exposures up, being able to read their discards can be used against them! And YOU don't have to do what THEY were taught by who-knows-who... unless they outnumber you and set it as a table rule.
    I guess their teacher thought this is good etiquette, but it flies in the face of good strategy!
    [Edit] Wait, did I misread the question? I'm trying to picture this. Your question is only about orienting all the discards the same way -- not about placing them in a particular order? That sounds like something a teacher might use for the benefit of raw beginners. But it's not to be encouraged beyond initial lessons. Experienced players can scan a mixed-up jumble of tiles. And beginners need to acquire that skill.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 29, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is there a rule about placement of discards?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, April 28, 2023 at 05:35:13 PM EDT, barbara w wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Recently I have encountered players placing discarded tiles in front of their rack facing them. When asked why they do this it is always that they learned it that way. Is there a mj rule that says tiles must be thrown on the table in the middle of the table so that all have an equal exposure to what has been thrown?

    There is no rule, Barbara. Common practice is to make a jumbled mess on the discard floor, so as not to telegraph to other players what you discarded and when. I think your friends are thinking only of themselves (they want to have a record of what they threw when, for their own reasons), not realizing that they are giving important strategic information to their opponents. You can take advantage of their unwise behavior. Once they have some exposures up, being able to see what they've discarded can be important in determining what they're going for!

    In Japanese mahjong and in Chinese official majiang, it's polite to make "orderly discards" in neat rows of six tiles, specifically so that everyone can see an exact history of what was discarded when by whom. But in American mah-jongg, there is a practice of serving out the walls into the center, which makes that Japanese and Chinese practice impractical. (Not that we'd want to adopt that convention in American play.)

    Don't read that last paragraph - you don't need to know that, when playing American mah-jongg!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What if you knowingly give someone mahjong?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, April 28, 2023 at 10:16:27 AM EDT, Fran B wrote:
    Hi this keeps coming up in our games and I can’t find an answer. What happens if you knowingly give someone mahjong? Should you ruin your hand to avoid giving them the tile they need ? Do you have to pay the whole table? My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Fran! You know, of course, that official rules are entirely separate from strategic principles, and that some groups impose "table rules" that differ from official rules. You wrote:

    FB: What happens if you knowingly give someone mahjong?
    TS: You pay the winner double.

    FB: Should you ruin your hand to avoid giving them the tile they need ?
    TS: Strategy is a personal matter. It's entirely up to you and your level of risk aversion. As Clint Eastwood famously said: "Do you feel lucky, punk?" If you think your chances of winning outweigh the opponent's chances of needing the tile you're about to discard, it's YOUR choice whether or not to throw that tile. "Dogging" is a time-honored strategy. Strategic principles cannot be enforced on others. If other people tell you "you can never do that," their words are NOT beholding on you. You have a right to take as much risk as you want, unless there is a table rule that says otherwise.

    FB: Do you have to pay the whole table?
    TS: There ARE some "pay for the party" rules in the official rules. I've laid them out in FAQ 19-CR. But throwing an opponent's mahj tile (when that opponent's hot tiles are clear from their exposures) is NOT an official "pay for the party" rule. Tournament rules are not the same as the official rules. If your group uses a "pay for the party" table rule based on tournament rules, it's their duty to tell you their rules before play begins.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The player had jokers but others redeemed them, so the player shouldn't score jokerless bonus!

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 09:41:39 PM EDT, Nancy H wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    when a the person player 1. playing has a joker and puts the Kong or pung up and shows it.. then player 1 . gets another joker and now gets another Kong or pung , they did not play this hand without jokers. Player 1 has just played 2 jokers
    Player 1 was able to play this hand because of the two jokers. jokers. …so play goes on and players 2 and 3 take the jokers for their hands …and replace with their tiles
    Why would player 1 be able to get double points?
    They would not have gotten this far without these jokers. But get a bonus for playing a joker less game.
    The word jokerless means jokerless.
    It’s irritating to me .
    Thanks Nancy
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Nancy! As I wrote in FAQ 19-DE, The hand earns the jokerless bonus if there are no jokers in it at the time of mahj declaration. One of the strategic implications of redeeming a joker is that you can make the other player jokerless, costing everyone more if that player wins.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 27, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Are there books available for advanced players?

    On Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 03:16:55 PM EDT, Joe S wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My wife has been playing mah-jongg several times a week for the past decade. She has become a good player. Are there books available for advanced players? We live in California and she is 46 years old and a former chess master. Thank you. Best, Joe

    Hi, Joe!
    I have a list of mah-jongg books in FAQ 3. If your wife plays American/NMJL (National Mah Jongg League) rules (you'd be able to tell if she has a "card" she has to put on the table while playing, and that she has to order new every year), then the first six books listed in the FAQ are for that variant. If you want to get in good with her, you could buy them all for her. But if she plays American/NMJL, she would probably not appreciate books that describe Asian or Australian/British variants.
    But if she is web-savvy, she could read my strategy column (again: assuming she plays American/NMJL), which I write/publish most weeks from April to January. She could also join a Facebook group dedicated to mah-jongg discussion, like Modern Mahjong's "MahjongCommunity" group, or Johni's "Mah Jongg, That's It!" group. Modern Mahjong also has a YouTube channel.
    [Edit] Silly me, I forgot to mention the Strategy FAQ, FAQ 8.
    [Edit2] There are also some mah-jongg strategy blogs on feedspot, but when I visited there today I encountered a paywall, "Try Feedspot Pro free for 7 days," but do I have to be "pro" just to read the blogs there? Really? :rolleyes:
    Tell her to play safe out there. And may the tiles be with her.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 27, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    More information on this "antique" set, part 5

    On Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at 02:00:23 PM EDT, Ray Heaton wrote:
    Re: Sarah G's mystery tile.
    Hi Tom, Sara G was also searching for the two pairs of men...I attach a photo from one of the sets in the Japanese museum books, though not by any means identical, the set has similar pairs of men and the same joker tile. The book describes the men as Gods of Wealth, but referes to the men and what we've determined as jokers to be flowers.
    Regards,
    Ray

    Thanks, Ray. With all respect to the late Mr. Noguchi and Mr. Suzuki, I think we are correct that those ting yong tiles are jokers. And yes, that the men are flower tiles.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Can you throw any light on these flower tiles, part 5

    On Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at 01:25:35 PM EDT, Ray Heaton wrote:
    Hi Tom, I think the characters are 革命成功, which I'd translate as "a successful revolution". Once Bridget has the set in her possession, she could send better photos, but I'm pretty sure I have the characters correct.
    And yes, please send me any Chinese characters you are struggling with and I'll try to help.
    Ray

    Thanks very much, Ray!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Can you throw any light on these flower tiles, part 4

    On Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at 08:42:24 AM EDT, Bridget v wrote:
    Re: Mystery tiles
    Hi Tom
    Exciting news indeed! Here is a better pic of the fourth tile. Sorry about the quality of the image but it was captured over FaceTime as the set is currently in the UK (and I am in Australia)!! Hopefully it is clear enough for Ray to read. I am longing to know what the whole sequence means. Also, as previously mentioned, the set has only four ‘flowers’. I would value your opinion as to whether there were ever any more. My feeling is that there were not.
    Thanks to you and Ray for all your help,
    Bridget
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Bridget!
    That's pretty blurry and small. I don't know if Ray is going to be able to read that or not. I tried to sharpen the image a little, but I don't know if this helps.

    As for your other question, it would be unusual for a Chinese set to have only four flowers. I couldn't possibly tell you more about your set without good, crisp, large photos of all the tiles laid out "properly" AND photo(s) showing how all the tiles fit into the case. And it doesn't seem like the person holding the set in the UK is going to be able to provide such photos. You may need to have the set shipped to you in Australia so you can take photos yourself and fully respond to any questions I may have. An analysis or evaluation by proxy is simply not going to work.


    This is how to lay out a set "properly" for analysis or evaluation purposes.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Must a dead player's tiles be returned to the rack, part 2

    On Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 01:56:45 PM EDT, jamescaboose wrote:
    Re: Mah Jongg in Error and Joker Redemption
    As a follow up to my earlier question:
    During a game, a player put up several exposures with jokers in them. Nothing wrong with the play so far.
    Then the player puts up a final set of tiles (including jokers) and calls Mah Jongg.
    When examined, this final set of tiles does not match the rest of the hand needed to Mah Jongg.
    Is the entire hand dead and must be returned to the rack, or
    Are the jokers in the earlier exposures still active for redemption?
    Jim

    Jim, I referred you earlier to FAQ 19-P. This is what it says in FAQ 19-P:

    • Jokers which were exposed properly are valid for redemption. If you make a kong, nobody has enough information about which hand you're making, so you can't be declared dead on the basis of that ambiguous exposure alone. Any jokers in that kong are live, and stay alive even if you are declared dead later, unless the hand is marked "C" on the card.
    • Jokers which were exposed improperly are not available for redemption. All portions of the hand exposed erroneously are to be returned to the sloping front of the rack, including and especially the jokers. If the hand is on the card and marked "C" for Concealed, all exposures must be withdrawn. (MJME 2020, page 24 rule 21.)

    You can also look up rules 19 through 21 on page 24 of MJME 2020. Those rules say the same thing but in different words.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Must a dead player's tiles be returned to the rack?

    On Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 12:46:21 PM EDT, jamescaboose wrote:
    Mah Jongg in Error and Joker Redemption
    Greetings,
    I seem to remember that when a player calls Mah Jongg in error, and exposes all of his tiles, any jokers in the hand are dead and the entire 14 tiles must be returned to his rack.
    I just can't find the reference.
    Thanks,
    Jim

    Hi, Jim. You probably read that in FAQ 19-P. Or maybe you saw Linda B's March 24 question, below. Or maybe you saw that in MJME, rule 4 on page 17.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    More information on this "antique" set, part 4

    On Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 11:51:31 AM EDT, Sara G wrote:
    Re: More information on this "antique" set?
    Oh! Thank you, Tom and Ray! It's great to know that the little tile has provided a worthwhile discussion! After my original post, I was happy to assume it was a joker, but confirmation is great. I do apologize to Tom for giving the wrong character, though - I blame google, but I should have checked it closer.
    Since my last post, I've personally been focusing more on trying to find the history of those two pairs of men, which I'm still working under the assumption that they are a part of a set of flowers.. Unfortunately, the lack of any writing or description on them has made things very difficult, and image searching has provided very little hints. I've dug into many, many photos of sets from all around Asia, and have gotten...nothing. Perhaps they represent something that was, at the time of their making, so umbiquidous that descriptions weren't necessary - who knows. Alas, the search continues!
    In the meantime, I've confirmed that other than the obvious 3 or 4 replacements, so there's that!
    Thank you again for all the helpful information. I really enjoy learning so much about my set :)
    -Sara

    On Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 11:53:30 AM EDT, Sara G wrote:
    Re: More information on this "antique" set?
    An edit:
    In the meantime, I've confirmed that other than the obvious 3 or 4 replacements, *all the tiles are from the same set*, so there's that!


    More information on this "antique" set, part 3

    On Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 06:44:16 AM EDT, Ray Heaton wrote:
    Sarah G's mystery tile.
    Hi Tom,
    A little while back you had an issue with Sarah's tile being a "ting yong" tile, the top character is a variant of "ting", more usually written 聽 but on the tile the character is shown as the variant 聼
    Ting yong has been determined by others to be a joker tile, Michael Stanwick has a particularly informative description here, themahjongtileset.co.uk
    Regards,
    Ray


    On Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 07:20:26 AM EDT, heaton.ray wrote:
    Re: Sarah G's mystery tile.
    Hi Tom,
    A bit more on 聽用, ting yong, and why it's a phrase meaning joker.
    I've seen this translated as "Many uses", hence leading to an interpretation as it being a joker tile in mahjong game play. I couldn't get my head around that translation as 聽, ting, does not translate to "many", at least until I came across 聽 being a slang term in the Shanghai dialect meaning "thousand", so perhaps "thousand uses" is a more valid translation.
    Ray

    Awesome, Ray! Thanks so much. I guess it's like "grand." An online dictionary might not necessarily define "grand" as "thousand." (Dictionary.com does list it as an "informal" meaning, but you know what I mean.)
    Also, I see that we talked about yet another way of writing "ting yong" back in 2012.
    I'll let Sara G know about this confirmation that the tile is indeed a joker.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Can you throw any light on these flower tiles, part 3

    On Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 05:06:14 AM EDT, Ray Heaton wrote:
    Bridget's flower tiles
    Hi Tom, to help Bridget understand her flower tiles from a few days back, the three visible tiles have the characters 革命成...the first two meaning "revolution", but the missing fourth character is needed to understand the full phrase, if Bridget wants to reveal it!
    Regards,
    Ray

    Thanks, Ray! So the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 is the most probable historical event being memorialized in Bridget's flower tiles. I'll let Bridget know.
    Always appreciate your insight. If you don't mind, next time I have a mystery involving writing, I might email you for your interpretation. Thanks again, Ray!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    If I say "same," ...

    On Monday, April 24, 2023 at 08:35:23 PM EDT, Kay D wrote:
    Jokers
    Hello - here is my question. On the Mah Jongg card, it says, “jokers may be discarded at any time during the game and may be named either joker, the same as the previous tile or just called same.” If I were to discard the joker and said 3 dots, would another player be able to pong or king the 3 dots? I did not think so, but the card is confusing.
    Kay D
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Kay!
    So if the player before you throws a 3 Dot, and YOU throw a 3 Dot, another player can claim YOUR 3 Dot (but not the one that was thrown before you). If the player before you throws a 3 Dot, and you throw a joker but call it "3 Dot" or "same" (which amounts to the same thing), NOBODY can claim the 3 Dot - it's been covered by a joker, and nobody can ever have a discarded joker.
    This rule was given in the NMJL newsletters of 2005, 2014, and 2021. But most players aren't weird like me (I archive those newsletters), so you can see the rule in FAQ 19-G3.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 24, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is this a worthwhile project?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, April 23, 2023 at 02:04:38 PM EDT, Laura M wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I found this set in my late mother in laws closet. I have a full set of tiles with 18 flowers and 8 jokers (4 of them are painted red, 4 real). I have 4 racks but not sure if they are with the set, the better, red dice and a spacer. I do not have the box. Have been searching the internet and haven’t found the set, only maybe one tile on eBay. I would like to know more and probably try and purchase a case and whatever I need to restore this set. Please let me know if it is a worthwhile project.
    Sent from my iPad

    Laura, you're very lucky. You have a set of highly prized and valuable enrobed tiles. I'll take your word for it that the tiles are all there. Those racks are ordinary and cheap; the tiles deserve better. You probably know that that green thing (you called it a spacer?) is a Bakelite or Catalin rack end piece, probably from the original racks. You'll want to see if you can fix those nail polish jokers, sticker them nicely. Tldr; yes, it's a worthwhile project.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    4/23/23
    Donations appreciated


    This week's column

    On Sunday, April 23, 2023 at 08:50:07 AM EDT, Julia S wrote:
    Column #788
    Hello Tom,
    I'm wondering why for hands 6 and 8 you don't mention Consec #6 with 8s and 9s as a possibility.
    Julia

    Hi, Julia!
    6. You are right that I could have mentioned Consec #6 here. It's an equal alternative to Consec #2 with dots. In fact, since this is the same hand as problem #4, developed a bit further, I could have mentioned Consec #6 in problem #4, too.

    8. This is the same hand, which has developed a little more since problem #6. You're right that I should have mentioned Consec #6. I have 9 tiles towards both Consec #6 and Consec #2. The bams are very strong for both hands, because I can call both 8B and 9B, for either of those hands. On Consec #6, the dots are weak because there's only one 8D and no jokers. On Consec #2, 6C can be called, but 7C is short, can't be called until we get either one joker or a third 7C. Comparing the dots vs. the craks, the craks are less weak, so I prefer Consec #2 over Consec #6.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    4/23/23
    Donations appreciated


    Player made an exposure when she didn't need to

    On Saturday, April 22, 2023 at 08:23:23 AM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Hello
    Hi Tom,
    I would like to get your opinion on this one please and thank you as always for being such a huge part of our Mah Jongg Community.
    First let me start by saying I'm amazed when a question is posed that has never been asked before on my Ask the Mah Jongg Teacher FB Group since its inception nearly 4 years ago."

    Here it is:
    A player picks a tile from the wall upon her turn. Instead of racking the tile she places it atop the flat part of her rack and brings up other tiles from her hand (sloped part of rack) to make an exposure. Regardless of whether she had a temporary brain blip or was a newer player who forgot the rules, would you, A. consider this player's hand dead or B. let them put the tiles back since they are only hurting themselves because now everyone knows more about what they are playing.

    I know I can call the League and I will, but unless I get it in writing (they don't seem to be answering letters lately, I have several outstanding for months) if I call today and then again tomorrow and speak with two different people, I'll get two different answers.
    So, what's your opinion on how to handle this one?
    Thanks!
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Hi, Debbie! NMJL p. 20 rule 14. An incorrect exposure makes the player's hand dead. If this happened in a tournament, the judge would have the say, and would most likely rule death. Personally, I'd be inclined to let her leave that exposure up and continue playing. (She can't put the tiles back in the hand if she's NOT declared dead.) It was a dumb play. While there's no written penalty specific to exposing when exposing isn't required, it's entirely reasonable to declare the move "an incorrect exposure."
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 22, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Wrong tile count at the end of the Charleston, part 2

    On Friday, April 21, 2023 at 04:39:32 PM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from ruth b
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    Thanks, Ruthie!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 21, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is there a story or purpose behind the colors?

    On Friday, April 21, 2023 at 02:04:07 PM EDT, Natasha J wrote:
    Is there a story or purpose behind the colors used on number tiles?
    I play American Mah Jongg. I know that traditionally 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 Bamboo tiles use only green. Is this connected to another version of mah jongg? When I first started playing, I thought that evens were supposed to be green for quick recognition, but then that pesky 3 threw me off.
    Regarding Dots, in my set, the Dots have quite a wide variety of colors -- 8 Dot is the only tile depicted in just one color (blue). 2 uses blue and green. 6 and 7 use red and green. 3, 5, and 9 use all three colors of green, red, and blue! Is there a story behind these color traditions?

    Hi, Natasha!
    Throughout mah-jongg's history, the tile's designs and colors have varied. If you take a look at the earliest known examples of mah-jongg tiles on Michael Stanwick's tile set history website, you'll see that the colors were mostly established even before 1920 when Joseph Park Babcock first started the mah-jongg craze rolling. One thing you'll see there on that site is that the middle sticks on the 6-bam tiles were red, but over time that was changed because the 6B is too easy to confuse with the 9B.
    I'm not aware of any story reason for any of the other color standards that have evolved since those pre-Babcock days.
    As you noted, the 2,3,4,6, and 8 of bams are the only ones that are all green. In Japanese mah-jongg, there is an "All Green" hand that can be made of only all-green tiles; some variants extend that principle to dots and craks also.
    You may also note that on Stanwick's site, those early sets didn't even have the Green Dragon tile yet. Stanwick is the scholar who has researched the development and background of tile designs. You might want to explore his site to get more information about your question.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 21, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Wrong tile count at the end of the Charleston

    On Thursday, April 20, 2023 at 11:25:04 PM EDT, Ruthie B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question is:
    What happens at the end of the Charleston when it is noticed that the last person didn’t take their 13th tile? One player said just take the tile. One player said they are dead. One player said throw in since the game hasn’t started.
    What is your valued answer?
    Thanks!
    Ruthie
    P.S. we’ve been playing over 50 yrs and it’s not come up??

    Hi, Ruthie! This is answered in rule 9 on page 19 of the rulebook. When you say "the last person," you mean the player to the dealer's left. The rulebook says that person (and that person only) may pick their 13th tile ... as long as the dealer has not yet discarded the first tile. If you don't have the rulebook (of course you have the rulebook, just saying IF), you can also see the rule in FAQ 19-DB.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 21, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When can a joker be redeemed? What's the procedure?

    On Wednesday, April 19, 2023 at 07:48:50 PM EDT, Kathy P wrote:
    Joker question
    Hi! I am new to your site so I apologize if this question has already been asked. When calling for a joker in a person’s exposed tiles, must the person first pick from the pile or take a discarded tile before claiming the joker. This occurred this week when a person needed the joker in order to take the discarded tile. We were not in agreement as what was the correct action. Thank you. Kathy P
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Kathy! So it was one of those "she needed the joker in order to take the discard," eh? This happens to everyone when they're just learning the rules. I have all the joker rules grouped together in FAQ 19 (you might want to bookmark it). The question you've asked is FAQ 19-M. You got it right the first time: the player must first pick from the wall or take a discard and make a complete exposure with the discard before the player is allowed to redeem a joker. Basically, the player has to be holding 14 tiles before joker redemption is permitted.
    If you ever have a question about the 2023 NMJL card, you can check FAQ 16. (You might want to bookmark it.)
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 19, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I know you shouldn't call yourself dead, part 2

    On Wednesday, April 19, 2023 at 03:31:30 PM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Judy F
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    Thank you, Star!!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 19, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I know you shouldn't call yourself dead, but was I right to call myself dead in this case?

    On Wednesday, April 19, 2023 at 10:14:31 AM EDT, Star F wrote:
    Re: Mah Jongg on a dead hand
    Good morning Tom,
    I know you shouldn't call yourself dead, but something happened this week that has never come up before. Of course, it's a new card so we're on a learning curve. I had this lovely hand, and called Mah Jongg. (last one in "Like Numbers"). Only after I exposed all my tiles did I realize it was a concealed hand. They were chatting about their hands, and no one noticed it, and would have paid. I just couldn't take their money on a dead hand so I called myself dead. They continued playing. If they had exposed their tiles, we probably would have called the game a dead game, and thrown in our tiles. Yes, we need to pay more attention, but should I have called myself dead? I don't remember ever seeing anything on this.
    Thanks
    Star F

    You did the honest thing, Star. Based on the rules, you could have legally collected payment before revealing that you were dead. The others should not have been kvetching about their own hands, they should have been paying attention to the winner's hand and checking it against the card. You were not wrong, though, to do the honest thing instead.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 19, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Please identify these tiles

    On Wednesday, April 19, 2023 at 09:06:15 AM EDT, Bridget van H wrote:
    Identification
    Hi Tom
    I am hoping you might be able to identify these tiles. Any help would be much appreciated.
    With many thanks and kind regards
    Bridget

    Can you rephrase the question, Bridget? What is my assignment, exactly? I might need to see more (more tiles, and/or more sides of the tiles) depending on what it is you're trying to find out.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 19, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    Oops, wrong place

    On Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 09:20:52 PM EDT, jamescaboose wrote:
    Maj Jongg in error?
    What is the result if a player declares Mah Jongg, and it is a correct hand, but the player places a joker in the wrong part of the hand?
    For instance: instead of: 3333 (BAMS) 6JOKER6 (DOTS) 9999 (BAMS) DDD (3 SOAPS), the player displays 3333 (BAMS) 66 (DOTS) 9999 (BAMS) DDJOKERD (3 SOAPS and a JOKER).
    JIM

    Hi, Jim!
    Is there something stopping the winner from moving that joker? What's the problem? People are apparently going, "hey, that joker's in the wrong place," so why doesn't the winner just move it?
    Is it that people are telling the winner they're dead? Refusing to pay? Can those people point to a rule that shows they're right? Better to go by what rules can be proven than suspicions that a rule might exist.
    A general principle embodied in some rules is that "mah-jongg trumps everything." We're not talking about an erroneous exposure, we're talking about a minor and easy-to-fix misplacement, which doesn't trump a crucial major game event. There are international mah-jongg variants that have rules about the placement of the final winning tile or the display of the winning hand, but very few of them impose a harsh penalty for mistakes. And you play NMJL rules. See FAQ 19-Z, and observe that no penalty is mentioned.
    And especially, read FAQ 19-CN.
    I suppose I should have started with that.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 18, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Prohibition against calling an identical tile, part 2

    On Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 02:59:00 PM EDT, Christian H wrote:
    Re: Calling rules for identical tiles being placed consecutively?
    Hey Tom,
    Thanks for the response. Do you know where I can read/learn more about these variants (name of the variants, origin, background etc.) so that I am better prepared when I inevitably meet and encounter different players? Do you have any trusted MJ sources you can point me to so that I can reference the material? Sometimes it's hard to remember every single rule/variant until the situation comes up in game (this is why I keep everything written and handy on my spreadsheet to prevent arguments), but my goal is very simple (yet impossible it seems) which is to attempt to cover all my bases so that this does not happen again.

    In addition, I do have two more general questions to ask you:
    1) In your opinion, which style of MJ do you think is more popular/acceptable in the modern day vs. traditional? By "style", I mean the form of compensation for winner and loser(s), i.e. "feeder pays all to winner" or "feeder pays double, other two legs pay single to winner". I have played both styles extensively and I understand the general nuances of each style, but I wonder if your answer changes based on what country you're in or the people you play with (let's say North America vs HK/China)?

    2) Another general opinion question for you, but which scoring system do you recommend (or what makes most sense to you?) for casual/experienced players willing to risk $20 cash game, in a game of minimum 3 fan to maximum 10 fan and flower tiles in play? I understand this can be a very loaded question but it has been a question I have not found good answers to online. I have made up my own scale of fan (points):$ for cash games but I want to know how far off I am compared to what the "official/widely popular/acceptable" scoring systems are out there. Please note that my group has never played tournament style, and we only get together once in a while to play cash games for $20-$30 per person.
    Thanks again :).

    Hi, Christian! You asked:

    CH: Do you know where I can read/learn more about these variants (name of the variants, origin, background etc.) so that I am better prepared when I inevitably meet and encounter different players?

    TS: I have a list of variants in FAQ 2B. Books on well-documented variants are listed in FAQ 3. Websites, FAQ 4B. I have some materials, articles, that people have sent me about obscure variants in my downloads folder. Maybe the best thing is to ask those different players from whom they learned, what nationality, and if their teacher was from China, what part of China.

    CH: my goal is very simple (yet impossible it seems) which is to attempt to cover all my bases so that this does not happen again.

    TS: It's not unreasonable to (1) say that since you're the teacher, your rules are in use, or (2) if you're playing at someone's house, ask them what their rules are. Like I wrote in FAQ 14. Or as I said before, you can poll the group and go with majority preference.

    CH: 1) In your opinion, which style of MJ do you think is more popular/acceptable in the modern day vs. traditional? By "style", I mean the form of compensation for winner and loser(s), i.e. "feeder pays all to winner" or "feeder pays double, other two legs pay single to winner".

    TS: In Hong Kong, this varies from table to table. When people get together for the first time, the first thing they do is discuss and agree which payment system will be used. Check out Perlmen & Chan and Amy Lo (FAQ 3). I just go with the flow.

    CH: I have played both styles extensively and I understand the general nuances of each style, but I wonder if your answer changes based on what country you're in or the people you play with (let's say North America vs HK/China)?

    TS: Yes. Discarder pays for all is the norm in Japan. In American/NMJL rules, discarder pays double, non-winners pay single. Each ruleset has its own payment scheme.

    CH: 2) Another general opinion question for you, but which scoring system do you recommend (or what makes most sense to you?) for casual/experienced players willing to risk $20 cash game, in a game of minimum 3 fan to maximum 10 fan and flower tiles in play? I understand this can be a very loaded question but it has been a question I have not found good answers to online. I have made up my own scale of fan (points):$ for cash games but I want to know how far off I am compared to what the "official/widely popular/acceptable" scoring systems are out there. Please note that my group has never played tournament style, and we only get together once in a while to play cash games for $20-$30 per person.

    TS: When I was learning Japanese style in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, I often lost hundreds of dollars. It was called "paying tuition." Japanese players are Gamblers with a capital G. American/NMJL players usually don't like gambling for more than $3 or $5, with many players refusing to play for any money at all. My recommendation is to play for fun. If somebody in the group is unhappy without big stakes gambling and somebody is unhappy with any gambling, that's a group that may not find middle ground. iow, poll the group or go with your instinct, as your situation warrants.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 18, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    Prohibition against calling an identical tile within one go-around

    On Sunday, April 16, 2023 at 02:48:05 PM EDT, Christian H wrote:
    Calling rules for identical tiles being placed consecutively?
    Hey,
    Thanks for creating this informative website. I wish I came across it earlier in my MJ days. I've been teaching friends how to play for a while now and I even have my own spreadsheet with scoring hands, payouts, penalties etc. however an experienced player was very adamant about a specific play the other day and I wanted to ask you for clarification.

    If Player B discards a fresh tile, Player C discards a different tile, and then Player D discards same tile as Player B, can Player A still pung Player D discard? My answer is yes, it's legal, because 1) logically speaking Player A can wait, and decide to pick up the pung themself. But clearly if the last one is discarded they have no choice but to pung regardless of which order the discard came in. 2) Player A might have missed the discard the first time due to mental error but remembered the second time.

    The only time this scenario is illegal is when claiming a discard for victory (in the same round of discards) because that would be considered unlawful targeting.
    Do you agree or disagree with my reasoning?

