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The Red Dragon & The West Wind

The Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board


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

  • The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. I answer questions submitted by email ONLY.
  • When you're ready to ask your question, email your question to MJSloperama.com.
  • After you submit your comment or question, return to this board sometime later to see the response (below) - and keep coming back to see followup discussions.
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  • I do not provide technical support for computer games. See FAQ 24 for tips on getting technical support.
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  • Where can I find out the rules and penalties for certain actions?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, February 22, 2024 at 11:04:53 AM EST, stephanie k wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Where can I find out the rules and penalties for certain actions? For example, touching a rack. I’ll but changing your mind and wanting to call a tile. I know that’s not allowed because once you touch it, it’s yours. Another example, if you throw a tile and miss call it what are the repercussions? I’m looking for scenarios and situations and the explanation on how they are dealt with.
    Thank you so much !
    From Stephanie....Sent from my iPhone??

    Hi, Stephanie! You wrote:

    SK: Where can I find out the rules and penalties for certain actions?
    TS: There is an official rulebook published by the National Mah Jongg League, it's called Mah Jongg Made Easy ("MJME"). And I wrote a book that describes the official rules, too. It's called The Red Dragon & The West Wind ("RDWW"). There are other books, too. They're listed in FAQ 3.
    If you would rather find answers online, my FAQ 19 answers the most frequently asked questions about NMJL rules.

    So, that's where! I recommend you buy the official rulebook at least, and bookmark FAQ 19.

    SK: For example, touching a rack.
    TS: In MJME2023, you'll find a recommendation that a player never touch another player's tiles. In FAQ 19, that recommendation is cited in FAQ 19-CF. As for RDWW, this is mentioned in the errata (page 58).

    SK: I’ll but changing your mind and wanting to call a tile. I know that’s not allowed because once you touch it, it’s yours.
    TS: I've gathered all the "change of heart" rules in FAQ 19-AM. This one is listed in MJME2023 on page 18, rule 13. And your understanding of it is wrong. You can move a discard, and you can change your mind about taking it as long as you didn't put it on your rack. FAQ 19-AM-2.

    SK: if you throw a tile and miss call it what are the repercussions?
    TS: That depends on what happens after you misname the discard. See the back of the card ("MISCALLED TILE", middle top of the card). Also, FAQ 19-AY lists all the frequently-asked errors resulting from misnaming a discard. In MJME2023, see page 16, rule 3.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    2/22/2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    The unwritten rule that you should have 8 tiles towards a hand

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, February 22, 2024 at 04:21:50 AM EST, Mark C wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi with regard to “special” or “limit” hands I have seen somewhere that the unwritten rule is that you need 8 or your initial 13 tiles to be in place in order to make it worth going for one of these even if they are still likely to fail. Any thoughts on this ? (British rules)
    Mark C

    Hi, Mark.
    Just to be clear, rules are completely different from strategy principles. And etiquette is a third completely different set of guidelines. The British game has rulebooks that spell out the rules. It's also likely that the rulebooks mention some but not all strategy and etiquette principles. In fact, many of the rules, strategies, and etiquette guidelines in the British game are also applicable to other variants.

    This concept you mentioned, having 8 tiles towards a particular hand, is a strategy principle, not a rule. And it has a counterpart in American and Japanese mah-jongg (two of my favorite variants). Some people say you should have 7 tiles towards a hand before attempting that hand. Some say 8. Strategies are for the individual player to work out for themselves over time, trying them, to varying degrees of success. If I have 7 tiles towards a special hand in my initial deal, I'd probably go for it, at least starting out, but I'd keep my options open for a regular hand. If I have 8 tiles towards a special hand, I'd definitely want to go for it. And I'd probably still keep my options open for as long as practical.

    If you're interested in more strategy principles, check out FAQ 8.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    2/22/24
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Why are the S&P hands marked C, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, February 21, 2024 at 10:10:23 PM EST, Donna D wrote:
    Tom,
    Thanks for the fast response.
    Donna
    Sent from my iPad

    You're welcome, Donna! Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    Why are the S&P hands marked C?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, February 21, 2024 at 07:09:36 PM EST, Donna D wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    You cannot draw a tile to complete any part of any of the hands in Singles and Pairs - why are those hands still designated as Concealed?
    D D
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Donna! Those hands are the very meaning of Concealed! The entire hand is concealed on the sloping front of the rack until it's exposed all at once. In the case of the S&P hands, the hand can't be exposed until then anyway. If that isn't concealment, I don't know what is.
    There are also hands on the card (often at the bottom of a family of hands) that are "arbitrarily" marked Concealed, intentionally by the card designers, often to force the hand to not be ridiculously easy (like all 4-pung hands). Those ex-S&P hands aren't Concealed by definition but rather by design (they're Concealed only because the card says so).
    I usually don't try to justify rules I didn't make. But I can see another reason why the C designation makes sense: Given that the S&P hands have to be marked either X or C, you couldn't mark them X, since it's not possible to make exposures. Nothing can be exposed in an S&P hand, so by definition, it's a Concealed hand.
    So what do you think? Make sense?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 21, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Question about the 2023 NMJL card, part 26

    On Wednesday, February 21, 2024 at 04:02:28 PM EST, Carol P wrote:
    111 2222 111 2222
    Greetings,
    under consecutive run
    this pattern says any 2 suits - clear
    any 2 consec nos - question
    doesn't each set have to matching nos ?
    example : can 444 5555 with 222 3333 be a mah jongg?
    thank you
    Carol

    You are correct, Carol. If the card shows 111 2222 111 2222 (as it does in Consec. Run #6 on the 2023 card), then the two pungs must be the same number but two different suits, and the two kongs must be the consecutive number after the pungs, in the same two suits.
    But the example you gave, 444 5555 222 3333, is a different legal hand, Consec. Run #2 (since the 4s and 5s follow consecutively after the 2s and 3s). You can't claim Consec Run #6 if you make Consec. Run #2.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 21, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated

    P.S. I've now added this hand to FAQ 16.



    FAQ 16 link


    Shouldn't I have won, part 2

    Re: Mahj ?
    On Wednesday, February 21, 2024 at 12:54:08 PM EST, Robin P wrote:
    Hi Tom.
    Thanks for your fast reply. The lady clearly heard me, but felt i should have said “wait or hold up”. Therefore she just kept going w her turn.
    You’re the best!
    Thanks!

    Robin, you wrote:

    RP: The lady clearly heard me, but felt i should have said “wait or hold up”. Therefore she just kept going w her turn.
    TS: Well, then, on the face of it, that wasn't very nice, was it?

    RP: You’re the best!
    TS: Aw, shucks.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 21, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Banned during the Cultural Revolution, part 2

    Re: question re "original" Chinese rules of play
    On Wednesday, February 21, 2024 at 08:10:26 AM EST, Gregg Swain wrote:
    Dear Tom
    Thank you so much for all of this information. I’m delighted you’ve added this question and answer to your site.
    All best
    Gregg
    PS: All those calculations original to the game took away from the number of games that could be played. Hurrah for simplicity!
    Sent from my iPhone

    May the tiles be with you, Gregg!


    Shouldn't I have won?

    On Tuesday, February 20, 2024 at 08:21:53 PM EST, Robin P wrote:
    Mahj ?
    Hi.
    Player across from me plays a 2crack. I say what did u say? The player to my left proceeds to scoops up her next tile from the wall and discards it…..JUST as i say again, Susie, what did u say?
    Susie says OH 2 crack.
    I say mahjong.
    Player to my left goes u can’t take that i already drew and discarded. I said I asked her twice what she said.
    Player to my left says no u have to say wait a minute or hold up.
    I know the rules on when ur turn starts and ends etc. I think in this situation I had mahjong.
    What do you think?
    Thanks ?????
    Good health and peace to you??Robin P

    Hi, Robin!
    Sorry that your emojis didn't survive the conversion from email to web.
    The player at your left was correct. You should have spoken more forcefully when you could not hear the name of the discard. Going forward, I recommend that you keep an eye on what the other players are doing at all times. If it ever happens again that you miss your mahj tile, it's recommended that you not say or do anything that clues the other players as to what you need.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 21, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Banned during the Cultural Revolution

    On Tuesday, February 20, 2024 at 10:52:01 AM EST, Gregg Swain wrote:
    question re "original" Chinese rules of play
    Hi Tom
    When I was giving a talk at a library the other day, someone asked if the "style of play" banned during the Cultural Revolution was played anywhere these days. I didn't see the answer to this in your book.
    Hoping all is well.
    Best
    Gregg

    Hi, Gregg! Nice to hear from you.
    I checked FAQ 11-H to see if the Cultural Revolution was mentioned there, with hopes of finding out when that was. My mah-jongg timeline didn't say (it just said "China's Cultural Revolution briefly spilled into Hong Kong with street riots." Wikipedia says the Cultural Revolution started in 1966. So I'll add that to FAQ 11-H.
    I'm pretty sure Chinese Classical had already splintered into numerous regional variants by 1966. Chairman Mao didn't outlaw just one variant. He outlawed all gambling, and I'm sure mah-jongg players lived in fear of being tattled upon if they even played solitaire games as long as the Chairman ruled the Middle Kingdom.
    The variant that held sway in the 1920s is referred to today as "Chinese Classical," but it is not "the original." The rules went through an evolution from the 1860s and leading up to the 1920s. FAQ 11-F discusses the "original" rules, based on historical discussions on the old rec.games.mahjong newsgroup, and writings found by historian Michael Stanwick and others.
    Certainly, Cantonese rules had evolved by the 1960s, and surely there must have been other regional variants extant at the time. I imagine that whatever variants were played before Chairman Mao's edict ARE (yes) still played today in China. The Chinese weren't big on writing books about mah-jongg - some of the earliest ones are listed in FAQ 11-D.
    The asker of the question at your library talk might be wondering if 1920s style is still played in China today. My best guess is "probably not," since it has a tedious scoring system in which all players tally their scores and pay one another after each hand. A lotta math! I do hear occasionally from Western players of Chinese Classical, who use books from the twenties.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 20, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Frequently Asked Question 19-BU

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 19, 2024 at 09:23:28 AM EST, Rob O wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Why is April the month that the National Mah Jongg League changes the card? What not at the start of the calendar year?
    Rob

    Please see Frequently Asked Question 19-BU, Rob.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 19, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Is this a legal play, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 12, 2024 at 10:19:13 PM EST, Judy H wrote:
    Thank you, I will check it out.


    Is this a legal play?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, February 12, 2024 at 10:01:02 PM EST, Judy H wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Player A is going for a concealed hand. Player A has an 8 bam in her hand. She needs an 8 crak and a joker for Mah Jongg.
    Player B has three 8 bams with a joker exposed.
    Player C discards an 8 crak.
    Player A calls the 8 crak for Mah Jongg, places it with two other 8 craks on the rack, and exchanges the 8 bam for the exposed joker, exposing her entire concealed hand.
    She is called dead because it was a concealed hand and the called tile did not complete the Mah Jongg, even though she exchanged the 8 bam for the joker in the same turn.
    Is the hand dead?
    Thanks in advance!
    Judy H

    Hi, Judy! The hand is dead. The crucial bit of information was "it was a concealed hand." She made an exposure before completing the hand, and that is illegal. You can't first make an exposure and then claim mahj on a Concealed hand.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 12, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    A tile fell off the wall, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, February 10, 2024 at 03:54:37 PM EST, Barbara W wrote:
    Thank you!!
    Sent from my iPhone

    You're welcome, Barbara!


