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Sloper On Mah-Jongg (Column)

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). Also, someone else may have already asked your question, in which case s/he was answered below, on the Q&A board! You might enjoy looking through the Q&As. I get some crazy questions sometimes. Especially the crazy questions about a computer game when the person doesn't even say which computer game they're asking about!

  • When you're ready to ask your question, email your question to TomSloperama.com. I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only. I don't take mah-jongg questions via telephone, snailmail, semaphore, Morse code, or smoke signal. Also don't send your question to me via carrier pigeon. What am I supposed to do with a pigeon? I'm a city apartment dweller. And you should see the rules they got here! </rant>
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    The Q&As are below.


  • Why wouldn't the computer let me win?

    On Saturday, October 17, 2020, 05:28:33 PM PDT, linda v wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I draw a tile that gives me the doubleton eg 2 norths - why does it not allow me to mahjong. The rest of the hand is complete with pongs and chows.
    It asks me to discard , I donít want to do this as I have a Mah-Jongg.
    Look forward to your answer.
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Linda! Most likely, there was a problem with the hand. In order to better answer your question, I would need to know...
    Which mah-jongg variant were you playing? Japanese? One of the Chinese variants? British/Australian/Western?
    Which app or website were you playing on?
    Exactly what tiles were you holding? A screenshot of the app at the time your problem occurred is the best way to go.
    What hand were you making? (Just telling me what tiles you had doesn't tell the whole story.) For all I know, the pair of N is wrong for your hand, or your hand doesn't fit with your variant's requirements.
    Have you tried contacting the makers of your app? See FAQ 24.
    Do you have a good book describing the mah-jongg variant you're playing? See FAQ 3.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 17, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    How often can I chow?

    On Thursday, October 15, 2020, 04:42:20 PM PDT, Frances S wrote:
    mah jong
    Love your site, thank you.
    If someone is doing a chow hand, say crazy chows, how often can they pick up a discarded tile from the left to complete a chow.?
    I was told you could only do it once.
    Thank you. Frances S I am in New Zealand.

    You were told right, Frances! But you have misconstrued the rule. In the mah-jongg rules you play (British/Australian/Western rules), there are Ordinary Hands and there are special hands. An ordinary hand may contain only one chow. There are also special hands which explicitly require chows.
    After checking several books on Australian/British/Western rules, I found Crazy Chows in Thompson & Maloney's The Mah Jong Player's Companion. That hand specifically requires four "Mixed" chows (also known in other books as "knitted" chows) - not regular chows. There are several chow hands listed in that book - usually they require three chows, one in each suit. Those special hands are often Concealed hands (meaning you can't claim a discard except for mah-jongg). Thompson & Maloney describe the "Ordinary Hand," which may include no more than one chow. I haven't looked through all the special chow hands to see if any are exposable. If none are, then Ordinary Hand is the only time when you're allowed to expose a chow made from a discard.
    I urge you to get yourself a good book. I recommend the Thompson & Maloney book I named, since your companions surely are using terminology from that book, and may be playing from that book. You should ask what books they use. More books on Western/British/Australian rules are listed in FAQ 3.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 15, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Do I have to have a matching non-joker to claim a discard?

    On Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 04:23:16 PM PDT, Henrietta G wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I need four tiles in one suit as a part of my run.
    I have three jokers in my hand. One
    Tile is discarded In a suit that I need to add to my three jokers to help me win but not make a mah Jhongg.
    Can I call that one tile, add the three jokers and show them as a play?
    Thank you, in advance, for your reply
    Henrietta G
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Henrietta!
    Yes, you can call that tile and expose it with your three jokers. Perfectly valid move. See FAQ 19-L.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 14, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Those confusing joker rules

    On Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 04:44:34 AM PDT, Yahoo Step-up wrote:
    joker exchange
    I know you can't use an exchanged joker for an exposure that is NOT for a Mah Jongg. But can you use it in your exposure to call for a Mah Jongg?
    Lou

    Hi, Lou! You wrote:

    I know you can't use an exchanged joker for an exposure that is NOT for a Mah Jongg.
    What? That doesn't sound right. Once you have legally redeemed a joker, you may use the joker in any way jokers may be used. Maybe you could give me an example of a time when you can't use a redeemed joker for an exposure?

    can you use it in your exposure to call for a Mah Jongg?
    I'm unclear on your question. Please paint me a picture - first, this happens, then this happens, then you say "mahj." But first (before you email me again), why don't you read FAQ 19, the section on jokers. If your question is about the joker redemption rules, see FAQ 19-M.

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 14, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Question(s)

    On Sunday, October 11, 2020, 09:09:37 AM PDT, Sue wrote:
    Question
    I have this vintage set in mint condition. There are 5 tile trays that have a marble look. There are 160 tiles, including 2 big jokers and two blanks. Manufactured A&L company inc NY. Royal Depth Control, genuine Catalina, hand painted. I play the American version and canít identify 16 of the tiles, they look like they might be flowers but not sure. Can you help and can you tell me what the value might be? Thanks so much.

    Hi, Sue. You wrote:

    I have this vintage set...
    Really? Then maybe you can tell me what "vintage" actually means, because the Merriam-Webster definition just says it means "old." How old does something have to be to be called "vintage"? I have some sets made more than 25 years ago. Are those "vintage"? Are my Beatles memorabilia from the late sixties "vintage"?

    ... in mint condition.
    Wow, so it looks like it just came out of the factory, with no defects or wear and tear whatsoever. That's pretty cool!

    There are 5 tile trays that have a marble look.
    I only see two trays in your photo. You're probably talking about the racks. FAQ 7D explains the names of all the bits & pieces that come with mah-jongg sets.

    ... genuine Catalina...
    Autocorrect error. That's Catalin, a plastic closely related to Bakelite. See FAQ 7c and FAQ 7c3.

    canít identify 16 of the tiles, they look like they might be flowers but not sure.
    Then have a look at the "Mystery Flowers" FAQ.

    There are 160 tiles, including 2 big jokers and two blanks.
    160-4=156, minus 136 gives us 20 flowers, is that right? Take a look at column 509. The League required 20 flowers in 1949 and again in 1958-1960. The presence of the 2 jokers suggests the later timeframe as the likely timeframe for your set (you didn't ask, but it seemed important enough to mention). If an item is 60 years old, does that mean it's "vintage"?

    can you tell me what the value might be?
    If the set truly is in Mint condition, it's worth several hundred dollars. I can't tell you how many.

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 11, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Sometimes the "call" button doesn't activate, part 2

    On Sunday, October 11, 2020, 04:44:35 AM PDT, Timothy A wrote:
    Letter from Christine B
    Hi Tom, Iíve been playing on Real Mah Jongg for a bit now and think I can supply an answer for the Question Christine B ask.

    Almost every time when a tile is discarded, all players that have enough tiles to create a Pung, or Kong of the discard, are offered a chance to claim the tile. They must press a ĎSkipí button if they donít want to clim it. If they donít have the required Jokers/same tiles combination, this option is skipped. The one exception Iíve seen is if you have exposed tiles and have enough tiles to create a Pung or Kong BUT the discarded tile clearly doesnít go with the exposure, it doesnít give you the opportunity to claim it.

    Iíve also noticed that some people think they are one tile for a pair away from Mah Jongg and are unable to claim that íneededí tile for Mah Jongg. Upon examining the hand a bit, they realize they needed 'Opp. Dragonsí or something similar and really didnít have Mah Jongg.

    In Christineís question, it appears her mother didnít have the tiles needed for an exposure OR wanted to call the discard for a Pair. Had she been allowed, once she had discarded, her hand would be declared dead by the computer.

    Hope that helps.
    Tim A.