    Hi, Christian!
    Actually, there are variants that expressly prohibit the calling of a discard if its twin had been discarded within the same go-around. As a Japanese friend explained it to me, a player has a right to assume that a discard is safe if its twin was just recently discarded and not called. So your experienced player must have experience with such a variant. If that rule is not included in your variant's rules, then this can be regarded a permissible play. Your reasoning is fine, but either you set the rule because you're the teacher, or the group can decide. It's customary for players to discuss and agree on table rules when joining a table.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 16, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Oops, wrong tile, part 4

    On Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 04:20:34 PM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Hello
    Hi Tom,
    Can you take another look at your answer #1 to SusanB today? I don't believe that if a player picks up the wrong discard, (a 5 Crak was discarded and the player in question picked up the wrong discard, a 6 crak instead) they can correct this error. Once the 6 crak is placed on their rack along with 5 craks from their hand they now have an erroneous exposure. They were not watching the table and I believe they now have an erroneous exposure as stated in MJME, Page 20 #14. If no one notices and no one calls the player's hand dead then they would continue playing until such time the hand is declared dead. But as MJME says, if no one notices, Mah Jongg cannot be made.
    Thanks for taking a second look.
    YOUR PITA ??
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Quite right, Debbie!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 13, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    A few questions

    On Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 03:58:21 PM EDT, Heidi A wrote:
    A Few NJML Mah Jongg Questions
    2023 Card Question:
    Regarding the sixth hand in 13579, can that be a two-suit hand?
    The parenthetical information doesn't say whether it has to be two or three suits, but my instincts tell me that blue pong of 9s makes it a three-suit hand, only. In our game today, though, someone noticed that the parenthetical information doesn't say anything explicit about the suits. I wonder if, by saying 'These Nos. Only,' it is implied that the second pong of nines can only be in a third suit.
    I think the fifth hand in 369 presents the same puzzle. Number of suits isn't indicated. Could it be a two-suit hand if someone wanted to play it that way?
    I think the third hand in 2023 is what makes this confusing because the parenthetical information in that hand also doesn't indicate a distribution of suits, but several of you experts say it can be a two- or three- suit hand.
    Thoughts? Are hand 6 in 13579 and hand 5 in 369 three-suit hands only or could they also be two suit hands?
    AND two game design questions . . .
    . . . why is the first hand in the 369 section only two suits when the other hands in that cycle (Pong, Kong, Pong, Kong) allow both one or two suits? Is there some balance being struck here?
    . . . as a Riichi player, I always wonder why the 369 hands can't also be 147 and 258. Do you know why that is?
    בשלום
    Heidi


    1. Except for the flowers, count the colors in Odds #6. Three. It says on the back of the card that three colors on the card means three suits must be used.
    2. 369 #5 is printed in three colors, and nothing in the parenthetical overrides the color-coding. See FAQ 19-J and combine that with FAQ 19-AJ.3: When there is no overriding parenthetical... you have to make the hand indicated by the numbers, letters, and colors shown on the card. This ought to go without saying." I'll make sure FAQ 16 covers these questions.
    3. I can't justify decisions made by the NMJL committee. "For balance" would be a reasonable guess.
    4. You seem to be assuming the NMJL committee members are aware of the 1-4-7 principle that's integral to some international forms of mah-jongg. My assumption would be the opposite.
    Here's a thought: there is a card family named "13579" (starting with a 1) and a family named "2468" (starting with a 2) so doesn't it make sense to also have a family name beginning with 3?
    ①3579
    ②468
    ③69
    And once we've made a 369 family, we already have a family whose name begins with 1, and another with 2, so 1-4-7 and 2-5-8 are out.
    Just a thought.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 13, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Oops, wrong tile, part 3

    On Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 04:00:35 PM EDT, Susan D wrote:
    Re: Has Something Changed?
    Thank you. For a little more clarity. I assume then that the rule stands that a called tile can NEVER be returned to the table once it has been placed on the top of a player's rack.

    Did somebody else need that tile for mah-jongg? Rule 13.c. on page 20 of MJME 2020 and Q&A 13 of newsletter 2020. "When two players want the same tile, one for an exposure and the other for Mah Jongg, the Mah Jongg declarer gets preference even if the other player has begun to expose their tiles." Imagine other player at table, after the exposer is called dead: "Oh my gosh, can you believe, Duh! I need that tile myself for mahj!"
    Other than that, correct: Never. The erroneous exposer is stuck with it.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 13, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Oops, wrong answer (was: "Oops, wrong tile"), part 2

    On Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 02:35:16 PM EDT, Susan D wrote:
    Has Something Changed?
    Hi, I wrote earlier today about a player returning tiles to either their hand or to the table after exposing but before discarding. In your response, you stated that both were allowed. I found this in your FAQ. Has something changed?
    A: 2. Calling a discard / making an exposure. You can touch it or move it and change your mind. But once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play (then you have crossed the line, and you may not backtrack - it's too late).

    囧 Hoist on my own words! You're right, Susan. FAQ 19-AM.2 governs your first example below.
    1. The player is stuck with the error if they have put taken tiles on the rack. If they took a 6C to put with 5Cs from the hand, as you said below, then the only fix is to put the 5Cs back into the hand and replace them with 6Cs or jokers from the hand if possible. If they can't do that, the illegal exposure remains atop the rack. Until they're called dead, at which time the exposure is returned to the sloping front of the rack.
    FAQ 19-AM.2
    2. The player can correct the error, if they can do it with tiles from the concealed part of the hand. FAQ 19-AF
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 13, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Oops, wrong tile

    On Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 12:38:27 PM EDT, Susan D wrote:
    Oops, Wrong Tile
    There has been some lively discussion on MahJongg That's It, and apparently a group of players got conflicting answers when contacting the NMJL. I think they may have it cleared up now, but I was wondering if you could clarify a couple of scenarios for me.

    Scenario #1: A 5 Crak was discarded. A player calls for the 5 Crak. The player exposes two 5 Craks from her hand, then accidently picks up a 6 Crak from the table and places it on her rack with the 5 Craks to make an exposure.
    Does the player have a dead hand, or can she correct the mistake by returning the 6 Crak TO THE TABLE and picking up the 5 Crak that was discarded to make her exposure?

    Scenario #2: A 5 Crak was discarded. A player calls for the 5 Crak. The player accidently exposes two 6 Craks from her hand, then picks up the 5 Crak and places it on her rack with the 6 Craks to make an exposure.
    Does the player have a dead hand, or can she correct the mistake by returning the two 6 Craks TO HER HAND and placing two 5 Craks from her hand with the 5 Crak she picked up from the table to make her exposure?

    Hi, Susan! I know what you mean. With so many voices speaking different opinions, it can be confusing - hard to know if people are getting the right answer. And there are six ways to get a wrong answer over the phone from the League ladies.

    1. She can correct the mistake, as long as she hasn't discarded yet.

    2. She can correct the mistake, as long as she hasn't discarded yet.

    FAQ 19-AF. An erroneous exposure may be corrected if the player can correct it from their hand and has not yet discarded. But once any tiles have gone onto the top of the rack, the player may not decide not to make an exposure at all.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 13, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    See Susan's second email, above - Tom


    Is there a rule for card placement?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at 09:45:13 PM EDT, ned s wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for WindowsI play with a fellow who constantly moves his card around. It may be in his lap or in his hand or on a table beside him but never on the mahjong table. Is there a rule for card placement? We find it distracting as he is always moving the card around.. Thanks

    Hi, Ned! I can think of three reasons offhand why he might do that:
    1. He's putting his finger on the card to remember what hand he's working on, and doesn't want others to see what he's pointing at; or
    2. Sometimes the light is better from a different angle, the more clearly to read the card, he needs glasses or a new prescription; or maybe
    3. He's intentionally being distracting, as a strategic ploy.
    I don't think #3 is likely. Oh, but you asked if there's a rule. No, there isn't. It's traditional practice to keep the card on the table throughout the play session. Some tournaments enforce a "must have card on table" rule, so it's reasonable to infer that it's frowned upon to not have a card, or not to have it in its traditional spot.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 11, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The April 9th column

    On Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at 12:16:42 PM EDT, Lynn M wrote:
    2023 card analysis
    Hi Tom--
    There's a 4th hand with an exposable pung of dragons: 369 #6, and it has only one dragon pung (3rd paragraph in your April 9th column).
    Thanks so much for your analysis!
    Lynn

    囧 Quite right, Lynn! Thank you!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 11, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    If the person who declares “mahjong” picks the tile and puts it in their rack, rather than on top is she considered “dead”?

    On Monday, April 10, 2023 at 07:58:32 PM EDT, Kala P wrote:
    Mahjong question.
    https://sloperama.com/mahjongg/column499a.html
    Hi Tom,
    If the person who declares “mahjong” picks the tile and puts it in their rack, rather than on top is she considered “dead”?
    Thank you for your time.
    Kala
    Shared via the Google app
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Kala!
    If a player picks from the wall, they can put the tile in the hand (in the rack). Regarding calling a discard, the rule is that the taken discard must be placed atop the rack, not among the concealed tiles. But the League does not mention any penalty for putting the claimed discard in the hand before moving it to the top of the rack. In a tournament, a player might be declared dead for that, depending on the tournament organizer's rules. The upshot of the rule is, "she's not supposed to do that." It's frowned on, but there's no penalty. FAQ 19-K.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 12

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, April 10, 2023 at 06:56:18 PM EDT, Sheila I wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    On the new card
    The hand 4 ones 4/twos and four threes in one or 3 suits
    Does it have to be those exact numbers or can it be any consecutive numbers
    It’s not clear on the card
    Thanks
    Sheila I
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Sheila! As I told Janet C on Friday (below), Consecutive Run #5 can be any 3 consecutive numbers. The only hand in Consecutive Runs that has to be specific numbers is the top one. You can see plainly that there wasn't enough space to write any more in the parenthetical. See FAQ 16.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    April 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Do you know the manufacturer and date of manufacture?

    On Monday, April 10, 2023 at 09:51:21 AM EDT, Shirley C wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I just bought a set that looks like the one in your example of how to lay out the set for photographing….same birdy bam, same flowers, same dragons. It’s on dovetailed bamboo in a fabric covered briefcase.
    Do you know the manufacturer, date?
    Thanks
    Shirley C
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Shirley! I assume you mean this photo:

    I stickered those jokers, and I actually used 2 sets to make that photo. These pulverized fishbone sets were made in the late 1990s. As for the manufacturer, see FAQ 7-U.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, April 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    The 2023 NMJL card, part 11 - and a Courtesy question

    On Sunday, April 9, 2023 at 03:14:22 PM EDT, Suzanne H wrote:
    Mahjong Questions
    Hi!
    I have 2 questions.
    1. Courtesy pass following the Charleston - Do all players at the table have to pass the same number of tiles, or may the person across from me and myself agree on passing 2 tiles, and the other players at the table, across from each other, agree to pass 3 tiles?
    2. 2023 Card - 2023 section - on the third line - I know you use a white dragon (soap) for the 0 in 2023. Can you ALSO use white dragons for one of the sets of Dragons even though you used white dragon for 0 in 2023?
    Thank You,
    Suzanne

    Hi, Suzanne!
    What North and South agree to has no bearing whatsoever on what East and West do. See FAQ 19-AH.
    When you use soap as zero, that tile is suitless (see the top of the card: "It can be used with any suit"). So you can use dots in the 2023, but you don't have to. You can use a pung of soaps, but you don't have to. The hand can be 2 or 3 suits, and the 0 in 2023 does not count as a suit. Zero is suitless. See FAQ 16.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Easter Sunday/Passover/Ramadan, April, 2023*
    Donations appreciated

    * Today is also the anniversary of the day Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Ulysses S. Grant, widely considered to mark the official end of the American civil war.


    Is my set complete? When was it made? (part 7)

    On Sunday, April 9, 2023 at 12:49:22 PM EDT, Karen D wrote:
    m.j.set
    Thank you!
    Karen D.


    You're welcome, Karen!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Sunday, Easter/Passover/Ramadan, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is my set complete? When was it made? (part 6)

    On Saturday, April 8, 2023 at 08:03:34 PM EDT, <krd51 wrote:
    from Karen D. - I am sorry to send this to this email address
    Dear Mr. Sloperman,
    I am sorry that I don't know how to send this forward to the Q and A posting, but I will look there for a response from you, if it is ok with you. My brother just sent this photo, and perhaps you can tell me if these tiles belong to my set as per your previous assessment of my incomplete set. Thank you very much, and I am sorry for any inconvenience.
    Karen D.
    Begin forwarded message:

    Hi, Karen. Here's that picture you sent me a month ago:

    You are asking me if the tiles in your new photo go perfectly with the tiles in this older photo. I don't know. IF the tiles from both photos are the same exact dimensions AND the same exact color, then you can put them together to make a complete set of tiles. I do not know if you have "a complete set" because in your previous correspondence last month, your photo showed only two racks. If you still have a question for me, it doesn't matter which of my email addresses you use to contact me. My email inbox is always open.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Saturday, April 8, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is my set complete? When was it made? (part 5)

    Re: Mah-Jongg
    On Friday, April 7, 2023 at 09:03:54 PM EDT, Karen D wrote:
    OH, I'm sorry that I didn't realize that your response was on your bulletin board. Thank you very much. This is very helpful! I will direct any further questions to the board.
    Karen D

    Okay, Karen. My email inbox is always open.


    Is my set complete? When was it made? (part 4)

    On Friday, April 7, 2023 at 08:22:12 PM EDT, Karen D wrote:
    Mah-Jongg
    Dear Mr. Sloperman,
    I hope that you are well and that you are having a pleasant holiday week. I am writing as a follow up to a photo of my m.j. set that was sent to you about about 6 weeks ago. I did not receive a response from you, and am wondering if you received my email and photo.
    Thank you very much,
    Sincerely,
    Karen D

    Hi, Karen! If you are asking about your March 6 email, I did receive it, and I replied to it here on the bulletin board. I didn't send you an email then because I don't usually do that with repeat visitors. As I told you by reply email the first time you contacted me:
    "This notification email is sent to first-time posters. Frequent or repeat posters are expected to simply return to the board to find answers. It's a good idea to keep checking the board - there may be follow-up responses to your post."
    In your case today, I am resending my first-time-visitor reply again, to make sure you see both your March 6 reply and today's reply.
    You can use Control-F to search for "Karen D" to find our previous exchange, or you can scroll down to March 6.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, April 7, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Can she stand tiles on the top of her rack, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, April 7, 2023 at 03:10:29 PM EDT, Jane N wrote:
    Thanks so much!
    Sent from my iPad


    You're welcome, Jane!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, April 7, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Can she stand tiles on the top of her rack?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, April 7, 2023 at 01:27:56 PM EDT, Jane N wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Is it acceptable for a player to have 11 tiles on the slanted portion of the rack and the other two standing on end on the flat top? (Waiting to be discarded player said)
    I can’t find confirmation but I thought you were dead if you didn’t have 13 tiles on the slanted part of your rack or 13 total between slanted part + exposures on the flat part, the idea being to keep players from having them face down in front of them etc.which makes it difficult to verify # of tiles.
    Thank you! Jane
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Jane! There is no death penalty for that. The rule only says that 13 tiles must be "in or on" the rack at all times. No penalty is stated in the rules. It's not explicitly stated that the tiles atop ("on") the rack must lie horizontally, face-up, but that is definitely the norm. Standing tiles atop the rack is abnormal, well outside established tradition. It could be argued that those standing tiles obscure other players' view of the tops of the player's concealed tiles. This practice is discouraged.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, April 7, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 10

    On Friday, April 7, 2023 at 11:41:40 AM EDT, Janet C wrote:
    Question
    Hi
    My question is…
    Under CONSECUTIVE RUN…..can only these numbers be used in this hand FF 1111 2222 3333…..
    on the new 2023 card?
    Thank you
    Janet
    Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS

    Hi, Janet! As I told Melanie yesterday (below), it can be any 3 consecutive numbers. The only hand in Consecutive Runs that has to be specific numbers is the top one. For any other questions about the 2023 NMJL card, see FAQ 16.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, April 7, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    The 2023 NMJL card, part 9

    On Thursday, April 6, 2023 at 06:37:09 PM EDT, Melanie D wrote:
    2023 consecutive run question
    Can this hand use different consecutive numbers or does it have to be 1,2,3 only?
    FF1111 2222 3333
    Thanks
    Melanie D
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Melanie! As I told Roseanne yesterday (below), it can be any 3 consecutive numbers. The only hand in Consecutive Runs that has to be specific numbers is the top one. For any other questions about the 2023 NMJL card, see FAQ 16.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Thursday, April 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is it proper to leave space between exposures?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, April 6, 2023 at 11:45:47 AM EDT, Sue R wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    If I call for a tile making this a 2nd exposure, is it proper or improper to put all tiles in 1st and 2nd exposure together or to leave a space in between?
    Thank you
    Sue R
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Sue! It's improper to put the two exposures touching side by side. It's proper (and friendly and polite and considerate) to leave a space in between. See FAQ 19-AX.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Thursday, April 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Typo

    On Thursday, April 6, 2023 at 10:14:13 AM EDT, Sue Z wrote:
    FAQ 16 for 2023
    Hey Tom-
    Thanks as always for your card analysis. I notice that for 3-6-9 #5 you have the kongs listed as Quints.
    3 66 999 33333 33333 (Kongs 3, 6, or 9)
    (369 #5)
    That would make an interesting Quint hand as 3 6 99 33333 33333.
    Play safe out there!
    Sue Z


    Thanks, Sue! I've fixed that typo in FAQ 16.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Thursday, April 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Are you able to put this link, part 2

    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from debbiebarnettauthor
    On Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at 09:56:10 PM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    PayPal
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $25.00 USD from debbiebarnettauthor
    You can view the transaction details online.
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $25.00 USD
    Currency: U.S. Dollars
    Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Contributor: debbiebarnettauthor.com
    PayPal


    Thanks, Debbie. You didn't need to do that.
    Tom


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 8

    On Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at 03:07:58 PM EDT, Roseanne Z wrote:
    2023 Card Consecutive Run
    Hello,
    We have a question about the
    FF 1111 2222 3333 (and multi suit) hand on the new 2023 card.
    This year it says “Any 1 or 3 Suits” but unlike the second Consecutive hand it does not say “Any Run”. Does this mean the hand must be only the numbers shown or can we assume any run?
    Thank you,
    Roseanne Z

    Any run, Roseanne. Any 3 consecutive numbers. The only hand in Consecutive Runs that has to be specific numbers is the top one. For any other questions about the 2023 NMJL card, see FAQ 16.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Wednesday, April 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Your review of the new card (Column 785), part 2

    On Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at 12:12:19 AM EDT, Elisegk wrote:
    addition hand on 1971, 1972 and 1974 cards!
    I just inherited a very old set and it included the above 3 mah jongg cards.
    all 3 had these 2 addition hands
    FF 2222 + 2222= 4444
    FF 4444 + 4444 = 8888
    3 different suits
    so the 2+2=4 addition has been on previous cards, but not in most people's lifetime of playing!!
    they also had the FFF 1111 FFF 1111 hand from last year that I had not seen before!!
    best,
    Elise

    On Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at 12:20:18 AM EDT, Elisegk wrote:
    Re: addition hand on 1971, 1972 and 1974 cards!
    actually there was one more card from the 1970s in the case and it had the same 4 addition hands that are on our card this year!!

    Cool, cool. Thanks for sharing, Elise! There are lots of gaps in my card collection before 2000, so when I'm writing those reviews I only check back as far as 2000.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Wednesday, April 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Are you able to put this link to my New Card Review Livestream?

    On Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 02:22:34 PM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Hello
    Hi Tom,
    Quick question, are you able to put this link to my New Card Review Livestream last night? I was humbled by having over 300 participants attend and it was well received. Let me know. Thanks!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7jZde8gTc
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Okay, Debbie - just because it's April Madness!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Wednesday, April 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    We would love to be included in links that you share.

    On Sunday, April 2, 2023 at 02:21:16 PM EDT, Modern Mahjong wrote:
    Request
    Hello Tom,
    Thank you for your insight into the 2023 NMJL Card.
    We would love to be included in links that you share. We create fun and helpful rule and strategy posts for players and love connecting our Mahjong Community on Facebook.com/groups/MahjongCommunity.
    Thank you!
    Dara and Donna

    Okay, Dara and Donna - just because it's April Madness! Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Wednesday, April 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    Didn't jokerless used to pay 4X value, part 2
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 06:36:33 PM EDT, Sheila S wrote:
    Thank you so much. The card says it clearly on the back under *bonus*

    Yes. Yes, it does.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, 4/4/2023
    Donations appreciated


    Didn't jokerless used to pay 4X value?

    On Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 06:05:04 PM EDT, Sheila S wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    According to the 2023 card, if I'm not mistaken, a jokerless hand only gets paid double. Didn't it used to pay four times the value of the hand?

    Hi, Sheila!
    Maybe you're thinking about it from the discarder's point of view. Everybody pays double for jokerless win on discard, except the discarder, who pays double double. If it's jokerless win by self-pick, that's double double (4X) for everyone.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, 4/4/2023
    Donations appreciated


    When can I stop the Charleston?

    On Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 05:19:46 PM EDT, Amy G wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    If I want to stop charleston and not do the second charleston, at what point do I announce this? Right after the first charleston is complete or before I even look at the left (and therefore last) pass of the first charleston? Thank you!

    Hi, Amy! It says on the back of the card that the second Charleston is "optional." So you can stop the Charleston after the first left and before the second left. FAQ 19-AG goes into excruciating detail on each step of the Charleston dance.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, 4/4/2023
    Donations appreciated


    Counterfeit cards, part 2

    On Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 09:20:06 AM EDT, <lindaz wrote:
    an FYI
    Hi Tom,
    To follow up on my previous email--The NMJL now has a notice which warns members of counterfeit cards being sold on the internet.
    Thanks, Linda

    Thanks for the heads-up, Linda!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, 4/4/2023
    Donations appreciated


    Sloperama support-a-rama

    On Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 06:07:02 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    Hello, Thomas Sloper
    Apr 4, 2023 03:06:52 PDT
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Customer details
    Subscription details
    Amount received $10.00 USD
    For Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Outstanding balance
    Amount paid each time $10.00 USD
    Maximum amount you can bill $10.00 USD
    Next payment due May 4, 2023
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    Thank you for your continuing support, Evelyn! \(^_^)/
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, 4/4/2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 7

    On Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 08:06:19 AM EDT, Denise S wrote:
    MJ Question
    This year the 2023 card dropped the "Jokers cannot be used in a 2022 grouping." Does that mean, for instance in Line 1 of 2023 I can use a joker(s) in any of the pungs or kongs?

    Hi, Denise!
    I imagine that line of text may have been removed for 2 reasons: (1) it's unnecessary, and (2) the space was needed. That text's removal has no significance in the meaning of the card.
    But yes, you can always use a joker in any pung or kong.
    (Of course, it should go without saying that a "2023" grouping is not a kong. A "2023" is a grouping of two twos, a three, and a soap - it's not four identical tiles, so it's not a kong.)
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, 4/4/2023
    Donations appreciated



    The 2023 NMJL card, parts 5 & 6

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, April 3, 2023 at 05:55:29 PM EDT, Martha N wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    On the new 2023 National Mah Jongg Card, I’m confused as to which suits you can use on the first hand in the 2023 category. It says any 2 suits. Since the soaps are dots, can the 2’s be dots? For example could I use dots for 222 and bams for 222 3333? Also, can I use bams for 222 and cracks for 222 3333?
    Thanks,
    Suzy
    Sent from my iPad

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, April 3, 2023 at 06:08:37 PM EDT, Martha N wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I found my answer in your question category. Soaps are suitless. I get it regarding the very first hand on the card.
    Thanks,
    Suzy
    Sent from my iPad

    It's awesome that you found the answer on your own, Martha! Not sure which FAQ you found the answer in, but for future reference, questions about the 2023 card are answered in FAQ 16, and questions about NMJL rules are answered in FAQ 19.
    P.S. "Soaps" are not suitless. Zeroes are suitless. When you see a 0 on the card, you have to use a soap, and it's a neutral tile. When you see a D, you MAY use a soap; it matches Dots.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, April 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Early thoughts on 2023 card

    On Monday, April 3, 2023 at 05:06:15 PM EDT, Debra K wrote:
    Early thoughts on 2023 card
    Hello Tom,
    1. There are too many hands (almost all of L side of card) that require 2’s. Even the first two addition hands require 2’s. I wish they had pared back the 2468 category and expanded the Any Like Numbers category.
    2. There are approx. 25 hands that require flowers of which there are only 8 tiles available (actually more hands if you count both hands on some lines). There are 9 hands that use winds of which there are 16 tiles. Winds are so underutilized. They end up being discards in many games. I don’t understand the imbalance between flower usage and winds. And why not pair N-E and S-W once in a while to make exposures less predictable?
    3. I think the any like number hands will be played frequently this year.
    I like the new hands. I hope the NMJL secret hand committee will continue to try new things with our beloved cards.
    Sincerely, Debra K

    Hi, Debra! Nice analysis.
    1. Astute observation!
    2. All interesting thoughts. It's a truism in ALL forms of mah-jongg, not just American, for winds to be frequent discards, right off the bat.
    3. I agree. I think last year's Like Numbers section relied on dragons too much. Interesting use of single dragons in this year's.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, April 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 4

    On Monday, April 3, 2023 at 04:49:15 PM EDT, jamesc wrote:
    Mah Jongg Question
    Tom,
    I know you may get this question a lot, but please answer it this way.
    If the pair of 2's can be any suit (as it says in the ()'s), and if I use dots for the 222 and 33, can I also use dots for the pair of 2's?
    Jim

    Hi, Jim! In fact, just before I found your email in my inbox, I was reassuring Lynn M (below) that many others are going to ask the same question. You can only use dots for the 222 and 33 if you do NOT use dots for the pair of twos.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, April 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 3

    On Monday, April 3, 2023 at 04:11:58 PM EDT, Lynn M wrote:
    Re: 2023 card question
    p.s. I think I understand now--it's a 2-suit hand. The pair of 2s can be in any suit and the pung of 2s and pair of 3s can be in either of the two remaining suits. It confused me because the second part of the parenthetical seems unnecessary. But okay, I get it now. Feel free to omit my original question if it wouldn't be helpful to anyone.
    Lynn

    No problem, Lynn! I think your question is one that many others are going to ask, so I think your post could indeed be helpful to someone.
    Play safe out there, Lynn. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, April 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 2

    On Monday, April 3, 2023 at 04:02:51 PM EDT, Lynn M wrote:
    2023 card question
    Hi Tom--
    I'm unclear about the closed hand in the 2023 section. The numbered tiles (2s & 3s) are written in 2 colors and the first part of the parenthetical says "Any 2 suits," but then the second part of the parenthetical says, "Pair of 2s may be in any suit." If the pair of 2s could be in ANY suit, this would be a 1- OR 2-suit hand. The rule of thumb is that the parenthetical takes precedence over the written hand, but this one has me stumped.
    I'd be grateful to hear your thoughts.
    Lynn

    Hi, Lynn! Don't read too much into it.
    The pair of 2s can be any suit.
    Then the red pung and pair can be any other suit.
    The point is that the pair of 2s does not have to be dots.
    If you run into any other questions on the 2023 card, see if I've answered them in FAQ 16-2023. I just added your question to the new FAQ.
    Play safe out there, Lynn. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, April 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Your review of the new card (Column #785)

    On Monday, April 3, 2023 at 10:24:08 AM EDT, Colette S wrote:
    April 1 New Card Review
    Thanks for breaking down the new and old hands. For some reason I seem to play Odd #1 a lot and see that it hasn't changed in several years.
    You did mention that Like Numbers #2 "could prove to be easier to make than one might think" but we have to pay attention that it's concealed. Last year there were 3 Like Numbers -- all exposed. I imagine that'll catch a few off guard.
    Good job as always,
    Colette S

    Thank you, Colette!
    Re Odds #1, I think one reason you "seem" to play it a lot is that odd numbered tiles outnumber evens.
    Re Like Numbers #2, that's an astute comment!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, April 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    Counterfeit cards

    On Sunday, April 2, 2023 at 04:18:13 PM EDT, lindaz
    wrote:
    Counterfeit cards?
    Hi Tom,
    Our group gathered to play today and 3 people had new MJ cards. Only one card was mailed from NMJL. One was purchased at Walmart and I don't remember the store where the other card was obtained. In comparing cards, there were subtle differences from the official card. One had a at least one different hand inside in the left column. Also it omitted the Copyright info on the front cover which was the color red. I think the price was $4. Otherwise the cards looked like the official one.
    Isn't this copyright infringement? Have you heard of this happening before?
    I look forward to your answer!
    Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda. I read something like this in Johni's Facebook group. In the light of these reports, I would avoid buying cards from anybody other than the NMJL (I've been saying that for years - so that one could be on the mailing list for next January's newsletter).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Sunday, April 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    New mah jongg rule, part 4

    On Sunday, April 2, 2023 at 04:29:01 PM EDT, Sue Z wrote:
    What does discarded mean
    Tom-
    I am confused by your reply to Judi N about page 19 rule 7 in MJME 2020. My 2020 book says simply “Once a tile is named or discarded, the discarder cannot take it back. Down is Down.” Page 21, rule 18 reads “You are committed to discarding a tile once it is fully named or the tile has been placed on the table.” Page 23 rule 5 reads “Once a symbol tile has been named or discarded, it cannot be taken back to make an exchange for a joker. Down is Down.” On page 32 the definition of Discarded reads “Any tile that has been placed on the table and/or named.” Various newsletter Q&As say the same thing. I cannot find anything about placed AND named. What am I missing?
    I was taught (and teach) that a tile that touches the table during the action and/or verbalization of discarding is the same thing as placing it fully on the table, and is down/discarded. Could you make a case for touching the table is not placing the tile fully on the table? Semantics? Everything that I can find specifically says placing.
    I also caution that naming a tile during what is clearly a Joker exchange is NOT best practice as the tile might be construed as discarded once it has been named. Your thoughts on this?
    Thanks.
    Sue Z

    On Sunday, April 2, 2023 at 05:05:50 PM EDT, Sue Z wrote:
    What does discarded mean part 2
    Tom- I just read your response to Debbie. I also have the revised 2020 MJME and rule 7 on page 19 clearly says or, not and.