    A tile fell off the wall and she put it in her hand

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, February 10, 2024 at 11:44:34 AM EST, Barbara W wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Here’s a new one A tile accidentally falls from the middle of the wall The player thought it fell from her hand. She picks it up and puts it in her hand Now she has 14 tiles. (It’s not her turn) Is her hand dead? What happens to the wall with a missing tile in the middle? Player is not sure which tile she put in. Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Barbara!
    That's pretty funny. This illustrates why the League can't foresee every possible weird thing that can happen when you have four fallible humans at a table.
    Yes, her hand is dead. In addition to making her hand illegal, she also created a quandary at the table by not being able to accurately repair the wall (if she could have just put it back, then all would have been well). The game will just have to play through that wall with the gap in it.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 10, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    What if the player who took the tile for mah-jongg turns out to have been in error, and now she's dead? Does the other claimant get to take the tile now?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 09:53:03 PM EST, Kathy S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    If a person calls a tile for mahjong, displays their tiles only to realize she played the hand wrong and is therefore dead, can another player (who did actually say CALL) when the tile was thrown) call that tile from a now dead hand? Most of us said no, dead is dead but one player argued so we are going to you!!
    Thank you
    Kathy S
    Happily playing in NJ
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Kathy! If the other player can use the tile to declare mah-jongg, she can take the tile and win. But if she wants it just to make an exposure, then she's out of luck. See FAQ 19-H4.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 8, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    How many points do I get, part 2

    On Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 06:15:36 PM EST, JooFang J wrote:
    Re: Tally up one's scores - A set (meld) of one Dragon
    Hello Tom,
    I am not getting the answer I need, its my bad, its probably my use of the word "expose hand" in my inquiry, so let me try again.
    I am not referring to Pung from a discarded tile - I am referring to a self drawn Pung in my concealed hand.
    1) In Malaysian Mahjong, if I am the non-winning player, I have a set of one of these Dragon tiles in my CONCEALED hand ....so to tally up my scores (to pay the other non-winning players), am I allowed to include as "points" as well as fann (double).
    2) As a non winning player - I assume is same for the Winds (Tung Nam Sai Pak) - if its the Tung round and I am Seat#4 (Pak) and I have both sets of Tung and Pak (self drawn) in my concealed hand, am I allowed to include them (points and doubles) when I tally up my scores?
    Thanks
    -cindy

    囧 Hi, Cindy!
    I knew you were asking about a concealed pung of dragons. It's in the hand, so it's concealed. I understood that.
    1. As I said before, I only know what Vincent Cheah told me. He did not say a concealed pung counts as more than an exposed pung. He only said it was worth 1 fan. Then he also said 1 fan was 20 points. He never said a fan actually doubles the score. If it does, maybe 10 points is doubled to get 20 points. Maybe 20 points should be doubled to 40. You need to figure out your scoring system yourself, since Vincent's detailing doesn't seem to jibe with what you remember.
    2. Since all players count their scores and compare them for the paying-up tally, yes, you score points for your sets, whether concealed or exposed. See what Vincent said. You get 1 fan for East (Tung) and 1 fan for Own Wind (Pak). You should also get 1 fan for North (Pak). (In many mah-jongg scoring systems, fan are additive like that - you can have your cake, AND you can eat it, too! Double-dipping is a real permissible thing in the world of mah-jongg.) That's 3 fan for your two wind pungs, 1 fan for your red dragon pung. 4 fan = 80 points, according to Vincent's stated scoring system. He doesn't mention doubling.
    Vincent told me table rules may vary among Malaysian players. He says before beginning play, make sure you know the fan counts at the table (see FAQ 14 for more about table rules). This means you can set the scoring system the way you want. You'll just need to adapt to others' scoring when you play at their table, and you have to tell newcomers how your scoring works. It's all good.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 8, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    How many points do I get for a concealed pung of dragons in Malaysian mah-jongg?

    On Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 04:13:07 PM EST, JooFang J wrote:
    Tally up one's scores - A set (meld) of one Dragon
    I play Malaysian Mahjong (assume with its own house rules its different from HK version) and I am trying to re-fresh my knowledge to teach my friends.
    If I am one of the non-winning player and I have a set of 3 of example a Red Dragon (concealed). When its time to tally up my scores, do I move my set of complete Red Dragon (3 tiles) out to "expose" and this will give me a "double"? How points will I get?
    Thanks
    -cindy

    囧 Hi, Cindy! I've not played Malaysian rules myself. All I know about Malaysian scoring is what Vincent Cheah emailed me twenty years ago ( https://sloperama.com/mahjongg/malaysian.html). He wrote that a pong (pung) of dragons is worth 1 fan. And later in the page he says 1 fan is worth 20 points. Vincent never said a concealed pung of dragons is worth more than an exposed pung of dragons. He did make a distinction about concealed vs. exposed kongs (gongs) - but kongs are rarer than pungs, and are scored instantly during play, he indicated.

    So in my opinion, you should take his "1 fan = 20 points" concept, and see how that fits into the way you remember playing.

    When you are tallying up your points, you say "I have a concealed pung of dragons," while you show everyone your concealed pung. You don't ruin the "concealment" when you reveal what tiles you were holding. You score for it being concealed. It's necessary to reveal your tiles to prove your claim for points.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 8, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Why is THAT player punished but not the other?

    On Friday, February 2, 2024 at 11:59:30 AM EST, Michael R wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Greetings Mr. Sloper
    This question comes from your article American Mah-Jongg FAQ’s, under ‘JOKERS’, question # M4. You give a source as the NMJL p.20, rule 14…. “An incorrect exposure makes the player’s hand dead.
    In the January, 2024 newsletter of the NMJL, question #10, it is stated that if the mistake is made before a discard is made, no penalty is incurred.
    Once the redeemer has discarded and the incorrect tile remains atop the rack, you state the “player who has the incorrect exposure atop their rack is dead.”
    My question: it seems that the player whose joker was taken and then that player is called dead is being inappropriately punished. Are they being punished for having an incorrect meld on their rack following the exchange?
    Thanking you in advance for clarification,
    Regards
    Michael R

    Hi, Michael! I understand why you might think that the holder of the illegal/incorrect exposure is inappropriately punished. But consider: what was the holder's part of that move? Let me paint a picture:
    1. Player A has a joker exposure atop the rack. Let's say it's 1B. Player B wants to get that joker, and on his turn he hands a tile to Player A, saying "I'd like that joker, please." Player A is reluctant to look up from her card (much less hand over the joker) but she takes the tile and hands over the joker and goes back to studying her card. Player B discards, sealing Player A's fate. Player A has 1Bs and a Flower atop the rack. It's an incorrect exposure, and she played a part in the making of it.

    Now let me paint a different picture:
    2. Same setup as before. Player B hands a tile to Player A, asking for the joker. Player A takes the tile from Player B and looks at it. She says, "Hey, this isn't a one bam." No problem for Player A!

    I like to get carried away with these hypotheticals...
    3. Same setup as before. Player B takes a tile from his rack and puts it on Player A's rack, taking a joker and leaving a Flower among the 1Bs. Player A is a 2nd Amendment advocate, and she lives in a Stand Your Ground state. She pulls out her revolver and shoots Player B dead on the spot. "Nobody touches my rack," she says, as she blows the smoke out of the end of the barrel.

    The real point is that the recipient of the natural tile is responsible for what's atop their own rack. And nobody should ever put anything on (or take something from) someone else's rack.

    As for why the exchanger/redeemer is not punished, I can't say. For further reading, you might want to scroll down to the December 30 post from Kathie W.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Grundsaudaag, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    When can I chow down?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, February 1, 2024 at 12:44:19 AM EST, Frances S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: can someone pick up a discarded tile to complete a chow when it’s not their turn? Thank you
    Sent from Mail for Windows

    Hi, Frances! The answer is no. As I wrote in FAQ 20-B1, you can take a discard to make a chow only when it is thrown by the player at your left. That means it's your turn, and you can start your turn by taking the discard. I don't think I mentioned in FAQ 20 the reason why: because the game would be too easy, not to mention too chaotic, if anybody could interrupt the flow to chow willy-nilly.
    FAQ 20 explains the most commonly misunderstood rules of Asian forms of Mah-Jongg. You might want to bookmark it.


    FAQ 20 link

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 1, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Re: The 2023 NMJL card, part 25

    Re: ? on 2023 card
    On Thursday, February 1, 2024 at 05:55:55 AM EST, Carol P wrote:
    Thank you for answering my questions.

    You're welcome, Carol.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    February 1, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 25

    On Wednesday, January 31, 2024 at 11:48:39 AM EST, Carol P wrote:
    ? on 2023 card
    under consecutive run
    FF 1111 2222 3333 OR ...
    DOES NOT SAY ANY 3 CONSECUTIVE NOS NOR THESE NOS ONLY
    how to interpret ?
    THANK YOU

    Hi, Carol!
    No need to shout! (^_^) Your email got waylaid to my spam folder for an unknown reason, but I found it before heading off to bed.
    You're asking about Consecutive Run #5. As I wrote in FAQ 16, the hand can be any 3 consecutive numbers. The only hand in Consecutive Runs that has to be specific numbers is the top one. You can see plainly that there wasn't enough space to write any more in the parenthetical on that line.


    FAQ 16 link

    FAQ 16 answers the most frequently asked questions about the 2023 NMJL card. You might want to bookmark it!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you, Carol!
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 31, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Can we use dragons as wild?

    On Monday, January 29, 2024 at 05:43:31 PM EST, Barbara S wrote:
    Dragons
    We’re learning the Chinese version…..kinda/sorta, I think! We were told dragons are wild in their set, but nothing I read confirms that. Are they only for melding their own pairs, Pungs and Kongs, or can we use them as wild? There are no other wild cards in the Chinese version.
    So many different rules!
    Thanks,
    Barb
    Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS

    囧 Hi, Barb! When you emailed me on Saturday (below), and said you had my book, and asked about "wildcards," I assumed you were learning American rules (the mah-jongg variant described in the first half of my book), so I gave you the American answer to your question.
    Wildcards are not used in Majiang Competiton Rules (the Chinese version described in the second half of my book).
    It sounds like you have a friend who plays some Chinese variant, using dragons as wildcards as a table rule. In that case, much of what I wrote in my book may not gibe with how your friend plays. My book describes the same basic play procedure, but the scoring differs from version to version (there are numerous regional Chinese variants, each with different scoring).
    FAQ 2-B describes all the variants known to me. You might want to show that to your friend so you can find out which variant they play.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 29, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Is there a limit to how many jokers I can use in a set?

    On Saturday, January 27, 2024 at 11:24:59 PM EST, Barbara S wrote:
    Wild card question
    I have your book, but couldn’t find the answer to this question:
    In a Pung or Kong, can there be two wildcards (2 jokers OR 2 dragons), or is only one wildcard permitted? Thank you!
    Barb S
    Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS

    Hi, Barb! Always nice to hear from someone with my book! See rule 83 at the bottom of page 57. "When using jokers to build a set concealed in the hand, the player may fill the set with as many jokers as she wishes. There is no requirement that the player must have any minimum number of natural tiles to complete a set."
    I should add to the errata one more sentence about making exposures with multiple jokers: "An exposed set must include at least one natural tile (the called discard that initiated the exposure), since a discarded joker may never be claimed. "
    (The term "natural" is defined in the glossary on page 239. A "natural" tile is sometimes also called a "symbol tile.")
    So that answers where in the book you can find the answer to your question. Here on my website, you'll find that answer in FAQ 19-L.
    Play safe out there, Barb! And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 28, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Re the legalities of "finessing" and "slamming"

    On Wednesday, January 24, 2024 at 03:52:19 PM EST, Sally C wrote:
    Finesse Move
    Is the finesse move a legal move only in tournaments according to the National MahJongg League?
    Is "slamming" a legal move?

    Hi, Sally!
    Yes, "finessing" is legal. It says so right in the rulebook. Page 23, rule 7.


    Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook.
    Every table should have the new 2023 edition!

    If you don't have the rulebook yet, you can see the rule in FAQ 19-AN.


    FAQ 19 link

    As for "slamming," I assume you mean an aggressive play like very quickly exposing tiles from your hand to prevent another player from calling a discard that you want. There is no rule that prescribes a specific amount of time a player should wait before calling a discard. When a discard goes out that you want, it's a rule to speak your desire for the tile, then it's best etiquette to reach and take the tile, put it atop your rack, and then expose the tiles from your hand. There is no penalty for consequence for doing it differently. You are required to speak the claim. That's stated right on the back of the card. But there's no rule per se against slam-exposing; if there was, it would be very difficult to enforce. As a general principle, aggressive play is not nice, and therefore is frowned upon.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 24, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    If a discard has been named but not yet touched to the table...?