    Nice level of detail, Tim. I'm sure you're right. I say again that a screenshot would go a long way towards pinpointing an exact reason.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 11, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    P.S. As I wrote in FAQ 19-CV: the most likely reason why the computer won't permit a win is that the player has an imperfect understanding of how to interpret the card as regards to the hand being made. FAQ 16 answers the most frequently-asked questions about the 2020 card. And in FAQ 19, you can learn how to take screenshots. - Tom
    10/12/2020


    Sometimes the "call" button doesn't activate in RMJ

    On Saturday, October 10, 2020, 01:13:04 PM PDT, Christine B wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi there,
    Emailing you for my mom. She is new in Real Mah Jongg but has a question which is a problem when playing.
    She needs a tile which has been discarded, but is unable to pick it up because at that point the ďcallĒ button is not showing its active for that move.
    In that meanwhile, the computer keeps adding discarded tiles after it.
    How can she get Mah jongg if she canít pick those tiles when wanted.
    Please let us know what to do.
    Thank you!
    Christine B. -- sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Christine!
    囧 I'm sorry, but I don't play that game (I play one that I made years ago). So I can't say for certain. But normally, when a computer game doesn't let you do something, it's by design, so as to adhere closely to the rules of the game. Some apps let you make a fatal mistake, but most do not.
    I might be able to answer, if I could see a screenshot of an instance where this happens. Maybe another reader who plays RMJ will post an answer, so keep an eye on this board. Or you can try contacting the people who made RMJ, or maybe their website has an FAQs section.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    10/10/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Charleston strategy, part 2

    On Saturday, October 10, 2020, 05:40:23 AM PDT, Julia S wrote:
    Charleston hand follow-up
    Hello Tom,
    After seeing your response to Linda, I just wanted to confirm that you did boil down my question correctly (after the detour into whether you would have chosen a different hand).
    In regards to whether it would have been better to choose Odds #2 instead of Consec #3, it was a trade-off between a hand where I had 9 tiles plus a joker but would require drawing a single (1D) and a hand where I had 8 tiles plus a joker and could use jokers and/or discards for the needed tiles. You have often pointed out how Consec #3 is an easy hand to make (Consec #2 on previous cards when you wrote about it).
    Thanks,
    Julia

    On Saturday, October 10, 2020, 05:41:51 AM PDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Julia S
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.00 USD from Julia S
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $10.00 USD
    Currency: U.S. Dollars
    Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Contributor: Julia S
    Message: Add a message to Sloperama Mah-Jongg Ans
    PayPal

    Thanks, Julia!
    You are not wrong in choosing the most powerful hand on the card, for the reasons you stated. But I didn't like the idea of breaking up an existing pair in the hand when I have a one-tile advantage over your choice. But yes, I'm taking a risk that I might never get that single that I need. No two exposures of Odds #2 constitute a dead giveaway, so somebody might discard my tile (and the earlier I complete my kongs, the sooner I'll be ready to jump on it).
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    10/10/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I passed flowers, part 3

    On Saturday, October 10, 2020, 04:06:40 AM PDT, <lindaz wrote:
    (No Subject)
    Thank you Tom-- I appreciate your insight!
    Linda

    You're welcome, Linda.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    10/10/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I passed flowers and then I couldn't get a flower, part 2

    On Friday, October 9, 2020, 09:48:07 AM PDT, lindaz wrote:
    clarification
    Hi Tom,
    Sorry for the confusion in my prior question! This happened years ago and I cannot remember exact details about my situation. But I now recall it was the SECOND "across" when I was 1 tile away from MJ. (I was the dealer) I was forced to choose which 3 tiles to pass. I had the 4 flowers I needed and one tile to discard. So I passed the unneeded tile and 2 flowers. (I think I also had a Joker.) I did not want to forfeit my pairs. I hope this clears up my question--
    Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda.
    I still don't have enough information about your specific example. You had a flower kong and one unneeded tile. But what was the rest of the hand? Pairs? Pungs? Kongs? Were you working on a Concealed hand?

    I call the second across the "evil second across" because of the situation you ran into. On the second left, you didn't stop the Charleston, and two of the three tiles you received (from the player at your right) helped your hand, so you had just one tile you could pass across, but the rules required you to pass 3.

    I would not have passed half of a kong. And I would not break up a pair (since pairs are so hard to make). In general, in an evil second across, I pass 1 tile from a kong or pung. Those tiles can be replaced by either a joker or the tile you passed (which might get discarded by your opposite or the player to her/his right since your opposite might pass it in the last right).

    I don't know if that answers your question. Hope it does.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 9, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I passed flowers and then I couldn't get a flower

    On Friday, October 9, 2020, 05:35:49 AM PDT, lindaz wrote:
    column 666
    Hi Tom,
    I enjoyed your column # 666 (hahaha) about getting MJ during the Charleston. This happened to me once and I decided to pass my flowers during the first "across", because my chances of drawing/claiming a flower during the game were statistically higher--since there are 8 flowers. I waited on pins and needles until we got to the third wall before I could call a flower for MJ. My question to you is--was my reasoning sound? Or should I have considered other options? (I hope I explained this OK.) Thanks so much for your columns!
    Linda

    Hi, Linda! Long time no see.
    I don't have enough information. You say you passed more than one flower during the first across (not because you had no other choice - you say it was your decision), and then you later needed a flower to win. That's all you've told me. And it's related to what I wrote in column 666 about your options if you have a complete mah-jongg hand during the Charleston.
    Were you the dealer? You had mah-jongg after the first right? And then had to break up your hand in the first across? You're looking for strategies for when you are forced to break up a complete mah-jongg hand? Exactly what tiles were you holding, what hand were you targeting, which 3 tiles did you pass across? I'm sorry, but I can't generalize a strategy without more information. I was able to boil Julia's question (Wednesday October 7, below) into a narrow question, but I can't do the same with yours. All I can say, based on what you've told me, is that I wouldn't pass multiple flowers unless I had no other choice. Especially if my hand needs a flower pair.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 9, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can I claim a discarded redeemable tile?

    On Thursday, October 8, 2020, 08:11:10 PM PDT, Martin W wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: If player one displays a run of four consisting of three red dragons and a joker, player two discards a red dragon, can player three pick up the dragon and take the joker displayed? Thanks.

    Sorry, Martin. Once a redeemable tile has been discarded, it can be claimed for exposure only - it may not be redeemed for a joker. See Frequently Asked Question 19-G.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 8, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Charleston strategy example

    On Wednesday, October 7, 2020, 03:45:53 PM PDT, Julia S wrote:
    strategy question - Charleston
    Hello Tom,
    I miss your strategy column and the examples to figure out.
    Here's the situation that I had:
    After the first left I had: FF 4B 5B 5B 5B 6B 7C 7C 7C 8C 5D J.
    (or with colors: FF 4 5 5 5 6 7 7 7 8 5 J)
    I decided to go for Consec #3, so the tiles that I didn't need were 4B, 5D and the two flowers.
    Would you pass one of the flowers? Or would you stop the Charleston, pass 4B and 5D as Courtesy pass and save the flowers to use as joker bait?
    (I was playing against the computer bots on myjongg.net, so the issue of whether other players would get upset about stopping the Charleston didn't come into it.)

    Hi, Julia!
    The 13579 family leaps right out at me when I see those tiles. Flowers, fives, and sevens scream "High Odds." Looking on the 2020 card I see Odds #2. That hand can use the pair and the two pungs, all in the same hand. (That's Four Steps strategy, step 2, as per column #725.) Together with the 5D, that's 9 tiles. Just barely 3 tiles to pass in the Charleston: 4B 6B 8C. You say you've already passed first left? I wouldn't stop the Charleston.

    You said you would go for Consec #3. That hand doesn't use the flower pair at all (a waste in this case)... But I just realized none of that helps you with the question you asked.

    Your question was: given a Charleston-stop decision based on two singles and a flower pair, should the flower pair be broken up or reserved for joker bait?

    As I wrote in column #423, joker bait doesn't work that well with flowers. I wouldn't stop the Charleston for an unreliable ploy when I have 4 tiles I don't want.

    Lastly, I'm sorry about the lack of strategy columns. I was having motivation problems even before the pandemic came along and exacerbated the situation! The first thing I have to do to write a strategy column is come up with examples, and that part can get very time-consuming - especially when examples have to be thrown out because they don't work. (Don't tell anybody, but sometimes I've even re-used examples from past cards.) So I'm really glad you sent me an example hand I could work with. I wish more people would send me examples to discuss!
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 7, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    How to declare mah-jongg during the Chas. in my online game?

    On Wednesday, October 7, 2020, 01:04:51 PM PDT, Linda D wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    When playing computer Real Mah Jongg, during the Charleston, how do you call Mah Jongg?
    This happened and we didnít know how to stop the game.
    Thank you. Linda

    Hi, Linda.
    During the Charleston, you can't declare mah-jongg (under the NMJL rules). "Heavenly hand" can only be declared before the passing begins - and I do not know if your app offers that as an option. For more info on this special dealer rule, see column #666, in which I discuss dealer options when getting a complete hand during the Charleston.
    If one of my readers has ever run into "Heavenly hand" while using the same app you're using, maybe they'll post some info. So keep on coming back to watch for follow-up posts.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 7, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can you take discarded tiles for a chow?

    On Wednesday, October 7, 2020, 01:13:51 AM PDT, Wen D @bigpond.net.au> wrote:
    To: webmaster@sloperama
    Cc: June B
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: can you take discarded tiles from the centre For a chow hand?
    Thankyou.