    Are there several revised printings?
    Sue Z

    It's starting to look that way, Sue. I did suggest in my reply to Debbie in Part 3 of this thread (below): "If yours is marked 2020, but rule 7 says "or" instead of "and," then that would indicate a version control problem." There well could be more than one 2020 edition.
    I think I need to get a new copy from the League...
    5/16/23: confirmed with the League that the "or" rule is correct. The 2020 rulebooks with the "and" rule constitute a misprint.

    You wrote: "Could you make a case for touching the table is not placing the tile fully on the table? Semantics? "
    TS: No, touching to the table is "down," in my opinion. As I wrote in FAQ 19-A. But that depends on rule 7 saying "or" instead of "and."

    SZ: I also caution that naming a tile during what is clearly a Joker exchange is NOT best practice as the tile might be construed as discarded once it has been named. Your thoughts on this?
    TS: Absolutely agree. And never put a tile on the discard floor that you want to redeem for a joker.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Sunday, April 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    New mah jongg rule, part 3

    On Sunday, April 2, 2023 at 12:38:44 PM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Re: RE:On Saturday, April 1, 2023 at 09:31:50 PM EDT, <judi wrote:
    Hi Tom,
    I'm writing on behalf of Donna Eschen and myself. In reference to the reply to Judi captioned above, you state that MJME page 19, #7 states, " The 2020 rulebook changed that: now a discard is "down" when it has touched the table AND is fully named." I'm not seeing that wording on page 19, #7 but I do see, "Once a tile is named (I don't see the word "fully") OR discarded, the discarder cannot take it back. Down is Down.
    Please let me know. Thanks so much Tom!
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Hi, Debbie.
    I've been careful to specify that I'm talking about the 2020 revised edition. The date of the edition is given in fine print on page 2. And rule 7 with the "and" is on page 19.
    Correction, 5/16/23: confirmed with the League that the "or" rule is correct. The 2020 rulebooks with the "and" rule constitute a misprint.


    Rev. 2020 p.2

    Rev. 2020 p.19

    After I got your email, I checked the previous edition: 2018. I found the wording you cited.


    Rev. 2018 p.2

    Rev. 2018 p.16

    That "or" wording was also the same in rev. 2013 (p.17) and the 1984 (peuce cover) edition (page 18). Oddly enough, the 1984 red cover edition says "and" rather than "or," top of page 15.


    Left: revs. 1984b through 2020 (peuce). Right: rev. 1984a (red cover).

    When there is a different ruling between editions, a later ruling supersedes the older ruling. So the rule given in the latest revision (2020, as far as I know) is the current rule. All the peuce-cover revisions except 2020 say "or." The red cover version and the 2020 revision say "and." Or at least, that's what I see in my 2020 copy. If yours is marked 2020, but rule 7 says "or" instead of "and," then that would indicate a version control problem.
    5/16/23: confirmed with the League that the "or" rule is correct. The 2020 rulebooks with the "and" rule constitute a misprint.

    Why it matters: The rule specifically mentions situations in which a discarder might want to cry "backsies." But this rule also affects situations in which another player wants to cry "I want that."
    The problem is those four new questions I mentioned previously. Or maybe it was just a mistake, changing the rule back to 1984's rule, and it'll be changed back. I've inquired but this is a busy time at NMJL HQ and this question doesn't have to be resolved in the next week; this does not constitute an emergency.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Sunday, April 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 Card Is Here, part 3

    On Sunday, April 2, 2023 at 10:41:28 AM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Re: Re: 2023 Card Analysis
    Hi Tom,
    In further analyzing the card in preparation for a Zoom talk, I found a 5th identical hand, 13579 line #1 in addition to Line 3 in the same category. It appears there are 5 identical hands.
    If you are in agreement can you please amend your analysis.
    Thanks!
    Your PITA always,
    Debbie Barnett

    Right again, Debbie. For the sake of other readers, "identical" means "same as a hand on last year's card." Odds #1 fooled me because its shape usually mirrors Consec #1 (either pair-pung-kong-pung-pair, a pyramid, or pair-pair-pung-pung-kong, a ramp), but this year Odds #1 does not mirror the shape of Consec #1, and I hadn't noticed that. In recent years, Odds #1 has become a 1-or-2-suit option. Anyway, I have amended Column 785, thanks to you.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Sunday, April 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 1

    On Sunday, April 2, 2023 at 08:29:34 AM EDT, Fiona wrote:
    2023 Mahjong Card Question
    Hello,
    Could you please answer my question:
    What are addition hands? What is the+ and = signs and how are they that played or are they ignored?
    Thank you.
    Fiona

    Hi, Fiona!
    That section of the card is called "Addition Hands." The + and = signs are there to illustrate the logic behind the pattern in this section. "One plus one equals two," "Two plus two equals four," etc. You can ignore the + and = signs as you build the hand.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Sunday, April 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    New mah jongg rule, part 2

    On Saturday, April 1, 2023 at 11:47:09 PM EDT, judi wrote:
    Re: new mah jongg rule
    Tom, my question is how can they make a "new rule" and not put it on the card?
    Also one of my pet peeves is "fully named". If I am discarding a green it is fully named by saying "green". But if I am discarding a seven bam and I only say "seven" then it is not fully named. Why should a tile with only a one syllable name get to be taken back or be exchanged for a joker on someones rack because it was not "fully named". In the games that I play in if you partially name a tile it is down. The intent was there to discard it by starting to name it.
    I had written to the League a few years ago about picking from the wall. The rule used to read if you lifted a tile you had to take it. I asked them about sliding the bottom tile towards me and never lifting it. They have since changed the rule to "if you move it" you have to take it. So now if you move the bottom or top tile you have to take it. In the games that I play in we are using, "if you touch it, you own it".
    It seems the more I play (which right now is 4 times a week and I teach the other day) the stricter I want the rules to be.
    Judi Nachenberg

    Hi, Judi! I agree with you on some points, and disagree on others. Breaking it down:

    JN: how can they make a "new rule" and not put it on the card?
    TS: I'm sure you agree that the real estate on the back of the card is very limited. I was very pleased when the left pane was reorganized to put basics at top and scoring at the bottom. When a new rule is to be added, an old rule has to be removed. As an exercise in grokking the challenge, what text would you remove to put in the rule that a taken discard must be put atop the rack?
    My hypothetical wishlist would not be for specific nitpicky rules to be on the back of the card but that MJME be revised now that changes have occurred since 2020, and for the date to be printed on the front or back cover. But I understand that revising the rulebook is a costly undertaking. Do you remember a few years ago that somebody called the League challenging the notion that MJME is a "rulebook," and the League lady said it wasn't? Of course it's a rulebook!

    JN: Also one of my pet peeves is "fully named".
    TS: I disagree with you on this one. I was very vocal about my disagreement with the League about the old rule, that the tile's name had only to be "started" to be spoken. In my opinion, if I say "seven," nobody can know which suit I'm going to say next, and if I haven't touched it to the table yet, I should be able to change my mind about that discard. And nobody should be able to call it until its name is fully spoken. And what if I only say "s"? I might be saying seven something or I might be saying South. There is a general principle behind several of the rules that "actions speak louder than words." An action, once made, cannot be taken back. But merely speaking doesn't necessarily commit you to following through. You can say "mahj" and then say "never mind," for instance. You can say "I want that," and then say "no, guess not." This principle supports my view that just starting to say a tile's name shouldn't commit you to discarding it.

    JN: picking from the wall. In the games that I play in we are using, "if you touch it, you own it".
    TS: I'm okay with the current rule. If I sit at your table, I'd want to be informed about your touching rule, and I'd be okay with that. I seem to recall that it was the rule when I first started playing in the late 90s.

    JN: It seems the more I play... the stricter I want the rules to be.
    TS: Absolutely. Now if only there was specificity on the penalties or consequences for making forbidden plays. Some can be simply undone, but some should have harsher consequences. Such as, for instance, the new rule that you cited at the beginning of this conversation. A player is not allowed to put a taken discard into the hand, but what should the penalty be for doing so? Another example: a player is not permitted to peek at the blind pass, but what should the penalty be if they do? This is also on my hypothetical wishlist.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Sunday, April 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    New mah jongg rule

    On Saturday, April 1, 2023 at 09:31:50 PM EDT, <judi wrote:
    new mah jongg rule
    Hi Tom,
    Hope you are enjoying New York.
    What is your take on the "new rule" that the League put in the bulletin this year, but did not put on the 2023 card? The rule about putting a called tile on top of your rack, not in your rack.
    I have been on FB and some people were saying that you always had to put a called tile on top of your rack, but I know that the League has always said that in a "social game" you could put a called tile in your rack and then make an exposure.
    P.S. I have not gotten my card yet. My informed delivery says it is coming on Monday.
    Judi Nachenberg

    Hi, Judi! My take on that rule is "it's about damn time!" Apologies to Lizzo. My stance on that has always been "must put taken discard atop the rack." That's in keeping with Asian rulesets - one never puts a taken discard into the hand. EVER.

    The rule that's giving me fits now is a rule that was changed in the 2020 MJME, that I didn't notice until just this week.
    Rule 7 on page 19 of the 2020 rulebook changed the definition of "down." Up until 2020, a discard was "down" when EITHER it touched the table OR it was fully named, whichever happened first. The 2020 rulebook changed that: now a discard is "down" when it has touched the table AND is fully named. This means that a tile is not yet "down" if it has only been named or it has only been touched to the table.
    "Down" means both "it's too late to take it back" and "now it's available for someone to call." So... This rule change opens up four questions:
    1. If the discard is named, but hasn't yet touched the table, can the discarder take it back?
    2. If the discard is named, but hasn't yet touched the table, can a player call it?
    3. If the discard has touched the table but hasn't yet been named, can the discarder take it back?
    4. If the discard has touched the table but hasn't yet been named, can a player call it?
    Changing the word "or" to "and" opened up a whole can of worms! I've written to the League to get answers to these four new questions. Actually, # 4 is answered by the rule on the back of the card that says a discard cannot be claimed until fully named. Still, it's amazing how much havoc a one-word change can cause!

    Correction, 5/16/23: confirmed with the League that the "or" rule is correct. The 2020 rulebooks with the "and" rule constitute a misprint.

    Oh. And yes, Upstate New York is peachy keen! Except for maybe the climate.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Saturday, April 1, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 Card Is Here, part 2

    On Saturday, April 1, 2023 at 03:11:02 PM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    2023 Card Analysis
    Hi Tom,
    Loved your card analysis! I hope you don't mind but if I am correct, there is a 4th identical hand, Singles, and Pairs, line 5.
    I might be your biggest PITA...LOL!
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Good eye, Debbie! I fixed Column 785, with attribution. Now to look up "PITA"... ah. (^_~)
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Saturday, April 1, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    History or origin of 14 tiles in the Dead Wall, part 2

    On Saturday, April 1, 2023 at 02:07:04 PM EDT, Larry Kistler wrote:
    Re: History or origin of 14 tiles in the Dead Wall?
    Hi Tom…
    Thank you so much for your reply! Yes, 72 students is a lot…but they’re in two different classes and most of my teaching is with the newest members.

    I had not run across the reference to the Dead Wall/Flower Wall/Garden Wall as the King’s Wall…interesting.
    The tautological name of Dead Wall for the dead tiles, along with the tetraphobic nature of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cultures represents a pretty clear explanation for the name but it still leaves open the question of why 14 in the beginning? The idea that it might represent another hand (e.g. the King’s Hand) is interesting and could well be the answer.

    Do you have any connections who are fluent in reading and writing Chinese and might have been educated in the Chinese classics? If they might become interested in running a few online searches, it could turn up some references in Chinese mahjong literature that have not yet made it into English.

    I’ve played since 1974 and spent years buying books on mahjong, searching for good material on logic, strategy, and tactics. There are bits and pieces here and there and some great tips…but not really a top-to-bottom approach in one book or location.
    That’s what I’ve done in my “Mahjong Secrets for Beginner to Expert”…I’ve collected, in one book, a rational, logical section on strategy that will allow most players to improve their game.
    Thanks again for your reply.
    Larry Kistler
    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Hi, Larry.
    Even 36 students, or 30, is a lot for one mah-jongg class!
    I am not convinced that the length of the dead wall has any Chinese literary/numerological meaning beyond that it's the King's hand. You've been playing 20 years longer than I have, and thus your library may be more extensive than mine, but do you have SPARROW: The Chinese Game Called Ma-Ch'iau, by Ly Yu Sang?

    The author goes into esoteric explanations of why the hand is 13 tiles, and why the dead wall is 16 (or 15) tiles, on pages (coincidentally) 15 and 16. I've scanned those pages in case you're interested. You can see them in downlode/mahjongg/scans/ (scroll to the bottom of the list). Looking this up, I noted that several 1920s authors do not mention any dead wall at all, while others show it as being six stacks with the two loose tiles atop (for a total of 14 tiles), and Millington and Sang say it's seven stacks with the two loose tiles (for a total of 16 tiles). I also have some scans of some old Chinese pamphlets on mah-jongg; one of them has an illustration of the wall. It does not indicate a dead wall at all. So doesn't it come down to which book or books one uses as one's mah-jongg "bible" to determine which number is "correct"?

    I have ordered your book, and I look forward to reading it.
    Teach safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Saturday, April 1, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 Card Is Here!

    Happy April, dear readers! I've posted the first installment of my annual analysis of the new card. Column 785 is up a day early. Enjoy!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Saturday, April 1, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    Thank you for your amazing website, part 2

    Re: I’m new at mah Jong
    On Friday, March 31, 2023 at 07:00:44 PM EDT, Chaya W wrote:
    I forgot to say I love it!!!
    Sent from my iPhone

    (^_^)


    Thank you for your amazing website

    On Friday, March 31, 2023 at 06:14:03 PM EDT, Chaya W wrote:
    I’m new at mah Jong
    Hi. Just wanted to say thank you for your amazing website. I’m slowly looking thru it. Also see that Woodstock was in 1969??? I thought I didn’t remember anything from when I was so young but this I remember. I was near Monticello in a bungalow colony. My father couldn’t come up that Friday because of the mass traffic. We went to the main road and saw people just parked. On our road too maybe. People were bringing them drinks. We heard a few stories of people who were hippies in the summer only. Most of my early life I don’t remember but this I do. Thanks for the story
    Chaya W
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Chaya! I enjoyed your remembrance of Woodstock. I hope my mah-jongg info proves to be helpful to you and that you enjoy mah-jongg for a long time.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, March 31, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    History or origin of 14 tiles in the Dead Wall?

    On Friday, March 31, 2023 at 04:14:16 PM EDT, Larry Kistler wrote:
    History or origin of 14 tiles in the Dead Wall?
    Hi Tom…
    You might have stumbled onto my second book, “Mahjong Secrets for Beginner to Expert”, published recently on Amazon. I’ve collected the most complete section that I’ve seen in print in modern times of mahjong tactics, logic, and strategy.
    I included a brief history of mahjong and cite your website in glowing terms because it deserves it.
    I currently teach 72 students in San Mateo, California and I keep hearing one question that I’ve tried without any success to run down…the history or origin of the composition of the Dead Wall…i.e. why 14 tiles?
    Have you ever seen any information about why the number is 14? The closest that I’ve been able to come to any kind of rational explanation has been in a Wikipedia article on tetraphobia, which states “While in Mandarin-speaking regions in China, 14 and 74 are considered more unlucky than the individual 4, because 14 (十四, pinyin: shí sì) sounds like "is dead" (是死, pinyin: shì sǐ)…”
    (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraphobia#:~:text=While%20in%20Mandarin%2Dspeaking%20regions,be%2C%20when%20combined%2C%20it%20sounds)
    I’ve never seen any discussion in any mahjong literature about this question and I’m hoping that you might have run it down or run across it…and hope that you or one of your assistants might be willing to respond.
    Larry Kistler
    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Hi, Larry!
    Nice to hear from a fellow author. I had not stumbled across your book, but I intend to go stumble across it now!
    Of course 14 is the number of tiles in a mah-jongg hand. So if a game is going to have a Dead Wall, the number 14 makes more sense than, say, 12 or 16 (it's more visually pleasing for the Dead Wall to be an even number, no broken stacks). I have heard the Dead Wall referred to as "the King's Hand," as if "the King" (or Emperor) was also playing with the group in spirit. Not sure where I heard that - it might have been in the old mahjong newsgroup, or I might have heard it from the Japanese players who taught me riichi/dora majan. Jenn Barr, in her book Reach Mahjong; The Only Way to Play, refers to this part of the wall as "the King's Tiles."
    Your email implies another question, "why is it called 'dead wall?' And I think it makes logical sense if you consider that the tiles in that portion of the wall won't all be used (those that won't be used are in a sense 'dead').
    So what do you think about these explanations?
    By the way: A.D. Millington says a dead wall should be 16 tiles because that way there are enough replacement tiles for all 4 players to expose 4 kongs; he also refers to it as a "kong box" accordingly.
    Also: 72 students?? All at one time? How can you teach so many? I decided a long time ago that the absolute most I could teach at a time was 16 (4 tables)! Multiple classes?
    Teach safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    March 31, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Many opinions on this scenario, part 5

    On Thursday, March 30, 2023 at 10:02:08 AM EDT, <lindaz wrote:
    an apology
    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for your answers. I have the rules; I was just too lazy to do the research. Thank you for your patience!
    Linda

    囧 No apology necessary, Linda, but thanks.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Thursday, March 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I won by joker redemption. How is that scored?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at 05:46:49 PM EDT, Benny K wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I picked a tile from the pile of tiles, replaced with it a joker that was exposed and had mah-Jongg.
    Is the winning x1 or x2 from what is the win on the card?
    Thank you,
    Benny

    Hi, Benny! Win by joker redemption is considered self-pick. Double score from everyone. See FAQ 19-AN.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Wednesday, March 29, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Where might I learn more about manufacturers?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at 03:24:04 PM EDT, Earthlink Webmail wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi Tom,
    I just found the old Mah Jongg set that belonged first to my grandmother and then to my mother. There were some NMJL cards from 1958 inside the case. My mom believes that the set was purchased by her mother in NY in the 1940s. I was able to remove the nail polish from six tiles by following your hint about using a razor blade. It came off easily and cleanly, leaving the tiles in good condition. I’d like to find out the manufacturer or brand name of the set. I did some searches online, and based on the design of the one bam (sparrow) and the soap, I believe that the set was manufactured and sold by Royal. I’m a bit confused though. Do you know if Royal, Royal Depth Control and Royal Crisloid were different companies or were they different “models” sold by one company? Where might I learn more about those manufacturers?
    Thanks,
    Andie

    Hi, Andie! You can learn more about manufacturers by checking the links in FAQ 7-U. Good luck! Hope you find the information you're seeking.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Wednesday, March 29, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Many opinions on this scenario, part 4

    On Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at 11:10:47 AM EDT, <lindaz wrote:
    Susan B's question (part 4)
    Hi Tom--
    WOW! All these rules make my head spin! To sum up, if MJ is obtained by another player's error, that player pays for everyone? Always 4x the amount ? What if only 3 are playing--is it still 4x?
    And what if the discard is misnamed? Does MJ count on the misnamed tile or the actual tile that was discarded? Or either?
    I never knew you could win on another's error. So thanks for this information.
    I think you would have made a great lawyer!!
    Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda! So many questions:

    LZ: To sum up, if MJ is obtained by another player's error, that player pays for everyone?
    TS: There are only two official written "pay for the party" rules as far as I know, and I cited them both yesterday:
    MJME2020 rule 16/22 (rule 16 on page 21 is the same as rule 22 on page 22): when someone declares mahj on a discard made by someone playing out of turn (FAQ 19-CR);
    MJME2020 rule 21, page 21, and the back of the card: when someone misnames the discard and someone else calls mahj on the spoken name before the error is corrected (FAQ 19-CR).
    Some players apply a tournament "pay for the party" rule when a player throws a win to three exposures or throws a winning tile during the last short wall, but those penalties are not recognized by the League.

    LZ: Always 4x the amount ? What if only 3 are playing--is it still 4x?
    TS: The principle "pay for the party" means one player covers the payments that would be made to the winner by all players at the table.

    LZ: And what if the discard is misnamed? Does MJ count on the misnamed tile or the actual tile that was discarded? Or either?
    TS: MJME2020 rule 21, page 21: when someone misnames the discard and someone else calls mahj on the spoken name before the error is corrected, the claim is honored (FAQ 19-CR).

    LZ: I never knew you could win on another's error.
    TS: You have the card, right? Rule 21 is right there at the top (see "MISCALLED TILE"). And you have the rulebook, too, right? And I got a question about this just last week: "A discard was misnamed...", on March 22, from Ann Z (below). The misnamed discard rule comes up a lot. Rule 16/22 comes up much less frequently.

    LZ: I think you would have made a great lawyer!!
    TS: Thanks, Linda. I take that as a compliment. It is an interesting profession, but I doubt I would have been able to pass a bar exam. Reading Grishams is good enough for me!

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Wednesday, March 29, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Many opinions on this scenario, part 3

    Re: Susan B's Question
    On Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at 09:09:36 AM EDT, Debbie B wrote:
    OK, that was a lot to chew on! Wouldn't it be great if we could rely on one straight answer for each rule :)
    Take care Tom!

    So what do you think, Debbie? Does rule 16/22 cover Susan B's question? Do you agree that discarding without picking constitutes "playing out of turn"? Nobody can call the erroneously discarded tile for exposure, but if somebody calls mahj on it, the call should be honored, don't you think?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Wednesday, March 29, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    Can you throw any light on these flower tiles, part 2

    On Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at 09:37:32 PM EDT, Bridget van H wrote:
    re: Mystery tiles
    I’d like to know what they represent and from what era? Obviously soldiers & I’m guessing something to do with the Japanese occupation of Shanghai 1940-45?
    Sent from my iPhone

    Got it. The tiles are from the 1920s, so it can't be about World War II. There was the Boxer Rebellion in 1899, and the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 that formed the Republic of China. The writing on the tiles might give a clue, but I don't read Chinese. If I wanted to try to decipher the writing, it would be necessary to see it all, and your 4th tile is cut off in that picture. You can see how unsuccessful I was trying to look up a Chinese character on Sunday in "More information on this "antique" set, part 2," below, so...
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    March 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    Follow-up! See April 25 post from Ray Heaton, above! - Tom


    Can any player claim a discarded redeemable tile?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at 09:26:25 PM EDT, Suzanne H wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    A player discards a tile on her turn. Another player sees that the discarded tile could have been swapped for an exposed joker. Can ANY player call that tile and exchange it for the exposed joker? or only the player who’s turn it is?
    Thank you for answering questions! I know many are learning from your knowledge of the game.
    Suzanne

    NObody can, Suzanne. A discarded redeemable tile may not be claimed for the purpose of redeeming it. See FAQ 19-G2.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, March 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Why wouldn't the computer let me win, part 2

    On Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at 06:56:31 PM EDT, Sue W wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Thanks. I did not save a screen shot but now I think about it, I mixed up 2 lines! Now I know what to do the next time I have a question.

    Glad to hear it, Sue!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    Why wouldn't the computer let me win?

    On Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at 06:17:32 PM EDT, Sue W wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for Windows
    I thought I could call a tile for a pair for “Mah Jongg” but game wouldn’t let me. It says I can on the back of the card

    囧 Sue, there must be a problem with the hand (it's supposed to be concealed, or you mixed up the suits, for instance). I can't tell you why the computer wouldn't let you win, because I don't know what tiles you were holding... or even what computer game you were playing! When you seek customer support for a computer game, you should take a screenshot of the game at the time of the incident - and you should send it to the company or person who runs the game you are playing. All I can offer you is FAQ 19-CV, which should tell you more about this problem.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, March 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Can you throw any light on these flower tiles?

    On Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at 05:13:11 PM EDT, Bridget van H wrote:
    Mystery tiles
    Hi Tom
    Can you throw any light on these flower tiles? They come from a pristine set of French ivory tiles bought recently in the UK.
    With many thanks
    Bridget
    PS There are only 4 of them instead of the usual 8
    Sent from my iPhone

    囧 What do you want to know about them, Bridget?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, March 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    We are trying to figure out if our Mah Jongg set is worth anything.

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at 05:01:04 PM EDT, Carianne M wrote:
    Hi there.
    We are trying to figure out if our Mah Jongg set is worth anything. It was quite fun answering all the questions on the FAQ and taking pictures. Unfortunately, I still don't have a clue what I have.
    Below is the Set Valuation Checklist. My answers are bolded in red. I am also attaching pictures.
    Thanks for any help that you can provide.
    Carianne
    SET VALUATION CHECKLIST:
    If you want to find out how much your set is worth, you have to do some homework. The first step is to use the following checklist. Then, if emailing me, paste the text into the email (please do not send attached documents; I won't open them).
    1. Write a factual detailed list of all the contents of your set. Describe all the contents, listing all dice, chips, racks, etc. If you do not know what to call the pieces, see our FAQ 7d .
    Chips and sticks – Chips 138 No sticks
    Racks – 4 wood ones
    Dice 2 - Big read ones and one small white one
    2. IMPORTANT: Describe the condition of all the components of the set. Describe the condition of the case, the paper materials, and of course the tiles. Are they clean and attractive, like new, or are they dirty, mildewed, smelly? All defects of the set must be noted and described, in order to achieve the most accurate valuation. Note: be as objective as possible. Sales terms like "exquisite" and "gorgeous," "must see to believe," and "L@@K!" do not belong in this description. Also avoid terms like "vintage," "antique," "unique," "one-of-a-kind," and "I've never seen one like it!" You are writing a factual description, not a sales pitch (you can write a sales pitch later, after you've finished the valuation and are ready to sell the set). Also, just because you think your set is unique doesn't mean that other collectors will think so too.
    All clean and attractive. Not new but no scratches or chips. I would say VERY GOOD. All of the tiles are good. The orange tiles with the red backing are only in decent conditions.
    3. What are the tiles made of ? (See our FAQ 7c .)
    We believe most of the tiles are made from fishbone although we have a few that seem to be made from Bakelite and a few ivory???
    4. Describe what you know about when the set was made or purchased, if you know. Describe the history of the set to the best of your knowledge. See our FAQ 11 before you make any unsupportable claims (such as "this set is over a hundred years old!" or "this set is from the Qing Dynasty!"); the knowledgeable collectors can see through claims that are ignorant of the actual history of the game.
    We found the set in a motorhome we bought so we have no knowledge of the history of the set other than we have cards from the National Mah Jongg League from 1998-2002.
    5. What are the dimensions of the tiles? Use either inches or metric (one or the other, not both - doesn't matter which; just be precise). Height, width, depth. If the tiles are bone & bamboo, give thickness of the bone portion. (Same goes for ivory & bamboo tiles.)
    Almost all of the tiles are 1 x 1 and ½ inch thick. Two of the tiles are slightly smaller and have a different color backing and they are just slightly smaller than the rest of the tiles.
    6. How many tiles are there in the set? Your best bet is to lay out the tiles on a table like this:
    2 blank tiles
    4 – W Tiles
    4- E Tiles
    4- N Tiles
    4 – S Tiles
    4 - Tiles with black border on it
    4 – Tiles green dragon
    4- Tiles red dragon
    6 - Orange Number Tiles – Maybe Bakelite???? Out of the 6, two of them have a red backing
    4 - Rose tiles – Ivory with red backing and two-toned
    1 - 7 Tile Ivory 2 toned (no red backing)
    1- Sign Tile – Ivory with red backing and two-toned
    17 1 Tiles
    17 – 2 Tiles
    16- 3 Tiles
    16- 4 Tiles
    12 – 5 Tiles
    12 – 6 Tiles
    12 – 7 Tiles
    12 – 8 Tiles
    12 – 9 Tiles
    10 – Jokers
    Total 178 tiles
    7. What kind of container does the set come in? If it's wood, is it one of those flat boxes with a sliding top, or is it one of those squarish boxes with drawers, and if so how many drawers? Does the container have any clear signs of age?
    Faux wood carrying case. Definitely has signs of aging.
    8. Which kind of craks are in this set -- the older kind or the later kind? Take a picture to provide to the appraiser.
    I think most modern.
    9. Provide a picture of the One Bams. These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which part of China the set came from.
    Attached.
    10. Provide a picture of the dragons too. These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which era of mah-jongg history the set came from.
    Attached.
    11. And provide a picture of the flowers/seasons. These tiles are sometimes exotic and can provide information about the age of a set. And you need to tell me how many flowers/seasons there are. Note: You can just call them all "flowers," I don't care how many of them are "seasons" vs. "flowers" (seasons = flowers - they're the same thing, functionally. I just need a number). This is especially important for American-style sets, since the NMJL required differing amounts of flowers and jokers for a number of years.
    2 Roses plus 2 more roses with bams???
    12. How many jokers (if any) does the set have? Are the jokers manufactured, with the design carved or embossed into the surface - or are they stickered? If there are stickers, do they appear old and worn, are they coming detached? If the set has jokers, and if the jokers are manufactured/carved/embossed (not stickered), then count how many natural (not stickered, and not nail-polished) jokers the set contains (and how many flowers it contains). Then read column #509 and see if you can figure out when the set was made, by comparing with the flower/joker requirements on past NMJL cards.
    10 Jokers- manufactured – no stickers. I can’t tell if it is a flower on the joker or not. It doesn’t look like any flower that I have seen. And 10 jokers does not seem to fit anywhere in the timeline on Column 509. Maybe somewhere between 1937-1943???