    On Monday, January 22, 2024 at 06:03:11 AM EST, Service Mails wrote:
    mah jongg question
    If a tile being discarded has been named but not touched the board, can it be used instead to replace a joker on someone else rack of the same name ? Thank you,Frankie

    Hi, Frankie! The discard is "DOWN" (and cannot be un-discarded) if the tile has been EITHER named OR touched to the table, whichever happens first. See FAQ 19-A.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 22, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Have you published any updates to “The Red Dragon & The West Wind”?

    On Friday, January 19, 2024 at 04:12:11 AM EST, Kelly G wrote:
    Your book updates d
    Have you published any updates to “The Red Dragon snd The West Wind”?
    Sent from my iPhone

    Yes, Kelly, thanks for asking! At the bottom of https://sloperama.com/mjfaq/rdww.html there is a PDF file of errata for the book. The file not only contains corrections, but also includes updates based on rule changes that have occurred since the book's publication. It was last updated February 3, 2023, and now it needs a couple more additions, since the National Mah Jongg League has updated their rulebook, Mah Jongg Made Easy. You can download the errata file now, but do check back in a few weeks for the updated version. You can just click the link to read in your browser, or right-click and "Save As" (Firefox/Chrome users: "save link as" - IE/Edge users: "save target as") to download the file to your computer.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 19, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Is this a legal play?

    On Thursday, January 18, 2024 at 06:26:16 PM EST, Carol C wrote:
    Question regarding discarded tile missed exchange
    Thank you so much for helping our relatively new Mahjong group w. a situation:
    3 players at table: Player #1 discards 5 Bam and misses her opportunity to exchange as she realizes too late that Player #3 had Laid-up 3 - #5 Bams with a joker to make exposure of Qnty 4 - #5 Bams. Player # 3 now calls for the discarded 5 Bam/exchanges it for the joker on her exposed tiles and then calls Maj as she is able to complete her final play by using this now just-acquired joker. Is this a "Legal Play" that counts as a winning Maj? Hope I explained clearly.
    Many thanks for your insight Carol

    Hi, Carol!
    Please allow me to rephrase what you told me...

    1. Player 1 discards a redeemable 5B.
    2. Player 3 calls for the 5B and uses it to redeem a joker....

    That is an illegal play. See FAQ 19-G2: a redeemable tile can only be taken to create a new set for exposure or mah-jongg. It is NOT permitted to take the tile in order to redeem it for a joker.
    Please allow me now to show you how to find that answer in FAQ 19.


    FAQ 19

    At the top of the FAQ, you see that "JOKERS" is the third category of questions and answers. Click that and you see a list of the most frequently asked questions about jokers. Your question (this time) is "Can I claim a discarded redeemable tile? (Somebody discarded it and I want to use it to redeem a joker)." You just click that and there's your answer.
    In case you're interested, the next question that might come to mind is, "can somebody win by redeeming a joker? Is that legal?" The closest thing to that question in FAQ 19's "Jokers" section is "What's my score if I win by redeeming a joker?" - FAQ 19-AN, which question inherently implies that winning by redemption is, indeed, legal.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 18, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    What if 2 players go dead in a 3-player game, part 2

    On Thursday, January 18, 2024 at 07:07:56 AM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    suzic... sent you money
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    PayPal
    You were sent $25.00 USD from suzi...
    To see all the transaction details, please log into your PayPal account. It may take a few moments for this transaction to appear in your account.
    Transaction date
    Jan 18, 2024 04:07:47 PST
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    Description Unit price Qty Amount
    Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Item #: MJ@Sloperama $25.00 USD 1 $25.00 USD
    Total: $25.00 USD
    PayPal

    Very generous donation, Susan! Thank you!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 18, 2024


    Does it have great value?

    On Wednesday, January 17, 2024 at 07:18:22 PM EST, M E wrote:
    Mah-jongg set
    After she passed away, I found my mother's mah-jongg set and wondered whether it had great value. They had given us ivory pieces [in the family from long before the ban] and, at first, wondered if these were vintage. However, after reading your information and directions, I organized the tiles and looked at ebay as you suggested. The set is clearly an American Mah-Jongg set with plastic tiles [whatever process]. I have attached a picture of the complete set and here are details you require:
    The basic 136-tile set [dots, bams craks, winds, dragons] is complete and there are 20 flowers [8 of them are seasons] plus 10 jokers and 2 blanks. Total is 168 tiles, all in excellent condition [no obvious defects to my untrained eyes];
    The tiles are 13/16 in. by 7/8 in. by 7/16 in
    Hard case [vinyl covered] with 5 plastic racks; a pair of ordinary dice.
    I welcome your evaluation, but after reading your FAQs and looking at ebay as you suggested, I'm not sure that this set has great value. After I started the process of organizing the set, reading your information and preparing to contact you, my daughter informed me that she is starting to learn the game with some new friends and would like her grandmother's set. Still, I'd like to let her know what this is worth, other than just the family connection.
    Thank you for your help,
    Michael

    Hi, Michael. It's a standard American-style mah-jongg set, made in China by an unknown manufacturer. It's worth about $150, maybe $200, if it's in like-new condition. Please give it to your daughter. It would be a nice starter set for her beginner group to use when they come to play at her place. By the way, nice job on the picture.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 17, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    What if 2 players go dead in a 3-player game?

    On Wednesday, January 17, 2024 at 03:12:22 PM EST, Susan Z wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jong question or comment is: When playing with 3 players and two of them reveal they are dead, yes I know we should not call ourselves dead, what happens to the third player? Does the single legal player continue to draw and play alone until she possibly makes Mah-Jong? Or is the game over. If the game is over is the single player paid anything?
    I did look but could not find this question.
    Thanks for all of your knowledge and sense of humor!
    Suzi
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Susan! Two things first, and then I'll tell you the answer.
    1. It would be very silly for one player to play alone while others sit there. So let's forget that scenario forever and never may that idea rise again.
    2. The rules for a 3-player game are exactly the same as the rules for a 4-player game, once the deal is done and the Charleston skipped.* Once play has begun, the game progresses with the same rules as a 4-player game. It's as if one of the (4) players was declared dead and now only 3 are left playing (except there are more tiles in the wall, since no tiles were dealt to a 4th player). So you don't have to find a special rule for "in a 3-player game...." The rule you're seeking is "what if 3 players go dead in a 4-player game," which is never worded with "... in a 4-player game" on the end. Because then we'd have to take that onto the end of just about every question.


    FAQ 19 link

    So now if we go to FAQ 19, and then scroll down to the "You're Dead" section, we find "What if three players go dead?" (FAQ 19-BW).
    And we find that the answer is, of course, that the game ends. As for whether the single player is paid anything, "it depends." It depends on how the others went dead. Quoting from 19-BW:

      Did one or more players declare mahj in error? Did somebody throw in the hand or destroy the wall before verifying that the mahj was erroneous?
      (b): One player declares mahj in error, another throws in the hand. Two players continue playing. If one of them declares mahj in error, that player pays the survivor double the value of the hand the survivor was attempting.
      (c): One player declares mahj in error, and two players throw in the hand. The erring declarer pays the survivor double the value of the hand the survivor was attempting.
      (d): One player declares mahj in error, and a player destroys the wall before it's realized that the mahj was erroneous. Wall destroyer pays 25¢ to the two surviving players.
      (e): If the three players went dead by any other means, then the survivor throws in her hand (nobody gets paid). Shuffle, deal (next dealer takes over), and play another hand.

    Happily, you don't have to read (b) through (d), because nobody declared mahj in error, and nobody threw in or destroyed the wall.
    So rule (e) applies. Nobody gets paid. Tiles are thrown in, shuffled, and built into walls. Next East rolls the dice and starts a new game.


    Mah Jongg Made Easy
    A 2023 edition is now available!

    These rules came from Mah Jongg Made Easy. In the 2020 edition, these are Mah Jongg In Error rules 4(b) through 4(e). In the new 2023 edition, these are rules 5(b) through 5(e). I still have to go through all of FAQ 19's rule citations and update them according to the newly revised rulebook. Procrastinating on that... 囧

    Update, 1/18: I relooked, and found that I didn't need to cite the Mah Jongg In Error rules; the "3 dead" rule is also stated elsewhere in the rulebook. It's unknown why Susan's two players called themselves dead - we know it wasn't mahj in error. If it was wrong tile counts, rule 6(c) on page 17 of MJME2023 states that if 3 players are dead (in a normal 4P game, it should go without saying), the game is "replayed," which is a different thing from the dice moving to the next East for another game. To me, "replay" means East rolls again. If two players call themselves dead because they realize their hands are unwinnable, they both erred significantly (unwinnability is not a justifiable cause of death unless the unwinnability is visible to all players - and of course, it must be another player who issues the death challenge). So whether the dice should move to the next player or not is the only remaining question. Again, that "depends" - on how the 3 players all managed to go dead! Sometimes it's a do-over and sometimes it isn't.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 17, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated

    * Or not skipped, as many are wont to do...


    Corian® mah-jongg tiles, part 3

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, January 15, 2024 at 12:15:43 AM EST, Sandra T wrote:
    Thanks for answering my question and you can be assured I’m not headed to Western New York any time soon!
    I just saw you posted an addendum to your first answer. I’m guessing my friend doesn’t have a set made of Corian after all. She’s definitely not a Crazy Rich Asian! lol
    The set must be plastic, but it’s definitely made by a different manufacturer than any other set I’ve ever played with. The sides of the tiles are more squared off—not as rounded and they have a different heft.
    Sandra
    Sent from my iPhone

    You're welcome, Sandra.
    Okay, so we're not talking about a crazy expensive material after all. I have some Chinese sets with very squared edges and sharp corners. Squared sides sounds like so-called "Chinese Bakelite." There's no consensus among collectors as to what material "Chinese Bakelite" actually is.
    If you're still curious about what your friend's tiles are made of, you could read FAQ 7-C. And you could check the "other excellent sites" listed in FAQ 4-A. But if you want an opinion from me, I would need pictures. Good pictures.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 15, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Corian® mah-jongg tiles, part 2

    囧 In hindsight, dear readers, I should have done some research before replying to Sandra a short while ago (below). A Google search* does, in fact, easily and immediately turn up mah-jongg sets made of Corian®:

  • artemest shows the "Fa'I' Mahjong Chinese Game Table" for USD 12,325. I don't think it's actually a table, since the site says you can display it on a coffee table or "tucked away on a shelf."
  • 1stdibs lists the same set for $9,335.80
  • 2modern also lists the Fa'I' set for $12,522.00, starting at $1,131/mo
  • mahjonggandme describes a limited numbered edition Corian® set made by Cartier, for £37,100 including VAT tax - about $57,268.12. I briefly looked through the Cartier site and couldn't find the set. Sold out?

    Personally, I don't care for the look of the Fa'I' tiles' designs. I don't know what the tile designs look like in the Cartier set, but the panda-themed box is undeniably gorgeous.

    So, there you have it. If you're morbidly rich, you can buy one of these to play any Asian variant (except Japanese or Vietnamese, and maybe also excepting Singapore style). The Cartier set has 148 tiles, not enough to play American rules. The Fa'I' set contains an unknown number of tiles; the set was designed by the Chi Wing Lo furniture company, so it's unlikely their set contains enough tiles to play American/NMJL rules either. In case you are morbidly rich, and play American rules only, this would just tuck away prettily and not get played with. These luxury items seem to have been intended for morbidly rich ... sorry, momentarily forgot the cultural reference... Crazy Rich Asians. I can just see Eleanor and Rachel playing with the Cartier set. But that imaginary scene needs the Awkwafina character at the table, too. And I'd like to see James Hong fill it out as the fourth. (He wasn't in the movie but he should've been.)