    G'day, Wen!
    Only the most recent discard is available for claiming.
    Chowing is only permitted on one's turn, which means you can chow only from the player at your left.
    I see that you are emailing me from Australia, which makes me assume you are learning Australian/British/Western rules, which has restrictions about chows. If you do not have a book about British/Australian/Western rules, I urge you to get one. I have books listed in FAQ 3. I recommend Thompson & Maloney (The Game of Mah Jong Illustrated is the one of theirs to start with), or Strauser & Evans.
    If you are just starting to learn the game, I recommend you read FAQ 20, "Commonly Misunderstood Rules of Asian Forms of Mah-Jongg." (Western/British/Australian rules are "Asian" in that chows are permitted, unlike American mah-jongg.)
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 7, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Set evaluation

    On Sunday, October 4, 2020, 03:34:33 PM PDT, Barbara G wrote:
    Set evaluation
    Hello, Tom......
    I had sent you an email in August regarding the composition of the tiles in my mahjong set so thank you for your quick response on that. Now, I am sending to you a description of my set (written according to your guidelines) to see if you can give me an approximate value. I am looking eventually to sell the set once I have an idea of its value. The description is:
    Barbara G
    Re: Information regarding my Mahjong set
    Detailed List of Set Contents (Pictures included):
    History: Set belonged to my grandmother who began playing in
    the 1920's. She brought it with her when she moved
    from Pittsburgh to California in 1936.
    Case:
    Leather with brass fittings.
    Case has lots of wear, including inside, but may clean up.
    Brass fittings all work but need polishing.
    Tiles:
    *Sent picture to you in August and you said, "Yes, those are
    are definitely celluloid on the front, Barb."
    *All backs of the tiles are black (ebony?).
    *Tiles measure: 1 3/16" x 13/16" x 5/16" and tile depths are 5/32" of the
    celluloid and 5/32" of the ebony.
    *100% of the tiles are in fine condition, clean and undamaged other than some marks on the backs from being moved around on the playing surface.
    Set is 144 tiles: 36 Dots
    36 Bams
    36 Craks
    16 Winds
    12 Dragons
    8 Flowers
    144 total
    Sticks: 20-1 spot sticks
    16-2 spot sticks
    01-5 spot sticks
    15-10 spot sticks (1 broken)
    52 sticks
    All have square ends - a few are broken on end.
    Not sure of material composition - perhaps bone?
    Racks: 5 maroon bakelite with chip holder - all the "good rack"
    size according to your description.
    Bend over type chip pole
    Excellent condition except metal parts need polishing
    All chip poles work correctly
    Dice: 2 die (composition unknown) with a few chips in them
    Coins: Black: 15 plain with round hole
    25 decorated with square hole
    Green: 28 plain with round hole
    21 decorated with square hole
    White: 25 plain with round hole
    Orange: 4 plain with round hole
    118 coins
    All coins in excellent shape - need some cleaning.
    Craks: Craks are of the older kind.
    Jokers: none included
    Hopefully, this along with the pictures will be complete enough for you to evaluate. If not, let me know what else I need to get to you.
    Thank you so much!
    Barbara G

    Hi, Barbara.

    Celluloid ("French ivory") tiles are highly prized, but condition is everything. You say the tiles are all in "fine condition, clean and undamaged other than some marks on the backs from being moved around on the playing surface." Looking at your photos of the celluloid tiles, I see that at least one tile (a Seven Dot) is badly discolored. Scuff marks on the backs might be acceptable in a Fine set if the scuffing is slight, but having one tile badly discolored takes the tiles out of Fine condition, bringing them down to Very Good. The saving grace, as regards to playing with the set, is that the black backs might make the discolored front less obvious when the tiles are all face-down in the wall (when such clues can destroy the playability of the set, because the discolored tile is a "dead giveaway" - like having a marked deck of cards).

    You have some bone-and-bamboo tiles, and some Bakelite flower tiles. Those are not related to this set, and should be removed from the set. (That's why I drew an X through those on your photo.) You can sell those separately. They may be worth $15, give or take, but the work to post them and sell them is probably not worth the trouble.

    Purists (buyers willing to pay in higher ranges) could object that the coins and sticks are not perfectly matching (for several colors, you indicate that they are of different makes) or in amounts divisible by 5 (normally, chips and coins should be divisible by 4 but your set has 5 racks). But a buyer attracted to your tiles might not mind the condition of these traditionally less-important parts. Many people don't even use the chips or sticks. In fact, because your racks have prongs for the chips, the sticks are extraneous (they were certainly not included with the set when it was originally sold). You can safely remove them from the set and sell them along with the orphan tiles. So I've drawn an X through those as well.

    The set has only 144 tiles. Most Asian variants can be played with this set, but not American mah-jongg (the variant most widely played in North America). Finding and obtaining those extra tiles is nigh onto impossible. That reduces the number of potential buyers of the set.

    The case "has lots of wear," you say. That reduces the value of the set.

    On eBay now, you can find "French ivory" sets selling for hundreds of dollars. But the higher-priced ones are in better condition than your set or have enough tiles to play American mah-jongg. Your set might be worth anywhere from $200 to $600, probably closer to the low end of that range.

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 4, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Donation

    On Sunday, October 4, 2020, 05:05:17 AM PDT, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    You received a payment
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Customer details
    Customer name: Evelyn H
    Subscription details
    Amount received: $10.00 USD
    For: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Amount paid each time: $10.00 USD
    Maximum amount you can bill: $10.00 USD
    Billing cycle: Monthly
    Next payment due: Nov 4, 2020
    Sincerely,
    PayPal

    Thank you again, Evelyn!
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 4, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Questions about my set

    On Thursday, October 1, 2020, 09:23:13 AM PDT, paul m wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg questions are:
    1.What 'type' of set do I have?
    2. Approximately how old is it?
    3. Do I have everything needed to start learning how to play?
    4. How much would it be worth...in the event that I don't decide to learn how to play?
    Photos will be provided, hopefully in the correct format.
    Hey Tom and greetings from Cape Town!
    The set comes in a worn thick leather case (370 mm x 240 mm x 50mm)with a broken handle and a rusty clip lock on the back side. As far as I know, it was given to my mother by friends some time in the 80's when we lived in Zimbabwe. It came with a xeroxed set of instructions which are titled "MAJ-JONG: Rules and Practice of the Game in China. Sept 1924"and starts with "1. History and Materials."
    The 144 blocks (30 mm x 23 mm x14 mm weight 12g) look like bakelite and come with an extra 4 blocks with 2000 badly scratched on them.
    Other pieces:
    4 small worn dice in a small bamboo box with sliding lid
    2 regular dice
    A bag of 21 cowrie shells
    10 sticks with worn markings on both sides
    Circular 'revolver'(sorry forgot the name) with N,S,E,W and alternate Chinese symbols
    Please let me know if I've provided enough info or if more detailed pics are needed?
    Thanks in advance and very best wishes
    Paul

    Hi, Paul. Your questions are:

    What 'type' of set do I have?
    It's a Chinese-style set made for use in the West.

    Approximately how old is it?
    Could be anywhere from the 1930s to 1960s.

    Do I have everything needed to start learning how to play?
    You can't play American, Japanese, or Vietnamese rules with these tiles, but you can play every other variant. See FAQ 7a.

    How much would it be worth
    It depends on the condition of the tiles (those things you called "blocks"). See FAQ 7h.

    You also wrote:

    The 144 blocks (30 mm x 23 mm x14 mm weight 12g) look like bakelite
    It looks to me rather like what collectors call "Chinese Bakelite" - flat (non-shiny) surface, rather than shiny surface. I'm not sure what material that really is. I used to think Chinese Bakelite was really casein, but now I'm thinking it might be polystyrene. See FAQ 7c3. Polystyrene tiles are not shiny, and have a similar feel to so-called "Chinese Bakelite."