    Hi, Carianne! There were so many question marks in your email that I am perplexed as to whether you need answers to any of them besides what you began with - you want to know if the set is "worth anything."
    And I'm sorry to tell you that it isn't. For starters, the case is ancient (probably 1940s or 1950s) and decrepit, but the tiles are mostly 1990s, with a bunch of older tiles thrown in. It's what we collectors fondly call a "Frankenstein" because it's put together from parts of other sets.
    These tiles do not belong with the white plastic tiles:

    And note that of the white plastic tiles (see Sue Z's March 10 question, below, entitled "I recently got an older Mah Jongg set" - your white plastic tiles are from a set just like hers), you are missing one of the 7 Bam tiles, and a previous owner threw in a bone-and-bamboo 7 Bam tile to replace it. That makes the set unplayable, since anybody can tell where on the table that 7 Bam is.
    The set is useful for parts only. Nobody will be able to use it to play, so it's nothing but parts value. The case is worthless, the racks (which are NOT wood but rather Bakelite or Catalin) might be worth a bit, the NMJL cards might be worth a few dollars, but they've got labels on them, making them less desirable (and they're not that old). Someone who needs a set to break up for parts might give you $20 for the whole thing.
    If you have other questions, you're welcome to write me again with those questions. Sorry for the bad news.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, March 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Someone announced we're not supposed to do a 3-player Charleston!?

    On Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at 12:52:09 AM EDT, Ione Y wrote:
    3 player MJ
    I was taught to play 3 handed MJ, the 3 players have the usual double walls
    The missing player has one row of tiles, and then we place 6 sets of 3 tiles, to do the Charleston with. Works super well. And the players turn to pass to the missing player just places their 3 tiles randomly on too so the single layer row.
    I’ve played this for years, and then someone announced we’re not suppose to do the Charleston with 3 players, just starting passing out tiles to the 3 players and then play….really not much fun or able to build a hand as the Charleston provides.
    Is there any problem to continue to play this way, or is it an ACTUAL RULE to not do the Charleston when playing with 3 people?
    Thanks so much for your input.
    Ione
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Ione!
    Read all three of these:

      FAQ 13a, the NMJL rule on 3-player mah-jongg
      FAQ 14, the Three Rules on Table Rules
      Column 532, A Tale of Three Players

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, March 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    Many opinions on this scenario, part 2

    On Monday, March 27, 2023 at 04:18:02 PM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Susan B's Question
    Hi Tom,
    Hope all is well with you!
    In reference to your recent answer to Susan B's question, please take a look at the screenshot attached with an answer from the League in the 2020 Bulletin to this question. What are your thoughts? Would you amend your answer based on this or stay with your original opinion?
    Thanks!
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett


    Source: 2022 NMJL newsletter/bulletin

    Thanks again for keeping me honest, Debbie! That obscure rule from the 2022 bulletin didn't jump out at me when I read it last year. Each January you and I read the newest mailing to find new things, or clarifications on known issues. But I guess my eyes kind of glaze over after the first page; I read a rule, maybe I have to read it more than once, it sounds familiar, it doesn't seem to me that anything is new... Anyway, I didn't take note of this one at the time.

    It's a new rule, to cover a rare error followed by an infrequent event; when a player has erred by not picking before discarding, and another player wants to call that tile. It is an illegal play and it must not be compounded by someone calling it for exposure.

    But does that rule trump or replace rule 16 on page 21 of MJME 2020?


    Source: MJME2020, p. 21, rule 16

    That's pretty much what I said this morning to Susan, below. I didn't cite rule 16 to Susan; instead, I referred Susan to FAQ 19-CR (the "pay for the party" rule), which begins: "If a player, playing out of turn or from the wrong end of the wall, discards a tile and somebody wins on it, she pays the winner 4 times the value of the winner's hand, and nobody else pays." FAQ 19-CR needs to cite MJME rule 16, so I'll fix that in the FAQ. And I guess I need to identify the source of the "wrong end of the wall" part.*

    If there is room for disagreement here, it would be on the question: does discarding without picking constitute playing "out of turn"? I think it's reasonable to consider that covered by the rule. She hadn't picked, so it wasn't properly her turn when she threw the tile.

    This may seem like a digression, but stick with me.
    I used to tell my students, "mah-jongg trumps everything," as part of a family of related rules governing claims, claims for exposure and claims for mah-jongg. It was part of a hierarchical series of trumping rules:
    In Asian mah-jongg, "pung trumps chow, and mah-jongg trumps everything."
    In American mah-jongg, "When two people want the discard for the same thing, next in turn gets the tile. When two people want the discard for different things, mah-jongg trumps exposure."
    I sometimes then found other times when saying "mah-jongg trumps everything" would mollify my students' confusion or dissatisfaction about a rule. For instance, why you can claim a discard for a single or pair for mahj. Because "mahj trumps everything."
    Or why can a player win on a misnamed discard but cannot call it for exposure? Because "mahj trumps everything."
    But does mah-jongg really trump everything? There must be times when a claim for mah-jongg has to be denied, due to some other rule. I'd welcome readers to write in with their own examples; now that I've talked about this, the next step is to make a list of trumping rules. Not just mahj trumps everything, but any rule that trumps another rule. It takes multiple heads to tackle that. Let's make that a project.
    Anyway.
    Okay, digression over.

    In Susan's case, since the tile that was thrown out of turn without picking first was somebody's mahj tile, MJME2020 rule 16 should apply. Rule 2022 #7 must be considered to cover calls for exposure only. Because "mah-jongg trumps everything." And because the Q&A format makes it so that a narrow question can get a narrow answer without consideration of the wider picture.

    If 2022 #7 were to override rule 16, then in Susan's case, Player B would be called dead. Player A with her 3 exposures would be stuck; she cannot have the discard. Since there are one or more tiles left in the wall at this point, Player A may be dead now, too, if it's apparent to all that all her hot tiles are dead. The game continues until the wall runs out or someone wins.
    But I don't think 2022 #7 overrides MJME 2020 rule 16. An error that gives someone mah-jongg is honored despite the fact that it was an illegal error, because ... mah-jongg trumps everything.

    And not to take this fascinating point too far off on a tangent, I wonder what happened in Susan's game that made Player B think the game had ended? Had the dealer pushed the last short wall to the left? Had the last short wall simply not been served yet? Anyway...

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    March 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    * Checked MJME again. Rule 16 is repeated as rule 22. The rule that says a player pays for the party if they discarded after picking from the wrong end is rule 21(c) on page 22. - Tom


    Many opinions on this scenario

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, March 27, 2023 at 06:30:45 AM EDT, Susan B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    My Facebook MahJong group has many different opinions on this scenario. Can you help out?
    Here is the post:
    “I would really love an "Official" ruling on this situation: Player A had 3 exposures and everyone knew she needed a green for Mah Jongg. Player B (next in line to pick/throw) mistakenly thought the game was over so she put the green on the table while saying "I have your green". Player A then called the green for Mah Jongg. We could not agree on whether that was a legal call because Player B, thinking the game was over, did not pick a tile to begin her turn. Another thought was to consider Player B dead for having only 12 tiles on her rack and continue to play but if that is true, could the tile that caused her to become dead be eligible for a call?”
    Thank you…I don’t think it get more official than you!
    Susan
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Susan!
    My answer is my opinion, based on the official rules published by the League. For the real official answer, you should write to the League.
    In my opinion, Player A wins the game due to Player B's error. Player B's error was twofold: discarding before picking (a fatal error), and discarding the winning tile (which ends the game).
    Once Player B's discard touched the table, she could not take it back. In this case, I believe Player B should pay Player A four times the value of the hand, and nobody else pays; see FAQ 19-CR.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, March 27, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    More information on this "antique" set, part 2

    Follow up to Sara G's post on Thursday, March 23. Specifically, I want to discuss this tile:

    I previously identified this tile as a Vietnamese joker, but I'm not sure. I looked up Sara's identification of the characters, 聽用. Google Translate said that means "listen," and searching for 聽用麻将牌 (tīng yòng majiang pai, "listen mah-jongg tile") did not turn up any result. So I broke it down. Examining the first character more closely, I realized 聽 does not match the inscription on the tile. Too many strokes.

    The bottom character on the tile is 用 and means "use." It's well known that the writing on Chinese jokers translates to "100 uses," or "many uses," so it may be that we have a joker here.

    That top character still eludes me. I tried my own search using zhongwen.com. I used that site years ago but I can't figure out what radical I'm supposed to use. I tried mandarintools.com; I believe the stroke count is 18, but I couldn't find this character under 18 strokes. Nothing under 17 strokes or 19 strokes, either. I tried drawing the character on mdbg.com, but I don't know the proper stroke order, so I struck out there too. I couldn't get anywhere on yellowbridge, and my Japanese kanji books got me nowhere.

    The upshot is that the tile probably is a joker, but I can't translate the writing. One problem with Chinese tiles is that Chinese writing has evolved; some characters deprecated, others redrawn. I think I've had enough fun for today.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Sunday, March 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    Follow-up! See April 25 post from Ray Heaton, above! - Tom



    When is the discard "down"?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, March 24, 2023 at 10:42:36 AM EDT, Linda B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    The scenario is I’m attempting to discard my tile, call it, touch the table but before releasing it see an exposed Joker that I want to exchange. Am I allowed? Exactly when is the discard completed?

    Sorry, Linda! The tile is "down" when either (1) it touches the table or (2) its name is spoken, whichever occurs first. See FAQ 19-A. So it's too late to change your mind. All the "change of heart" / "backsies" questions are answered in FAQ 19-AM.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, March 24, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    * P.S., 3/29: I discovered that rule 7 on page 19 of the 2020 rulebook changed the definition of "down." The rule I cited above was the rule until the 2020 rulebook. Now a discard is "down" when it has touched the table AND is fully named. Rule 7 on page 19. This means that a tile is not yet "down" if it has only been named or it has only been touched to the table. I've written to the League to ask clarification, but this is a VERY busy time at the League, so it may take a while to get a definitive answer. - Tom
    Correction, 5/16/23: confirmed with the League that the "or" rule is correct. The 2020 rulebooks with the "and" rule constitute a misprint.


    Can a joker be redeemed from a dead player's rack?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, March 24, 2023 at 10:44:49 AM EDT, Linda B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    The scenario is this: Player A exposed for Maj Jongg in error and is presumably therefore dead. Are the Jokers revealed in the latest exposure available to other players for exchange?

    No, Linda. Exposures made in error must be returned to the sloping front of the erring player's rack. See FAQ 19-P.
    All the most frequently asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are answered in FAQ 19. Please bookmark it for your future reference.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, March 24, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    More information on this "antique" set?

    On Thursday, March 23, 2023 at 08:42:41 PM EDT, Sara G wrote:
    More information on this "antique" set?
    Hello Mr Sloper!
    I am still rather new to Mahjong. I play Riishi (Japanese) Mahjong online, but when I saw this set for sale, I couldn't resist picking it up, if only for the novelty. It was labeled as an “Antique Majiang Set.” The previous owner informed me that her American husband bought it in an antiques shop while in China, and brought it to the US in the 70s or 80s. There may have been a bit of miscommunication/ translation error somewhere along the way, as I was also told it was a Vietnamese set (the former owner is Vietnamese, so that may have something to do with it?), but I’m not entirely sure about that.
    It came in the box pictured - a very simple, very old, sliding-top box that is only partially falling apart. No carving, labels, designs, nothing. The only bits with it were the mini dice. No manuals or anything else.
    Based on the information in FAQ 7c, I believe these are bone dovetailed with bamboo, with probably about 25/75 bone to bamboo percentage (Is that the proper way to word that?). There are definite signs of the Haversian System, especially under a jeweler’s loupe, but you can notice it on other tiles without magnification. They are hand-carved; you can see the slight variation between almost any two similar tiles, and the paint has clearly begun to smear on a lot of them. They have no Arabic numerals or English lettering, so that makes it for use in Asia, not the US or Europe. The mini dice are also bone and hand carved.
    Three pieces have been replaced - two winds and an 8. The carving is really obvious in the pictures, but after looking closely, they’re not even tiles that would have been original to the set (ie, blanks carved for use as replacements). Still bone and bamboo, of about the same-ish 25/75 percentage (the side pictures are of two original pieces, both red dragons)
    There are only 143 pieces. The base 136 is complete. There are some mystery tiles (similar to a May 2020 post of mystery jokers) that only have 3 in the set. I think the closest characters I can find for it are 用 and 聽, ut Chinese language is not my forte, so I can’t be sure. So at least one tile is missing, more if assuming it actually is a Vietnamese set. I have another set of mystery tiles, too - the 2 pairs of men - which might be flowers? I’m not sure.
    That’s what I’ve been able to figure out so far! I read through all of the FAQs, and I learned quite a bit. However, like I said, I am new to Mahjong, and extremely unfamiliar with other sets outside of Riishi because of that. Where I need your help is in answering the rest of my (now burning) questions:
    Where was this set made, and what type of set is it?
    When was it made/ how old is it?
    Is it odd to have so little bone compared to bamboo? A lot of other pictures I see of bone tiles seem to have a lot more bone to them. Why?
    How much is it worth, you think? I know it’s in not-great condition, and I am planning on doing cleaning/maybe restoring it once I get the time. However, I don’t plan on selling it any time soon - it’s mostly a personal curiosity, and maybe seeing if I need to get it appraised/insured.
    Are the two pairs of men actually flowers? If so, am I missing any? I was under the impression that there is usually more variety in flowers - 4 different people/scenes/etc per set of flowers, rather than two pairs of 2. Is that not always the case?
    What are those OTHER mystery tiles?? I’m obviously missing at least one, but maybe also more? I’m kind of hoping you’ve learned more about them in the last few years, since that post from 2020 is literally the only one an image search comes up with, and searching the maybe text (?, ???) is kind of a crapshoot, in my recent experience.
    Besides your answers to 5 and 6, am I missing any other tiles to make this a complete set? Assuming you know what type of set it is.
    Thank you for your time! I haven’t been able to find a similar looking set online in any of the ‘mahjong museums’ or collections, and even Google-fu has failed me in image searching. I can’t wait to get a response back from you to (maybe) fill in some blanks! And...I know you hate this type of question, but I’m gonna ask anyway, please don’t be mad :) Does there happen to be any additional information you can give me about this set, that, in my inexperience, I may have overlooked or not thought about researching?
    Sincerely,
    Sara
    …By the way, several of your links to external sites, especially regarding CHarli, no longer work and give 404 errors. Also, you have a broken link to the Q&A on the FAQ 7 page (You can leave this out of the Q&A post :p)

    Hi, Sara! You wrote:

    SG: Where was this set made, and what type of set is it?
    TS: It was made in China, and it's a "Frankenstein" set.

    SG: When was it made/ how old is it?
    TS: Could have been made anytime from the 1930s to, I don't know, the 1960s?

    SG: Is it odd to have so little bone compared to bamboo? A lot of other pictures I see of bone tiles seem to have a lot more bone to them. Why?
    TS: It's not odd. Bamboo is cheaper than bone, and more plentiful. In fact, back in the 1920s, it's said that J.P. Babcock had to get cow bones shipped to China for making tiles because the supply there was limited.

    SG: How much is it worth, you think? I know it’s in not-great condition, and I am planning on doing cleaning/maybe restoring it once I get the time. However, I don’t plan on selling it any time soon - it’s mostly a personal curiosity, and maybe seeing if I need to get it appraised/insured.
    TS: You didn't give me the official condition terms requested in the "What is it worth?" FAQ. It looks to me like it's in the "Fair" category, maybe "Fair minus" or "Poor plus." It looks like many of the tiles are quite dirty, and some are newer replacements. It looks like a hodgepodge, tiles from 2 or more sets put together in a box that doesn't quite fit. You said the box is falling apart a little bit. It's not worth insuring. I'd say it's worth somewhere around $40, give or take $20.

    SG: Are the two pairs of men actually flowers? If so, am I missing any? I was under the impression that there is usually more variety in flowers - 4 different people/scenes/etc per set of flowers, rather than two pairs of 2. Is that not always the case?
    TS: You are missing flowers, yes. These sets are supposed to have 8 flowers. I don't know about those two pairs of men - if they all looked different from one another and had Chinese writing on them, I would call them flowers. But the absence of writing makes me wonder what their purpose is.

    SG: What are those OTHER mystery tiles?? I’m obviously missing at least one, but maybe also more?
    TS: Those are Vietnamese jokers. See the "Mystery Jokers" FAQ.

    SG: Does there happen to be any additional information you can give me about this set, that, in my inexperience, I may have overlooked or not thought about researching?
    TS: Like what, for instance?

    SG: By the way, several of your links to external sites, especially regarding CHarli, no longer work and give 404 errors. Also, you have a broken link to the Q&A on the FAQ 7 page
    TS: If I had more clues as to where to find all these broken links, I would be delighted to fix them. I'm not delighted to try all the links on the entire site, though. But I will see if I can find all the links to Charli, and the one on the main FAQ 7 page.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Thursday, 3/23/23
    Donations appreciated

    P.S. Thanks again for letting me know about the broken link in FAQ 7, that's fixed now, and I fixed a whole bunch of broken links to CHarli's site, thanks to you! - Tom


    A discard was misnamed...

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at 08:34:54 AM EDT, Ann Z wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Last week in a game, a player discarded a two dot and mistakenly called it a two bam. The next player drew her tile, and racked it simultaneously with another player recognizing and calling the discarded two dot as the tile she needed for mah jongg. To complicate matters, the drawn and just-racked tile was what the next player needed for her mah jongg. What should have been done?
    Ann Z
    Omaha
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Ann!
    Oh boy, I do love me a good clusterflub! Let's break this down.

    1. Player misnamed her discard.
    2. Simultaneously, the next player racked and another player called the discard for mahj. The player calling the discard for mahj wanted the actual discard, not the tile whose name had been spoken.

    The "Simultaneous rack and call" question is answered in FAQ 19-CL. The ruling comes from a letter from the NMJL on October 29, 2016. In a simultaneous rack and call, the caller gets the tile.

    But rule 6(a) on page 19 of the 2020 rulebook says "A tile cannot be claimed until correctly named." The 2 Dot was not correctly named before the next player racked, so it could not be claimed.

    In my opinion, then, the player who picked her own from the wall gets the win. But you would have to write to the League to get the definitive answer.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Wednesday, March 22, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How do you deal with bullying?

    On Monday, March 20, 2023 at 09:59:22 PM EDT, Glenda K wrote:
    Newbie bullying
    How do you deal with condescending comments about newbies?
    Sent from my iPhone

    I'd find nice people to play with, Glenda.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, the first day of spring, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Unwritten rules, part 2

    On Saturday, March 18, 2023 at 11:16:16 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Carol S
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.00 USD from Carol S
    You can view the transaction details online.
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $10.00 USD
    Currency: U.S. Dollars
    Quantity: 1
    Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Contributor: Carol Schulz
    Message: From Carol D. Thank you for everything you do.
    PayPal

    Thank you and you're welcome, Carol!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Saturday, March 18, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Unwritten rules

    On Saturday, March 18, 2023 at 08:25:14 AM EDT, Carol D wrote:
    Unwritten rules
    Hi Tom Sloper,
    A player in our game discarded a tile, misnaming it. I know she is
    supposed to leave the discard on the table and correctly name it.
    Instead, however, she put the discard back in her rack. Then she
    discarded the tile she had meant to discard and correctly named it. It
    was done so quickly that we just let it go. I think we were all stunned.
    I knew she could not take back and replace the tile but I did not
    know the penalty or even if there is one. After the game, I checked all
    the sources I could think of: MJME, your FAQ 19, various other websites
    devoted to rules. I found nothing. I called the League, planning to
    write a follow-up letter. I was told we could have declared her hand to
    be dead. I asked her for a citation to a written rule; she could not
    give one. She said she thought this was one of several unwritten rules
    and that the League could not cover everything in its publications. She
    suggested I follow up with a letter to the League, which I will do.
    Here is my question, finally. Have you heard of this unwritten
    "death" rule? How about other unwritten rules?
    Carol D.

    Hi, Carol! You wrote:

    CD: I knew she could not take back and replace the tile but I did not know the penalty or even if there is one.
    TS: As the League lady told you, the League's rulebook doesn't and can't list precise penalties for every conceivable (or inconceivable) misstep. I think it's fair to say that in a tournament, a tournament judge would rule the player dead for illegally taking back a discard. One way a death penalty could be imposed on such a play would be to call it "playing out of turn." Her turn had ended as soon as that discard hit the table.

    CD: [The League lady] said she thought this was one of several unwritten rules... Have you heard of this unwritten "death" rule?
    TS: No, but you know that the League is the ultimate arbiter of the rules. The play your friend made was clearly illegal.

    CD: How about other unwritten rules?
    TS: Yeah, how about them! Only the League can answer this. If you take the lady's advice and send a letter, then when they write you back, the rule is written. This is why I always say it's better to write than to call on the phone.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Saturday, March 18, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What's the proper procedure for redeeming a joker?

    On Friday, March 17, 2023, at 3:23 PM, Mary H wrote in a private message via Facebook Messenger:
    Hi, while exchanging for an exposed joker do I have to pass it hand to hand or can I after saying exchange slide it across the table?

    Hi, Mary! Sorry that I'm not replying via Facebook Messenger; I hope you come to this bulletin board and find this answer.
    You don't slide anything across the discard floor while redeeming a joker. The only thing you should ever put on the discard floor is a discard. The proper joker redemption procedure is "hand to hand" - see rule 14 on page 23 of Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the NMJL. If you don't have the rulebook (silly me, OF COURSE you have the rulebook!), you can read FAQ 19-M.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Saturday, March 18, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How do you teach slow players, part 4

    On Friday, March 17, 2023 at 04:37:49 PM EDT, storyc wrote:
    thank you
    Hi Mr Sloper,
    This is a thank you note for advice you gave me back in January. I had written lamenting how slowly my group played. You stated that if everyone else is happy with a slow pace then I am the problem. And then later, "when one player dampens the entire groups fun, that player needs to change." In the second bit of advice you were talking about a slow player but the same is true in the reverse. I was the problem and my desire for my group to change/improve was dampening the fun - for all of us. So after 4 years I quit.
    I live in a small town and was worried about finding people to play with. But as often happens, another door opened. My daughter-in-law had been wanting to learn to play, so I taught her, my son and my husband to play. (He never expressed interest before!) They all love it. We've enjoyed playing on our visits And because I stressed the importance of a fast-paced game from the beginning, there are no slow games, we also keep score and we follow the rules.
    I used much of your book to teach and apparently I quote you often. My 5 year old grandson has been watching us play and last weekend when my husband said "I don't know what to do!" Our grandson turned to his grandfather and said "Just do what Mr Sloper would do"!
    Thanks again.
    Story

    Very touching story, Story! Thank you for coming back to close the loop.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, St. Patrick's Day, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Mystery flowers, part 12

    On Friday, March 17, 2023 at 08:34:23 AM EDT, Ron van 't Veer wrote:
    Re: Mahjong stones on Sloperama
    Hi Tom,
    Thank you for making the pdf folde available in the downloads folder. Actually, the story of the Luck stones comes from an electronic book (in Dutch) on mahjong I have made for a dutch gaming group, I have translated the chapter on symbology in English, and you can add it to your download page. This article replaces theearlier one I send yesterday. I also corrected a minor error: the tileset from Germany from the sixties, was made in West-Germany, not in East...
    Greetings
    Ron van 't Veer, The Netherlands

    Okay, Ron. I see that you also included other information in the newer file. Beyond the symbolism of the flower tiles, now, this article also discusses the symbolism of the suits, the paint colors, the winds, the dragons, the name of the game, and your nicknames for some of the tiles. It's good that you put your name in this newer file, too (the first file was effectively anonymous). I have, at your request, removed the previous file and replaced it with this one, Symbolism of the mahjong tiles (en).pdf, in my Mah-Jongg downloads folder.
    May the tiles be with you, Ron!
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, St. Patrick's Day, 2023

    Donations appreciated


    Mystery flowers, part 11

    On Thursday, March 16, 2023 at 12:46:25 PM EDT, Ron van 't Veer wrote:
    Mahjong stones on Sloperama
    Dear Tom,
    Inclosed is a word and pdf document (Gelukstenen - Luck tiles) with
    explanations of the mahjongtiles I have. The chinese characters on them
    are checked by a Facebook group dedicated to the translations of chinese
    characters.
    I have found also a better explanation of some lucky stone you described
    in FAQ 7E-F Mysterious flower tiles. If you want you may use the
    information and illustrations on your site, by mentioning my name.
    Greetings
    Ron van 't Veer, (.... which means Ronald from the Ferry)
    The Netherlands

    Very nice, Ron!
    I'm making the PDF file (GELUKSTENEN EN.pdf) available for download in my Mah-Jongg downloads folder. There are so many mentions of "Rich Man" by me and various correspondents in FAQ 7E-F that I can't figure out which mentions should be changed to Zhang Guo (Chang Kuo-lao). His mule is pretty impressive, being able to run a thousand miles a day!
    I'm appending this exchange to FAQ 7E-F for future visitors. Thank you, Ron!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Thursday, March 16, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Shanghai: Second Dynasty

    On Tuesday, March 14, 2023 at 06:17:56 AM EDT, Tim B wrote:
    Shanghai Second Dynasty
    Good morning,
    Apologies if this seems out of the blue, but have you considered updating and re-releasing Shanghai Second Dynasty? Is there a path forward to possibly open-sourcing it? I'm just curious as it seems like a solid game. There appears to be a lack of really good Mahjong games out there that aren't just Solitaire-style.
    I look forward to your reply.
    Best regards,
    Tim B
    San Antonio, TX

    I appreciate the thought, Tim, but I own no rights in Shanghai. I suspect Activision Blizzard would want a LOT of money to license that product to me. It would also cost a lot of money to modernize it for today's platforms and make it available to players, and I would have a difficult time raising money from investors. Then there's the problem of all the trademark violators out there causing confusion. Have I considered it? Yes, I have. And I've determined that the path has way too many roadblocks.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, Pi Day, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    P.S., St. Patrick's Day: The alternative to me remaking Shanghai: Second Dynasty (I would certainly want to change the title to "Third Dynasty") is for Activision Blizzard itself to remake it. I think that's very unlikely, given that the company is focused on big-money projects and triple-A games these days. Trying to sell Activision Blizzard executives on the idea of revisiting a 24-year-old property (one that is very far from the sort of fare they currently make, and has a much smaller audience) is not something I want to do. - Tom

    P.P.S., April 21: Forgot to mention, Microsoft is buying or has bought Activision Blizzard, so it becomes a matter for Microsoft Activision Blizzard to do something, anything, with an old brand from two decades ago. Possible, but only remotely, sadly. - Tom


    Age, value, what they're made of, part 2

    Re: Mahjong set questions
    On Monday, March 13, 2023 at 08:55:01 PM EDT, Wendy R wrote:
    Thank you for the speedy response!
    It’s a very pretty set and playable for
    Chinese style Mahjong. It would be hard to
    find eight tiles to Joker sticker that would match.
    Sent from my iPhone

    You're welcome, Wendy!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, March 13, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Age, value, what they're made of

    On Monday, March 13, 2023 at 11:30:05 AM EDT, Wendy R wrote:
    Mahjong set questions
    A friend of mine bought this set at an
    Antique Mall. Set is complete but no
    Spare tiles or jokers or racks or dice.
    It has right number of Bamboo, Dot, Characters, Winds, Dragons and flowers.
    No Western numbers except on the flowers
    Tiles have dark green backs which are not
    Dovetailed. Tiles are solid and average size
    Case is heavy cardboard and has a leather
    Latch. Case is in poor shape. Tiles fit
    well inside
    Set also has a small wind indicator which
    looks to be original to set.
    Do you have any information on the age
    And value of set and what tiles are made
    of? Tiles don’t seem to be Bakelite.
    Thank you
    Wendy
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Wendy!
    What they're made of - so-called "Chinese Bakelite." See the "What's it made of" FAQ.
    Age - could have been made anytime from the 1930s to the 1960s.
    Value - about $40.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, March 13, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When can I stop the Charleston?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, March 11, 2023 at 06:12:29 PM EST, Sharon B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: can a player stop the play during the 2nd Charleston?
    Sent from my iPad

    No, Sharon. The only time you can stop the Charleston is after the first left and before the second left. FAQ 19-AG goes into more detail about the Charleston than the back of the card does. Have a look!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Saturday, March 11, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Are you supposed to announce a blind pass?