    As far as I'm concerned, the SEOs and SMMs can knock themselves out shilling these exorbitantly gaudy doodads. ;op
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 14, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated

    * After posting, I got to thinking, "When Sandra Googled it she didn't find anything. But maybe I can find something, if it's there, if I try Googling it?" - Duh, I slap my forehead. Shoulda Googled it in the first place. - Tom


    Corian® mah-jongg tiles

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, January 14, 2024 at 12:56:52 PM EST, Sandra T wrote:
    Hi Tom,
    I apologize in advance if the answer to my question is on your website and I missed it. Assuming it’s not too expensive, I am interested in buying a modern American mah jongg set made out of Corian. A friend of mine was given a mah jongg set when the owner of the set died. We have no idea where the set originally came from, but I like it very much and would like to purchase a similar set. After doing some research on the internet, I have determined my friend’s set may be made of Corian. Do you know where I might find a set made of Corian?
    Sandra T

    囧 Sorry, Sandra, but I would be surprised if the material used for kitchen countertops is also used for manufacturing mah-jongg tiles. But I could be wrong. I can point you to my lists of vendors in FAQ 4a (short list) and FAQ 4b (long list), if that helps.

    Or you might want to contact DuPont de Nemours, Inc.®, the chemical company that invented Corian®. You could ask them if they know of any companies that use Corian®, or any of DuPont®'s other polymers, like Vespel™, neoprene, nylon, Teflon, Mylar, Kapton, Kevlar, Zemdrain, M5 fiber, Nomex, Tyvek®, Sorona, Corfam, or Lycra, for making mah-jongg tiles. According to the Corian® Wikipedia entry (which Wikipedia says is "written like an advertisement"), Corian® is manufactured in only three thicknesses: 6 millimetres (0.24 in), 12 millimetres (0.47 in), and 19 millimetres (0.75 in). The 6mm and 12mm thicknesses are too thin for mah-jongg tiles, so if the material is, in fact, used for mah-jongg tiles, it would have to be the 19mm sheets, and that would still make the tiles non-standard thickness (see the standard tile sizes in FAQ 7a). Most Corian® is manufactured at a DuPont® facility near Buffalo, New York, where they're having very wintry weather currently, if you're thinking of going there to ask in person. I should mention that travel in Western New York State is inadvisable this weekend.

    I fear that your internet research may have misled you, most likely due to the shenanigans of SEOs (search engine optimizers) or SMMs (social media marketers). Do you know about SEOs and SMMs? They're scurrilous tricksters who go to inordinate lengths to disguise themselves with fake names, and disguise their paid advertisements to look like genuine conversations in social media (forums, bulletin boards, chat boards, etc.). So I think there's no such thing as Corian® mah-jongg tiles, and that you've possibly been misled by SEOs or SMMs. They're sneaky, and they're everywhere! These tricksters have been around since the 1990s. I remember on America OnLine seeing posts saying something along the lines of "Hey everybody, I wanted to share a great product I just ran across!" Early SMM wasn't as sophisticated then as it is nowadays in the misInformation Age.*

    If you do find a vendor of Corian® mah-jongg tiles, or tiles made of any other DuPont de Nemours, Inc.® polymers, please by all means, do share the information with me, and with any SEOs or SMMs you come across in your travels, so that the word can be spread far and wide. (^_^)
    Good luck with your search! May the tiles (literally) be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 14, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated

    * Which makes me think, should we call our current phase of mankind's existence "misinformation" or "disinformation"? Misinformation is just incorrect, either by accident or misunderstanding. Disinformation is intentional false information intended to achieve a predetermined result. - Tom


    Where can I find your famous Charleston-stop chart?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, January 9, 2024 at 01:14:44 PM EST, Minda M wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I watched a Zoom episode on YouTube where you mentioned a chart which tells when to stop the Charleston. I looked on your bulletin board and was unable to find the chart. Can you tell me where to find it? Thank you.

    Well, Minda, I had a hard time finding that myself. I thought to myself, "I ought to find it and put it in FAQ 8.e (the Strategy FAQ)." Then I wondered if maybe I already had. And guess what, I had! Anyway, here it is so you don't have to click anything:

    You can right-click that and save it to your computer if you want. Hope it helps!
    I should mention that this is not a hard-and-fast or definitive "rule" - you are free to stop the Charleston if you want to, no matter what the above decision flowchart suggests. I myself do not use this thought process; but I think most people would find it a helpful guide when facing a difficult on-the-spot decision. At some tables, "disharmony" could result if you stop the Charleston, no matter that the rules say you have the freedom to stop. Some people begrudge freedom for anyone but themselves....
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 9, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Is it a rule you have to rack.

    On Tuesday, January 9, 2024 at 11:23:11 AM EST, JoAnn S wrote:
    Racking
    Does a player have to rack a picked tile from the wall, some players pick a tile, look at it, call it, then discard it with out ever actually racking it. Is it a rule you have to rack.
    Thanks
    JoAnn

    No, JoAnn. As I wrote in FAQ 19-BL: There is no rule that says a player must rack before discarding. The NMJL says it is "best practice" to rack, but it's not a rule. (Source: the 2021 newsletter.)


    FAQ 19 link

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 9, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Does win on a replacement tile count as self-pick in Chinese Classical rules?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, January 8, 2024 at 02:52:50 PM EST, Francis N wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    In traditional Chinese mahjong, if a player picks up a discarded tile to make a kong and then on the same turn goes out with that replacement tile, do they score 2 for going out on a self-drawn tile? In other words, does a replacement tile count as “self-drawn” if it enables you to go out (as well as giving you a double)? Or does the initial pick up from the discard mean no?
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Francis! Actually, winning on a replacement tile counts a lot more than 2 measly points! Per A.D. Millington in the seminal The Complete Book of Mah-Jongg (1993), "Opening a flower on top of the mountain" (AKA "winning on the roof") doubles the score! Page 64, rule 117 (h).

    But it might depend on which author you use as your bible. I checked an older source too. According to Milton C. Work's Mah-Jongg Up-To-Date (1924), it's 2 points for replacing a flower and either 10 points or double score for replacing a 4th kong tile, "depending on which style of game is being played." Note that Work was trying to reconcile the classical game with "the American Code of Laws" (which incorporated both the One Double and the Cleared Hand games, two different rule sets expert players came up with to prevent beginners from winning with cheap easy hands).

    Having found competing rulings on your question, I needed to check other sources. I checked two other books: Foster on Mah Jong (R. F. Foster, 1924) and An Advanced System for Playing Mah Jong by Chung Wu (1973), and they both agree with Millington: winning on a loose tile (Wu calls that "Picking a flower on the kang") indeed doubles the score.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 8, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated

    P.S. Jan. 12: I may have missed the question. No, you don't get 2 points AND double the score. Just double. - Tom


    Can I promote an exposed pung, part 2

    On Monday, January 8, 2024 at 12:09:32 PM EST, Elizabeth M wrote:
    Re: Question
    Thanks Tom!
    I'll be sure to donate!
    Liz

    You're welcome, Liz!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    Can I promote an exposed pung to a kong in American mah-jongg?

    On Monday, January 8, 2024 at 11:17:00 AM EST, Elizabeth M wrote:
    Question
    Hello Tom!
    I have a question about American Mahjong.
    If a player has an exposed pung from the card and they draw the fourth identical tile, are they able to add it to their pung to make a kong (and therefore change what they're collecting?)
    Thanks!
    Liz

    The answer is no, Liz. See FAQ 19-AF. Once you make an exposure and discard, the exposure will remain, as is, for the duration of the hand. You cannot later (after discarding) change a pung to a kong, quint, or sextet. If you want an authoritative source, see MJME2020, page 15.


    MJME2020 = Mah Jongg Made Easy (2020 ed.)
    A 2023 edition is now available! I've ordered it.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 8, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Can you give me an idea of when, part 4

    On Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 11:08:38 PM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Malayna T
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $20.00 USD from Malayna T
    You can view the transaction details online.
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $20.00 USD
    Currency: U.S. Dollars
    Quantity: 1
    Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Contributor: Malayna T
    PayPal

    On Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 11:14:18 PM EST, Malayna wrote:
    Re:
    Thanks so much, it was very helpful!

    Yee-ha! Thanks, Malayna!
    Tom


    Can you give me an idea of when it was made, part 3

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 08:09:59 PM EST, Malayna T wrote:
    Here are some more pictures. I’ll just paste one at a time so it’s not too big.

    On Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 08:15:40 PM EST, Malayna T wrote:
    Mah-jongg set
    A few have an ink marks on them.

    On Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 08:33:59 PM EST, Malayna T wrote:
    (No Subject)
    Last one. Both sides look the same.

    On Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 08:38:47 PM EST, Malayna T wrote:
    (No Subject)
    This one has a chip out if it. But maybe you can tell what it’s made of.


    Well, Malayna, your question is a little tricky. I can't tell you when the tiles themselves were made, but I can tell you approximately when the tiles were packaged in that box: in the late 1990s or early 2000s, most likely. At least, that's the timeframe when I saw a lot of these artificially-aged sets being sold in Los Angeles' Chinatown.

    A manufacturer (yes, in China - possibly in Taiwan but probably not) bought up a lot of old sets of tiles and ran them through some sort of aging/dirtying process, and got hold of fancy antique-looking boxes, lined them with paper printed with those patterns and then applied shellack or some other coating for an antique look. The pattern printed inside your box's bottom half (vertical columns, numbered from right to left) is identical to the pattern printed inside the lid of a boxed set of bone and bamboo "playing card tiles" in my collection. So I guess the manufacturer printed the paper to line the boxes with because it looks kind of mah-jonggy.

    The front exterior of your box has (I'm guessing) Hindu writing, Sanskrit, on it, and what could be an Indian design on the top (Buddha and two of his disciples). The gaudy box is a dead giveaway of fairly recent Frankensteining. Your set has no dice, no scoring chips, no wind indicator. Just tiles in a box (and no compartments in the box for those extra bits and pieces). That indicates that the box was not originally manufactured to contain an entire complete mah-jongg set: just the tiles - and not so that the tiles could fit attractively. It's customary and proper for tiles to store in 4 rows of 9 in a properly-made mah-jongg case; observe the rattling-around space in the box when all the tiles are in it).

    The sets I saw around Y2K were bone-and-bamboo, "aged" in mud or something. Your plastic tiles may have been soaked in yellow dye to improve their looks, or maybe they're actually made of yellow plastic (perhaps Catalin/Bakelite). If you ever accidentally chip one of those tiles, I wonder if you'll find they're white inside.
    I took a close look at your 6th photo above:

    Your set of tiles includes Singapore "animal flowers" (top right of the left photo above), which indicates the tiles were probably carved in the late 20th century.
    In sum: Could be anytime after ~1950 for the tiles, anytime after 1990 for the box. That's the best I can do. Maybe another reader might know more about the writing on the box or the paper lining, but that information isn't likely going to narrow down the set's date of manufacture for us.

    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 4, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Can you give me an idea, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 12:23:24 PM EST, Malayna T wrote:
    Thanks so much! I will send more pictures when I get home from work. I bought it from someone in Hong Kong off of Ebay about 15 years ago. They don’t speak English so I just went off the picture they had posted. No paperwork came with the set, but it is in a pretty box.

    Okay, Malayna.
    Tom


    Can you give me an idea of when it was made?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, January 3, 2024 at 10:46:16 PM EST, Malayna T wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I have a mah-jongg set that has orange tiles. No western markings. There isn’t any color. All of the tiles only have black ink. I believe it’s a Chinese set. 144 pieces. Can you give me an idea of when it was made?
    Thank you,
    Malayna T

    Maybe I can, Malayna, if you send me more pictures. I need to see all the tiles, all the extra bits and pieces that came with the set, the case, and what the set looks like when the tiles and other pieces are packed attractively in the case. It looks like an interesting set, but I can't possibly be helpful based on just one photo. Looking forward to seeing more...
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 4, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Conflicting claims, two scenarios

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, January 3, 2024 at 02:09:49 PM EST, Ann S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    If two people call for a tile, one abit faster than the second one, who has priority? The person next in turn or the fastest call? If it is for Mahjongg, does that take priority over all?
    Ann
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Ann! To answer your two questions:
    1. MJME2020, p. 20 rule 13.(a) and
    FAQ 19-H1 and H2: It's not a race to see who speaks first. When two players claim a discard for exposure, the player whose turn would be next in order of play (counterclockwise from discarder) gets the tile. Likewise when two players claim a discard for mah-jongg.