    4 small worn dice in a small bamboo box with sliding lid
    2 regular dice ...
    The bone dice in the dice coffin is typical of 1920s bone and bamboo sets. I think the 2 "regular" dice are the ones that originally came with your set. The cowrie shells do not belong. Your sticks are incomplete. Your circular revolving wind indicator is probably original to the set. See FAQ 7d, the "Bits and Pieces" FAQ.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    October 1, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Teaching online

    On Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 11:13:37 AM PDT, Debbie Barnett <mahjongteacher1gmail.com> wrote:
    Hello there
    Hi Tom:
    I hope this email finds you well. I have noticed quite a few posts under your Q & A asking for lessons. I am wondering if you could recommend my online school where I have been teaching as well as other instructors in my virtual school classroom at www.mahjongteacher.com since January of this year. The classes are going great and I am not only working with individuals across the country but with organization such as JCC's and YMCA's.
    My online school is the first of its kind and I have been so excited and pleased with its success thus far.
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Kind Regards and stay safe!
    Debbie the Mahj Teacher
    Teaching Mah Jongg Students since 2006!
    561-809-9109
    Author of Unlocking the Secrets of American Mah Jongg
    Creator/Owner of School of American Mah Jonggwww.mahjongteacher.com

    I have no objection to online classes, Debbie. COVID-19 can't be spread through the internet! Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 23, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Looking for a mah-jongg teacher, part 2
    On Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 01:08:07 PM PDT, Hilary W wrote:
    Re: Looking for a Mah Jongg Teacher!
    I want a teacher privates
    Sent from my iPhone

    The US hit 200,000 cases today. This is not the time.
    Tom


    Looking for a mah-jongg teacher

    On Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 11:59:02 AM PDT, Hilary W wrote:
    Looking for a Mah Jongg Teacher!
    Hello - my friends and I are looking for a mahjong teacher - I live in Brentwood, but don't know if you are doing lessons ... please let me know!
    Thanks so much.
    Best,
    Hilary W

    I have 2 words for you, Hilary:
    CORONAVIRUS. PANDEMIC.
    *
    Stay safe and healthy.
    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.
    September 22, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    * Apologies for shouting. Just saying.
    P.S. Also, I just took down the teachers list in FAQ 4a. Also took down FAQ 15. Should have done it months ago.


    My flowers are a mystery

    On Sunday, September 20, 2020, 08:02:48 PM PDT, Thomas L wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I have a set that has 5 "red workers" with dark numbers on the top left and 5 (mostly green) "Robed Figures" with red numbers on the top right. I assume they are flowers of some sort but I am confused by the two fives (a number I can't find anywhere) and by the different colors of numbers and figures.
    Thanks for your help.
    What a great site!!!!

    Hi, Thomas!
    I believe you will find answers to your mysteries in the Mystery Flowers FAQ.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    9/20/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can I use zeroes in Consecutive Runs?

    On Saturday, September 19, 2020, 04:12:27 PM PDT, Susan B wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I am learning to play and my question is - can you use Soap as zeroes in a consecutive run of dots, where any three consecutive numbers is listed? such as 00 11 22......

    Sorry, Susan. The only place you can use zeroes is where you see a zero on the card. Read Frequently Asked Question 19-BH.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 19, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Looking for a game

    On Friday, September 18, 2020, 04:56:08 PM PDT, Susan M wrote:
    Is anyone playing Mah Jong during COVID?
    Hello ó I found your contact information online. I live in Sherman Oaks, in the San Fernando Valley and am looking for a Mah Jong group to join. If you have any suggestions, please contact me at
    [email address omitted]
    Thank you!

    囧 Susan, I took down my Find Players bulletin board until the pandemic is behind us. I can not in good conscience recommend sitting at a table for hours with other people* as long as this virulent virus is rampant. *(People with whom you are not already quarantined, that is.)
    Just look at these infographics. This is TODAY (right now, 7AM) in the United States:


    I don't feel safe looking at that. Do you? In my opinion, social gatherings are contraindicated for the time being. We need to dig down deep and find continuing patience and strength for several more months (at least). Computer games are the safest way to go right now. See FAQ 5.

    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    September 19, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Creating my instructional materials

    On Friday, September 18, 2020, 06:51:41 PM PDT, Sheila wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Hi Tom,
    I came across your site and have some questions about resources.
    I am developing an American Mahjongg Class for beginners.
    Do you know where I can find royalty free images that show the tiles, Charleston, etc. I want to create some posters for the class. If I have to pay for licensed images thatís fine. But if you can point me in the right direction, I would be very grateful.
    Also if you have any suggestions for a new teacher, Iím all ears.
    Thanks,
    Sheila

    Hi, Sheila! You asked:

    Do you know where I can find royalty free images that show the tiles, Charleston, etc.
    Tile images should be no problem to find with a Google search. On any site where they offer mah-jongg tile images, just check the licensing terms. The images you can download from Wikipedia are probably under a Commons license that permits limited usage.
    But as for "Charleston, etc.," imagery, I do not have any resources to suggest.

    Also if you have any suggestions for a new teacher, Iím all ears.
    I have teachers listed at FAQ 4a. But... For months I've grappled with the idea of taking that down due to COVID-19 concerns... but some teachers may be in areas with no virus cases...
    And do I need to add, there is a pandemic going on, and I don't recommend in-person classes at this time. But you can prepare your instructional materials in the meantime, and maybe the teaching tips in FAQ 26 will be helpful in making your preparations.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 18, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    P.S. I may have misinterpreted the phrase "suggestions for a new teacher" there. Tips for a new teacher: FAQ 26. - Tom


    2 players have wrong tile count in a 3P game, part 2

    On Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 06:54:45 PM PDT, Bonnie B wrote:
    Re: Mahjongg
    Thank u so much

    You're welcome!
    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    September 16, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    2 players have wrong tile count in a 3P game

    On Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 05:56:36 PM PDT, Bonnie B wrote:
    Mahjongg
    If there are 3 players and 2 players have 12 and 14 tiles does the game cease or does remaining player continue to play

    It depends, Bonnie. Did this happen before, during, or after the Charleston? If it's after the Charleston, NMJL Rule 10 applies (page 19 of the official rulebook). The game is replayed. There's never any situation in which a sole player plays alone.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 16, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What are the rules for the last wall, part 2

    On Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 04:38:46 PM PDT, Minda R j wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Thank you!
    Sent from my iPhone

    You're welcome!
    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    September 15, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What are the rules for the last wall?

    On Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 02:45:56 PM PDT, Minda R j wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: when you 4 players and the last wall the mah Jongg wall and itís your turn to pick a title does the title you pick have to be for mah Jongg or can you use the tile for ant thing like a Pung or Kong?

    Hi, Minda!
    There are no special rules for the last wall. I assume you play American mah-jongg, and that you have encountered players who use special table rules for the last wall.
    The tiles on the last wall may be claimed for exposure just like the tiles on any wall. If you are playing in a group that uses a table rule, those people are obligated to explain their table rule to you. See these:
    The Last Wall (FAQ 19-Y)
    The Rules on Table Rules (FAQ 14)
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 15, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    How many chips of each color should there be?

    On Sunday, September 13, 2020, 08:53:13 PM PDT, Richard S wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi
    I have a collection of sets that I am going to sell on ebay. I would
    like to include coins and dice and whatever else is a good idea to make
    them more marketable. Could you please advise me on the number of coins
    of each color that will satisfy the buyer. What else should I include?
    Thank you
    Richard S

    Hi, Richard.
    I detail chip counts in FAQ 7D (the "Bits and Pieces" FAQ).
    Good luck with your sales, and good health to 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.
    September 13, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Chinese chowing down under, part 2

    On Saturday, September 12, 2020, 05:40:47 PM PDT, Rosemary M wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for Windows 10
    Thankyou for responding to my question regarding when you can chow from the discards, but you didnít really answer me. I already have a book which most local groups use as their guide and it does not answer my query. I would not want to buy a different book and then try to inflict my version on all the others, harmony and all that.
    As a mah-jong master, what is your understanding of when you can chow from the left hand player, for what hands.
    Also, most groups play that you can only pung if you are playing a pung game, like Robertís pungs where the hand is predominantly pungs. They do not allow you to pung from the table if your hand only contains one pung.
    Can you shed any light on that please
    Rosemary

    What I was trying to say was that three of you know the correct Australian rule, while your fourth was using the Chinese custom instead. But I did miss the fact that the three of you are not in perfect agreement. You wrote:

    I already have a book which most local groups use as their guide and it does not answer my query.
    Since you hadn't mentioned which book you use, I didn't know you had a book. If I knew which book you use, I might be able to point you to the rule that validates your group's practice, by page and number. (I mean the 3 of you who are familiar with Australian rules, not the 1 of you who learned to play in China.) Of course, all 4 of you correctly agree that chowing can be only from the player at your left.

    I would not want to buy a different book and then try to inflict my version on all the others, harmony and all that.
    I would never dream of making such a suggestion! When you have 3 against 1, it's customary for the 3 to set the rule for the table. See FAQ 14 for how the majority should behave. In Australian mah-jongg, there are limits on chowing privileges, so the 3 of you are partially in agreement.

    As a mah-jong master, what is your understanding of when you can chow from the left hand player, for what hands.
    Before, you said: "I have always played that one can chow only from the player on your left and only for an Ďordinary handí of mah-jong. Some players in this group chow, from the player on their left, but for any chow game, such as windy chows, little brother, little Robert etc."