    On Saturday, March 11, 2023 at 04:47:09 PM EST, Louise Dufault wrote:
    MJ QUESTION
    When you do a blind pass, are you supposed to announce it or just do it quietly?
    Louise

    Hi, Lou! The rules are silent on this, and you can be silent, too. I've never heard anybody announce that they were passing blind.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Saturday, March 11, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Best place to find all the updates to the 2020 Mah Jongg Made Easy book, part 2

    On Friday, March 10, 2023 at 09:45:06 PM EST, Cynthia M wrote:
    Re: Best place to find all the updates to the 2020 Mah Jongg Made Easy book
    thanks for the amazingly quick response!! I will dig in and look at the link now!
    CAM

    Links. More than one. You're welcome, CAM.
    TAS
    Rochester, New York, USA
    March 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Best place to find all the updates to the 2020 Mah Jongg Made Easy book

    On Friday, March 10, 2023 at 08:57:00 PM EST, Cynthia M wrote:
    Best place to find all the updates to the 2020 Mah Jongg Made Easy book
    hi!!
    Thinking if any one could help, it would be you...
    Trying to naildown all the changes/clarifications/additions that have been added to the 2020 Mah Jongg Made Easy Book.
    Could you tell me if there is a place where I can find all this info? I have checked numerous sites and have come up with very little.
    Thank you for your help!! Appreciate it!
    Cindy
    Cynthia A. M

    Hi, Cindy!
    This is the best place, right here. FAQ 19 answers questions not answered in MJME, and has been updated as recently as this week. The League's 2023 newsletter answered some questions already answered in MJME, and some not answered in MJME.

    I had a discussion just in the past week about the 2023 newsletter (scroll down to Monday's exchange with Debbie B), and I wrote about the 2023 newsletter in column 783. You can also read my commentaries on yearly newsletters since 2020 by scrolling back in the columns to January 2022, 2021, and 2020. That ought to get you most of the info you're seeking. This is the best place!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    You probably already know that my book goes into detail not found in MJME.
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, March 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I recently got an older Mah Jongg set

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, March 10, 2023 at 05:38:39 PM EST, Sue Z wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi Tom-
    I recently got an older Mah Jongg set that belongs to a friend’s mom. The set is complete and appears to be plastic. The tile design is typical, the case has some wear and there is a lable on the back that says Made in Taiwan. I have not seen the plastic tile tubs before. There is nothing else to identify the age or manufacturer of the set. I’m guessing it is from the 90s. The value for me is sentimental but I’d love to know if you have an idea of its value, age, or manufacturer. Thanks so much. Please let me know if the photos are inadequate.
    Sue Zoeller

    On Friday, March 10, 2023 at 05:41:46 PM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from sue z
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.00 USD from sue z
    You can view the transaction details online.
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $10.00 USD
    Currency: U.S. Dollars
    Quantity: 1
    Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Contributor: sue z
    PayPal

    Hi, Sue! Thanks for the donation.
    I'm surprised you call a set from the 1990s "older." But maybe I need to change how I view such things. But yes, it could be 1990s, and for all I know the manufacturer still churns those sets out today.
    These sets are among the most common sets one sees in tournaments or players' homes. Around 2000 to 2010, these sets sold in Los Angeles' Chinatown for around $110. A 2000 dollar is worth about $1.74 today, so with some assumptions, that would be about $190, but I think most people wouldn't want to pay $190 for one of those sets today if it was new. There's a mind resistance to paying almost $200 for something that was known to be close to half that twenty years ago. If your set was in perfect like-new condition, you might be able to get somewhere around $125 for it.
    ...If it's in perfect like-new condition.
    As I wrote in
    FAQ 7-H, value is driven by "condition, condition, condition."
    I don't care what the name of the manufacturer is myself, and I don't think that's important to anyone. It's not important to manufacturers in China or Taiwan; they don't put their names on their products. If you want to know about manufacturers, I have some links in FAQ 7-U you can check to do the research.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, March 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    P.S. March 13: Scrolling through my newsfeed, I just saw one of these sets on sale (new) for about $166. - Tom


    The 2022 card, part 34

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, March 10, 2023 at 12:38:41 PM EST, Jan M wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Referring to the 2022 card:
    This question about the third Quints hand came up during a game last week.
    1122 33333 33333 (any three suits, any 3 consecutive Nos.)
    is 1122 to be considered as singles/pairs like 2022 or a “set of numbers?”
    Thanks for your help.
    Jan Maier

    Hi, Jan! You asked:

    JM: is 1122 to be considered as singles/pairs like 2022 or a “set of numbers?”
    TS: It doesn't matter which of those it's considered. Read the back of the card: Jokers may be used to replace any tile(s) in any Pung, Kong, Quint, or Sextet. "1122" is not a pung. It's not a kong. It's not a quint. And it's not a sextet. (Those terms are defined on the back of the card.) So you can't use a joker in it (I assume that's why you were asking).

    And since "1122" is not a pung, kong, quint, or sextet, you also can't claim a discard to expose it unless you're claiming mah-jongg. For further information, see FAQ 19-E2. And all the most frequently asked questions about the 2022 NMJL card are answered in FAQ 16.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday, March 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Date, value, and any additional info

    On Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at 05:34:26 PM EST, Coral R wrote:
    Date and value of Mah-jongg set.
    Hi Mr. Sloper,
    First time poster so I apologize if I don't give all the details you may need (or too many details, haha). My grandmother recently passed and as we were cleaning up her house we found this old Mah-jongg set.

    The backs of the tiles look to be bamboo and the tiles themselves appear to be bone, but I have no clue what kind. It has quite a few obvious chips and cracks and is missing the sticks, dice and other additional pieces along with the instruction booklet, but doesn't seem to be missing any tiles, I believe. It has 5 drawers with the bottom drawer being a press spring load? (broken) and the door slides down into the bottom.

    It's definitely not in the best condition and it's been sitting in a house in Florida collecting dust for 50+ years so I'm uncertain if theirs any humidity damage to it, but it doesn't smell musty and theirs no obvious warping, so I think the wood preserved well.

    If you could help me get an idea of the date, value, and if you have any additional info about the piece, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much for being such an amazing source of history and information. If you need any additional information please let me know!
    Coral

    Hi, Coral!
    You wanted to know:

    CR: the date
    TS: it's from the 1920s. See column 610.

    CR: value
    TS: I have good news and bad news. The good news: these ornately carved boxes are sought after. The bad news: the condition is not great. See FAQ 7-H. I'd rate it "Fair+" or "Good-" because of all the chips and scratches and cracks. Good: the tiles are all there, and the flower tiles are interesting. Bad: pronounced Haversian system (see FAQ 7-C). It's odd that less-than-pretty tiles would be packaged in an ornate box. And I see flaws in the closeup shot of the Bams, it looks like worm damage or something. Another bad: it's missing the bits and pieces that the set originally came with. A collector who does not have one of these carved boxes might pay more than $150 for the set, maybe $200. Probably not as much as $300, but honestly, I'm guessing here.

    CR: any additional info
    TS: Sorry, I'm not good at that type of question.

    Congratulations. It's a find, for sure.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Tuesday, March 7, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I say it's a good idea but not a strict MJ rule.

    On Monday, March 6, 2023 at 04:41:12 PM EST, Louise D wrote:
    MJ QUESTION
    My teammates are having a disagreement about picking and racking I say it's a good idea but not a strict MJ rule. They say it is. Is it a rule to pick and rack?
    Louise

    Hi, Louise!
    You're asking if it's a rule that a player must rack a tile she picked from the wall. I answered this in FAQ 19-BL. There is no such rule. In the 2021 newsletter, the League said it is "best practice". You say it's "a good idea." I disagree. I'll explain my thinking momentarily.

    But first I want to make sure we're not talking about "pickandrack" - the cutthroat practice of picking and racking very quickly, so as to shut out the possibility of someone else claiming the live discard. I discussed "pickandrack" in FAQ 19-AD.3 The League agrees with me that "pickandrack" is aggressive and unsportsmanlike behavior.

    I do not always rack my picked tile. I KNOW what tile(s) I need, especially later in the game when my needed tiles have been reduced to just one or two tiles I need. I can look at my picked tile and determine very quickly that it's not a tile I need. If it is a tile I want, then I rack it. I may actually take my turn more quickly than a player who always racks. The fact that another player might still call the live discard while I'm holding the pick and looking at it doesn't bother me.

    And that's the philosophy behind "pick and rack" (always racking a picked tile, and NOT taking a fraction of a second to look at it along the way) - to shut out another player who might call the live discard. Am I right? That's the reason why you think it's a good idea to rack it, isn't it?

    Thing is, if I'm looking at the pick without first racking it, most of the time it's not my mahj tile, and I'm fine with putting it back on the wall if somebody calls that live discard. In fact, I know that my next turn will come again that much sooner.

    American/NMJL mah-jongg is not the only mah-jongg style in the world. I've played Chinese mah-jongg in China and Europe. I've played Japanese mah-jongg in Japan. I've played Western-style mah-jongg in India. NONE of those variants make rules about what a person has to do with the picked tile. It's my choice, my right, to look at the tile and then discard it, without being told I have to put it among my concealed tiles before I can discard it.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, March 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    P.S. A lot of the time, we Americans play with stickered jokers, or jokers that can be determined by touch of a thumb without looking. When I pick a wall tile and can tell without looking that it's a joker, THEN, you can bet, I rack it right away! - Tom


    What happens in the case of these errors, part 2

    On Monday, March 6, 2023 at 12:17:07 PM EST, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Hello
    Hi Tom,
    As always, I want to thank you for your tireless commitment to the world of Mah Jongg.
    On March 5th Toni G's asked several questions, one of them regarding the placement of a called tile. Based on your answer I'm assuming you might not be aware of the League's new rule so I thought I'd send it to you. It is in the 2023 Bulletin and caused quite an uproar in the community as the League has added yet another rule without penalty.
    Bet you are looking forward to spring!
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Hi, Debbie! So when I got your email referencing the 2023 newsletter, I pulled it out and sure enough, there it was at the bottom of the page. In a box to draw the eye, so of course I had totally missed it because it was not numbered. Just now I checked my column 783 where I reviewed the newsletter. No mention of that new rule. Missed it because I was only checking the numbered Q&As. Duh!
    So I have to revise FAQ 19 and the RDWW errata, delete that word "preferable." But as you pointed out, the new rule does not come with a penalty. That leaves "friendly" home players to have to decide whether to let it slide or call you dead.

    Re-reading Toni's question: "someone calls a discarded tile for exposure and absentmindedly puts it in her hand and discards, should her hand be dead? Or is it ok if she is allowed to expose it when the error is noticed?"
    My response overlooked that that player had discarded before making the exposure. If the player put the discard into the hand and then discarded without putting the exposure up first, that is definitely a fatal blunder.
    I'll close now, got a couple changes to make... Thanks, Debbie.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Monday, March 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    P.S. I found that I didn't need to change the RDWW errata; what's written in the book is not at odds with this "new rule." And there wasn't much that needed to be changed in FAQ 19, either, other than FAQ 19-K. - Tom


    Is my set complete? When was it made? (part 3)

    On Monday, March 6, 2023 at 09:22:00 AM EST, Karen D wrote:
    Photo of set - 140 tiles
    Dear Mr. Sloper,
    As per your email of 2/28, I am sending photos of my inherited set. Please tell me, if you can, if I have a complete set, and if not, what I would need to complete it. Can you tell me the age of my set, where it was made, or anything that you know about it.
    Thank you very much,
    Karen
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Karen,
    The other 2 photos you sent were pretty much identical to that one. If you had arranged the tiles the way I'd asked, this is what tiles your set contains:

    You wanted to know:

    KD: if I have a complete set
    TS: You do not.

    KD: what I would need to complete it.
    TS: In terms of tiles, this type of set (in the elongated "trumpet-style" case) is expected to have eight flowers and eight jokers, in order to be used to play American rules. You have only four flowers, and no jokers. A previous owner must have taken those tiles to complete another set.
    In terms of accessories, I see that you have a case and two racks and a pair of dice. You're missing two racks and you're missing the colored "coins" used for scoring when players don't use quarters, dimes, and nickels. These accessories are shown in
    FAQ 7-D, the "Bits and Pieces" FAQ.

    KD: Can you tell me the age of my set
    TS: No.

    KD: where it was made,
    TS: Probably China or Taiwan. Possibly the USA.

    KD: or anything that you know about it.
    TS: I have a difficult time answering "anything" questions, sorry.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, March 6, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Somebody discarded a perfectly good redeemable tile. Can I call it?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, March 5, 2023 at 06:30:34 PM EST, Renae V wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    If I have 3 jokers and a green dragon showing. Someone throws a green dragon can i pick it up replace one of my jokers. Or is it too late?

    Sorry, Renae. See FAQ 19-G2; Once a redeemable tile has been discarded, it can only be taken to create a new set for exposure or mah-jongg. It is NOT permitted to take the tile in order to redeem it for a joker.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Sunday, March 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What happens in the case of these errors?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, March 5, 2023 at 06:13:02 PM EST, Toni G wrote:
    My mah-jongg questions are:
    If someone calls a discarded tile for exposure and absentmindedly puts it in her hand and discards, should her hand be dead? Or is it ok if she is allowed to expose it when the error is noticed?
    If it is noticed that someone has picked from the wrong end of the wall, can it be put back and then picked from the correct end? Or what if it’s obvious that someone picked from the wrong end, but no one knows who did it? Does play just continue from the correct end?
    Toni G

    Hi, Toni! You asked:

    TG: If someone calls a discarded tile for exposure and absentmindedly puts it in her hand and discards, should her hand be dead? Or is it ok if she is allowed to expose it when the error is noticed?
    TS: See FAQ 19-K. It depends on whether you're in a tournament or a home game. Under NMJL rules, it is permitted to put the taken discard into the hand just prior to exposing tiles from your hand. But the League says it is "preferable" to put the taken discard atop the rack before exposing tiles from your hand.* Oops! See footnote after sig below.

    TG: If it is noticed that someone has picked from the wrong end of the wall, can it be put back and then picked from the correct end?
    TS: See FAQ 19-AA. It depends. In a home game, among friends, you might be let off with a friendly warning. If the player picked from the wrong end and then discarded before correcting the error, that player is dead.

    TG: what if it’s obvious that someone picked from the wrong end, but no one knows who did it?
    TS: You can't punish an unknown person. I would just move on with the game.

    TG: Does play just continue from the correct end?
    TS: Play should absolutely proceed correctly, not incorrectly.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Sunday, March 5, 2023

    * Oops! My response overlooked that the player had discarded before making the exposure. If the player put the discard into the hand and then discarded without putting the exposure up first, that is definitely a fatal blunder. Death penalty time! Also see the email from Debbie Barnett on Monday, March 6, above. - Tom


    Sloperama support-a-rama

    On Saturday, March 4, 2023 at 05:10:47 AM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
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    You received a payment
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    Thank you, Evelyn!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    March 2, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Donations greatly appreciated


    What reason do you do the Charleston?

    On Friday, March 3, 2023 at 08:20:51 PM EST, Patricia C wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: what reason do you do the Charleston?
    Someone was very rude to me in a marathon telling me that I better be stopping the Charleston only of I am 4-5 tiles from a making mahjong. I told her that is not my way of playing. To continue to question my reason. I did not have there tiles to pass due to the hand that I had.
    She is a teacher of mahjong here. She insisted she was right
    I do not think anyone should be questioning my reason to stop the Charleston.

    Hi, Patricia! I'm replying point-by-point to what you wrote:

    PC: what reason do you do the Charleston?
    TS: I assume this question is rhetorical. Moving on to the next point:

    PC: Someone was very rude to me in a marathon telling me that I better be stopping the Charleston only of I am 4-5 tiles from a making mahjong. I told her that is not my way of playing. To continue to question my reason.
    TS: I agree that she was rude to you, and that it was inappropriate to ask you why you were stopping the Charleston. A lot of people hate it when another player stops the Charleston. You just need to remember to never explain your reasoning. "The rules say I can stop. I'm stopping." Then offer your opposite how many tiles you want to exchange in the courtesy pass.

    PC: She is a teacher of mahjong here. She insisted she was right
    TS: She was wrong. Stopping the Charleston is a matter of strategy, not rules. Her "rule" that you can only stop the Charleston if you are 4-5 tiles from mahj is NOT A RULE. It's a strategy principle. Strategies are not enforceable. One player has no business trying to force their strategies on others.

    PC: I do not think anyone should be questioning my reason to stop the Charleston.
    TS: I am in complete agreement with you.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Friday, 3/3/23
    Rochester, New York, USA


    I recently bought a Mah-jongg set in an auction, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 05:21:06 PM EST, Tony K wrote:
    Thank you very much Tom for your helpful response.
    Kind regards

    Pleased to be of assistance, Tony!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    March 2, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    The 2022 card, part 33

    On Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 02:36:02 PM EST, Susie S wrote:
    Question regarding 000 on 2022 card...
    On the 2022 card, the second hand listed under 2022 is...
    222 000 2222 2222 (2's Any 3 Suits)
    A Joker may not be used in "2022" as those are all considered singletons, but...
    May a Joker be used to complete "000"?
    Thanks, in advance, for taking my inquiry.
    Best,
    Susie
    SCS
    GOALS: Be Positive, Test Negative

    Hi, Susie!
    Yes. Read the back of the card.

    It says right there, "Jokers may be used… in any Pung, Kong, Quint, or Sextet."
    Revised goals: Be positive, test negative, read the back of the card, and read FAQ 16 for questions and answers about the NMJL card.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    3/2/23
    Rochester, New York, USA


    I saw a set for sale in a consignment shop

    On Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 01:23:28 PM EST, Bonny K wrote:
    Question about your picture
    Hi Tom. I saw a set for sale in a consignment shop in upstate NY for $110 that looks exactly like the set that you have pictured that created this email. Do you know the approximate value of that? What does the triangle in the upper left corner of the case say?
    Thanks so much
    Bonny Kelter
    Set For Sale:
    # of tiles:
    Color of tiles:
    Material the tiles are made of:
    Description of case:
    Accessories included:
    Overall condition of set:
    URL where you can see pictures:
    Sent from my iPhone

    You gave my puzzle-fan self a bit of a puzzle with this email, Bonny! I had to figure out what picture you were talking about. The boilerplate in your email solved the puzzle for me. You were referring to this photo, from atop the Sets Wanted bulletin board:

    So: thanks for the puzzle fun! As to your question, no. I cannot tell you the value of that set in the window in Upstate New York. I don't know what condition it's in, and I don't know how many flowers and jokers the set contains. And as for the corner label, I can't tell you that, either. It might say "Royal Depth Control" or it might say "Cardinal Industries," as two guesses. $110 is probably a fair price, if the condition warrants. It could be worth much more if it's in excellent condition AND has at least 8 jokers and 8 flowers. If it has fewer than 8 jokers and 8 flowers, then there will be a very long search for matching tiles to fill out the set so it can be used to play National Mah Jongg League rules. Scroll down and have a look at the posts where people write me asking where they can get extra tiles, like the February 27 posts from Karen D and Lauren's Gmail. I get questions like that all the time, and those are just from last month! And see the answer I gave to Phyllis M on February 7, who asked about the value of a Cardinal set that might or might not have enough flowers and jokers. Sorry I can't be more help. Just curious: where in Upstate NY did you see this?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    3/2/23
    Rochester, New York, USA


    I recently bought a Mah-jongg set in an auction

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 12:31:36 PM EST, Tony K wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I recently bought a Mah-jongg set in an auction and would grateful if you could shed some light on the attached flowers and seasons.
    My previous set showed the normal flowers (i.e bamboos, plums etc) and seasons (i.e summer, autumn etc). These are different.
    Thank you.
    Sent from Mail for Windows

    Hi, Tony!
    These are Singapore-style "animal flower tiles," explained fully in FAQ 7E-F, the "Mystery Flowers FAQ."
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    3/2/23
    Rochester, New York, USA


    We play 14 tiles, and I have some questions

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 11:50:16 AM EST, Barry S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    1. We play 14 tiles. I threw and then picked a tile that was part of another player’s exposure. The other player had used a joker. I substituted my tile and took the joker. I then called mahjong.
    The other players said that I had to “play it forward,” whatever that means, and could not call mahjong until my next turn. If someone else called mahjong in the interim, then I was out of luck. No one else called mahjong. When it was my turn again, I had mahjong in my hand before I threw or picked. This can’t be right.
    2. We play 14 tiles. I threw. Before I picked, another player called my throw, exposed and threw. I never picked. I was later called dead for too few tiles. How does picking work when another player calls my throw?

    Hi, Barry!
    I honestly don't know the answers to your questions. I play according to the rulebook. I guess you would call that "13 tiles." I call it "NMJL rules." When somebody asks me a question about "13 tiles" rules, it's easy - I just look it up in the official rulebook, or my book, or another book describing the rules, or the FAQs here on my site. But there is no rulebook for your "14 tiles" game.
    So I can't help you - I honestly don't know how "14 tiles" rules work. Maybe another reader will email me and tell me the answers to your questions. Don't the players at your table know how their rules work? Can't they answer your questions? I'm sorry that I simply can't answer questions about table rules that nobody has ever written down.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Thursday, March 2, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Is my set complete? When was it made? (part 2)

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at 12:22:51 PM EST, Karen D wrote:
    Thank you very much, Mr. Sloper! I will send a photo of the tiles when I am next able to check the set.
    Karen D


    Is my set complete? When was it made?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 27, 2023 at 11:21:31 PM EST, Karen D wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Dear Mr. Sloper,
    I have just inherited a Mah-Jongg set, with tiles made of catalin, and purchased from Cardinal Industries years ago. I have counted 140 tiles (with 4, rather than 8 flowers). Is this a complete set? In addition, they’re are red, blue, and white dragons, but no green dragons. Also, have you any idea of the year that this set was manufactured?
    Thank you very much.
    Karen D
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Karen. I'm going to need to see pictures of all your tiles, arranged by suit and number, as shown in FAQ 7-B, the "Is this a complete set?" FAQ.

    I would need to see for myself your red, blue, and white dragons, but no green dragons. Maybe FAQ 7-E, the "Mystery Tiles FAQ," will help you rethink what you have. I'd need to see a picture of your dragons.
    As for when it was manufactured, if your set was cannibalized, its flowers removed to build out another set to accommodate the National Mah Jongg League's ever-changing flower/joker count requirements in the 40s, 50s and 60s (as illustrated in column 509), it will be very difficult to be sure when it was made.

    1937-1942 8F
    1943 12F
    1944-45 14F
    1946 16F
    1947-48 18F
    1949 20F
    1950-55 24F
    1956-57 22F
    1958-60 20F
    1960-62 14F/2J
    1962-66 12F/4J
    1966-67 8F/6J
    1967-68 10F/6J
    1968-71 6F/8J
    1971-Present 8F/8J

    I would need to see a picture of all your flowers. The number of flowers and jokers in a set isn't necessarily a reliable indicator of the exact date of manufacture of an American set, but an understanding of the NMJL's fluctuating use of flowers and jokers (and what that caused players to do) does give some clues.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Tuesday, February 28, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 8

    Re: What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 4
    On Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at 02:41:56 AM EST, Patrice S wrote:
    Hi once again, Tom (aka Kanji Man) ~
    I am so jazzed that Paul a) read your postings b) owns the same one dot set, still wrapped so their order was preserved! & c) very kindly emailed you with his photos!! Many thanks, Paul, for providing the crucial missing pieces of the puzzle! Tom, thank you for prompting me to check your Bulletin Board. Wow, the mystery character in my photo is far more worn than I realized: luckily, you're used to reading kanji. I admit to hoping for a less mundane translation than "Produced in Qinggang" or "longer lasting paint", LOL, but I appreciate that we arrived at an answer: it takes a village, etc.!!
    Cheers, Patrice ~

    Patrice, your tile isn't "worn." The mold or stamp, or whatever process was used to create the design, is less detailed than the mold or stamp used for Paul's tile. But yes, very serendipitous that Paul had the same designs on his tiles and was able to help fill the gap for us.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Tuesday, February 28, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Undo! Backsies! Can I change my mind?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 27, 2023 at 08:22:30 PM EST, Jeanie H wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    i called a tile and picked it up but decided I don’t want it. I have exposed the tiles from my hand. Can I change my mind and put the tile back on the table?

    Oh, you exposed the tiles already, huh? Too late now! In the change-of-heart rules, once you've either put that called tile on the rack OR exposed tiles, you've committed to the play. So sorry.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, February 27, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 7

    On Monday, February 27, 2023 at 03:25:30 PM EST, Paul H wrote:
    Re: One Dot
    Glad to help, put the sinograms into Google and images of similar sets pop-up, nice to have an accurate translation.
    Not very profound, I remember seeing a set that had something like 'longer lasting paint' on the #1Circles!!!

    LOL!


    The 2022 card, part 32

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 27, 2023 at 01:39:27 PM EST, Jon S wrote:
    Cc: Jon and Edith
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for Windows
    2022 Mah Jong card the 5th consecutive run after the (or) can that be 3 suits?

    No, Jon. To the left of the -or-, it's one color (one suit). To the right of the -or-, it's two colors (two suits). The color-coding is saying that the hand can be made in either one or two suits.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, February 27, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 6

    On Monday, February 27, 2023 at 01:16:07 PM EST, Paul H wrote:
    One Dot
    Hi Tom
    I was reading your bulletin board and came across the One Dot posts from Patrice.
    I have the same One Dots, still in their cellophane wrapping - giving the correct order to the tiles?
    Plus the manufacturer's name as per attached fotos, hope this helps.
    Best Regards and keep up the good work
    Paul

    Great, Paul!
    The first thing I notice is that the mystery character is readable on your set.

    See how the detail is better in your tile (left) than Patrice's tile (right). I can't be certain, but it looks a lot like 港, which my kanji book says means "harbor."
    And if the correct order is 青港出品, translate.google.com says that means "Produced in Qinggang" (a city in eastern China, about halfway between Hong Kong and Shanghai). Babelfish.com agrees with that translation. That conflicts with the manufacturer's label, which says "Made in Hong Kong," but it's possible the tiles were made in Qinggang and the set was assembled for sale in Hong Kong. Or the Qinggang facility is owned by the Hong Kong company. Or something. Anyway, I think that is Patrice's answer! Thanks very much, Paul. A tip o' the Sloper hat to you.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, February 27, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA

    P.S. I'm pretty pleased that my kanji books seem to have solved this mystery!
    P.P.S. I found that searching for the character string 青港 on Bing produces "Qingdao," especially the port of Qingdao, but Google produces "Qinggang" as before. Bing's AI thinks there should be another character in the string and by default gives you "Qingdao" because of that assumed third character. Kind of how if you mistype a search string in Google, it'll show you the results for what you probably meant to type. ... But now I'm talking about search engines; way off topic! So don't read this P.P.S. - Tom


    Can you recommend someone that does restoration and matches tiles?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 27, 2023 at 12:29:16 AM EST, Lauren's Gmail wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi Tom
    I have my mother’s vintage enrobed mah Jongg set. It’s in desperate need of restoration/repainting and I’m also missing one flower. Can you recommend someone that does restoration and matches tiles? I believe it’s made of Bakelite and it’s from the 1950’s.
    Thank for any advice/help you can provide.
    Lauren W
    Sent from my iPhone

    Sorry, Lauren, I cannot. There used to be people who did restorations and I did have their information listed on my cleaning and restoration page, but one by one they announced their retirement. I see there's still a live link there; I can't promise it will get you the help you need. Enrobed tiles are, as you have probably already figured out, among the rarest and most-sought replacement tiles. You can try the resources listed atop my Tiles Wanted bulletin board, but when I recently tried them to get a replacement tile that should have been fairly common, I came up empty. Aside from those two pages here, the only other lead I can offer is Johni Levene, who runs a private Facebook group, "Mah Jongg Collectors Association." I cannot do more for you than what I have written here. Good luck.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, February 27, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Regarding chowing down under

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, February 26, 2023 at 01:14:04 AM EST, John and Valerie C wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Regarding CHOWS.
    Before I can chow from a discard, (i.e person on my left) do I have to already have a pung on the board/table.
    Of can I chow for my first exposed set?
    Thank you.
    Valerie from Western Australia

    G'day, Valerie!
    There is no rule in Australian/British mah-jongg that requires a pung before a chow. You might make one exposure, you might make two exposures, you might make no exposures at all in the course of a hand of mah-jongg.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Sunday, February 26, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 5

    On Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at 01:51:24 AM EST, Patrice S wrote:
    What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 4
    Tom, this is so much more information than I had hoped for, & your extensive efforts are much appreciated! Your description of your research steps & related background is "icing on the cake" for me, a research buff myself ??
    I'll be sure to return to your site for periodic gleanings ~ take care.
    All the best, Patrice

    On Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at 03:01:45 AM EST, Patrice S via PayPal <service@paypal wrote:
    patrice.x.s sent you money
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    You were sent $10.00 USD from patrice.x.s
    To see all the transaction details, please log into your PayPal account. It may take a few moments for this transaction to appear in your account.
    Transaction date
    Feb 21, 2023 23:41:35 PST
    Buyer information
    Patrice S
    Instructions from buyer
    Thanks once more for your help & time, Tom :)
    Description Unit price Qty Amount
    Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Item #: MJ@Sloperama $10.00 USD 1 $10.00 USD
    Total: $10.00 USD
    PayPal

    You're welcome, Patrice. Thank you for the donation!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Wednesday, 2/22/23
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 4

    On Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at 03:40:15 PM EST, Patrice S wrote:
    Re: What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 3
    Hi Tom,
    Hoping my friend's second photo here does the trick. Interesting info so far; I see what you mean about character order for correct translation. I'm curious: why use a Japanese kanji guide vs. Chinese?
    Thanks again, Patrice

    Patrice, I confess that I am in way over my head here. I spent some time living in Japan, and I've played mah-jongg in China, but I do NOT know Chinese, other than a few mah-jongg-related words. Japanese kanji (kan="Chinese", ji="character") have the same meaning in Japanese and Chinese. Trying to look up Chinese characters online is a real pain in the butt, and I don't think I'll get any better results that way. Yesterday I just used one of my kanji books; today I used three of them and was able to identify the one I said yesterday was two "mountain" characters stacked, by using the big fat kanji book:

    青 means "blue" or "green"
    出 means "goods"
    品 means "exit" by itself, but combined with 出 (出品) it means "selling" or "sale"

    These three characters I was able to identify from my Japanese kanji books, but I can't even tell what this first one is even supposed to look like if it was written with a pen or brush instead of embossed in a tiny plastic circular design:

    So I have to give up at this point, Patrice. I tried pasting those three known characters "青出品" into translate.google.com and it seems that the probable meaning (leaving out the one unknown character) is "blue/green goods sales." I tried looking up "company" and none of the possible characters look anything like that one mystery character. Sorry, but I've taken your request as far as my meager abilities can take it.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Tuesday, February 21, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Is that you?