    MJME2020 = Mah Jongg Made Easy (2020 ed.)

    2. MJME2020, p.20, rule 13.(c) and FAQ 19-I1: When one player claims a discard for exposure, and another claims it for mah-jongg, the player who needs it for mah-jongg takes priority. New, 2020: even if another player has begun to expose tiles, the mahj claim takes priority.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 3, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Conflicting claims, one claiming the discard for exposure and one claiming mahj by self-pick... non-simultaneously

    On Wednesday, January 3, 2024 at 08:21:00 AM EST, jamesc wrote:
    Mah Jongg call timing
    Greetings,
    This came up the other day:
    4 players (A to D) around the table in that order.
    Player A needs a 1 dot to Mah Jongg.
    Player D discards a 7 crack.
    Player B calls the 7 crack for exposure.
    This is where it gets tricky.
    Once Player D named the tile, Player A lifted the next tile from the wall (a 1 dot) and said Mah Jongg.
    There was much discussion about timing.
    Player B said she called the 7 crack tile prior to the 1 dot being lifted and before the Mah Jongg words being spoken.
    Player A said no he had seen it first before saying Mah Jongg and recognized it as his Mah Jongg tile.
    Player C agreed with Player B and Player D remained silent.
    We need the rule number or info about this type of situation and how does the timing affect the outcome?
    What should have happened in this case?
    Thanks for any help on this.
    Jim M.

    Hi, Jim! As I interpret what you wrote:

      1. Player D discards and names a tile.
      2. Then, simultaneously, Player B calls the discard for exposure and Player A picks from the wall and SEES his mah-jongg tile.

    From what you described, it sounds like Player A spoke AFTER Player B spoke.
    If I have interpreted your words correctly, then Player A should have kept his mouth shut. Player B declared a claim for the current live discard, which means Player A can't take his turn. He has to put the tile back on the wall. Secrecy as to what he saw (NOT claiming "mahj") could result in him getting that tile anyway if the next picker discards it.

    I know you wanted a "rule number," but there is no rule in the 2020 edition of MJME that covers this exact situation.


    Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the NMJL. The 2023 edition is available now!

    FAQ 19-CL says the caller gets the tile if a call for a discard is spoken at the exact precise instant that the next-in-turn racks his picked tile from the wall. But your Player B was not racking and was not speaking at that exact precise instant - he was just SEEING the picked tile. FAQ 19-CL is based on an October 25, 2016 letter to Donna E from the NMJL. I suppose the case cited by Donna E in her original query to the League involved a call for exposure and a pick that wasn't for mahj.

    Is this a case where "mah-jongg trumps everything" (FAQ 19-DK)? I don't think so, because it seems (from your description) that player A spoke AFTER Player B spoke; that player B only SAW his mahj tile at the moment that player A spoke her claim. Player C, you said, "agreed with Player B" that Player B's verbalization came first.

    If the above doesn't satisfy, and you want an official ruling from the League, I recommend you send them your question in a snailmail letter, not by telephone. Then when you get a written reply, you could share a photo of it with me and I can share it here on the board, and in FAQ 19, for future askers of the same question.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 3, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    Make, material, value, age or anything else, part 2

    On Monday, January 1, 2024 at 09:18:56 PM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Melanie C
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    PayPal
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $25.00 USD from Melanie C
    You can view the transaction details online.
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    Thank you, Melanie! Happy New Year!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    January 2, 2024
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    Donations appreciated


    NMJL bulletin #10 is confusing, part 2

    On Saturday, December 30, 2023 at 02:24:17 PM EST, <dujour1 wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Super! I took a picture of your very experienced and succinct answer. I’m sure it will come up in my games. You are the best!
    Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year to you too, Kathie! Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    NMJL bulletin #10 is confusing

    On Saturday, December 30, 2023 at 12:50:20 PM EST, dujour1 wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Is there a misprint in the new National Mah Jongg League Bulletin?
    #10 under Q & A seems confusing.
    ~Kathie W
    Traverse City, Michigan

    Hi, Kathie! I agree that #10 is very confusing. I had to make a diagram, and then remake it, to understand what was going on. But rather than share the diagram, I'll just step through it...
    1. Player A had an exposure of 3 craks atop her rack, with a joker in it.
    2. Somebody (it doesn't matter who) discarded a tile that player B wanted.
    3. Player B called the discard and made an exposure.
    4. Player B said to player A, "I want your joker," and handed player A an 8 crak.
    5. Player A foolishly took the 8 crak and handed the joker to player B.
    6. Player B realized she'd given the wrong tile to player A.
    7. A conversation ensued. Player B wanted to give the correct tile to player A (undoing the erroneous exchange) but somebody (it doesn't matter who) questioned the legality of doing so. And this is the question that the League answered in Q&A #10 in the bulletin.


    The 2024 newsletter/bulletin is arriving in mailboxes across North America!

    As I wrote in column 793 a couple of days ago, the League's answer is that since the redeemer (player B) hadn't yet discarded, the error was rescindable. This validates what I'd written previously in FAQ 19-M4.
    Hope that clarifies? Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What is this about a "new rule"?

    On Wednesday, December 27, 2023 at 01:40:35 PM EST, row019 wrote:
    National Mahj jan 2024 new rule
    Tom - thought this was always a rule.
    NMJL new rule " A tile that is called for either and exposure or for Majh Jongg must be placed on the top of the rack"
    What is your take?


    The 2024 newsletter/bulletin is arriving in mailboxes across North America!

    Hi, row019! This rule was "new" last year, when it was introduced in the January 2023 newsletter.
    Many players pick up the discard, bring it back to the sloping front of the rack, and then put up the whole exposure or the whole hand to the top of the rack. This "new rule" just says you shouldn't do that. You should put the discard atop the rack, without any detours to, or layovers in, the sloping front of the rack first. Go directly to the top of the rack, do not pass Go. (If that Monopoly reference helps.) Happy new year!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 27, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    P.S., Dec. 28: I've written a new column about the January 2024 newsletter. - Tom


    How old is it, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    On Monday, December 18, 2023 at 01:12:20 AM EST, Barry P wrote:
    Thanks for your help, Tom. Much appreciated!
    Barry P

    You're welcome, Barry!
    Tom Sloper
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 18, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How old is it?

    Mah-Jongg Q A
    On Sunday, December 17, 2023 at 04:41:28 PM EST, Barry P wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I'm trying to determine the age of my mother's Mah-jongg set, with the likely outcome of trying to sell the set.
    Known history: My mother, who will be 100 years old in April 2024, played using this set for several decades, probably beginning in the early 1960s. She last used the set in 2018. The set was probably purchased in the Detroit, Michigan area, which is where she lived from 1950 - 1982.
    Pictures of everything are attached to this email.
    Contents of Mahjongg set:
    152 total tiles, including 8 Jokers
    Dimensions of tiles are 30x22x12mm
    Chips: 25 red, 25 white, 25 green, 10 blue (total of 85 chips)
    5 racks, each with an attached chip holder (one each of brown, yellow, and red; two green)
    Two trays in carrying case
    My name and contact info:
    Barry P
    Email: p
    Thanks for any assistance you can provide.

    Hi, Barry! The set was manufactured after 1971, since it has eight jokers. (See column 509.) I'm going to guess that the set was made in the 1970s or early 1980s. Two clues: the red and green dragons use different art (rather than looking the same except for the paint color), and those five marbled Catalin racks. By the 1990s when I started out in mah-jongg, manufacturers were making only four racks, not marbled, in a less expensive plastic, and the red and green dragon were usually made using the same mold pattern. And by the 1990s, manufacturers in China were including more than 8 flowers and more than 8 jokers since they were uncertain whether the National Mah Jongg League might require more than 8 of either or each.
    If you need to try to narrow down that manufacture date, you can try these other excellent sites listed in FAQ 4A.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 17, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    P.S. It's very possible that your set originally came with more flowers and jokers. This you can determine based on whether there is leftover space when all the tiles are arranged in the trays. In the 1960s and 70s, it was a common practice to give extra tiles to other players so they could sticker them and have enough flowers and jokers. - Tom


    Lost and Found on Facebook

    Dear readers, Happy Holidays from the Sloperama curmudgeon! I will try my best to avoid total Grinchhood as I share with you today's discovery. I just found some previously undiscovered message requests from outside my usual Facebook circle. So sorry, but I don't reply via Facebook. Of course I realize it's extremely unlikely that any of these nice folks will see their questions answered here, but [citing the site's Terms of Service]. It wasn't and isn't my intent to ignore anyone! Seriously!

    On Nov. 17, 2023, Carol H sent a message request via Facebook:
    Tom I have read through many of your articles while searching for some history on a Mahjong set I acquired. The bits and pieces I have been able to come up with are very limited…if I were to upload pictures are you interested in looking? Estimated age is 100years…not sure of tile material - not bone/bamboo, not likely bakelite as the coloring not yellowed, tiles not ‘pillowed’ and very square cornered, hand carved and painted, white dragon is blank with a red P in the corner. The oak case seems to fit descriptions of Chad Valley sets but the tiles don’t match anything I can find from images posted…

    If you reply, Carol H will also be able to call you and see info like your Active Status and when you've read messages.

    Hi, Carol! You don't have to ask permission to send me photos of a set for any sort of information I can help with. Just email them to me, and ask questions. I'll answer the best I can.

    On Oct. 1, 2023, 11:17 AM, Karen T sent a message request via Facebook:
    Hi!!! We are longtime MahJong players and big fans of your book Red Dragon West Wind.
    Unfortunately our lone copy is in storage while we undergo house reno so I was shopping for a second copy on Amazon.
    I understand that a revised version was published in 2023?
    I only see the 2007 version available on Amazon.es. Is it possible to find the updated version elsewhere?
    We live in the Algarve in southern Portugal but our son will be traveling from Montreal to Portugal for Christmas if it is only possible to get a copy in North America.
    Please let me know. The game is a BIG Christmas tradition for us and we need your book.
    Thank you. Karen
    If you reply, Karen T will also be able to call you and see info like your Active Status and when you've read messages.

    Hi, Karen! No revised edition has been published. And I'm sorry that I do not know anything about the sales end. In the last month and a half, maybe you've managed to retrieve your old copy from storage... No, a renovation would be a lengthy process. Never mind.

    On December 9, 2020, Laura B sent a message request via Facebook:
    I am looking forward to your presentation with the modern mahjong ladies. I have read your book and I refer to your website all the time.

    On Aug 16, 2023, Laura B sent a message request via Facebook:
    I sent you an email today from my yahoo account to mj at sloperama dot com and I don't know if you check this facebook private message or if you check your email.
    I wanted to discuss the term bouquet in American mahj on the card from 1960 and 60 one, and then also discuss the 2 big jokers and the 14 flowers. And when they can be used as jokers and whether it is any tile or not. Singles and pairs and only pungs and belongs.
    I can send you a picture of this card that I purchased from johnny levine for twenty five dollars so you can see it and answer queries but I don't want to see a picture of this card reproduced for free and out there for the public.
    If you reply, Laura B will also be able to call you and see info like your Active Status and when you've read messages.

    Hi, Laura! I'm so glad you emailed me so we could have our 5-part August-September conversation, below ("Bouquets on the 1960 card").

    On May 17, 2023, Mary H sent a message request via Facebook:
    Hi, while exchanging for an exposed joker do I have to pass it hand to hand or can I after saying exchange slide it across the table?

    If you reply, Mary H will also be able to call you and see info like your Active Status and when you've read messages.

    Hi, Mary! Nothing should touch the discard floor unless it's being discarded. Hand that tile to the other person and receive the exchange by hand. It's called "best practice."