    Per page 28 of Mah Jong, Anyone? Revised Edition:

      3. Only one chow is permitted in a completed Mah Jong hand (except certain special hands...)

    I hope you don't need me to list every single Australian hand that can contain more than one chow. Different books list different hands, and your group may have hands that are not in any of the books, for all I know. Also some books list identical hands by different names.

    Also, most groups play that you can only pung if you are playing a pung game, like Robertís pungs where the hand is predominantly pungs. They do not allow you to pung from the table if your hand only contains one pung.
    Can anybody cite a printed rule on that? Because I never heard of that one. Could be a table rule. Still curious which book you use...

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 12, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Chinese chowing, down under

    On Saturday, September 12, 2020, 04:44:39 PM PDT, Rosemary M wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for Windows 10
    I have played Mahjong with several different groups in Australia and there are always slight variations in the rules, which I have always accepted as ĎHouse Rulesí and played as the group does.
    However, I have joined a new group and some of the players chow quite differently to any of the other groups. I have always played that one can chow only from the player on your left and only for an Ďordinary handí of mah-jong. Some players in this group chow, from the player on their left, but for any chow game, such as windy chows, little brother, little Robert etc.
    At first I just ignored it and played on, but when one player won three times in a row doing the above, I asked for clarification. He had played mah-jong in China, where they may chow from their left for any game. The other experienced players were of the same understanding as me, that it could only be done for an ordinary hand or mah-jong.
    Can you tell me what is your understanding of when you can chow from the left.
    Regards
    Rosemary

    Hi, Rosemary!
    That's cool that your friend has played in China, but he needs to understand that he's in Australia now. (The old saying, "When in Rome...") Different rules apply in different regions. Maybe one of you has a book so you can show him the Australian rules? Thompson & Maloney, or Strauser & Evans, for instance? Plenty of book titles listed in FAQ 2B, with more detailed descriptions of the books in FAQ 3. He has to adapt to your rules.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 12, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    In need of an advanced strategy teacher

    On Saturday, September 12, 2020, 01:51:54 PM PDT, Terry L wrote:
    Teaching
    During this long drawn out quarantine, I regularly play Mah Jongg online. Specifically, I play on Mah Jongg Time Eon - a very realistic website that is interesting,
    challenging and has tons of very good players. (And a lot of pretty bad ones as well!!)
    For some reason, even though I am considered a pretty advanced player, I keep having the worst luck I've ever experienced. The only conclusion I can reach is
    that I'm either not being aggressive enough (taking chances sooner or more often) or these players are much better than me and I have much more to learn.
    I have read the basic books and just sent for your book "The Red Dragon and The West Wind."

    On the website, I easily reached level one below the top, but since then, I've been stuck for a very, very long time (like several years!). Until the quarantine, I
    didn't play online regularly so didn't really notice how often I was losing games. Needless to say, I'm very frustrated.
    I know online it's just a game to waste time while this COVID thing lasts (when I can get back to my regular games) but, perhaps, a combination of bad luck (rarely
    getting jokers) bad decisions on my part (not being aggressive enough), or really not as advanced as I've been told.
    I live in Rancho Mirage and have been looking for a teacher who teaches advanced strategies. So far I've had no luck.
    I love this game and would be willing to travel to a teacher, work with them on Zoom or take any other suggestions you may offer.
    I must admit I am a better "hands-on" learner than reading about examples - most of which seem pretty obvious to me.
    Any information you can provide would be very helpful.

    Do you ever give classes? Do you know of anyone in my area who gives classes? Do you know anyone who teaches one on one?
    Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I really want to become an excellent player and am willing to put in the time and effort to continue
    my education.
    Thank you very much.
    Terry Lubar

    Hi, Terry! You wrote:

    The only conclusion I can reach is
    that I'm either not being aggressive enough (taking chances sooner or more often) or these players are much better than me and I have much more to learn.
    I don't think those are the only two possible reasons, and no one reason explains all the times you didn't come out on top in a particular game. Have you read FAQ 8 or any of my strategy columns?

    I have read the basic books and just sent for your book "The Red Dragon and The West Wind."
    Thanks! You should also download the errata since some rules have changed over the years.

    Do you ever give classes?
    I am not teaching until after the covid vaccine is here and the emergency is over.

    Do you know of anyone in my area who gives classes?
    All I have is at FAQ 4a.

    Do you know anyone who teaches one on one?
    No.

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 12, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    A donation, you have received

    On Thursday, September 10, 2020, 12:55:36 PM PDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Jennifer Z
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    Thank you, Jennifer! Wondering which pearl of wisdom below prompted such generosity, I am.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    9/11/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Called me dead but I wasn't

    On Wednesday, September 9, 2020, 12:33:58 PM PDT, Kraig K wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: I just made my second exposure and a player called me dead. I said sorry but you are wrong. Then the other two women ganged up on me and also called me dead. I tried not to rattle any cages when they told me to prove that I wasnít dead, but I had no choice but to say I donít have to prove anything. Anyway two discards later I declared Mah-Jong. Was my response correct?
    (Thanks for you quick response to a previous question that I asked!)

    Hi, Kraig. You wrote:

    I just made my second exposure and a player called me dead. I said sorry but you are wrong. Then the other two women ganged up on me and also called me dead. ... they told me to prove that I wasnít dead
    That is not how death challenges work under the rules! The proof can come later, at the end of the hand.

    two discards later I declared Mah-Jong. Was my response correct?
    Obviously, if you subsequently made a valid mah-jongg, your response was not incorrect. All three ladies owe you an additional 25¢ for incorrectly calling you dead. Correction, 9/11: the initial death challenger owes you 50¢. See FAQ 19-AB for how to handle death challenges under the actual rules. Also see the NMJL's FAQs page.

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    9/9/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    When is a tile racked?

    On Wednesday, September 9, 2020, 10:40:34 AM PDT, Ann M wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    My MJ group is having a heated discussion about racking a tile. Specifically when is it racked, when you tap it on the rack, when itís on the rack but your hand is still on it or when it is racked not tapped and no hand on it??
    Ann M

    None of the above, Ann. A picked tile is "racked" when it is at position D in this diagram from FAQ 19-AD:

    Tapping the top of the rack does NOT constitute racking the tile.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    9/9/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can I call a discard to redeem it for a joker?

    On Saturday, September 5, 2020, 10:27:00 AM PDT, Phyllis W wrote:
    Jokers
    Hi Tom,
    This question came up at a recent game.
    When I have an exposure of 3 red dragons and a joker, can I call on the last red dragon that has just been discarded and replace it in my exposure, putting the joker back in my hand? ( I was next in turn)
    I hope my explanation makes sense, any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks
    Phyllis

    Sorry, Phyllis. It's not permitted to take a discard just for joker redemption. See FAQ 19-G2.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 5, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    Erroneous initial response edited next day. - Webmaster


    Rule clarifications, part 2

    On Thursday, September 3, 2020, 10:30:56 PM PDT, Donna G wrote:
    Re: American Mahjongg Rules
    Thank you for the clarification.

    You're welcome, Donna.
    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    September 4, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Donation

    On Friday, September 4, 2020, 03:02:41 AM PDT, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
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    Thank you, Evelyn!
    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    September 4, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Rule clarifications

    On Thursday, September 3, 2020, 08:24:07 PM PDT, Donna G wrote:
    American Mahjongg Rules
    The rule that states: The player who calls a tile to complete a mahjong hand trumps calls by any other player to complete a set. Does this mean that player even trumps the person whoís turn it is to pick up the discarded tile?
    Also, the rule that states when aiming for a concealed hand, no tiles can be called except for the last tile which would allow you to declare mahjong. Does this mean you could complete mahjong by calling for a tile that gives you a single tile for mahjong.
    Thanks,
    Donna

    Hi, Donna! You wrote:

    The rule that states: The player who calls a tile to complete a mahjong hand trumps calls by any other player to complete a set.
    You're referring to rule 13(c) of the official rulebook.

    Does this mean that player even trumps the person whoís turn it is to pick up the discarded tile?
    Yes. Call for mah-jongg trumps call for exposure. FAQ 19-H3.

    Also, the rule that states when aiming for a concealed hand, no tiles can be called except for the last tile which would allow you to declare mahjong.
    Yes, the rule described on page 15 of the official rulebook...

    Does this mean you could complete mahjong by calling for a tile that gives you a single tile for mahjong.
    Yes. FAQ 19-E3.

    Please bookmark FAQ 19 for your future reference.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 3, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Is it required to say "mah-jongg" or "mahj"? Can I say "Bingo" instead?