    On February 21, 2023 08:12 AM, stanley40 wrote in a direct message on gamedev.net:
    Hey, I was wondering I was using these forums and I thought I recognized your name from the mahjong tournament from Las Vegas, Mahjong Madness.
    Were you there in 2012 or do i have the wrong person, if i do apologies.

    Yes, that's me. I wrote about it at https://sloperama.com/mahjongg/madness.html
    You're a mah-jongg player and indie game developer?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Tuesday, February 21, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 3

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 20, 2023 at 10:30:01 PM EST, Patrice Stewart wrote:
    Hi Tom,
    My friend provided the attached one-dots photo. I hope you can locate some interesting info on the center designs, though they may merely reflect manufacturer preference. Thanks in advance for your time & efforts! Best, Patrice
    IMG_0600.jpg

    Hi, Patrice. That photo is only 240x320 pixels. I can't read the first symbol. A larger photo is necessary. The only place I ever see 240x320 is on the web, where sellers are trying to keep photo sizes small.

    My guess is that these symbols are as follows:
    X (unreadable)
    青 which means "blue"
    山 with another of those above it; one means "mountain" but I don't know what a stacked pair means
    品 which means "goods"

    The characters are probably not in order. If you can get me a higher-resolution picture, I might be able to do more. As it is, I would say it's probably the name of the company that sold the set. Note also that I used a Japanese kanji guide, not a Chinese one. The meanings could well differ from what I wrote above. It probably does NOT mean "blue mountains goods company" - maybe "blue mountains ivory products." That mysterious first character might be "ivory." The tiles are plastic, of course, not ivory. But it's not unusual for a mah-jongg maker to use "ivory" in the company name.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, February 20, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Have you heard of this? Where did it come from?

    On Monday, February 20, 2023 at 07:10:31 PM EST, Susie S wrote:
    Question about a game I learned with Mahjong tiles...
    When I first started playing American mahjong, an older friend of my mother in-laws taught me how to play what they called Freestyle mahjong. This wasn't a legit game, but it came in handy if only 3 or so players showed up.
    This was a good game when you had fewer than 4 players. Instead of The Charleston...

    -Players place all the tiles face down in the well (center of the table)
    -Each player then randomly chooses 13 tiles & racks them
    -Then each player randomly chooses tiles from the well, without looking at them, to form 5 stacks, 3 tiles each, face down on the table, placed long side, side by side, hugged up against the front of their racks
    -Players look at their hands, choose 3 tiles from their hand & throw them randomly, face down, back into the well
    -Then, starting from the right, each player picks up the first stack of 3 tiles & racks them
    -Players assess their hands, choose 3 more tiles to throw, face down, randomly into the well & pick up the next stack
    -This is repeated until players pick up the last stack, which will remain in their hand, leaving each player with 13 tiles to start
    -Players roll the dice & high roll starts play by drawing & discarding, with the player to their right taking the next turn & play continues until someone gets mahjong

    We've enjoyed this, rather than muddling through The Charleston with 3 players & dealing to "Sally" which, if you don't know how to do it, can take forever & leaves plenty of room for mistakes
    I can't find anyone, including the gal who taught me, who has ever heard of this, let alone who knows where it came from.
    I'm hoping that you can shed some light on this for me, or maybe know someone who can.
    I inquired at support@mahjcon.com and got a tongue lashing. I thought they were going to send the Mounties out after me.
    Thank you, in advance, for taking my inquiry. Best~Susie
    SCS
    GOALS: Be Positive, Test Negative

    Hi, Susie! There's a lot to unpack, so I'll take this step by step:

    SS: ...called Freestyle mahjong. This wasn't a legit game, but it came in handy if only 3 or so players showed up.
    TS: I wouldn't say that's not legit. If it has rules, it's a game. You may be the first to write its rules down. And it has a name. I'd modify the name, though; I'd call it "Freestyle 3-Player American Mah-Jongg" to differentiate it from possible other mah-jongg variant rulesets called "freestyle" around the world.

    SS: -Players place all the tiles face down in the well (center of the table)
    -Each player then randomly chooses 13 tiles & racks them
    -Then each player randomly chooses tiles from the well, without looking at them, to form 5 stacks, 3 tiles each, face down on the table, placed long side, side by side, hugged up against the front of their racks
    TS: Other players have recently said here that they don't build walls, just make a well as you describe. And I've seen all kinds of 3-player Charlestons, but in yours, each player dances with their own short wall. I assume you're using the NMJL card at this point.

    SS: We've enjoyed this, rather than muddling through The Charleston with 3 players & dealing to "Sally" which, if you don't know how to do it, can take forever & leaves plenty of room for mistakes
    TS: I take it "Sally" is the dummy seat. Not all 3-player table rules involve a dummy. Under NMJL rules, the 3-player game is played satisfactorily without a Charleston at all, since you get more wall to pick from. That doesn't mean, though, that groups don't come up with their own substitute for the 4-player Charleston. They just seem to feel it doesn't feel right without a Charleston of some sort.

    SS: I can't find anyone, including the gal who taught me, who has ever heard of this, let alone who knows where it came from.
    I'm hoping that you can shed some light on this for me, or maybe know someone who can.
    TS: There are a kajillion 3-player table rules out there, and hardly any of them are documented, much less their origin stories. I haven't attempted to collect or document 3-player table rules, or any other table rules beyond the most common ones. Your gal learned it from someone, who may have learned it from someone else. All you need is a time machine.

    Good luck. Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, February 20, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 09:11:12 PM EST, Patrice S wrote:
    Thanks for your posted answer, Tom. I'm able to text only to phone numbers (a drag!) with my less-smart phone, but will email a photo after my digital camera is repaired & I can upload to my PC.
    I just purchased two copies of RDWW, one as a gift. Looking forward to reading it & learning ?? Have a great day! Patrice

    I look forward to seeing it, Patrice, and I hope you do enjoy my book. A warning: American mah-jongg is VERY different from Hong Kong style, and CMCR's scoring involves learning a lot of scoring attributes.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    February 16, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What do these One Dot symbols represent?

    On Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 08:04:19 PM EST, Patrice S wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi Tom, I've been playing Hong Kong style for a few months & just happened on your website: thanks for your copious, if overwhelming, amount of information 8^D I use a set at a local community center & the one dots resemble Zuni sun symbols, each red-&-white center design slightly different. What do these designs represent? (I have a non-smartphone but could text you my photo if you wish.) Thanks for your time & website!
    Cheers, Patrice

    Hi, Patrice! Every manufacturer uses their own ideas about what design details to put on their sets. I will need to see them if I'm to have any hope of helping you with your question. If you can send a picture to my email address, I'll see what I can do.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Thursday, February 16, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    This set has blatantly marked jokers

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 12:50:27 PM EST, Candy P wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: I have been given a vintage MahJong gift and though quite lovely, all the jokers are marked on the exterior with a border that would make it obvious that they are a joker? Why? How to play when knowing that tile would be a joker? Thank you...

    What?? You mean when the tiles are stacked in a wall, it's obvious which tiles are jokers? I never heard of such a thing. I know that in the bad old days of the 50s and 60s, it was common to have blatantly-obvious flowers "planted" in the wall. Players in those days had to cannibalize flowers from other sets, resulting in mismatched tiles. Then they'd develop practices to distribute the marked flowers evenly throughout the wall, maybe even starting each player with one. Various strategies "emerge" from playing with marked tiles.
    You will have to try various things with your play group when using that set. Could be fun, Candy.
    I'd sure like to see these marked jokers, if you feel up to sending me pictures.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Thursday, February 16, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Is this solitaire game even winnable?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, February 15, 2023 at 09:07:23?PM EST, Janie <giffinjon wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: In the Silly MahJong Pyramid(impossible) game, can a person win? I have been trying for three years. If it cannot be won, how to go on to next puzzle? Thank you. I love the Silly Mah Jong more than the others.
    Janie
    Sent from my iPad

    Sorry, Janie, but I answer questions about real mah-jongg only. I haven't played the solitaire tile-matching game you're asking about. Mah-jongg tile-matching games are useful beginner aids for players of real mah-jongg, I'll give'em that.
    Sounds like you're asking how to quit a too-difficult puzzle and move on to the next one. Three years on that one puzzle, my oh my. Hard to believe. For tech support, you'd have to ask the makers of your game. Most games have a menu or onscreen "Give up" button. Good luck.
    If you are interested in playing real 4-player mah-jongg, there are lots of apps listed in FAQ 5. And lots of resources for learning real 4-player mah-jongg in the other FAQs. It won't take you three years to make progress, either!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Wednesday, February 15, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Wrong player discarded first

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 13, 2023 at 06:49:53?PM EST, dsms74 (null) wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    NMJL/american style question—-If, after the Charleston is completed, a player who is NOT East ‘starts’ the game by erroneously discarding a tile, what happens?
    I believe that player would be dead for having 12 tiles in its hand, but others say a game does not begin until East discards. Look forward to your answer.
    Thanks!
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, dsms!
    Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the NMJL, says that a player having too few tiles is one of the reasons that the player's hand may be declared dead. Rule 19.d. on page 21. If you don't have the rulebook, see FAQ 19-AA.
    Then the question is, does the player to the right of the dead player pick and discard, or does East discard? The situation you describe is not the same thing as MJME rule 8 on page 19. Rule 8 describes what happens when non-East "assumes East position." But that rule applies if the false East is not holding too few tiles (and can remain East for the remainder of the hand). My belief is that East should discard, since the dead player had not really "assumed East position." My reasoning: East is holding 14 tiles. If players follow after the dead player, then on East's turn, East would not pick but would just discard. And that's just... weird. The player who's already holding 14 tiles should be the next to play after the dead player in this case.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    February 13, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    A tile was misnamed, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 13, 2023 at 06:02:18?PM EST, Katrina W wrote:
    Thank you so much for the response.

    You're welcome, Katrina.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, February 13, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    "Change of heart" on a mahj call, part 2

    Re: Question on your AM #5 bulletin
    On Monday, February 13, 2023 at 04:41:47?PM EST, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    And thank you! It takes a team to figure out some of these rules!
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Play safe out there, Debbie! And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    February 13, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    A tile was misnamed, causing a problem (FAQ 19-AY)

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 13, 2023 at 02:36:40?PM EST, Katrina W wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    In a recent game, a player announced a 2 Bam discard then before she laid it down she corrected it to a 2 Dot. The player across from her said that the 2 Bam would have been for MJ for her but she did not actually call MJ. In reading the NMJL Rules it says if a tile is named incorrectly and a player calls MJ based on the incorreclty named tile then the person who named it incorrectly pays times 4.
    My interpretation of this situation was that because the player did not actually call MJ after the 2 Bam was announced incorrectly and before the tile was named correctly the rule does not apply and play should have just continued.
    Can you confirm that this is the correct interpretation?
    Thank you.

    Hi, Katrina!
    It was foolish for the player to say "that tile would have been mahj for me," because now everybody knows she can win on that tile. The game continues, because I'm with you - your interpretation agrees with FAQ 19-AY.4 - sort of. The time to say "that's my mahj tile" is before the error is corrected, not after. See what I wrote on Monday, August 1, 2022 (below), when jgalligan asked about the same situation.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, February 13, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    "Change of heart" on a mahj call (FAQ 19-AM.5)

    On Monday, February 13, 2023 at 02:29:12?PM EST, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Question on your AM #5 bulletin
    Hi Tom,
    I hope this email finds you well, and enjoying the East coast. Recently there was a question on one of the FB groups about changing one's mind after declaring Mah Jongg. The Admin of the group stated that you could change your mind as long as the one exposure placed on top of the rack could be used for another hand. She also cited the 2020 NMJL Bulletin (attached), question #10. If I am reading your answer correctly, there are no backsies. Since Mah Jongg Made Easy is far from easy to understand, I've always thought that their reference to Mah Jongg in Error on page, 16, 3a and page 17 4a of Mah Jongg Made Easy indicates you could not retract your Mah Jongg declaration regardless of having one exposure up that can be used toward another hand.
    Today, a friend of mine called and spoke to Sandy at the League who said that if only one exposure has been put up and you can use that for another hand your hand is not DEAD.
    What are your thoughts?
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Hi, Debbie!
    That's interesting. I missed that 2020 answer; that clarifies the rule. I'll amend FAQ 19-AM.5 to include this codicil to the rule. Thanks!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, February 13, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    How does seat rotation work? (FAQ 19-BB)

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 13, 2023 at 11:38:22?AM EST, Richard K wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    When playing with 4 people does the person who brings the set always have to change seats after 4 games or can the others change seats around the person whose set they use?
    Thanks

    Hi, Richard!
    See FAQ 19-BB, which explains the seat rotation process in detail. Original East is the person who will exchange seats with the player at the right after every 4th hand. In your group, the person whose set is being used is Original East. If the set's owner has a favorite rack they want to continue using, they can simply take it with them when changing seats.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Monday, February 13, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    A book to add to FAQ 3

    On Saturday, February 11, 2023 at 08:34:20?PM EST, Pete Suchon wrote:
    A new Mahjong book
    Hi Tom,
    I was recently reading through your Faq 3 and I may have a book you don’t list. It’s “All Your Mah-Jong Questions Answered British Rules” by Peter Gregory. ISBN 9798436561370. I bought it off AmazonUS.
    It seems to be a compilation of questions from his website. My only complaint about the book is that I thought there would be the British Mah-Jong rules included but, sadly, they are not.
    I hope you find this helpful and that you are happy and healthy out there on the East Coast.
    -Pete-
    "“Sometimes you have friends you don’t know you have in places you’ve never been.””

    Thanks, Pete! I've added it to FAQ 3. It's cold here but so far not as bad as last winter.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Sunday, February 12, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What is the point of the elaborate, time-consuming ceremony of building the wall?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, February 12, 2023 at 06:54:49?PM EST, Charles B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    What is the point of the elaborate, time-consuming ceremony of building the wall? Why not just dump the tiles in a container and let players reach in and grab them? Or just shuffle them face down on the board?
    Charles B
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Charles.
    The main point of it is "it's the rule." Rules don't really need to be explained and justified. Why do we take turns counterclockwise but pick from the wall clockwise? Because that's the rule. Does it have to be justified?
    That said, I can offer one benefit of the wall-building, which has been part of the game since its inception in the 1800s, by the way. It prevents cheating. Mah-jongg tiles have carved or inlaid designs; an experienced player can read a tile with their thumb. Especially a stickered joker - it's obvious when your thumb feels the sticker instead of a carved face. With a bucket of tiles or a jumble of tiles, if people aren't watching each other's hands like hawks, it's easy to feel a tile and choose not to take it. But when you have to take one particular tile and no other, that reduces the opportunities for cheating.
    But if you and your group think wall-building is a waste of time, you can all choose to make up your own rule. See FAQ 14.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Sunday, February 12, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Is there a rule, part 3

    On Friday, February 10, 2023 at 11:05:32 PM EST, Vicki S wrote:
    Dealing tiles…
    Another question please Tom. Is there a rule re: players pulling their own tiles during the deal?
    When I’m East, I push out my entire wall, then count and pull back the final wall based on the dice roll. Remainder of my wall is in the middle of the table and everyone pulls their own. Most women I play with just separate the tiles against their rack and start handing out tiles. I want to pull my own. Am I weird??? Thanks!

    Hi, Vicki. (1) Pushing out the entire wall and then pulling the dice-count wall back again gets the job done, but it's ... inelegant. (2) And "handing out tiles" isn't the way dealing is done.

    1. The dealing FAQs in FAQ 19 include a diagram of how East can serve the East wall most elegantly. See FAQ 19-CH:

    2. As for the deal itself, see FAQ 19-CA and see the back of the card. It says right there on the card that each player takes her own tiles, 4 at a time.


    Every player should read the back of the NMJL card every year.
    There may be changes, and many frequently asked questions
    are answered on the card. Every player owes it to the other
    players to know all these basic rules of the game.

    So I recommend you read the back of the card in its entirety. If something there raises questions, feel free to ask them.

    The back of the card cannot convey all the rules of this complicated game. I highly recommend that you also get a book. Your playing companions, it appears, have not read a book, and they would benefit from the knowledge you can gain from reading one.


    Left: The League's official rulebook. Every player should have an up-to-date copy!
    I don't sell them, and I'm not paid to say this. Just sayin' it's important to have and read.
    Right: And then there's my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind." - It's not bad, if I do say so myself.

    Those aren't the only books; see FAQ 3 for more books.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    February 2, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Is there a rule that says I can't redeem a joker before calling a discard, part 2

    On Friday, February 10, 2023 at 10:02:33 PM EST, Vicki S wrote:
    Re: Question please…
    Thanks so much for the prompt reply Tom!! As you said, not what I was hoping to hear, but if the scenario crops up again, I will know exactly how to handle it…and how NOT to handle it!

    You're welcome, Vicki!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    February 10, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Following the rules in our "friendly game"

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, February 10, 2023 at 07:17:38 PM EST, Hedy G wrote:
    My mah-jongg question is:
    Today during play, a player picked a tile, pulled it towards her and put it in front of her rack, face down and then decided she wanted the previous discarded tile. I said she can’t do that. She said “but I didn’t look at the tile”. Then it was determined that we play a friendly game and what is wrong with doing that. I, then said “friendly” has nothing to do with following the rules. None of the other two players wanted to agree with me because they hate to express an opinion. The bettor didn’t see what happened but also said “we play a friendly game”. I was so frustrated that I just gave in and said “friendly does not mean that rules don’t apply”. I also said, well I guess you are saying that I’m not friendly because I want to follow the rules. She was then allowed to call the previous tile. What was the correct call in that instance?
    Thank you for your response
    Hedy G, a long time follower
    Sent from my iPad

    You were outnumbered, Hedy. Two opposed and two abstained, leaving you all by your lonesome. What I would say in that situation is, "So we're setting a table rule that says it's okay to pick and move the wall tile and put it back if you change your mind after making a move. I just wanted to state the new rule we just made, and I'll try to remember it." Then, later, when somebody discards a tile you want, you can pick the wall tile and move it and then put it back and say, "Under the new rule, I can change my mind about taking this tile, and take the discard instead." It's kind of snide, and it might get you some blowback, but it cements the table rule that's been set. In the future, everybody will just remember the table rule, and this little squabble will fade into the past. Of course, then you need to remember the real rule the next time you play in a tournament, or with a rule-abiding group.
    This issue, "play by the rules OR play a friendly game," is one that comes up a lot. In this case, the voting majority decided that this particular change of heart rule is "unfriendly." There may be other rules that the voting majority will decide are unfriendly. And that's what it comes down to: it's table rules. Pretty much every table sets some not-standard practice in place.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday, February 10, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Is there a rule that says I can't redeem a joker before calling a discard?

    On Friday, February 10, 2023 at 06:28:14 PM EST, Vicki S wrote:
    Fwd: Question please…
    Hi there Tom!
    > If the player to my left throws a 5 dot which I want (I need four of them and on my rack I have 2 and a joker)…can I call it and expose AFTER I exchange for a 8 bam joker which another player has showing…can I do all that at my turn???
    > Exchange for the 8 bam joker, then immediately call the 5 dot from the table and expose two 5 dots and two jokers properly??
    > This scenario came up today and I thought it was proper since it all happened during my turn.
    > Is there any rule that says you must pick the next tile from the WALL before exchanging for a joker??
    > Many thanks!

    Yes, Vicki, there is such a rule. It's on page 23 of the official rulebook. In my book, the rule is on p. 58 (rule 86.a).
    By the way, the rule is also on the back of the card - says right there that you can redeem a joker only after you have either picked or claimed a tile. In other words, you have to be holding 14 tiles BEFORE you may redeem a joker. That means you are not allowed to do the thing you described in your email. It's a hard rule, I know, but we all had to learn it. Explained fully in FAQ 19-M.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday, February 10, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    How are walls served in a 3-player game, part 2

    On Thursday, February 9, 2023 at 11:53:54 AM EST, Sue wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    THANK YOUUUUUUU

    You're welcome, Sue.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    February 9, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    How are walls served in a 3-player game?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, February 9, 2023 at 08:47:07 AM EST, Sue D wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hello. When you are playing mah-jongg with three people who’s wall comes out first second third and fourth. My real question is does the third person‘s wall come out or does the wall where no one is sitting come out first. I hope this makes sense
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Sue! Dealer's wall comes out first, then the wall is served clockwise, same as when there are four players. See FAQ 19-Q.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, February 9, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    A person takes a joker from me and then Mah jongs

    Mah-Jongg Q A
    On Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at 01:54:19 PM EST, Sandy/Robert N wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: A person takes a joker from me and then Mah jongs, do I pay her twice as if I gave her Mah Jong? The joker is used with my tiles on my board and not in the discarded tiles.

    Hi, Sandy/Robert! You wrote:

    Q: A person takes a joker from me and then Mah jongs, do I pay her twice as if I gave her Mah Jong?
    A: No, you pay her double as if she picked her own mah-jongg. And everybody else pays double, too. See FAQ 19-AN. Win by joker redemption counts as self-pick.

    Q: The joker is used with my tiles on my board and not in the discarded tiles.
    A: Yes, that's the only way somebody can get one of your jokers. A discarded joker is a dead tile. See FAQ 19-G.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Wednesday, February 8, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    The value of this set, part 2

    Re: Vintage Mah Jongg set
    On Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 04:42:22 PM EST, Phyllis M wrote:
    image0.jpegimage1.jpegimage2.jpegimage3.jpegimage4.jpegimage5.jpegimage6.jpegimage7.jpegimage8.jpegimage9.jpegimage10.jpegimage11.jpeg
    Sent from my iPhone
    Yes I do not want to open the box as it is sealed. These pictures were from another set we had

    I'm sorry, Phyllis, but I'm not going to be able to help you. I need to see all the tiles (and the pix must be at least 1024 pixels wide, not 320) of the set whose valuation you're requesting. I need to see the racks. I need to know if there are paper materials. Without that, I cannot give you my valuation. You can rewrap the racks, and you don't need to remove the plastic wrap on the tile trays. It's essential to know how many jokers are present. The set's value is greatly diminished if there are fewer than 8 jokers. As it is, it's a pig in a poke. Or Schrödinger's cat.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    February 7, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    The value of this set

    On Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 03:15:57 PM EST, Phyllis M wrote:
    Fwd: Vintage Mah Jongg set
    Could you please let me know the value of this set
    Thank you
    Phyllis M

    I have a brand new Cardinal Mah Jongg set that has never been opened and still in the manufacturers original packaging. We had another set and opened it to see the contents but did not lay out the tiles as indicated on your web page. I have included some pictures below.
    Answers to the questions on the web page.
    1: Contents 168 tri color tiles, dice, chips and 5 tile holders,
    2: Brand new, never used
    3: I believe the tiles are Catalin tiles
    4: Purchased – My father acquired the set and I am not sure of the date, but would thin sometime in the 1960/70s
    5: Did not take the dimensions of the tiles
    6: 168 tricolored tiles
    7: I do not have a listing of all of the pieces
    8: Container Faux alligator
    9: Condition of container – brand new, never used
    10: Not sure
    11: Craks – appeared to be closer to the 1970s example on web page but not exact
    12 – 13: only pictures are below
    13: I believe at least 4 jokers
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    <1675797842912blob.jpg>

    Hi, Phyllis. I note that your message was a forward; that may explain why the images didn't come through. I do need to see those. And I do need an exact count of the jokers. And I need to see what your tricolor layers look like. Am I to assume that you do not want to unwrap the tiles, in order to retain the set's resale value? Is that why you didn't lay out the tiles for me? And I do need to see all the pieces (racks, dice, any paper materials, etc.).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Tuesday, February 7, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    I was dead but nobody called me dead

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 6, 2023 at 11:38:59 PM EST, Carolyn wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I was going for the 6th hand in 2468. I had four 2 cracks exposed on my rack. In error I called an 8 crack and exposed three 8 cracks and a joker. I knew I was dead but my table mates did not call me dead right away. The question is when I was called dead, was the joker which was in the 8 crack grouping available for exchange? Or because it was the 8 cracks that made my hand dead, was it also dead. Thank you.
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Carolyn! Since nobody called you dead, the joker in the death-causing exposure remains available for redemption/exchange. Somebody really should have called you dead.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Tuesday, February 7, 2023, 9:25 am
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What should a player do if they see that another player is dead?

    On Monday, February 6, 2023 at 08:19:23 PM EST, Kay D wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: if a player determines that another player’s hand is dead, what should that player do? Thank you,
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Kay! The rules say that player can call the other player dead. See FAQ 19-AA.
    I recommend calling a player dead when the player rightly can be called dead.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Monday, February 6, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Can she change her mind?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, February 4, 2023 at 10:22:41 AM EST, FLORENCE C wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: if a player starts to discard ( tile in hand but not yet on the table) calls it 2 crack but then looks at the tile in her hand, and it’s a 2 bam, can she put it back in her rack and get her 2 crack that she wanted to discard?
    Thank you in advance for your answer.
    Flo

    Hi, Flo! Sorry this is a day late. I just now found your email in my Spam folder. Anyway, if the tile has not yet touched the table, but she HAS said its name in full, she can't take it back. The tile in her hand is "down"! See FAQ 19-A. She has to put it down and let go of it. See FAQ 19-AM, the "Change of Heart" FAQ. She also has to say the tile's actual name. See FAQ 19-AY, the "Misnamed Discard" FAQ; the game can't go on until the live discard is properly named.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    February 5, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Add this info to FAQ 2b, why doncha

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, February 5, 2023 at 02:28:52 PM EST, Laura H wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    You have an article that describes different styles of Mah Jongg. I play American Mah Jongg with NMJL rules and Wright Patterson Mah Jongg. Both styles have a Charleston with exchange of tiles before East discards first tile. I don’t know how many other versions have this feature but probably not many. This might be useful info to add to the article. It would help people identify which style of Mah Jongg was played.
    Sent from my iPad

    I think that's a great idea, Laura! So I did it. I also had to mention, then, the Goulash in British/Western rules. FAQ 2b. Thanks for the suggestion!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Sunday, February 5, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Approx value or age of set

    On Sunday, February 5, 2023 at 01:30:50 PM EST, Shea F wrote:
    Approx value or age of set
    I am debating on buying this set but would like to know the approx era or worth of the set before I place my bid.
    Where can I send my donation to for your assistance?
    Thank you,
    Shea F

    Hi, Shea!
    It's a fairly standard 1920s boxed set. It has a couple of desirable tiles, but unfortunately, the set is in not-good condition.
    The box itself is very dinged up. The brass is bent and not shiny. Apparently, the sliding front is present, but I can't tell if the slide fits, and slides in place smoothly.
    The tiles look to be dirty.
    The bits & pieces drawer contains extra pieces that do not belong. Those black things at upper left, and those white things at lower right did not come with this set originally (a previous owner put them there). No paper materials. I don't know if the dice coffin is complete or if all dice and wind markers are present in the lower left corner division. There are plenty of scoring sticks, and I'm not concerned whether there are enough.
    On the plus side, there are some rare tile types. The 9 Dot tiles exhibit an unusual design (diagonals, making a diamond shape), and the 1 Bams are the rare "bamboo shoot" design rather than a bird. The flower tiles are unremarkable.
    I can't tell if there is any identifying mark on the bottom or back of the box. Still, it's very representative of the type of set that marked the beginning of the mah-jongg craze of the 1920s.
    If the set was shiny and clean and un-marred, it would be worth over $100. As it is, I wouldn't pay more than $60 for it. Even though it has those rare 1 Bams and 9 Dots. If the tiles can color-match with another of my sets, I might want to use those rarer tiles to gussy-up my existing set. Then again, if that's what a collector wanted the set for, to cannibalize it, those rare tiles could alone be worth more than $60. As a purchase of a set, though, I don't think it looks pleasant enough to play with, thus my $60 valuation. But that's just me. Another person might want to take this on as a project, to start a search for a better box, maybe replace any other missing bits & pieces, clean up and restore the rest; rescue it, as they say, cannibalizing as needed along the way. It would be a lot of work, and could well require additional money.
    To make a donation, you can click the link in my sig, below. If you don't want to use Paypal, you can just donate to a local homeless charity instead.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Sunday, February 5, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Is there a rule about this?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, February 4, 2023 at 01:06:20 PM EST, Ray C wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Is there any rule about a player CONSTANTLY repeating the last discarded tile?