    Sorry these answers are so late / too late! The best way to get answers, [citing the site's Terms of Service], is to email me! You can write to tom at sloperama or webmaster at sloperama, don't forget the dot com, of course. Email is how I roll. I know it's old-fashioned, but I'm a Boomer and an oldtime computer user since the golden age of videogames. Hope you're okay with that.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 17, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    They say finessing is not allowed, part 2

    On Friday, December 15, 2023 at 02:06:10 PM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    kraigk sent you money
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    You were sent $100.00 USD from kraigk
    To see all the transaction details, please log into your PayPal account. It may take a few moments for this transaction to appear in your account.
    Transaction date
    Dec 15, 2023 11:05:59 PST
    Buyer information
    Kraig K
    Instructions from buyer
    Hi Tom, You are my go to source when I need a question answered. As I always mention in my questions, I play with a bunch of women. Fortunately the tiles are usually with me and I win more than my fair share of games. Women don’t like that!
    Description Unit price Qty Amount
    Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
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    \(ʘOʘ)/     Wow, I wasn't expecting that! Thank you, Kraig! May the tiles continue to usually be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Donations appreciated muchly!


    They say finessing is not allowed.

    On Thursday, December 14, 2023 at 09:36:04 PM EST, Kraig K wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: This question seems obvious to me but my fellow lady players, as usual say I’m wrong. I picked up a discarded tile for exposure. Then I traded another player a tile for for her exposed joker and declared Mah-Jongg. They told me I could not trade for a joker after I picked up a discarded tile. Therefore, I not only could not get paid double, but did not even have Mah- Jongg. It’s frustrating for me but what I have to deal with every week.
    Your reply is greatly appreciated, Kraig K
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Kraig!
    There are actually two opposing answers to your question:
    1. They're wrong. That's called a "finesse" play, and it's perfectly legal. See FAQ 19-M and FAQ 19-AN. The rule sources are cited in the FAQs themselves. So if you have the official rulebook, you can show your friends the official rule in print.
    2. You're wrong. The man is always wrong. That's just the way it is and resistance is futile.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 14, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Emperor tiles, part 2

    Re: Emperor tiles
    On Monday, December 11, 2023 at 09:13:40 AM EST, R..., Charles wrote:
    Thank you so much!

    You're welcome, Chuck!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    Old set question

    On Sunday, December 10, 2023 at 04:25:24 PM EST, Story E wrote:
    Old set question.
    Hi Mr Sloper,
    Today a man gave me his mother’s old mahj set. He’s about 80 so I would have thought it was a 1940s set. But based on what I read, I think it may be a 1920s version.
    I have no intention on selling it, but wanted to properly appreciate it! And I told my friend I’d find it’s age and maybe origin. Hope you can help.
    I am attaching a pix of set and wooden case. I took a separate photo of 1bam, flowers, 5 crac and dragons.
    Also, can you share a link that explains how they used those sticks. My friend was curious and I’m clueless.
    Thanks, as always, for your help.
    Story

    Hi, Story! You wrote:

    SE: I told my friend I’d find it’s age... I would have thought it was a 1940s set. But based on what I read, I think it may be a 1920s version.
    TS: It could have been made in the 1920s. And it could have been made in the 1940s or in between. One thing that makes me lean later in the timeline is the two-drawer box. In the early 1920s, five-drawer boxes were the norm. Considering the extra time and materials required to make five-drawer boxes, if a maker wanted to reduce costs, he could make a box with fewer drawers. Or a box without any drawers. It became necessary to reduce costs when the demand dropped after the game's heyday of the 1920s. There could be another clue to the set's age: the size of the tiles. If the tiles are the same size as the early 1920s tiles, then that would suggest an older set. With slide-top boxes (with no drawers or trays) the bone and bamboo tiles were often smaller. Smaller tiles could have been another post-heyday cost-cutting.

    SE: and maybe origin.
    TS: China, of course.

    SE: Also, can you share a link that explains how they used those sticks.
    TS: See the Those Extra Bits And Pieces FAQ. The sticks are used the same way you use poker chips.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    P.S. Another clue that the tiles are post-heyday (possibly post-twenties): the bone is very thin (the 3rd picture shows an edge-on view). Bone is the harder-to-obtain material, more expense and trouble, so again this is a cost-cutting measure indicative of later manufacture. - Tom.


    Emperor tiles

    On Saturday, December 9, 2023 at 12:16:20 AM EST, R, Charles wrote:
    Emperor tiles
    Hi Tom-
    I spent a few hours on your website reading your faqs. Great job. My question is I bought a 148 tile set in a thrift store and it comes with 12 of these emperor tiles. I'm wondering if you might know any more about this set and why it has these weird tiles.
    Thanks.
    Chuck R

    Hi, Chuck!
    a. Do I know any more about this set, you ask. Only that it was made for use in Asia, not for export to the West, since there are no Western indices. And that it's in a zipper case. I can't tell if the tiles are closer to 1-5/32" tall (typical Western size) or 1-7/16" tall (typical Hong Kong / Vietnamese size), since the ruler in the photo isn't aligned with the tiles. I'm guessing that they're the bigger size, but the set might predate those larger tiles.
    b. Why does it have Emperors instead of flowers and 4 blanks, you ask. I can only guess.
    1. Could be that the target market is a region where players don't use the flowers in the classical way, thus don't care that they aren't numbered for seat positions, thus the tiles could be used as seatless flowers or as jokers, according to player preference.
    2. Could be that the set is targeted to Southeast Asian players who just want a lot of jokers, without the complication of all the specialized jokers many Vietnamese players use.
    I'll add this Q&A to the "Mystery Jokers" FAQ (FAQ 7-EJ).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 9, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Donation

    On Monday, December 4, 2023 at 06:25:22 AM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    Hello, Thomas Sloper
    You received a payment
    Dec 4, 2023 03:25:08 PST
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Subscription details
    Amount received $10.00 USD
    For Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
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    Amount paid each time $10.00 USD
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    Next payment due Jan 4, 2024
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    Thank you so much for your ongoing support, Evelyn. Happy holidays 2U.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Near the end of the game, it's discovered that the top tile on the last stack is missing.

    On Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 09:12:35 PM EST, Barbara J wrote:
    Rules question
    Hi Tom,
    Asking for NMJL rules, please:
    As the last wall is pushed out, it is discovered that the top tile on the last stack is missing. Now what happens?
    Thanks,
    Barbara J

    Hi, Barbara!
    The back end of the wall ends with a single tile? That would probably mean someone picked a tile from the wrong end at some point but nobody noticed at the time. If you can't identify the culprit, there's nothing that can be done but play on to the end. And be more watchful thereafter.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Person discarded a tile, but kept her finger on it. Then a problem ensued.

    On Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 09:11:18 PM EST, Star F wrote:
    RE: MJ Question
    Hello Tom, I have a question about discarding a tile. Person discarded a tile, but kept her finger on it while she was thinking about it, She also did not verbalize the name of the tile. A person asked what tile she discarded, but before she answered, another person picked a tile from the wall and racked it. The person discarding the tile announced the tile, and the lady who did not hear it, nor see it, called for it for Mah Jongg. I read rules if the tile was misread, but I didn't see a ruling if the tile was not announced, and sort of hidden by a finger. I thought the person should not have drawn a tile until discarded tile was properly announced, and that the MJ stands. Please advise.
    Thank you!
    Star F

    Hi, Star! You wrote:

    SF: Person discarded a tile, but kept her finger on it while she was thinking about it
    TS: This is not good etiquette. The tile was discarded as soon as it touched the discard floor. She does need to say its name to complete her play, but the tile is not hers to take back at this point. See FAQ 19-A: The tile is down when it either touches the table or is named, whichever comes first. And see FAQ 19-AM: Once the tile is down, the discarder cannot take it back.
    So it's just holding up the game if she's "still thinking" (instead of allowing the game to continue) after the tile is no longer hers.

    SF: before she [could say the tile's name], another person picked a tile from the wall and racked it. ... I thought the person should not have drawn a tile until discarded tile was properly announced
    TS: You're right, the next player may not pick yet. That was an illegal play. As it says in FAQ 19-A, this rule is stated on the back of the card. See middle top: "A tile cannot be claimed until completely named."

    SF: The person discarding the tile announced the tile, and the lady who did not hear it, nor see it, called for it for Mah Jongg.
    TS: Back of the card: "A tile cannot be claimed until completely named." At this point, the player who picked illegally could be called dead for playing out of turn (FAQ 19-AA), but why not just make her put it back on the wall since another player is claiming mah-jongg anyway. The player with her finger on her discard needs to take her finger off and say the tile's name. Then the tile can be claimed for mah-jongg.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Please confirm this rule and where it's authoritatively stated

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, November 20, 2023 at 11:27:57 PM EST, Aleli L wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    “A player has exposed 4 tiles, 1 being a joker. Prior to her next turn, the player before her fails to trade for the joker with the tile they discard. Can the player with the exposed tiles pick up that discarded tile to place with her exposed tiles and put the joker back in her rack?”
    I believe the answer is no, she cannot, however, can’t find anything written regarding it. Would appreciate you pointing me in the right direction toward that end. Thanks so much!
    Sent from my iPad

    Your belief is correct, Aleli, and it's easy to find the source of the citation. In FAQ 19, just look for the category of the rule. This is a Jokers question, right? The question is "Can I claim a discarded redeemable tile?" (FAQ 19-G2). And there, in FAQ 19-G2, after giving the rule ("it can only be taken to create a new set for exposure or mah-jongg. It is NOT permitted to take the tile in order to redeem it for a joker."), the FAQ also cites the source of the NMJL rule: It's in the official rulebook, Mah Jongg Made Easy.

    The rule citation you seek is on page 23 of the 2020 edition (Jokers rule 5), and on page 21 of the 2019 edition (older editions: page 20):

      5. Once a symbol tile has been named or discarded, it cannot be taken back to make an exchange for a Joker. Down is Down.

    [Edit] There is also rule 18 on page 24:

      18. Once a tile has been fully named, it cannot be exchanged for a Joker.

    I'm sure there are also statements of the rule in yearly newsletters. Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 21, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Mahj-X

    On Sunday, November 19, 2023 at 07:06:31 PM EST, John Davis wrote:
    An invitation to play Mahj-X
    Is it Skill or Luck?
    Over the past nine years, I have played American Mah Jongg with probably a thousand different people. I've played in homes, senior centers, libraries, restaurants, at the beach, in local tournaments of 120 players and national tournaments of 500, in private high-stakes monthly tournaments, in monthly year-long tournaments, and in a fund-raising night at an art gallery. I’ve played online at a variety of game sites with both live players and with bots. I’ve played Siamese Mah Jongg with my wife and run several Siamese mini tournaments. I also play regularly in several Royale Siamese groups. (Royale is Siamese Mah Jongg with four people and two sets of tiles.)
    As a result, there are a few things I can safely conclude:
    First, you can't escape the effect of luck in American Mah Jongg: good or bad, luck will happen, no matter what. Ask anyone sitting with no jokers on their rack, or who has been one away for an entire game and still loses, if they think luck has anything to do with it. Ask anyone who loses game after game for no apparent reason if they think luck has anything to do with it, or when the opposite happens, and they win one game after another after another. Luck is inescapable.
    Second, luck is a major reason that the game is so popular. In the same way that people who buy lottery tickets believe that they can get lucky, Mah Jongg players also believe that luck may come their way. Whether they’ve only played a few times or for a few decades, they can always get lucky. Otherwise, why bother?
    Third, there is a natural evolution of the game of American Mah Jongg. First, there was the National Mah Jongg League’s codification of the International Mah Jongg game for American players, then there were Mah Jongg tournaments across the country, then there were the websites where you can play the game by yourself or with friends, and most recently there are Siamese and Royale Mah Jongg.
    However, one question still nags me:
    Is it possible that the rules of the game favor luck over skill?
    So, in December, 2022, I decided to seriously investigate the issue of luck vs. skill. I invited a small group of expert players, teachers, tournament directors, and online game designers to join in a conversation about the possibility of shifting the balance from luck to skill. Through many, many, hours-long and sometimes meandering Zoom meetings, we learned to talk to and listen to one another-- skills that paid off as we gave thought to which rules we might amend or add. As often happens in these situations, new ideas sprang up, so that eventually a new version of the game emerged. MAHJ-X's integrated set of rules works in concert to allow players to become more strategic and lessen the influence of luck.
    MAHJ-X
    You are invited to learn more about the game and the MAHJ-X team by
    joining the MAHJ-X Facebook Group
    Or
    visiting the MAHJ-X website
    MAHJ-X is free, by the way.
    Try it; you’ll like it!
    [Remainder of email omitted]
    Mahj on My Mind | Thousand Oaks, CA