    On Thursday, September 3, 2020, 07:57:25 PM PDT, Kraig K wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: When I get ďmah-JongĒ sometimes I say ďI got it.Ē One of the players keeps telling me that I canít use that term and that I have to say mah-Jong or mahj to be legal. I told her I can call It whatever I want and when I expose my legal hand it is a winner. Period. Now when she is at my table and I have a winner, I say Bingo. Am I wrong?

    Hi, Kraig!
    I think maybe I've played with her! I wrote about this kind of player in column 387 and column 416.
    When I win on self-pick, I want to make sure everybody understands they are going to pay me double, so I announce, "I picked it!" As long as the other players understand what play you're making, the precise words shouldn't matter. The rulebook simply says "mah jongg is declared." One of the founders of the National Mah Jongg League used to cry, "That's it!" In fact, she used that for the title of her book of rules.
    But yeah, no. Saying "Bingo" just to irritate her...? You've made your point. Say it how you like, so long as you're clearly declaring the win, but without rattling cages.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    September 3, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can I substitute a G for a B?

    On Tuesday, September 1, 2020, 07:11:03 PM PDT, Nancy C wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for Windows 10
    If the hand calls for a single ďBĒ bam in green , can I use a green dragon for it ?

    There's no hand like that on the 2020 NMJL card, Nancy. What card are you using? The NMJL card has no hand that just calls for any single bam (and the card never dictates suit with its color-coding).
    I would have to see the card symbols for that hand (and the rules on the back of that non-NMJL card) to be sure, but I'm guessing the answer is "no."
    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    September 1, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Need strategy help, part 2

    On Sunday, August 30, 2020, 07:50:10 AM PDT, Barbara G wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Hi Tom,
    Thank you so much for your prompt answer. It made me look at the W-D in w whole new perspective - as kung, kongs, pairs. Eager to try now. Barbara

    You're welcome, Barbara!
    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    August 30, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Need strategy help re Winds - Dragons

    On Saturday, August 29, 2020, 08:48:45 AM PDT, Barbara G wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: I have been playing for a few years and am having trouble making winds and dragons hands - such that I avoid them altogether. Any tips?

    The main tip is "stop avoiding them." You'll never make one of those hands if you don't try. They're no harder than 2468 hands or 369 hands, for instance.
    Surely you wouldn't avoid W-D if you got a deal like this:

    What's the difference between my example above and the usual mess you get? The number of wind tiles. Right? My example shows 6 winds. Together with the flowers, you could go for W-D #7. Or are Concealed hands also on your never-try list? (That hand is four pungs and a pair, the easiest kind of hand to make in American mah-jongg, which is why it's marked Concealed.)

    All you have to do is make yourself an easy "rule" (not really a rule, more a strategy principle) based on how many winds you have. Maybe 4 winds is too few to go for W-D.* Maybe it's too ridiculously improbable to hold out for 8 winds before considering W-D. Most people pick a number as their deciding line, but there's more to it than just how many wind tiles you have.

    *For example, how about if you had:

    So a "wind count" principle can be a starting point, but not the deciding factor for attempting or eschewing W-D. Because W-D isn't solely about winds and dragons. It's just where the League puts hands that contain pungs or kongs of wind tiles (even if they involve numbers from another family of hands on the card). And dragon hands that don't fit into any other family on the card. Never say never.

    And I haven't even gotten into the matter of your opponents, and their patterns of wind behavior, or unwisely sharing information, or body language. Think back to pre-pandemic days, just ask yourself how often you've heard someone say "a lot of winds going around"? Or maybe someone said "somebody's collecting winds"? (Mah-jongg players often have a bad habit of giving information during a game.) How many times after passing winds have more winds come your way? Be receptive to multiple kinds of data, is all I'm saying.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 29, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What does it mean if we get a lot of wall games?

    On Friday, August 28, 2020, 07:21:30 AM PDT, Theresa wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    y mah-jongg question or comment is: we are constantly having wall games. What is the problem. Theresa

    I don't think there IS a problem, Theresa. As I wrote in FAQ 19-BT, maybe your group has advanced in skill together and you all are playing defensively. Several other theories are discussed in the FAQ.
    Please bookmark FAQ 19 where all the most frequently asked questions about American mah-jongg are answered.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 28, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Our Doubting Thomasina needs official verification

    On Tuesday, August 25, 2020, 09:36:25 AM PDT, Tamara C wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    We understand the rule about 2020, ie. you may not pick up a 2 or 0 tile to complete and expose 2020. There is one member of our group that cannot comprehend the reasoning behind this rule. We tried explaining that is technical 2 pairs but she wants official verification. Thank you.
    Tamie C

    Hi, Tamie.
    I can't officially verify, and I can't justify the reasoning for every rule.
    Official verification can only come from the National Mah Jongg League. On page 12 of a recent version of the official rulebook it says:

      "An exposure is three of a kind (Pung), four of a kind (Kong), five of a kind (Quint) or six of a kind (Sextet)."

    Maybe your Doubting Thomasina will agree that "2020" does not fit any of those descriptions?
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 25, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Mystery hand

    On Sunday, August 23, 2020, 08:28:22 PM PDT, Pamela M wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I just watched a game on Mahjong Time and the winning hand used a combination I had never seen. The hand was as follows:

    999B, RedDragon Flower 8B, 888B, 5555D, WWW.

    Could you explain the use of the flower in the hand? The hand was awarded points for tile hog and the 8Bís were definitely separated into a singleton next to the Red Dragon & flower and a pung. I have never seen a flower used in a hand. How could this be a winning hand?
    (I just bought your book for a second time. I recently moved and canít find the first. I have been playing NML rules for years and decided to learn the Competitive rules during COVID-19) I really like the Competitive game but have a lot to learn about strategy. This use of flowers was unexpected and baffling.
    Best,
    Pam M

    Hi, Pam! You wrote:

    Could you explain the use of the flower in the hand? The hand was awarded points for tile hog and the 8Bís were definitely separated into a singleton next to the Red Dragon & flower and a pung.
    You're asking about one tile, but there's more of a problem than that. There are 16 tiles in the hand. That's only permitted when there are two kongs. Perhaps it was like this...?

    If we assume the 8Bs are supposed to be a kong, then we are left with RF as the mystery. Is there an option in Mahjong Time to use flowers as wild tiles? If so, then we have a pair of R there. If not, then I don't know what's going on.

    I just bought your book for a second time.
    Thanks! I hope you also keep a copy of the errata handy.

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 24, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    P.S. A screen shot would have been nice. - Tom


    How to treat flea bites, part 2

    On Sunday, August 23, 2020, 05:29:24 PM PDT, Virginia S wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    I saw your comment, but I am not sure how to respond on the bulletin board. Yes, by flea bites, I am referring to the tiny holes. People often refer to them as flea bites. I usually see them on Chinese bakelite tiles. I did check under cleaning and restoring and didnít find any information about this, unless I am missing something. I canít send pictures just yet because I am trying to decide whether or not to buy the tiles.

    Hi, Virginia. You wrote:

    Yes, by flea bites, I am referring to the tiny holes. People often refer to them as flea bites. I usually see them on Chinese bakelite tiles.
    This is news to me, Virginia. Sorry I never heard of this term, and I've never seen these tiny holes. It sounds irreparable to me.

    I am trying to decide whether or not to buy the tiles.
    If it was me, I wouldn't buy them knowing that they had tiny irreparable holes in them.

    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    August 23, 2020

    P.S. I wonder if those "flea bites" are bubbles in the tile material - Tom.


    Greater Honors and Knitted Tiles (fan #20)

    On Sunday, August 23, 2020, 12:14:14 PM PDT, Maneesha S wrote:
    Greater Honors and Knitted Tiles
    Tom,
    For this hand, does it consist of 7 single Honors plus 7 of any 9 of the singles belonging to each of the knitted sequences of 1-4-7 of one suit, 2-5-8 of the second suit, and 3-6-9 of the third suit?
    Would this scenario work:
    Having one single tile from suit one, all 3 from suit two, and all 3 tiles from suit three. (as long as there is atleast one or more from each suit to equal the 7 singles required for this hand to come from the knitted sequences)?
    Thank you for your time.
    Maneesha S.
    Austin, TX

    Hi, Maneesha. You wrote:

    does it consist of 7 single Honors plus 7 of any 9 of the singles belonging to each of the knitted sequences of 1-4-7 of one suit, 2-5-8 of the second suit, and 3-6-9 of the third suit?
    Yes.

    Would this scenario work: Having one single tile from suit one, all 3 from suit two, and all 3 tiles from suit three.
    Sure. Any 7 from a Knitted Straight. 3+3+1 or 3+2+2.

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 23, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    How to treat flea bites on tiles?