    囧 No, there's no such rule, Ray. But if you'd like to tell me more, I'm listening.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Saturday, February 4, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Donation

    On Saturday, February 4, 2023 at 05:19:09 AM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    Hello, Thomas Sloper
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Customer name Evelyn H
    Subscription details
    Amount received $10.00 USD
    For Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    PayPal

    Thank you again, Evelyn! I appreciate you.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Saturday, February 4, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Verbalizing the mahj call

    On Friday, February 3, 2023 at 03:22:03 PM EST, storyc wrote:
    calling for mahj
    Hi Mr Sloper.
    I have been rereading your book and making notes for the lessons I will be teaching soon. My question concerns #61 in your list of American Mahjong Rules.
    When calling for an exposure a simple "I want that" is used. (rule # 59)
    But when claiming a tile for Mahj, #61a says the player must clearly and unambiguously let other players know she is claiming for a win. It is "wrong" or "against the rules" to say "I want that." Then declare mahj? Or make the exposure and then say Mahj? Or my favorite, "wait I don't have a discard, I think I mahjed"!
    Must the call for the discard declare Mahj?
    Is this breaking a rule or just not good mahjong etiquette.
    Thanks
    Story

    Hi, Story! You wrote:

    Q: When calling for an exposure a simple "I want that" is used. (rule # 59)
    A: Yes, RDWW #59: ... "I want that," or words to that effect. For humor's sake at key moments in a game, I've been known to say "gimme!"

    Q: But when claiming a tile for Mahj, #61a says the player must clearly and unambiguously let other players know she is claiming for a win
    A: Actually, that's RDWW #65.a. If you're winning right now, which stops the game, you need to make it clear as early as possible that that's what's going on. It's just logical "best practice."

    Q: It is "wrong" or "against the rules" to say "I want that." Then declare mahj?
    A: It's not against the rules to say "I want that" when calling for mahj. But that's only the beginning. Go the rest of the way and declare mahj. It's fine to say "I want that. Mahj!"

    Q: Or make the exposure and then say Mahj?
    A: That's illegal.
    1. MJME 2020 page 14 (RDWW #59): You have to verbalize the call first.
    2. Also on MJME 2020 page 14 (RDWW #60): Then you can make an exposure.
    So no, you can't legally make an exposure without verbalizing first.
    But note that it happens all the time, most of the time without objection from other players. But it can be a real problem if there's a conflicting claim.
    If a player makes an exposure before speaking the claim, and another player also calls the tile, then the player who acted before speaking has "slam-exposed." That's an aggressive move that's frowned upon (see MJME2020, rule 13 on page 20). And is technically a violation of the rule stated on MJME2020 page 14 (RDWW #s 59 and 60).
    Especially if you're declaring mahj, when you want to override a claim for exposure. JUST SAY SO. "Mahj" is much more powerful than "I want that," and overrides it.
    So, while exposing before speaking may be overlooked once in a while, it's definitely a huge problem if you do it when someone else also wants the discard. So just always speak before acting, and treat it as a rule, not just a recommendation.

    Q: Or my favorite, "wait I don't have a discard, I think I mahjed"!
    A: Well, that's not optimal, but it gets the job done.

    Q: Must the call for the discard declare Mahj?
    A: I think I've answered this. If not, let me know.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    2/3/23
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What happens if three players go dead, part 2

    On Friday, February 3, 2023 at 12:55:09 AM EST, Terry P wrote:
    Re: MJ question
    Thank you.
    The auto speak got me again. I meant self picked not picture. I think I got the answer from your FAQ. All three people went dead at different times but because they had incorrect amount of tiles in their hands it is a very strange occurrence. The remaining player felt she should get paid as if it were people going dead from incorrectly calling Mahjong. I can’t imagine this ever happening again and thank you.

    You're welcome, Terry. The remaining player's feelings do not outweigh the rules. See the FAQ:
    (b): This was not a case of someone declaring mahj in error, another throwing in the hand, and another one of them declaring mahj in error.
    (c): This was not a case of someone declaring mahj in error, and two players throwing in the hand.
    (d): This was not a case of someone declaring mahj in error, and a player destroying the wall before it's realized that the mahj was erroneous.
    (e): This was a case of three players going dead by other means, thus the survivor throws in her hand (nobody gets paid, no matter what the survivor's "feelings" are about it). Shuffle, deal (next dealer takes over), and play another hand. It's in the book.
    I totally get it about autocorrect; I call it "autodefect." Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday, 2/3/23
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What happens if three players go dead?

    On Thursday, February 2, 2023 at 10:08:52 PM EST, Terry P wrote:
    MJ question
    Hi. Here is my question.
    We had a strange situation. Three of the four players became dead during the game. The fourth player was still alive with an intact hand. What happens? We thought everyone should pay the full amount to the remaining player. We weren’t sure if it should be a single or double, as if she had a picture on Mahjong. What is your take on this. What is the rule if there is one? Thank you.
    Terry P

    Hi, Terry! There is indeed a rule. See FAQ 19-BW. The answer to your question is "it depends." You didn't give me full details (how each player went dead), so the FAQ will tell you the answer. Also, did you check the back of the card?
    And I'm sorry but I don't know what you mean by having "a picture on Mahjong."
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, Groundhog Day, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Knitted Straight

    On Thursday, February 2, 2023 at 07:54:16 PM EST, Lynn M wrote:
    Knitted Straight
    Hello, Tom--
    My Chinese MJ group had a question today and I can't find the answer on your site: Can a Knitted Straight combine with All Types, if the remaining sets in the hand contain both winds and dragons? For example:
    147 258 369 EEE RR
    We know that Greater Honors and Knitted Tiles & Lesser Honors and Knitted Tiles can't combine with All Types (since those hands MUST be all types), but what about the above hand? Also, are the 147, 258 & 369 considered "sets?"
    Thanks,
    Lynn M

    Hi, Lynn! Long time no see. The information you're looking for wouldn't be on my site, since my site does not define full rule sets for any variant (other than some documents readers have sent in, in the /downlode/ folder). For this answer we have to check "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," page 183:

      35. Knitted Straight 12 points

      A special straight made of knitted sets: 1-4-7 in one suit, 2-5-8 in another suit, and 3-6-9 in the third suit. May combine with All Chows and with Lesser Honors and Knitted Tiles. May not combine with Edge Wait or Closed Wait.

    If you add a dragon pung and a wind pair (or vice versa), then you have All Types, and of course you can claim it. There's no need for the rulebook (upon which my book was based) to specify every possible permissible combination; it was deemed necessary to specify only those combos which are implied, included, or otherwise impermissible. If it doesn't say you can't, and it doesn't violate any of the exclusionary principles outlined in FAQ 22, then you can.

    You also asked, 'are the 147, 258 & 369 considered "sets?"' Note that it says right there in the book that they are "knitted sets," and note that it says right there that the hand may be combined with All Chows (if your fourth set is a chow, of course). That tells you that these sets are considered chows for the purposes of the hand definition, name, and combos, and exclusions. So they are "sets," technically, but they are not exposable sets.

    Good to get a question about a different variant now and then! Play safe out there, Lynn. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, Groundhog Day, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    When is it too late to stop the Charleston?

    On Thursday, February 2, 2023 at 11:01:10 AM EST, Elinor G wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I have a question about stopping the Charleston. You state:” Once somebody has picked up her second left pass, it's too late to stop the Charleston.**”. You do not say that the person has to have LOOKED AT the tiles. SO, my question is: Is just picking up the tiles and NOT looking at them enough to stop the Charleston? Or does the person who picked up the tiles have to have looked at them as well? Thank you! Ellie
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Ellie! You quoted my FAQ 19-AG. As you noted, I wrote that answer (I chose the words that answer is made of, to address the question "when is it too late to stop the Charleston?"). So where did I get off putting those words together? Let's see if that statement can be backed up by the League.
    This fine point is not addressed in the rulebook; the rulebook only says that the second Charleston "is permitted only if all four players agree. If any player objects, the second Charleston is not played." And that doesn't clarify with fine precision when it's too late to "object." So I needed to dig deeper.

    The rulebook is not the only source of League rules. I also checked the League's yearly newsletters going back 20 years, and found no answer to your question, except this from the 2023 newsletter (issued about one month ago): "If one or more players have put down their pass, but no one has picked up the second left pass, then it is permissible to stop the Charleston."
    That's what I'd previously written in FAQ 19-AG. No mention of actually seeing the tiles. Just picking them up. But does "picked up" mean just "lifted," regardless of whether tiles have been seen or not? I mean, yeah, those tiles were lifted, but how far were they lifted? I needed to dig even deeper.

    Sometimes, when a rule doesn't clarify sufficiently, we have to look at other rules and look for an overriding principle. Regarding taking a tile from the wall, the simple act of lifting or moving the tile commits the player to the play. But regarding taking a discard, it's permissible to lift it and then put it back. What's the difference between these two plays, and what makes one of them non-rescindable? One way of looking at it is that the face-down tile can't be lifted and returned, but the face-up tile can. Face-up tiles are known to all; face-down tiles are not. And an experienced player can sometimes feel the face of the tile and determine what it is.
    By that principle, it makes sense to rule that lifting the Second Left crosses the line, making it too late to stop the dance.

    I like to think I'm a reasonable person. If it was me who was in the act of lifting tiles and a friend of mine says "I object to the second Charleston!" what am I going to do? Am I going to complain "no way! I already lifted the tiles"? No, I'd put those tiles down again, since I haven't seen them. Those unseen tiles can reasonably go back to where they came from, as far as I'm concerned. And I'm the person who strung together those words that you asked about! I lifted them but I don't feel that I've fully picked them up.

    But I'm aware that a lot of players are highly competitive and get miffed (that's a polite word that sometimes means "pissed as hell") if somebody dares to stop the Charleston, so I understand the need for drawing a definitive line.

    The upshot: I personally would draw the line at seeing the tiles, not just lifting them. But a strict reading of the ruling stated in last month's newsletter says just lifting them is enough. Until I re-checked last month's newsletter, I was considering changing my answer in FAQ 19-AG. But now I think I'll leave it as is. The League says "picked up," and that means "lifted," and that's that. The League makes the rules.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Groundhog Day, Thursday, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    We fondly call you the mahj guru.

    On Saturday, January 28, 2023 at 08:45:31 PM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Courtney S
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
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    You can view the transaction details online.
    Donation Details
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    Contributor: Courtney S
    Message: Our group of 12 players fondly call you the mahj guru. Three of us reference your site to find answers to questions, and rules – we often get the eye roll - lol. I'm the only one who updates my RDWW book from your annual errata. Thank you!
    PayPal

    That's so awesome, Courtney! Thank you so much for the donation!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Saturday, January 28, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    This group never plays the second Charleston, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, January 27, 2023 at 10:13:14 PM EST, Gail R wrote:
    Your answer was very diplomatic. Thanks.

    You're welcome, Gail.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Saturday, January 28, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Conflicting claims for mahj

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, January 27, 2023 at 07:53:51 PM EST, Sandra S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    The opponent across from me threw the tile I needed for mah jongg. I called it..said it was mah jongg and exposed my hand. My hand was correct. The person on my left then said..oh, it’s my mah jongg too. I declared she was too late and she should have called it before me, not after me. Especially since I had already exposed my hand. Am I correct? Thank you.
    Sent from my iPad

    You were exactly right, Sandra. It's not a race, but there is such a thing as "too late." See FAQ 19-H.3, and see the League's official rulebook, page 20, rule 13(b).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday, January 27, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    This group never plays the second Charleston

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, January 27, 2023 at 07:03:37 PM EST, Gail R wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for Windows
    I played with a new group who claim the second round of Charleston is optional and they do not ever play the second round. When I looked at the card it does say Second Charleston (optional) but every other game I’ve played in only stops if one person does NOT want to continue the second Charleston They do play a courtesy pass after one Charleston.
    HELP!

    Hi, Gail!
    It sounds like your theory is that this group misunderstands what "optional" means. But for all I know, maybe they've all come to feel that nothing new goes around in the second Charleston and so they have all agreed to just skip it.
    The rule is that any one person can stop after the first Charleston. There is no rule that says that if three people don't want a second Charleston and one does want it, that that one can have her way. Your experience with other groups is the norm.
    It's funny; most of the stopping-the-Charleston complaints I get is from players who complain that one of their players stops the dancing too frequently. See FAQ 28. I always try to calm those complaints by pointing out that "nothing new goes around in the second dance anyway." That's not 100% true, of course; I have gotten good tiles in the second Charleston, on occasion.
    In most groups, players cry foul if anybody stops the dance, so I made this diagram:

    But that's the opposite of your problem, so don't look at that.
    Let's give this a try: next time, if you really want to go around again, you can poll the others: "I'd really like to go the second round. Does anybody else want to?" If there is even one person who says "no," then there is no second Charleston. It takes only one person to cause a stop.
    Look at it like this is a broadening experience for you. Lots of people play lots of ways, and when you're in Rome, you have to do as the Romans do.
    I'm adding this to FAQ 28.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday, January 27, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    How do you teach slow players, part 3

    On Friday, January 27, 2023 at 04:19:49 PM EST, lindaz wrote:
    Fwd: slow players (pt 2)
    Hey Tom-
    Happy New Year! I saw the question about slow players and have some suggestions to offer.
    1. Explain to beginners at the start of instruction how important it is to keep up with the group.
    2. Usually slow persons are beginners, so seat them with other beginners if possible. If there is only one beginner, have her sit t an experienced person who can explain what her reasoning is for a play. Of course this is only possible if everyone at the table agrees. When the newbie is more comfortable, have her play and the experienced player will sit next to her and suggest moves--as long as the other players agree. All of us were new at one time and most will have the patience with this for a few times.
    3. If slowness continues, kindly approach her and say something like "We notice you seem to struggle to make a decision when it's your turn to play. We've ALL experienced this in the beginning--it's very frustrating to everyone --you feel pressure to not hold everyone up and other players want to keep things moving. We really enjoy your company and have some ideas that have helped us." Explain that the only way to play faster is to play more often and LEARN THE CARD. Join an online group (I like Real MJ). Practice every day--you can't expect to speed up by playing once a week in the beginning. Use an egg timer while you play online and strive for improvement.
    If a newcomer asks to join your group, welcome her cordially but explain there is a policy to play within 15 sec. or so. That way a new member will strive to keep up. It's really awkward to have to approach someone with this complaint but it's up to the new player to adapt to the group's rules. You can make a joke out of it--"Yeah, in the past we've had to behead a few people if they were too slow and you seem like a nice person we'd enjoy playing with."
    It's incumbent upon the teacher to emphasize the importance of practice, and playing online takes the pressure off of playing in a group while learning. We've ALL struggled in the beginning!!
    Thanks for all the teaching you offer--Linda

    Nice, Linda!
    Two tips I tell my students about are:
    To learn the card, go through the card and build each hand. Make it in numerous ways (with dots, then with bams, etc.). This tip only works for students who own a set of tiles.
    To learn the tiles and make it easier for yourself to scan the discard floor and recognize tiles, get one of those mah-jongg tile-matching games on your mobile device or personal computer. Playing a tile-matching game gives you lots more confidence when faced with a bunch of face-up tiles.
    But yeah, your kinder gentler "we all go through it" approach is good. I'm adding this to the Teaching FAQ. Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday, January 27, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What if East has mah-jongg before the Charleston starts?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 08:49:19 AM EST, Roni L N wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    If a player is east at the break of the wall takes her tiles & has mah jong right before passing starts does that player still has to finish all the passing or can declare mah jong before the passing starts
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Roni! You can read about "Heavenly Hand" in FAQ 19-BJ. And it's on page 14 of Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the NMJL.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, January 26, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Are they Japanese, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at 11:30:27 PM EST, Rachel E wrote:
    thank you for the quick response. You are correct, there are 16 winds! And yes, there are already four blank tiles in the set and the owner can provide four more to make eight Jokers.
    You noted the smaller size of the tiles. Will those fit in a standard rack that I can order online?
    I believe the store said these sets were from around 1948, but I’ll double check.
    The store is asking $150, which felt quite reasonable after looking at both used sets online and new sets. I am
    open to other suggestions for finding a set.
    Rachel E
    Sent from my iPhone

    Good morning, Rachel.
    US$150 is much too much for this type of set. Disclaimer: I stopped checking mah-jongg set prices in Los Angeles' Chinatown when the COVID pandemic hit, so it's been at least 4 years since I set eyes on in-person retail sales. But I find it hard to believe that the price would have skyrocketed to 200% or 300% what such sets went for before the pandemic. A set like that should be priced at no more than $70 or $80 at most, due to inflation. Maybe the seller is charging you for two sets (the only way to get more blank tiles is to cannibalize a second set). I have 2 or 3 similar sets in my collection; I paid maybe $50 (give or take $10) each for them. If you're going to pay double, you might as well get both whole sets.
    As for rack fit, small tiles fit just fine on standard-size American racks. There would be a problem only with big tiles. See this illustration from FAQ 7-D, the "Bits and Pieces" FAQ:

      1. The back of the rack should be at least as high as the thickness of two of your tiles.
      2. The horizontal top surface of the rack should be at least as wide as the longest dimension of one of your tiles. You can see in example B what can happen when the back is too short and the top is not wide enough.

    As for when the set was manufactured, 1948 seems awfully specific. One of the tiny images you sent me shows a tiny corner of the instruction manual included in the set. It's possible that that booklet was dated 1948, which would not necessarily apply to the set's date of manufacture. If the set was made 75 years ago, I would think the cellophane wrap would have aged more. I can't state definitively when that set was manufactured with the limited information I have. All I have to go on is the similarity between the set pictured and the sets in my collection and four tiny images of tiles in trays. What year the set was manufactured has no bearing on its value, since it's a fairly common type of set.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, January 26, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Are they Japanese?

    On Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at 08:45:54 PM EST, Rachel E wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I happened upon three vintage mahjongg sets in a tobacco store in Cambridge, MA. (Photos below) They say they are Japanese, but don’t match the descriptions I am finding of Japanese sets.

    Each set has:
    The full 36 tiles of the three suits
    Four flowers
    Four seasons
    12 winds
    12 dragons
    Four blank tiles
    The owner is offering to provide me with four additional, matching blank tiles so that I can create 8 Jokers.

    The tiles are labeled with Western numbers (1-9) and letters (N,W,S,E). The dragons are marked traditionally: the white is blank save for the letter P and the red and green dragons have the corresponding letters for the Chinese word (C for red and F for green).
    In addition, these “Japanese” sets do not have four Red Fives and, as I said before, have four flowers and four seasons, so they give me eight tiles I can use as flowers.
    I am curious what you think about this and if perhaps these sets are mismarked and are not Japanese. In addition, am I correct that I can use one of these sets for American mahjongg, once I secure the additional four blank tiles?
    I do plan on buying racks if I buy one of these seats.
    Thank you very much.
    IMG_4893.jpegIMG_4892.jpegIMG_4891.jpegIMG_4890.jpeg
    Rachel E
    (She/Her/Hers)
    “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” — Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    Hi, Rachel!
    Those sets could well be Japanese. Check to see if there are any papers included in the set (in front cover inside pocket), see if there's any Japanese writing. Or Korean writing, for that matter. This type of set has smaller tiles (like Japanese tiles), and comes in a Japanese-style case. Probably made in Japan for export to the West - but not to play Japanese mah-jongg. Imagine the Japanese manufacturer, thinking "Whatever kind of mah-jong they play over there, this set is okay, from what I could tell from the illustrations in that old book."

    You also asked "In addition, am I correct that I can use one of these sets for American mahjongg, once I secure the additional four blank tiles?"
    It depends. Do those sets have four unmarked blank tiles in addition to the four trays of tiles you showed me? Because you need EIGHT more tiles than what you showed me in your four photos.
    Also, I count 16 winds and 12 dragons in that fourth photo.

    Lastly, I don't know what "vintage" means to you, but I imagine these sets were made in the 1980s, give or take a decade.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    January 2, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Is the person dead?

    On Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at 11:34:13 AM EST, Virginia wrote:
    Calling a hand dead
    If a person throws a tile and then a person calls the title for Mah Jongg but picks up the wrong tile and puts it on their rack with the rest of the tiles is the person dead?

    Yes, Virginia. The person has an invalid hand. If the person had picked up the wrong discard and then looked at it and put it down and picked up the right discard, that would have been okay. But placing the tile atop the rack commits the play, and is not rescindable. See FAQ 19-AM.2 which cites a letter from the NMJL that states the rule in writing.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Wednesday, January 25, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What can we do about our slow player?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at 01:05:30 AM EST, Sherry B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hi, is there a rule on how long a player can take on each turn? We have one player who takes at least 5 minutes every turn. It takes the pleasure out of the game. What do you suggest? Thank you, Sherry
    Sent from my iPhone

    No, Sherry, there's no rule. I suggest you read these:

    The Slow Player FAQ, FAQ 19-BA.

    Column 621 discusses the psychology of slow players. Try to understand what might be going on in your slow player's head.

    Column 375 also discusses some techniques you can try when faced with a slow player who's negatively affecting the group's fun. (Probably pretty much what FAQ 19-BA says.)

    You need to start a conversation with your group. Make sure the other players are united with you in your desire to make the game move faster than a glacier. As I wrote to Story C ("How do you teach slow players to play faster?", January 18, below), you could decree a time limit. When the time runs out, you can tell the player, "discard a tile now, or we'll choose one for you."

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Wednesday, January 25, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA

    Truth be told, any slow player tips are likely to just "waste your time and annoy the pig." I'm not being nasty, I'm not name-calling - just referencing a Robert Heinlein quote, "Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig." Keep the slow player as is, or get a new player who isn't so slow. That's what it'll likely come down to. - Tom


    What do I have here?

    On Monday, January 23, 2023 at 10:59:03 PM EST, Tracie M wrote:
    Mah-Jong Book..
    Hello, I'm wondering what I have here with this book. I can't seem to find one like it anywhere, is it really rare? Is it valuable? Any information would be helpful. It's called The American Code of Laws of Mah Jong. It's a small and thin old hardcover book. I've attached pics so you can see what it is. Thanks in advance for your time & trouble! Sincerely, Tracie ??

    Hi, Tracie!
    I can't tell you that this book is rare. I can only tell you that I haven't run across it myself, and I don't have one in my mah-jongg library. It might be rare. I have the Laws included in other books from the 1920s, so the information in the book is not rare. But I didn't know that there was a standalone book on the Laws.
    Its value depends on not just its rarity but also on its condition. Your photo shows that part of the cover appears to be warped or wrinkled and shiny, but that might be an artifact of the photograph; all I'm saying is I can't tell what condition the book is in. From your second photo, it appears that the paper is very yellowed and the binding is loose. I assume its condition is one or the other of these two condition ratings:
    GOOD - Item is worn but reasonably attractive; any normal person would notice the defects without having to look for them. All defects must be noted.
    VERY GOOD - Item has a few defects that any normal person would notice upon close examination. All defects must be noted.
    A collector might pay anywhere from US$15 to US$50 for it, I assume, depending on condition. Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Tuesday, January 24, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Is it a rule to separate exposures, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, January 23, 2023 at 11:03:23 PM EST, marsha c wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I actually found FAQ 19-AX about 3 minutes after I hit the send button in my email. We have a very friendly game and we do leave space between exposures. We just wanted to know if it was a rule. Love your website and I appreciate all your hard work.

    On Monday, January 23, 2023 at 11:07:07 PM EST, Marsha C via PayPal <service@paypal wrote: ledmic sent you money
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    PayPal
    You were sent $50.00 USD from ledmic
    To see all the transaction details, please log into your PayPal account. It may take a few moments for this transaction to appear in your account.
    Transaction date
    Jan 23, 2023 20:06:58 PST
    Buyer information
    Marsha C
    Instructions from buyer
    None provided
    Description Unit price Qty Amount
    Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Item #: MJ@Sloperama $50.00 USD 1 $50.00 USD
    Total: $50.00 USD
    PayPal

    Wow, thank you, Marsha! And good job finding the answer in FAQ 19. I repeat my recommendation that every table have a copy of the League's rulebook. I refer to my copy frequently.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Tuesday, January 24, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Is it a rule to separate exposures? Or just good etiquette?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, January 23, 2023 at 02:02:17 PM EST, marsha c wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Is there a rule that says that your exposures must be separated on your rack or is this just good etiquette?
    Thanks.

    Hi, Marsha!
    There's no rule that says exposures must be separated. On page 14 of Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the NMJL (every table should have a copy), it says "it is courteous to leave a space between the exposures." I say it's not "just good etiquette" - I say it's "bad manners" to NOT leave a space between the exposures. The purpose of making exposures is to enable other players to see at a glance what progress an opponent is making. Trying to make it harder for other players to read your exposures would be an aggressive and unfriendly tactic. See FAQ 19-AX.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Monday, January 23, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    She uses her hands to push out the wall.

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, January 23, 2023 at 10:23:34 AM EST, Linda S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Good morning, Tom. This is a "breaking the east wall" question. A person I play with does not follow the standard procedures. She does not use her rack or pusher, instead she uses only her hands. After rolling the dice, she slides her rack back away from the wall. She counts the tiles and slightly separates the wall into two sections Then she removes her two stacks of tiles (her first draw)from the section on the left and places them on the left side/corner of the table. Next, using only her hands on either end, she pushes the left wall section into position in the center of the table. She picks up her first draw and puts it behind her rack, then slides the remaining section on the right to the left side against her pusher. Granted, all the tiles end up in the correct location, but she is interested in playing in a tournament. I believe there she could get “called out” because her method could make cheating easier, cause problems if walls fail when being pushed out, and sometimes the north player waits for her to pull her initial tiles forgetting she already did so. Would appreciate your opinion and thanks. Linda

    Hi, Linda!
    I don't see a problem. You pointed out three potential problems:
    1. Her method could make cheating easier - how? I don't see it.
    2. She might destroy the wall - sure, it's possible, but has she destroyed the wall, in your memory, using her method? It's only a problem if she does destroy the wall. In every mah-jongg variant except American, there are no racks, and people push walls with their hands all the time.
    3. Next in line after East* might sit there waiting for something that's already happened - sure, that's possible, but one with a simple remedy.
    Overall, you haven't convinced me that your player's method of serving the wall is bad or wrong. Mind you, I have seen people use bad methods of serving the wall, and at tournaments, too. But your player's method isn't bad, no matter if somebody complains about it. Tournament players can be overly picky sometimes, but most of them are nice and laissez-faire, understanding that different folks use different strokes.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Monday, January 23, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA

    * In all forms of mah-jongg in which seat positions are ascribed a compass direction, "North" actually sits at East's left, not right. In an American tournament, you'll usually see "N" on the northernmost wall and "E" on the easternmost wall, but this is not in keeping with the rest of the mah-jongg world. Under American rules, the only seat position that has a compass direction name is East. That's why in all my diagrams about American mah-jongg, I mark the seats (moving counterclockwise) E, 2, 3, 4. See FAQ 20-K (which describes compass-direction seating in un-American mah-jongg). - Tom



    Eek! I wanted that!

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, January 20, 2023 at 06:35:22 PM EST, loulou2244 wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:..a player has exposed 3 8 kraks and a joker. A player throws an 8 krak not seeing she could have replaced the joker. Can the player with the 8 kraks pick up the 8 krak, replace the joker, and use the joker in her hand to call mah jongg?
    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

    Sorry, LouLou, but no.
    A discarded redeemable may not be taken for the purpose of joker redemption.
    See FAQ 19-G, 'Can I claim a discarded redeemable tile?'.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday, January 20, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    I went dead; were my jokers still available, part 2 (She went dead; were her jokers still available?)

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, January 19, 2023 at 08:49:00 PM EST, Lynn C wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Player 1 exposed 3 tiles.
    Player 2 knew this exposure could only be from a concealed hand.
    Player 2 told Player 1 she was dead and explained why.
    Do the exposed 3 tiles stay exposed or do they go back into Player 1’s rack?
    Thank you

    Hi, Lynn!
    After Player 2 told Player 1 that Player 1 was dead, I assume Player 1 agreed that she was dead.
    Because the exposure is unambiguous in showing that the player's hand is dead, it must be returned to the sloping front of the player's rack. It's like I said to ildiko M one week ago ('I went dead; were my jokers still available,' below); at the time somebody called Player 1 dead for having an exposure that unambiguously was illegal/erroneous/dead, the exposure that made the hand dead needed to be returned to the sloping front of the rack. See full explanation of this rule in FAQ 19-P.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, January 19, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What does "in the rack" mean, as opposed to "on the rack"?