    (^_^) Sounds like a lot of work, John! I note especially the "many, many, hours-long and sometimes meandering Zoom meetings" part! Congrats on working out a set of skill-based rules. Here's hoping it does better than the "Duplicate Mahjong" idea of a few years ago (when the Chinese Majiang folks were hoping to get mah-jongg included in international Mind Sports events).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 20, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Clarification, please

    On Friday, November 17, 2023 at 02:09:58 AM EST, Star F wrote:
    Clarification Please
    Hello Tom, please make a clarification. We had someone pick a flower from the table, expose it on her rack, along with 2 other flowers and a joker. Then realized she only needed 3 flowers so she returned the joker to her rack.... before discarding. I assume this is acceptable.
    Now, if she had decided to change her entire exposure, it is not acceptable since she drew a discard. Is this correct? I recall some change of rules on this situation, but can't find the rule change so I'm not sure what is involved. Can you clarify this for me?
    Thanks,
    Star

    >Q: Can I makes changes to my exposure?
    >A: YES, you can make changes, as long as you do it BEFORE redeeming a joker, or discarding a tile.
    > NO, once you have discarded a tile, or redeemed a joker.
    >Ex: If you claim a flower to make a kong, and you accidentally add a joker to it (making it a quint) and your targeted hand requires a kong, you can take the joker back - as long as you do it before you do anything else, like redeeming a joker or discarding.
    >** Likewise, if you make an error exposing the wrong tiles and you need to change it to expose the correct tiles, you can do that as long as you do it before doing anything else, like redeeming a joker or discarding.

    Hi, Star!

    SF: Then realized she only needed 3 flowers so she returned the joker to her rack.... before discarding. I assume this is acceptable.
    TS: Yes.

    SF: Now, if she had decided to change her entire exposure, it is not acceptable since she drew a discard. Is this correct?
    TS: It's my turn to seek clarification. What do you mean "change her entire exposure"? Please clarify the question.

    SF: I recall some change of rules on this situation, but can't find the rule change
    TS: Where are you looking for NMJL rule changes? What source(s)?

    SF: >Q: Can I makes changes to my exposure?
    TS: You cited some source. What source are you citing? Some of the words in the answer match exactly the wording in FAQ 19-AF, but some words don't. If you want me to clarify some wording, I need to know the source of that wording.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 17, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How to obtain tiles to complete the set?

    On Thursday, November 16, 2023 at 12:28:32 AM EST, Deb Q wrote:
    orphan pieces from mahjong set
    Hello,
    I happened upon your page on the internet tonight and wonder if I might ask you a question.
    Friends of mine are teaching me mahjong. They are 2nd generation Chinese American and are playing a set that they inherited
    from their mother. I am guessing that the set is maybe from the 1930's to 1960's. They are missing four tiles from this set, and I believe that they are flowers.
    I am attaching pictures of the missing tiles.
    Do you have any recommendations for how to find and buy these orphan tiles?
    Thank you for your time,
    Deb
    tile stack.jpg
    Mahjong tiles no. 3 and 4.jpg
    mahjong flower no. 2.jpg
    Mahjong flower no. 1.jpg

    Hi, Deb! I'm so confused! (How do you know four tiles are missing? How do you know the missing tiles are flowers? How can you take pictures of tiles that are not present?) So I'm making assumptions: I'm assuming the set contains 140 tiles, not 144, and I assume you know that sets usually include 8 flower tiles. And I assume you photographed the 4 flower tiles that are present in the set. When mah-jongg collectors refer to "orphan tiles," they mean tiles that are present while the rest of the set is absent.
    It's not unusual for some sets (especially older sets from the 30s or 40s) to contain only 4 flowers, since many Asian players regard the flowers as optional. So the set might not actually be missing any tiles. Especially sets that come in wood boxes without drawers or trays.

    I have two bulletin boards for loose tiles: one for people who possess orphan tiles and offer them for sale, and one for people whose set is missing some tiles, so they can post their query and ask for owners of orphan tiles to contact them.
     "Tiles for Sale" Bulletin Board (Buyers read; Sellers post.)
     "Tiles Wanted" Bulletin Board (Buyers post; Sellers read.)

    I don't recommend just posting your query on Tiles Wanted and then just waiting forever (because it could take literally forever). I recommend that you check out the posts on Tiles for Sale, and see if any of the tiles offered there might match your friends' tiles. AND also check the sellers listed/linked atop the Tiles Wanted Board.

    When you contact someone offering their orphan tiles, the most important considerations are:
    1. Overall tile dimensions (width, height, depth);
    2. Bamboo-vs.-bone dimensions (how thick is the bone portion, mainly);
    3. Coloration.
    It's necessary for replacement tiles to sit undetectably in the wall. If their color or size is too different from the rest of the tiles, anybody can recognize that "that one is a flower." You're welcome to send me another email containing those necessary details, for me to post on the Tiles Wanted board.

    By the way, all you really need is tiles that match in size and color - the tile fronts don't need to match the existing flowers (it's normal for all eight flowers to look different from one another). Even if the replacement tiles aren't flowers, they can be stickered to represent any tile that's missing from the set. FAQ 7-T describes a way of making your own stickers.
    Good luck with your quest!

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 16, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 24

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 08:24:38 PM EST, Stacey S wrote:
    Thanks, Tom. Bad editing.
    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    You're welcome, Stacey.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    11/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    Interested in the early rules and cards, part 3

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 07:17:49 PM EST, Caryl L wrote:
    You’re welcome! I’ve been searching madly for Viola Cecil’s 1938 book to no avail. Any chance you have a source?
    Caryl
    Sent from my iPhone

    No, sorry!
    Play safe out there, Caryl. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    11/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    Your Book and MCR, part 4

    RE: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Gaston M
    On Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 04:19:28 PM EST, Gastón M wrote:
    Splendid! Two cooks stirring the same pot. The formatting is much cleaner in the e revision and is in book form. Perhaps e is the one to hang our hats on.

    Perhaps so. That is the one on the official site. Still, it does have that error in the table-size paragraph...
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    11/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    Interested in the early rules and cards, part 2

    On Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 03:40:54 PM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Caryl L
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $25.00 USD from Caryl L
    You can view the transaction details online.
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $25.00 USD
    Currency: U.S. Dollars
    Quantity: 1
    Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Contributor: Caryl Lawton
    PayPal

    On Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 04:16:31 PM EST, Caryl L wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Dear Tom,
    Thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate your knowledge and dedication to all of us Mah Jongg fanatics. Immediately after learning to play in 2009 I bought your book, which was a great help, and at your suggestion purchased Mah Jongg Made Easy, and every revision since then.
    I’m fascinated with the evolution of the rules since the inception of the league, and have documented the rule changes and other changes as seen on the cards throughout the years. I’m excitedly waiting for the arrival of what may well be the final card to make my collection complete! Not sure what I want to do with the data I’ve collected, though!
    Somehow I think that if there were to be people who would be interested in my research they would be found in the Mah Jongg Collectors Association Facebook group. So I will hope one of their ranks will reach out to me.
    I took some pictures for you of my oldest cards. I have two styles of cards from 1941, one as you described, and another one that more closely conforms to our cards today.
    The 1940 cards are entirely different in format to what came the next year. And, based on the two
    I have, it appears they were reprinted at least once during that year also. The hands remained the same, as did the rules, though a couple sentences were altered, seemingly for clarity.
    I hope you enjoy the pictures. If you’d like to see the 1940 hands and rules, I’d be happy to send pictures of that, too.
    Your devoted fan,
    Caryl
    image0.jpeg
    image1.jpeg
    image2.jpeg
    Sent from my iPhone

    Thanks so much for the generous donation, Caryl! And for those images. I'd not seen any of those before. I assume the hands on that 1940 card match the hands in Viola Cecil's 1940 book, pictured below.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    11/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    Your Book and MCR, part 3

    Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Gaston M
    On Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 02:17:35 PM EST, Gastón M wrote:
    Hi Tom.
    The latest document seems to be 20140411MCREnglish-2 (attached). It was modified on 11/5/2023. For the others:
    20140411English modified on 9/14/2014
    MCR201408e modified 7/31/2014.
    Gastón

    Gastón, what source are you using to determine those modification timestamps? On my copy that I downloaded from your email just now, the file's Properties show:
    Created: Saturday, November 11, 2023, 2:55:17 PM
    Modified: Saturday, November 11, 2023, 2:55:22 PM
    Accessed: Today, November 11, 2023, 3 minutes ago
    When I suggested you check the metadata on your files, my intent was to confirm that 20140411MCREnglish-2 was later than 20140411English on your computer. I do see a slight size difference between those two files.
    Only a side-by-side comparison, paragraph by paragraph, could spot the actual differences. Strike that: I found that Acrobat has a Compare feature. The two files that should be compared are 20140411MCREnglish-2 and MCR201408e. Trying it just now, though, Adobe wants me to sign up for a 7-day free trial, after which I would have to pay $14.98 every month for Adobe Acrobat Pro. I don't want to add that complication to my life right now, not knowing in advance what might happen when the free trial runs out. A Google search also reveals some free options: xodo.com, Soda PDF, filestage.io, kofax.com... and it might also be possible to compare them with Microsoft Word. I'm afraid I can't spend time making the comparison right now; too much going on following a death in the family. Perhaps another reader may have an insight for us.

    Followup: Curiosity took hold of me, so I tried a comparison in Word. It flags a lot of changes from apostrophes to "smart" apostrophes or vice versa (and from quotes to "smart quotes" or vice versa), and places where a space has been introduced between a word and a number, or a hyphen between two numbers. See the regulation on the table size: it reads "80-95 centimeters" in English-2, and "8095 centimeters" in 201408e. That makes it seem like English-2 is the trusted version, but then look at 3.9.1.2, "The Points structure of Winning Hand" - it's messed up in English-2, and cleaner in 201408e. So there are different formatting problems in both files.

    I have not tried a complete comparison to find more. I set 201408e as "revised" and English-2 as "original," but that looks messy. I don't know if reversing that setting would give a nicer result. Note that it gets especially messy when the fan table's pagination differs between the two. It might be easier to print the two out, and compare visually.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    11/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 23

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 03:09:34 PM EST, Stacey L. S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for Windows
    Hi…on the 2023 Card, under Consecutive Runs, 5th hand down, does this HAVE to be 1-2-3?

    See FAQ 16, Stacey. The hand can be any 3 consecutive numbers. The only hand in Consecutive Runs that has to be "these numbers only" is the top one.


    FAQ 16 link

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    11/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    Interested in the early rules and cards of the NMJL

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 12:15:30 AM EST, Caryl L wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I am interested in the history of the NMJL, the early rules and cards. Are you aware of a good resource to answer my questions? I have written to the NMJL twice, but haven’t received any response either time.
    I have been collecting vintage NMJL cards for years and want to know what year the first card was produced. I also want to know if a card was ever printed with the date 1942. I have one that says 1941, two different styles dated 1941-42, and 1943, but have yet to discover one for 1942.
    Additionally, I am curious to understand the role of flowers in American Mah Jongg before the advent of the Joker in the 60’s. The rules on the back of the early cards don’t spell it out.
    I also would like the kitty explained.
    I know this is a lot to ask. Hopefully someone has written about this and You can pass me along to them. If not, I would appreciate your knowledge on these matters.
    Thanks for your help.
    Caryl L
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Caryl! I'll reply to your questions as best I can:

    CL: Are you aware of a good resource to answer my questions?
    TS: I imagine Johni Levene's Mah Jongg Collectors Assn Facebook group has members with good collections of NMJL cards and rulebooks. But it's a private group. (Just telling you what I'm aware of.) Maybe one of the group's members will see this exchange and will contact me with corrections or confirmation of my replies here.