    On Sunday, August 23, 2020, 08:25:15 AM PDT, Virginia S wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: What is the best way to treat flea bites on tiles?

    ... ??
    I don't think actual fleas can actually bite plastic. Or maybe I don't know what you mean by "flea bites"? Are you talking about actual tiny holes in the plastic? On both front and back?
    Have you looked through the cleaning and restoring FAQ? Can you send photos?


    What if three players go dead? Who pays the survivor?

    On Friday, August 21, 2020, 11:56:12 AM PDT, Veronica H wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    First time this ever happened in a game for me:
    Player #1 was declared dead (illegal exposure)
    Players #2 and #3 - half way through game it was discovered that one had one too many tiles and the other was short a tile. Both are declared dead.
    What happens to the game? Does the fourth player get paid by the other three (maybe minimum value of a hand)? Or is game just over? It doesnít seem fair that remaining player shouldnít get something.
    V. H

    Hi, Veronica. Let's see what FAQ 19 says about errors like "What if three players go dead?"... The FAQ says that since your occurrence was not caused by an erroneous mahj declaration followed by two others erroneously throwing in their hands, "the survivor throws in her hand (nobody gets paid). Shuffle, deal (next dealer takes over), and play another hand."
    I hear you that you think it doesn't seem fair, but the sole surviving player can blame the rule on the National Mah Jongg League. Please bookmark FAQ 19 for future questions about NMJL rules.

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 21, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Are they celluloid?

    On Wednesday, August 19, 2020, 02:37:15 PM PDT, Barbara G wrote:
    Mahjong tiles
    Hello!
    I am sending you a picture of one tile from my set off 144 tiles as I am trying to identify what it might be made of. From what I have read on your website, it may be celluloid but I am not sure. The set is from the 1920ís I believe and has to be at least 80 years old (has been in our family at least that long).
    I will watch your website for a possible answer.
    Thank you,
    Barb G

    Yes, those are definitely celluloid on the front, Barb!
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 19, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Riichi questions, part 3

    On Sunday, August 16, 2020, 02:17:04 PM PDT, Thomas C wrote:
    not sure why not mahjong?.. again
    Hi Tom,
    Iím still playing Japanese Mahjong on the Nintendo Switch. My mind must be in a Ďbrain screwí....not sure why these are not Mahjong? What am I missing? I was never offered a call.
    First pic : new
    Second pic: I posted this before
    Thank you so much!
    Thomas

    Hi Thomas!

    Your first image shows you have exposed some chows, and now your hand is all chows. See FAQ 25 - the pinfu (all-chows) hand must be concealed. You are required to have a yaku in order to declare mah-jongg, and you have none.

    In the second image, again you have no yaku. You should not have exposed the pung, because that makes your hand a hodgepodge of chows and pungs - there's no yaku like that.

    In general, it's best not to make any exposures until you know what yaku you can make. Don't just grab every discard that can be used to make a chow or pung.

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 16, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    How do I cancel, part 2

    On Saturday, August 15, 2020, 11:12:21 AM PDT, <lindaz wrote:
    To Naomi
    To cancel your MJOL account, go to "my account". It's self explanatory.


    How do I cancel my Real Mah Jongg subscription?

    On Friday, August 14, 2020, 10:31:51 AM PDT, Naomi K wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    How do I stop my contract with Real Mah Jongg?
    Naomi K

    I have no idea, Naomi. I have no connection with that game. Maybe a reader will post an answer here eventually, but why don't you just ask Real Mah Jongg? Log onto their site and see what you can find out there.
    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    August 14, 2020


    When to stop the Charleston, part 3

    On Monday, August 10, 2020, 08:31:24 PM PDT, lindaz... wrote:
    stopping the Charleston pt 3
    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for sharing your strategic flow chart. that shows a guide to stopping the Charleston. I never gave much thought to harmony as I don't stop it often. I also think about how many ways I can use the tiles in various hands if one doesn't work out. I think it just takes practice and familiarity with the card. and some imagination! I do like your guide--it makes very good sense.Thanks for sharing your ideas.
    Be well, Linda

    You're welcome, Linda!
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 11, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    HK strategy book in Cantonese?

    on sunday, august 9, 2020, 05:32:44 am pdt, lau, jonathan wrote:
    Hello can you recommend a hong kong mahjong tips book written in cantonese? Thank you
    Hello can you recommend a hong kong mahjong tips book written in cantonese? Thank you

    I'm sorry, Jonathan, but I can't. Maybe another reader will post a suggestion. Failing that, I think your best bet is to use Google to find such books. Good luck!
    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    August 9, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Riichi questions, part 2

    On Saturday, August 8, 2020, 05:21:10 PM PDT, Thomas C wrote:
    More Riichi qs
    Hi Tom,
    Iím still plugging away at Japanese Mahjong in the Nintendo switch. Itís fun and placing the switch in sleep mode and picking up the game after a break, is truly brilliant.
    Please see pics above:
    1) two different Ďvalue tilesí scored games which are scored different. Iím not sure why. It seems they relate to the wind hands.
    2) Iím not sure what Ďthree color runí refers to. Iíve havenít seen this one in the literature
    3) on the 7 pairs hand above, Iím confused on how Dora is scored. This was my best hand! Itís a dandy. Overall Iím confused on Dora scoring overall. I keep reading books and internet and I canít grasp it.
    4) I solved the mystery of why I couldnít win the first request q I sent you. I didnít understand what Ďwin by self drawí meant at the time, and never selected it. If I would have done so, it would have been a self draw win. This time, for the picture on the bottom - it appears I should win this hand by mahjong, but it is not offered. Me ( bottom player) and the player on the right weíre both in richi. Not sure!
    Sorry for all this, but Iím determined to keep learning. I hope it helps the community.
    Best, and may the heavens provide us with 7 pair hands!
    Thomas

    Hi Thomas! You wrote:

    two different Ďvalue tilesí scored games which are scored different. Iím not sure why. It seems they relate to the wind hands.
    The one that gave you value tiles twice did so because you were "double east." It was the east round and you were the east seat, so you scored twice. See the ONE FAN YAKU ("Iihan Yaku") TILE COMBINATIONS in the Japanese Majan FAQ.

    Iím not sure what Ďthree color runí refers to. Iíve havenít seen this one in the literature
    You have same-number chows in each suit. See Three Similar Chows (Sanshoku doujun) in the FAQ.

    on the 7 pairs hand above, Iím confused on how Dora is scored. This was my best hand! Itís a dandy. Overall Iím confused on Dora scoring overall. I keep reading books and internet and I canít grasp it.
    You have a pair of 3-man (3-crak) and the dora indicator (is it the ura-dora? I think so) shows 2-man. 3-man is 2-man plus one - that's dora (the dora indicator plus one). I noticed that almost all the links at the bottom of the FAQ have gone dead. Isn't there a writeup on Wikipedia? Or on ReachMahjong? Here, I found the current link for the European Mahjong Association's writeup (I would absolutely trust its accuracy - it's well researched).

    for the picture on the bottom - it appears I should win this hand by mahjong, but it is not offered. Me ( bottom player) and the player on the right weíre both in richi. Not sure!
    You have not declared riichi. There would be a counting stick between your discards and the dead wall, and there is none. You have no yaku, so you are not allowed to win. Back in the nineties when I was trying to play Japanese majan video games, the games I was playing were not so friendly. Those games allowed you to go ahead and make a chombo - a fatal error. This game doesn't.

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    8/8/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    When to stop the Charleston remains a problem for me, part 2

    Linda Z,
    I got the bright idea (remembering the Four Steps flowchart from February) to flowchart the Stopping decision.

    I consider this a first draft. To go by the emails I've gotten, it seems to me that most people will disagree - they would disagree that the two bottom decision points (the two bottom diamonds) should be involved in the decision process.
    I await feedback from any and all readers! Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 7, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    When to stop the Charleston remains a problem for me sometimes

    On Thursday, August 6, 2020, 06:39:10 AM PDT, <lindaz... wrote:
    strategy
    Hi Tom,
    Would you have the time to discuss "when to stop the Charleston" again in your strategy column? That remains a problem for me sometimes. Any suggestions other than a coin toss? Confused
    Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda!
    I don't have anything new to say on when to stop the Charleston, in general.
    In column 493 I discussed stopping the Charleston based on specific tiles and the 2011 card.
    Then I got blowback from a reader on one of the decisions I made in the column. Molly pointed out some generally accepted strategy principles on stopping the Charleston.
    Then I wrote column 494.

    What do you think is your biggest "when to stop the Charleston" problem? Do you think you don't stop it enough? Do your friends think you stop it too much? If you just have "buyer's remorse" a lot, well, we all have second thoughts after a decision doesn't work out, because none of us has a crystal ball. Best not to look backwards, especially if there's no lesson to be learned.