    On Thursday, January 19, 2023 at 03:10:23 PM EST, <debarons wrote:
    Re: Placing Discard On or In the Caller's Rack
    Hi Tom
    Another of the "change of heart" rules: a caller may pick up the fresh live discard and put it back, so long as they do not put it on or in the rack
    What do you/the National Mah Jongg League mean by “IN the rack?” If you call for/pick up a live discard, I thought it can only go ON the rack i.e. ON TOP OF THE RACK and must be exposed. I thought if it is IN the rack, it is not exposed and the tile is placed with your unexposed tiles.
    I have read your columns and FAQs but I must have missed something about this. I look forward to receiving your clarification.
    Thank you.
    Deborah

    Hi, Deborah!
    "On the rack" versus "in the rack" just means "atop the rack" versus "on the sloping front of the rack." "On" and "in" is just shorthand. Mah-jongg explanations are difficult enough, that sometimes it's desirable to use fewer words.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, January 19, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    How do you teach slow players, part 2

    Re: new teacher questions
    On Thursday, January 19, 2023 at 01:16:47 PM EST, storyc wrote:
    Thanks for your prompt response. Just to clarify, I play (and have played for 4 years) with a group of 3 ladies. And while they rely on me to get answers to problems, they don't want me to teach them. And they are slow and they have no desire to pick up the pace. I've quoted column 621 and 375 to them, to no avail. So, YES. I am the problemBlush As I said, I play quickly and let them be.
    But when I teach I DO NOT want to pass on these bad habits
    The 2 groups of ladies (5 in each group) who I will teach have never played Maj before. They are very much beginners. We will begin lessons next month. They are the ones I am concerned about. I want to make sure that I teach them properly.
    Your book and website will be great tools. And, your advice with timing and keeping the Charleston moving will help too.
    Thanks again.
    Story

    Okay, I see now. Good luck with both situations, Story!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, January 19, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    How do you teach slow players to play faster?

    On Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 03:11:18 PM EST, storyc wrote:
    new teacher questions
    Hi Mr Sloper,
    I have been asked by 2 groups of ladies to teach them how to play Mahjong. I have been playing for 4 years now and have read both your book and Elaine Sandberg's book...numerous times. And watched tons of you-tube videos. In my group I am the one charged with researching a question or rule, so I am constantly reading your website.
    My problem is that the person that taught , had really just learned herself. She showed us the basics but not all the details. And she never stressed keeping the Charleston and game moving. (she actually had us write down all possible hands!)
    When you say going slowly gets everyone confused. I know it to be true! Weekly I hear, "where do we pass this time" or whose turn is it. I use your 4/5 step strategy for the Charleston and am pretty quick. I play online and like the "fast" games. But the rest of my group is so slow. Since I'm the only one who thinks we should "keep the game moving!" I just play quickly and let them be.
    But as a teacher I want to make sure the new players learn the rules correctly and learn that the game should keep moving.
    My questions- After they learn the tiles, the card, the rules, dealing...can you tell me how long a beginner should take to decide what to pass? I watch Michele Frizell Charleston Sprints and her recommended time threshold for the Charleston is 4 minutes for beginners. Which is around 10 seconds per pass. Should I encourage (or teach) my students to pass within 10 seconds? And strive to get faster? I have seen lots of instruction sheets for beginners and I have several books. But I need advice on timing and how best to teach it.
    I just cannot imagine a 4 minute Charleston with my group. After 4 years, we still have times that a player takes 4 minutes to decide one pass.
    Thanks in advance for helping me with the timing question. Any other advice would be appreciated.
    And thank you for your great website.
    Story

    Hi, Story! So, as a teacher, you have the rules covered, but now you have a Slow Player problem.
    When we're talking about new players (players who've played for less than, let's say, six months), you have to realize that American mah-jongg is more difficult to master than other forms of mah-jongg, since a player must make a hand from the yearly card ONLY, the card is a challenge for new players to read, and the rules for jokers in particular are rather complex.
    But it's not only new players who may be guilty of playing too slowly. I wrote two columns on the topic of slow players.
    Column 621 discusses the psychology of slow players. As a teacher of this game, you need to understand the psychology of your students.
    Column 375 discusses some techniques you can try when faced with a slow player who's negatively affecting the group's fun.
    Let's dig into some things you said:

    Q: Weekly I hear, "where do we pass this time" or whose turn is it.
    A: Since you were ASKED to be "the teacher," you can tell your students that they must announce every pass they make. And until the pace improves, you can also forbid your students to pick up the tiles passed to them until everybody has passed.
    After the deal, you will surely be the first to say, "First Right." Then insist that every other player do the same after you. Then the phrase "First Across" has to be spoken by four players, then "First Left."
    I've never done this, but since you have a pacing problem, After everyone has passed First Left, you can announce, "If anybody wants to stop the Charleston, speak now." After nobody says they want to stop (and 10 seconds have gone by), you can say "Second Left" and show everybody that they have to make a pyramid with their Second Left pass. And so on. Universal verbalization helps everyone keep track during the Charleston. Insist on it until the situation has improved greatly.

    Q: I'm the only one who thinks we should "keep the game moving!"
    A: If that's true, then I'm wasting my finger movements on my computer keyboard here. If everybody is happy with the slow pace, then the problem is YOU, not them.
    But I'm guessing it's NOT true - that you're NOT the only one who wishes the game would move along. As a duly elected teacher, you have the right if not the duty to keep saying, "keep the game moving. Keep the game moving. Keep the game moving." The Marge Simpson technique of "gentle nagging" can be very effective.

    Q: can you tell me how long a beginner should take to decide what to pass?
    A: No. In a teaching situation, you can help the player choose what to pass, along with an explanation that will help everybody. But if you're an "elected teacher" who's actually a member of the play group, that's an entirely different situation. Michelle Frizzell's 10-second rule is not unreasonable. You can make it 15 seconds if you want (as I wrote in the Slow Player FAQ, FAQ 19-BA). When the time runs out, you can tell the player, "pass three or we'll each choose one for you."

    Q: After 4 years, we still have times that a player takes 4 minutes to decide one pass.
    A: ONE minute is an eternity in mah-jongg!! As I wrote in column 621, 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. Remind everyone that it's a group activity, for the group to have fun playing with one another. When one player dampens the entire group's fun, that player needs to change. Learning mah-jongg entails "paying tuition" through a lot of losses throughout the learning process.
    That said, I have run into students who never rise to the challenge, never graduate. As a teacher, I've sometimes refused to teach those students any further lessons. But if you're a member of the play group, that's not an option that's available to you.

    Q: Any other advice would be appreciated.
    A: See FAQ 26.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Wednesday, January 18, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Can I bring an ivory set into the US?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at 10:32:34 PM EST, Anonymous wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    So I have a MahJongg set that is a family heirloom (gifted to my grandfather by a chinese diplomat in 1920s). It is definitely ivory. I live in the US and I want to bring it here with me. The set is currently with my family in Mexico city. Is it possible to travel with it to the US without problems? I do not have a certificate of authenticity.

    囧 I regret that I cannot advise you on legal matters. If you want to find out how to bring the set into the US legally, the only experts I can think of would be the US Customs Department. If no way can be found to bring it in, you might consider donating it to a museum in Mexico City. I'm afraid you have a difficult task ahead, with difficult decisions to make. Good luck!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Tuesday, January 17, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Win by joker redemption

    On Monday, January 16, 2023 at 03:41:17 PM EST, Joan K wrote:
    Question
    Player A discards a tile which is picked up by Player B and displayed. Player B then exchanges a joker from Player C's rack. Using that joker she calls Mah Jongg. Who is credited for giving her the Mah Jongg - did Player A give it to her with the discard (which did NOT make the Mah Jongg) or did she get it herself by taking (and using) the joker?
    Thanks so much! Joan K

    Hi, Joan!
    Win by joker redemption is regarded as self-pick. Everybody pays the winner double. See FAQ 19-AN. This rule is also stated on the back of the NMJL card - left pane, see "Scoring" section near the bottom.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    The 2023 Siamese card

    Mah-Jongg Q A
    On Monday, January 16, 2023 at 11:11:04 AM EST, Laurin L wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: on the 2023 siamese card under the kitty is always straight can any numbers be used in the 2nd and 3rd and 5th row?

    囧 Sorry, Laurin, but I don't have that card. You'll have to ask the card's designer. Go to siamesemahjongg.com, where you probably bought that card, and click "About/Contact Us."
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Column 782, part 2

    Re: Column#782 Dec.11,2022
    On Sunday, January 15, 2023 at 09:09:50 AM EST, olga b wrote:
    Thank you, Tom, for such a prompt reply. I also read, though post factum, that you like to insert mistakes on purpose. Very sneaky of you!:)
    Best,
    Olga B
    Sent from my iPhone

    囧 Heh. Just joking. I don't really make mistakes on purpose. But I've learned that I don't have to get mad at myself every time I flub, since it affords 2-way discussion opportunities. By all means, keep that sharp eye out for missteps and let me know again when I goof.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Sunday, January 15, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Column 782

    On Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 05:39:42 PM EST, olga b wrote:
    Column#782 Dec.11,2022
    Dear Mr.Sloper:
    I am very new to the game, and it was a great discovery to find your books and the Sloperama, so informative and engaging.
    I am confused about your column #782 from December 11, 2022.
    In Number 10 I don’t see how you came up with key tiles- 1B, 2B and 3B.
    I would say that key tiles are 4B, 5B and 3B.
    I am sure you are very busy, but it would be great to have clarification.
    Thank you.
    Have a happy 2023!
    Olga B
    Sent from my iPad

    You're quite right, Olga! I goofed. In fact, I also missed the flower pair in 369 #4. If you can see 7 flowers dead on the table, that too tells you what your opponent needs or can't use.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Saturday, January 14, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Donation

    On Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 01:53:07 PM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Sharon Y
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
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    You can view the transaction details online.
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    Thank you very much, Sharon!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Saturday, January 14, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    I've tried dating it, part 2

    Re: Era and info on set
    On Friday, January 13, 2023 at 02:26:12 PM EST, Ros B wrote:
    Hello again,
    Thanks very much for the response Tom. Yes, you're right, the remaining tiles are blank. I I've looked at the joker tiles more closely and the J symbols may be painted, although I wouldn't stake my life on it. I'll ask a jeweller friend to take a closer look. The case is an issue: leatherette is designed to look like leather (vinyl or plastic) but supposedly has a life of about 10 years. The interior trays are cardboard wrapped in shiny green material, so everything about the case suggests 50s to me. Maybe the set and case met later in life, although it fits pretty well, two side trays for the jokers blanks and dice.
    The comment at the end simply means you must be a busy person, so I appreciate your response very much.
    Best wishes, Ros.

    G'day again, Ros. I doubt the tiles and case were joined together "later in life" as you say. If the "J" on the jokers is not inset into the plastic, they're painted or inked on, and the set probably is older than the 1970s. With an old case like that, I'd suggest not carrying it by the handle (handles have been known to give way when they become ancient).
    As for your last comment, I see now that the comment was about my time, not storage capacity or anything like that. I tend to take things too literally sometimes! Enjoy your special set.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday the Thirteenth, January, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    I've tried dating it

    On Friday, January 13, 2023 at 05:41:09 AM EST, Ros B wrote:
    Era and info on set
    Dear Tom,
    I've been searching far and wide for some kind of info on this set. It was sold as "Chinese Bakelite Phenolic 156 Mahjong Set NMJL" When my mahjong friends were over, opinions varied on its age and composition: from 1950s or 60s or even 70s to a bit further back. The tiles have what I think is a glued black back, weigh 9g, or 0.3 oz, a fraction over an inch tall, a bit over 1/8th inch wide and a little over 1/2 inch deep. ( 27*21*13 mm).
    I've tried dating it through the instruction book, but that has no identification (I even checked out when staples were invented), its case (ditto for when leatherette was first manufactured, although it could be leather....?), and tried to find out whether it may be engraved rather than carved....
    I bought it from Ireland, and live in Aust. and there's a bit of a dearth of info on mahjong between these two. I certainly have not seen any set like it before.
    I hope you can help. I find your site a wealth of information and wonder how you fit it all in.
    Warmest regards,
    Ros.

    Wow, Ros! The carving on those tiles is very ornate, very special. This is not an ordinary set. I shall go through your email and respond point by point.
    1. You say it was sold as "156 Mahjong Set NMJL." Your photographs show only 152 tiles. I assume there are another 4 tiles, and that they are blank. In the 2nd image above, I see 8 tiles that have a "J" carved(?) into the corners. That indeed does make the set compatible with National Mah Jongg League play.
    2. I've seen many sets in this style of case. Those cases are usually made of vinyl and falling apart, making me think your set might be 1950s-1960s. But because the set includes 8 jokers, I have to think the set was made in the 1970s. See column 509, which shows the number of flowers and jokers required by the NMJL. The standard of 8 flowers and 8 jokers wasn't settled until 1971. But back to #1 above; depends what those other 4 tiles are (the ones not photographed). Then again... if those white Js are just painted on, and not carved into, those 8 tiles, the set wasn't necessarily made in the 1970s.
    3. The instruction book is infamous because of its ubiquity and its incomprehensible description of the game. You say you researched stapling. I'm pretty sure comic books of the early 1940s were stapled. The cover design of your instruction book is an earlier style, while the innards are surely identical to the instruction books still included in Chinese-made sets today.
    4. When I first saw your photo of the case, I was amazed that it isn't falling apart. Closer examination of your photos shows that the case seems to be stitched to a sturdy-looking fabric (and the trays in the case are also made of that fabric). As I mentioned before, these cases are usually vinyl and deteriorated, so I wondered if yours is actually leather. You mentioned "leatherette," I don't know what that is exactly, but a close examination of the photo shows a crossgrain pattern, so it's not actual leather. Surprisingly sturdy, well preserved.
    5. Lastly, I'm glad you appreciate my "wealth of information." When you added that you "wonder how [I] fit it all in," I don't know if there's a question there that I can answer.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday the Thirteenth, January, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    I went dead; were my jokers still available?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 07:07:12 PM EST, ildiko M wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Today, 1-12-23, I exposed first a kong with three 7 cracks with one JOKER. Later I exposed a kong of three flowers with one JOKER. On my next turn I realized I was dead and rather loudly said so. Another mistake of course. But the real discussion was if the JOKERS were still in play as the “death” wasn't announced until after the next round of play. Many said the jokers were not playable. Others sited the card saying quote “JOKERS may be exchanged from any and all exposures that were made BEFORE the hand was declared “dead.” We went so far as to call the NMJL to get a ruling that initially sounded like the JOKERS were indeed unplayable but by the end of the conversation she actually supported the theory that the JOKERS are indeed playable. What are your thoughts on this?
    Thank you!
    Ildiko’ M

    Hi, Ildiko!
    The rule you cited is an inexact statement of the League's intent of the rule. The first exposure you made was ambiguous (nobody could tell from that first exposure that there would be any problem with your hand). But the second exposure was UNambiguous; your hand was dead. At the time somebody called you dead for having two exposures that don't match any hand on the card, your SECOND exposure needed to be returned to the sloping front of your rack. See full explanation of this rule in FAQ 19-P.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, January 12, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    She didn't have a tile to discard (i.e. she didn't have enough tiles)

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 06:55:55 PM EST, Janine wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    In play today a player did not have a tile to discard because apparently at some point she inadvertently didn’t draw a tile before discarding. Should she have been out of the game at that time? Or could she continue playing without discarding?
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Janine!
    You're saying she didn't have the proper number of tiles on her rack. After picking, if she only had 13 tiles, she's dead. But somebody has to call her dead. Read the death rules in FAQ 19-AA.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, January 12, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    I was told I was wrong. Was I?

    On Wednesday, January 11, 2023 at 12:43:49 PM EST, Patty M wrote:
    Rules Clarification request
    Hello, I’m new to Mahjong and loving my Mahjong Monday get togethers! Of course, we still have rules questions - including the following question!
    Can you please clarify for me a question regarding the 2022 grouping on the Official Standard Hands and Rules card?
    I recently declared Mahjong and presented the following hand:
    NN EEE 2022 WWJ SS
    I was told I could not use a joker (J in above example) anywhere in the hand. It was my understanding that I could not use a joker in the 2022 grouping, but I could use a joker elsewhere in the hand. Can you please confirm the rule for the 2022 hands? I think we have confusion over hand versus grouping terms! Was my Mahjong valid or not?
    Thanks much!
    Patty M
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Patty!
    Your mahj hand was fine. The other player was wrong. Show that other player the back of the card.

    It says right there, "Jokers may be used… in any Pung, Kong, Quint, or Sextet." Make sure everybody at your table understands all the rules on the back of the card, and you really ought to get a rulebook too.


    Left: The League's official rulebook. Every table should have an up-to-date copy!
    I don't sell them, and I'm not paid to say this. Just sayin' it's important to have and read.
    Right: And then there's my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind." - It's not bad, if I do say so myself.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Wednesday, 1/11/2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Finishing the Charleston and starting to play

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, January 9, 2023 at 05:48:51 PM EST, Roger S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment #1. In the Charleston the last pass which is the optional, if one player wants to pass 2 tiles & the other player wants to pass three tiles, what is the correct answer?
    #2. Which way does the the dealer give out the tiles, to the right or left?
    #3. Which wall do you start with when starting the game?
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Roger!
    1. In the courtesy ("optional") pass, no player has to exchange more than they want. The player who wants to exchange more must accede. See FAQ 19-AG for a complete breakdown of the Charleston and each of its movements.
    2. The dealer takes their first 4 tiles from the end of the wall. Then the player at the dealer's right takes their first 4 tiles. The dealer doesn't deal out the tiles. The term is a misnomer. That player can also be called simply "East." In some Asian tables, the term used is "banker." See FAQ 19-CA for how the deal works.
    3. East's wall is the one East breaks before taking their first 4 tiles. See FAQ 19-CH and FAQ 19-Q about how to begin a game.
    Then, FAQ 19-DD explains how the deal moves to the next player to the previous dealer's seat after one game or hand ends.
    If you don't want to buy a book on American/NMJL rules, and if my Mah-Jongg FAQs come up short, you should bookmark FAQ 4B. There are links to sites that describe American/NMJL rules very well. (My FAQs don't exactly describe them so much as answer questions about them.)
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Monday, January 9, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    What if two players call the discard but one has already exposed?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, January 7, 2023 at 02:24:33 PM EST, Ellen B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    What is the rule if two people call the same tile for exposure and the player next in turn declares the tile hers even though the other player has exposed her tiles?
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Ellen! This is a case of conflicting claims for the discard. All the conflicting claims questions are answered in FAQ 19-H. If the player next in turn spoke after the other player had spoken and exposed, next in turn is too late.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Saturday, January 7, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Which style should I learn next?

    On Saturday, January 7, 2023 at 07:49:13 AM EST, Frank A wrote:
    Different mahjong styles
    Happy first week of 2023, Tom.
    Thanks a lot for creating your website. I've learned a lot since I discovered it a few days ago.
    I learned to play mahjong in 1981, shortly after our family moved to the Philippines. In 1990, after I got stationed in Japan as an active duty Marine, I told myself that I would learn other styles of mahjong. But we partied so much in Japan, I never did make time to learn it there.
    I bought a set in 1995 when our ship pulled into multiple ports in Asia. I used that set to teach 11 or more friends in Hawai'i. We used to have mahjong parties when we weren't out in the dance clubs. That was the last time I recall playing regularly, in early 1996.
    I was surprised to find out on your website that the Vietnamese sets have so many tiles. I want to learn it now. I saw your comment in the FAQ. Do you have a secret Vietnamese mahjong rulebook? :P Since it has the most number of tiles, can those sets also be used to play other styles, such as American?
    I'm going to text 2 of my Vietnamese friends tomorrow to find out if they play.
    I'm currently in Southern California, but I'll be moving out of state for a job, possibly to Arizona. Which style should I learn next? Please reply when you have time.
    Sincerely,
    Frank

    Hi, Frank! Let's take your questions one by one:
    1. Do you have a secret Vietnamese mahjong rulebook? :P
    A: Yes. There are three files to download in my Mah-Jongg downlode folder, sloperama.com/downlode/mahjongg/.

    2. Since it has the most number of tiles, can those sets also be used to play other styles, such as American?
    A: Yes. Those sets don't have Japanese red fives or Singaporean animals. Vietnamese jokers all look different from one another and aren't marked with the English word "Joker," but you can simply designate 8 of them as jokers, and there you go.

    3. Which style should I learn next?
    A: Over 20 years ago, I wrote FAQ 2A to help people decide which variant to learn. What it really comes down to is who are you going to be playing with, and whether those folks already play. But if your thing is just learning interesting variants and you're going to learn it together with some friends who don't already favor a variant, that's different.
    You didn't specify, but I assume the variant you already know best is Filipino. It's a fairly easy variant to learn, on a par with Hong Kong Old Style. If your Vietnamese friends are available to play with you, learn from them.

    You didn't say, but I assume the set you bought in the Asian seaport is a regular Chinese-style set. It doesn't have Japanese red fives or Vietnamese jokers, and it probably has 144 to 148 tiles (adding 4 blanks to the regular 144 tiles). You didn't say you have found a source where you can obtain a Vietnamese set with 160 or more tiles.
    With a regular Chinese-style set, you can play just about any variant except American or Vietnamese. You can play Japanese riichi/dora majan without red fives (or you can mark red fives with a red marker). Japanese style is the most exciting to play, due to its high stakes features, but it has a steep learning curve. American (NMJL) style has the steepest learning curve, and requires those extra tiles that your set probably doesn't have.

    My recommendation is to start with FAQ 2A, maybe get some books or at least read some websites. You could check out the mah-jongg intro from Shanghai: Second Dynasty, which goes into detail about some of the most popular variants.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Saturday, January 7, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Can P1 declare P2 dead when P1 realizes P2 can't win?

    On Friday, January 6, 2023 at 01:31:30 PM EST, Bat-Ami L wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Can player 1 declare player 2 dead when player 1 realizes that the hand player 1 exposed can not be completed.
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Bat-Ami! I think you misstated the second part of your question, but I know what you meant.
    - Player 1 can declare player 2 dead anytime.
    - Player 1 can declare player 2 dead for having an unwinnable hand... Provided that this unwinnability is visible to all players at the table.
    See full explanation of the death challenge rules in FAQ 19-AA. And also read FAQ 19-AB, which discusses what a player can do if called dead incorrectly.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday, January 6, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    The 2022 card, part 31

    On Friday, January 6, 2023 at 12:57:23 PM EST, B. T wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Second hand down in Quints category,
    22 444 666 88888, must I use those numbers? Thank you, Tom.

    Yes.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Friday, January 6, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Can I claim a Bonus double with one joker in a quint?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, January 5, 2023 at 04:18:41 PM EST, Annette Z wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for Windows
    What is the payout for a quint hand that only has one joker used in the Dragon and one joker used in the NO section and no joker in the Winds?
    Example: DDDDJ NNNN 3333J
    Is it considered pure and therefore double the payout?? (I realize there is not double payout in the singles and pairs hands)
    Thank you

    Hi, Annette!
    No, the jokerless bonus cannot apply unless there are NO jokers in the hand. As explained in FAQ 19-W.6, the difficulty of making a quint is built into the Quints scores. It's impossible to make a quint without a joker, so it's more difficult to make a quint, so the score is high for quint hands.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Thursday, January 5, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Oops! I didn't mean to do that! I changed my mind, can i take it back?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at 06:59:50 PM EST, Cyndi G wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    If I discard my tile, then decide to keep it because I could get a joker from someone's displayed tiles. No one had drawn yet and racked. Can I pick that tile back up and get the joker?

    囧 Sorry, Cyndi! The "Backsies" rules are spelled out in FAQ 19-AM. Once you discarded, you can't take the tile back.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Wednesday, January 4, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Wondering when it was made and where.

    On Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at 07:14:22 PM EST, E T <eunice.t wrote:
    Origins of mahjong set
    Hello there,
    Happy new year and hope all is well.
    I’ve been on a hunt on the origin of a mahjong set I bought from a flea market.
    I found the exact set on your website (based on the flowers - however mine doesn’t have the Japanese kabuki joker tiles)

    Wondering if you have any information on when it was made and where. And also from your website, it appeared they’re likely made of reconstituted fishbones!
    Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
    Eunice
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Eunice! HNY back2U. Based on the case style and the inclusion of the ubiquitous "Directions" booklet, I believe these sets were made somewhere in China. I saw these sets on sale in Los Angeles' Chinatown in the late nineties/early 2000s, so I believe they were made in the 1990s.
    I stickered those jokers to make an American-playable set, with stickers created by a friend from my play group in the early 2000s. It was lucky that those sets came with 4 Chinese jokers and 4 blanks, so I could do it without having to cannibalize another set. But for this photo only, I did borrow 4 blanks and 4 Chinese jokers from another set. Those sets came with 152 tiles, not 160.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Wednesday, January 4, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Can I look at my tiles before they are all dealt?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at 07:16:31 AM EST, intoandana wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Are you allowed to look at your tiles before they are all dealt?

    Hi, intoandana! As I wrote in FAQ 19-BI, there's no rule that says you can't, but there's a good reason to refrain from looking until everyone has all their tiles. I explained the reason in the FAQ.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Wednesday, January 4, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Donation (recurring)

    On Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at 06:12:32 AM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Subscription details
    Amount received $10.00 USD
    For Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Outstanding balance
    Amount paid each time $10.00 USD
    Maximum amount you can bill $10.00 USD
    Next payment due Feb 4, 2023
    Paypal

    Evelyn, thank you so much for your ongoing support. Wishing you all the best for 2023.
    Tom


    Those marvelously confusing joker rules, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, January 3, 2023 at 03:27:50 PM EST, Judy F wrote:
    I thought I was asking marvelous mah jongg. So sorry to have wasted your time.
    Sent from my iPad

    No problem, Judy.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.


    Those marvelously confusing joker rules

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, January 3, 2023 at 12:37:41 PM EST, juples wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: on the marvelous mah jongg card under the sub atomic- can a joker be used in the 1-9 numbers?
    Sent from my iPad

    I haven't seen that card, juples. All I can tell you is that in American (NMJL) rules, jokers may be used in sets of three or more (pungs, kongs, quints, sextets) only. Never in a pair or for a single tile. "Atomic" usually refers to pairs, which would not be joker eligible.
    The "Questions?" page on the mavelousmahjongg website indicates that the Marvelous joker rules are consistent with NMJL rules. And if you have more questions about the Marvelous card, why not ask marvelousmahjongg directly? There's an info email address you can find on the site.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    January 3, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Why wouldn't the computer let me declare mah-jongg?

    Mah-Jongg Q A
    On Monday, January 2, 2023 at 08:09:47 AM EST, Dolores M wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I'm new to this site. Last evening I had Mahjongg on y rack but couldn't play it. The system kept asking me to discard when all I wanted to do way go Mahjongg. How do I play thecwin rather than discard ?
    Sent from the all new AOL app for Android

    Happy new year, Dolores.
    I can't help you with your computer game question because you haven't given me enough information and you didn't include a screenshot.
    Next time you try to obtain technical support for a videogame, you need to be prepared with the following information:

    • What game you were playing (the game's title, that is to say, the name of the software or website)
    • What mah-jongg variant you were playing (NMJL, Chinese Official, Japanese Riichi, Hong Kong, etc.)
    • What tiles you were holding (this is where the screenshot comes in) and what hand you were making
    • What you expected to happen, and what happened instead

    If you were playing NMJL rules, FAQ 19-CV might explain what went wrong. Maybe you exposed a Concealed hand, or misread the hand on the card. You may find more information in FAQ 24 or FAQ 19's Computer Games section.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Monday, January 2, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    This particular player decides it's ok to break the rules.

    On Sunday, January 1, 2023 at 04:30:34 PM EST, Erica A. Z wrote:
    "Friendly game"
    I have been playing MJ for about 10 years with the same group. When we added a new member, and she missed the chance to redeem a joker, or made an error, we would let it slide. I have no problem with being easy on new players.
    One member will often, but not regularly, want to let players redeem a joker they have missed, or forgive an error because it's a "friendly game." I am not a cutthroat player by any means, but I feel that these random decisions are unfair. Turns out everyone agrees with me, but will not object when this particular player decides it's ok to break the rules. I've already had two conversations with her about it and she knows it's unfair, but continues to do it.
    Any suggestions?
    Erica
    (What in the name of holy bejaysus and all the suffering saints is this benighted cowpat?)

    What in the name of holy bejaysus, Erica. I think this sentence of yours is key: "everyone agrees with me, but will not object when this particular player decides it's ok to break the rules. I've already had two conversations with her about it and she knows it's unfair, but continues to do it."
    I'm glad you've brought the subject up with everyone. Now you're ready for the next step: announce that you're calling for a vote: either the group goes by the NMJL rules as per their rulebook, or the group decides, as a group, to use one or more table rules. This announcement could cause some stress to the group, but then there's already stress that's getting worse. Majority rule decides in a public way what the rules will be, going forward. Then maybe the other players will back you up next time you call this particular player out on her too-lenient treatment of the rules. Most likely, the reason she wants to be so lenient to others is so she can get a pass herself. And that don't fly.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    New Year's Day, Sunday, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    l have an old mah Chiong set.

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, January 1, 2023 at 11:41:48 AM EST, Franklin L wrote:
    My mah-Jonggquestion or comment is: l have an old mah Chiong set.
    It has 144 tiles.
    9 sets of Characters
    9sets of Bamboos
    9 sets of Dots
    Also has many Dotted Ivory Counters.
    Also instruct book from
    Admiral Orient Line
    What can you tell me about this set and where would be best place to sell it
    Thank you

    Happy new year, Franklin. You asked:
    1. What can you tell me about this set
    A: It's almost 100 years old, and it's not exactly rare. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask. I might be able to answer, if the questions are narrowly focused.
    2. where would be best place to sell it
    A: eBay, or any site or app that people use for selling stuff these days. See my "Tips For Sellers" of mah-jongg items. Good luck with your sale!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs
    Donations appreciated
    Sunday, New Year's Day, 2023
    Rochester, New York, USA


    Happy new year, dear reader! May we walk back from the hate and strife of 2022, and may our eyes be opened to the need to address climate change.


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