    Or is it just that smoke comes out your ears every time you have a second-left quandary? If that's the case, you should just begin with the generally accepted strategies:

    1. Do your tiles clearly point to only one hand, and you only have 2 tiles to pass? If so, stop the Charleston. (But if you have one clear hand and you pass 3, the "evil second across" could getcha.)
    2. Do your tiles point to two or three equal hands, and you don't have 3 tiles to pass? Maybe you ought to just pick one (any one) to focus on. If your equal hands have fewer than seven* tiles each, stopping probably isn't a good idea.
    3. Does anybody look dissatisfied enough with her tiles that she might pass something new instead of just the same stuff that went around the first time? If so, maybe you might get something new in a 2nd dance, at least from that player.
    4. If your group gets unhappy when somebody stops the dancing, or if you have a habit of stopping it often, maybe you shouldn't stop it. You have a right to stop it, but this is a consideration that needs to be in the mix.

    *(Seven is the "magic" number because that's half the number of tiles in a complete mah-jongg hand. If you have eight tiles towards one hand, you're more than halfway there, and that ain't all bad.)

    Linda, you wouldn't believe how many hours I've racked my brain trying to come up with the best response to your question. I hope this one is reasonably satisfactory (but all I've really done is rehash what others have said many times before).

    Other readers are welcome to share their Second-Left strategies... Help me!

    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 6, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What type of set is this, part 3

    On Tuesday, August 4, 2020, 10:08:23 AM PDT, jcolgan wrote:
    Re: Type of Mah Jong Set
    I do not know the type of set. I assume the tiles are bone. None have wood backing. No paperwork was provided.
    Jim

    Hi, Jim.
    You didn't ask a question in this email. Are you still trying to determine what "type" of set it is? As I told you before, I don't know what you mean by "type." Please ask me what it is you want to know.

    I assume you are asking because you want to sell the set. I probably need to change what I said before since before I was assuming your celluloid is a thin veneer on wood, but now you say there is no wood, so I need to know how thick the celluloid is.

    Also you need to provide better photos of the tiles, from multiple angles so I can see the side and back of a good tile (not a faded/damaged tile). To help you with whatever it is you need to know, I need better photos. Maybe 640x480 pixels is okay for an auction (and maybe it isn't), but I need to see better in order to answer your question. Many of your tiles are severely damaged, which greatly reduces the value of the collection. I wonder how many (if any) of the other tiles are in excellent condition, and a good clear photo would help with that understanding.

    In your first email, you said "One of the boxes reads Kirby, Beard & Co, Ltd, Birmingham, England." You never mentioned that that box also reads "Best Jet Ondulee Hair Pins." Because that clearly means that the box originally contained hairpins.

    The hairpin box obviously was not part of the original set.

    Your photo of the racks looks very different from the photos of the tiles and the scoring sticks and dice (the photo of racks looks like it is from another source or another photographer). Also, the photo of the racks shows them all with their lids open. Depending on what information you want from me, I may need to see photos of your racks from several angles (what do they look like closed, and on the bottom, and on the back?).

    If you often sell things on eBay, that's fine, but the more I understand about what you want from me (and why you want it), the better I can help you.

    If you want help from me, I need:

    1. A clear question (or questions, if you have more than one). If you want to know the "type" of set, explain what you mean by "type." Manufacturer? Material? Era? I don't know what "type" means to you.
    2. An answer: are you an eBay seller? Yes or no. If yes, then I assume you want to know "type" so you can write a good title for your eBay post. You're used to selling other sorts of things on eBay?
    3. The thickness of the tiles. Actually, you might as well also measure the height and width while you're at it.
    4. Better photos of the tiles (some of them might be worth more than what I suggested before - depending on their condition).
    5. A clear crisp photo that shows ALL the parts of the set, including boxes and everything, all in one view - spread it out on a table and take a photo of everything.

    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.
    August 4, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Donation

    On Tuesday, August 4, 2020, 05:07:53 AM PDT, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
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    Thank you so much, Evelyn! I appreciate your continued support.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 4, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I changed my mind, part 2

    On Monday, August 3, 2020, 04:32:20 PM PDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Paul L
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $5.00 USD from Paul L
    You can view the transaction details online.
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    Thank you, Terry! May the tiles be with you. Play safely and stay healthy.
    Tom


    Two people could have won on same discard but one waited too long

    On Monday, August 3, 2020, 12:03:34 PM PDT, Barbara M wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: I was playing Maj jong today..both myself and another gal declared Maj jong when a flower was thrown. I called it first, exposed my hand and said it before she even realized she had Maj jong as well.
    She then declared, oh I have Maj jong also...She was before me, and rightfully had Maj jong, but I had already exposed my hand, and declared it before she realized she needed the flower as well for her Maj jong.
    We agreed to split the winnings as we werenít 100% sure who should have been declared the winner, please advise.
    Thank you,
    Barbara
    I kind of felt, I should be the winner of that game because I reacted quickly, while she was pondering..I also had exposed my hand before she even declared Maj jong...it was like a second thought on her part.

    Hi, Barbara!
    Your other gal waited too long to speak up. When more than one person claim a discard, it's not a race - but there is such a thing as "too late." She needed to speak up before you exposed your hand. The money is all yours. See the Conflicting Claims FAQ.
    I hope you're playing safely so you can all stay healthy. 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.
    August 3, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I changed my mind after touching the wall tile.

    On Monday, August 3, 2020, 09:51:10 AM PDT, Terry L wrote:
    What is the rule?
    Good Morning,
    I have a question about the rules of play.
    Yesterday I had 3 kraks in my hand. Another player threw out a 2 krak and I debated whether to take it or not. Coincidently, my turn was next. Hesitantly, I reached out to pick the next tile from the wall when I changed my mind. I decided to take the 2 krak that was thrown by the other player. I took the 2 krak, exposed three tiles from my hand but was called dead because I had already touched the tile in the wall. I did not remove it from the wall. I did not look at the tile in the wall. I simply touched it and pulled my hand back.
    Should I have been called dead?
    Thank you
    Terry L

    Hi, Terry!
    You and your group need to understand the "change of heart" rules. You can change your mind after merely touching (without lifting or moving) a wall tile.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 3, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What type of set is this, part 2

    On Saturday, August 1, 2020, 08:27:29 AM PDT, jcolgan wrote:
    Re: Type On Mah Jong Set?
    Thank you Tom for your quick response. You were very kind and I do appreciate your response. This set was given to be at age 15, I have had it for 55 years. I would like to find it a good home. I will check with the Maj Jong clubs and will consider Ebay.
    You might get a chuckle out of this. I live in Cary, NC, slang for Cary is "Contained Area for Relocated Yankees". I'm an x-New Yorker.
    Jim

    You're welcome, Jim (from one replanted New Yorker to another) (if upstate counts). As I said already, I really don't think you should bother with eBay. The time it takes to post the item and then deal with inquiries and (if a sale is made) shipping it is not commensurate with the small amount you're likely to make from the sale.
    Play safely and stay healthy. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    August 1, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Kong promotion

    On Saturday, August 1, 2020, 06:42:38 AM PDT, Lisa H wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    We are playing Chinese mahjong. If a player has an exposed pong, and another player has a discard that would give that player a kong, what happens to the tile? Does the player who is discarding it, simply discard it because it has no value to the player with the pong. Or does the player with the pong pick it up because it will make their pong a kong for more points? Or does the player who has the discard put it to the side to prohibit letting the player who has the pong make a kong for more points?
    New to the game, and we werenít sure how to handle this situation.

    Hi, Lisa!
    You're asking about promoting an exposed pung to an exposed kong. I checked FAQ 20 just now and found that I have never detailed the ways kongs may be formed there. I found lots of comments (Q&A emails like this one) containing questions about kongs, but to my surprise this one hadn't come up before. I'll fix that today, prompted by your question.
    A player's exposed pung may be promoted to a kong only if the player picks the fourth tile from the wall. (The player may not take a discard for the purpose.) It's rule 50 on page 136 of my book. I don't know which Chinese variant you are playing, so this is not necessarily a recommendation to get my book (the book describes Chinese Majiang Competition Rules). If you tell me which book you are using as your guide, I can either help you find this info in your book, or recommend a better book. If you are not learning from a book but a website, I'd love to know which one. If you don't know which variant you play, FAQ 2B can help you. Knowing which variant you play is important, because that knowledge helps eliminate confusion when encountering different rules and scoring systems.
    Play safely and stay healthy. 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.
    August 1, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


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