    CL: I have written to the NMJL twice, but haven’t received any response either time.
    TS: I suspect that even the League doesn't possess a complete historical record all the way back to 1937. And of course their priority rightly is servicing current members and improving/clarifying the current rules.

    CL: want to know what year the first card was produced.
    TS: As far as I knew (prior to getting your email), up until the 1941-42 card, the rules were produced only in the form of books.

    I thought there were no cards before the 1941-42 card. Mine is encased in plastic with a sewn border and brass corners; I assume they were all like that, but you wrote:

    CL: I have one that says 1941, two different styles dated 1941-42
    TS: Your collection is more complete than mine. I've never seen a card labeled simply "1941."

    CL: have yet to discover one for 1942.
    TS: Yes, there may not be a 1942 card. In a conversation with Johni many years ago, she didn't have one either.

    CL: I am curious to understand the role of flowers in American Mah Jongg before the advent of the Joker in the 60’s.
    TS: Flowers were wild; they could be used to substitute for any other tile, in any way the player desired. In fact, the 1938 book calls these tiles "Flowers or Jokers." The 1938 rules say that "an extra limit" is paid to any winning hand that does not include any flowers. The 1938 rulebook includes illustrations of hands including flowers (pages 41-43). In later years, when there were lots more flowers than just eight, I've heard that players took to "planting wildflowers" in the wall (because many or most players had non-matching flower tiles borrowed from other sets and stickered), and even having players start with a minimum number of flowers. The 1943 card says it was illegal to discard flowers or to pass flowers in the Charleston. The 1938 book mentions discarding flowers when "dogging," not saying "flower" but rather the name of the previous discard. Finally, on the topic of early flower use, see also FAQ 19-AI, which links to other articles.

    CL: I also would like the kitty explained.
    TS: It's explained in the 1938 rulebook. Players all put chips into the kitty before dealing a hand. Some rule infractions require the player to put additional chips into the kitty. The contents of the kitty are taken by the winner of the hand. In the 2000s I played with groups who used a kitty; one table awarded the kitty to a winner who made a 30-cent hand or above (no kitty for a regular 25-cent hand). But you don't need to read that last sentence.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    11/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    Your Book and MCR, part 2

    Re: Your Book and MCR
    On Friday, November 10, 2023 at 11:24:28 PM EST, Gastón M wrote:
    Hi Tom.
    Thanks for your reply.
    My address is:
    [omitted]
    I will be making a donation to your site.
    Cordially yours,
    Gastón

    On Friday, November 10, 2023 at 11:25:46 PM EST, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Gaston M
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $25.00 USD from Gaston M
    You can view the transaction details online.
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $25.00 USD
    Currency: U.S. Dollars
    Quantity: 1
    Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Contributor: Gaston M
    PayPal

    Thanks very much, Gastón! You didn't need to do that. I'll mail your book after the weekend. Again: this is just between us; I don't want my readers to think I'm running a mail-order business, because I'm not.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    11/11/2023
    Donations appreciated

    RE: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Gaston M
    On Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 11:32:23 AM EST, Gastón M wrote:
    You’re welcome. I was going to do it anyway.


    Your Book and MCR

    On Friday, November 10, 2023 at 01:02:05 PM EST, Gastón M wrote:
    Your Book and MCR
    Hi Tom.
    First of all, thank you the superb website you maintain and your great book!
    I have several 2014 MCR PDF document revisions that I downloaded from the WMO site. These are:
    21040411MCREnglish
    21040411MCREnglish-2
    It is annoying that they don’t specify a revision number or date inside the document to avoid confusion. Do you know which one of these is the latest/official?
    The Red Dragon and the West Wind is one of my two favorite mahjong books but the pages have yellowed and will likely begin to disintegrate soon. Since MCR’s have been updated a few times and there is errata, are you planning to update it soon, hopefully on acid-free paper?
    Also, are you contemplating writing a new book that focuses on MCR Mahjong? MCR scoring is complicated and there is a need for a book that addresses, in depth, what can and cannot be combined with each fan.
    The answers to these questions will determine whether I re-buy your existing book or wait for an even better one.
    Cordially yours,
    Gastón M

    Hi, Gastón!
    I'm guessing that the "-2" version is just a copy of the first. You could compare the filesizes and the creation/edit dates in Windows, and I'm sure there's a way to get metadata from files on MacOS too.
    Just now I went to the World Mahjong Org's website and the latest English version I found there is MCR201408e.pdf. When I gathered together all my editions of the WMO's official rules, and found that I did not already have a copy of 201408e, but I did already have a copy of 20140411MCREnglish.
    It would be odd if the one available on the website now was older than the ones you and I have. I think we need to decipher the filenames...
    "201408e" could be "August 2014, 4th version" or it could mean "2014, 8th Edition."
    "20140411" could be "April 11, 2014" or it could be "Nov. 4, 2014." More likely April.
    I think we need to assume that the one on the website now (MCR201408e.pdf) must be the definitive version.

    2014 is nine years ago. I assume that I covered any 20140411 rule changes into the RDWW errata. I'll need to recheck the errata against 201408e...
    I would love to update the book. It has not recouped its advance, so I don't know if the publisher would be willing. I'll keep in mind the need for acid-free paper in the future.
    I haven't traveled to any overseas tournaments since Covid. I would want to participate in at least one before I would feel comfortable putting out a new work on MCR. No travel plans at the moment.
    I have over a dozen copies of RDWW that I bought to provide to students before Covid changed things. If you send me your address, I'll send you one. (Don't tell anybody, though. I wouldn't want my readers to get any ideas.)
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Lamp for impaired vision, part 2

    On Monday, November 6, 2023 at 12:33:07 PM EST, DONNA E wrote:
    Lights
    > ?For visually impaired Ott Lights are fabulous.
    > Some are battery operated or others plug in. They sit on the corner of the table just great!
    > I have two friends who need them and they work great
    > Donna ??

    Thanks for the tip, Donna. A quick Google turns up the brand name OttLite. And I see that they come in a variety of configurations. Maybe your tip will help Jim M's friend!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Please add to one of your FAQs, part 3

    Re: FAQ 7i: Mah-Jongg Cards... and Kards
    On Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 05:08:57 PM EDT, Frank A wrote:
    Good afternoon, Tom.
    I'm glad that they posted their free card online. It's a quick way to get a card without having to first order then wait for a card to arrive in the mail.
    I've been to Rochester. When I was a kid in Brooklyn, I wrote a letter to Kodak to request some instructional brochures on photography. They sent a bunch :)
    I heard about the peregrine falcons that nested in the Kodak and Times Square Buildings and in other towers. I've been checking up on them over the years.
    Thanks for reminding me about that FAQ. I totally forgot that I read it and downloaded the Mahjong Friends Online app earlier this year. I opened the app just now.
    Thanks again for your quick replies.
    Sincerely,
    Frank

    Hadn't heard about the nesting peregrines. Did photograph a red-tailed hawk last winter.
    Play safe out there.


    Lamp for impaired vision while playing

    On Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 01:12:52 PM EDT, jamesc wrote:
    Mah Jongg Light
    Tom,
    We have a player who has a serious eye problem and has trouble seeing the tiles.
    She wants to continue playing and really enjoys the game.
    Do you know about any type of small table lamp that she could use to see the tiles more clearly without disturbing the other players at the table?
    Jim M

    No, Jim, I don't. Maybe Debbie Barnett will invent one! Just kidding. But maybe a reader will find something...
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    We invented an app!

    On Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 01:36:33 PM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Mahjpedia App
    Hello Tom,
    I hope this finds you well! I am excited to share with you our new App now available on Google Play and the App store. Please try it out and let me know what you think.
    Not sure if you can add a link to this on your resource page but I also have a how to use the app video here, https://youtu.be/vCsTRa8_3tk
    Mahjpedia Reveal FB Post.png
    I will be slowly but surely adding interesting facts about Mah Jongg while using your site and of course use you as the source.
    Cheers!
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    I'll add it to FAQ 5, Debbie. Good luck with it!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Please add to one of your FAQs, part 2

    On Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 12:07:44 PM EDT, Frank A wrote:
    Re: FAQ 7i: Mah-Jongg Cards... and Kards
    Thanks for your quick reply, Tom.
    I'm sorry, but I don't know who they are. I just found that free mahjong card after doing a Google search because a kind lady was teaching American mahjong to us yesterday, but 3 of us "students" didn't have our own American mahjong cards. We all used her NMJL card. I definitely want to gain more experience playing American mahjong, in person here in SoCal or elsewhere during my travels or online.
    Our family lived in Texas for a short time decades ago though when I was a kid. And I was stationed there as an active duty Marine in 1994. I've visited a couple times since.
    Whereabouts in New York do you live? I'm a native New Yorker, born in Manhattan.
    I started playing (in person) again this year, around the Lunar New Year. The place we were at had a Chinese set lying at the bottom of their cabinet full of games, so I taught 12 people how to play Filipino rules and we played for many days and nights to celebrate Lunar New Year.
    Soon after I left that place, I ordered my second ever mahjong set, a Vietnamese set with 160 tiles. (We used the 4 blanks and 4 of the Vietnamese jokers as the 8 American jokers yesterday.) So far, I've used my new set to teach Filipino rules to 9 people here since we first unwrapped the set 9 days ago, including the American mahjong lady and a Japanese lady who plays riichi mahjong.
    The last time I recall playing before that was in 1996, when I got off active duty in the Marines the first time and went back to college. I also taught 12 or so of my friends that year and we had regular mahjong parties in our apartment in Honolulu.
    I've never played online. What's the best app or website to play Filipino rules? Is Taiwanese the closest style to Filipino?
    I visited Hong Kong in 1995 when our ship pulled into port there a couple times, but unfortunately I didn't learn their style or play any mahjong while I was there. I did however purchase my first ever mahjong set during that trip, in Hong Kong, Singapore, or Malaysia. I forgot which port.
    Same to you, Tom. Take care.
    Sincerely,
    Frank

    I see, Frank. It's just that when you asked me to "please" add a link to the Cards FAQ, I assumed there was something in it for you. At first, I thought you had created I Love Mahj, but when I checked the site's About page I found it's that couple from Texas who created it. I then figured you must be a partner or something. As for your other questions:
    I live in Rochester, 341.5 miles from Manhattan.
    I don't know offhand if there is an app where you can play Filipino rules. Check FAQ 5.
    Filipino and Taiwanese rules use different scoring. Their seeming similarity is based solely on how many tiles are used in the hand (they're the only two variants that win with 17 tiles rather than 14).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Please add to one of your FAQs

    On Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 12:00:08 AM EDT, Frank A wrote:
    FAQ 7i: Mah-Jongg Cards... and Kards
    Greetings, Tom.
    Could you please include the URL for the free I Love Mahj card in FAQ 7i?
    https://ilovemahj.com/ilmCard
    I'm in SoCal. Where do you usually play? Thanks for everything that you do. I learned to play mahjong in 1981 but I've learned a lot from your website.
    Sincerely,
    Frank

    It's done, Frank. What's your relationship with Philippe and Julie and ILM? They're in Texas and you're in California, so what gives? I'm in Western New York, haven't played in person since the COVID pandemic started in 2020, so I play online but I'm not saying more than that. I learned Hong Kong rules in 1994 and it's been quite a road since then.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Sloperama supportarama

    On Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 06:12:20 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    Hello, Thomas Sloper
    Nov 4, 2023 03:12:10 PDT
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    Thank you so much for your ongoing support, Evelyn!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What decade were my mystery tiles made in, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    On Friday, November 3, 2023 at 02:55:15 PM EDT, Michele C wrote:
    Thank you for the link. Makes me wonder if the face (what I called jester) is a flower vs a joker. From what I understand the red tile is a wild tile called Fei. Like a joker or IS a joker. I assumed the jesters and the blanks were the jokers...now I am not sure which are the jokers but I clearly have 8 flowers (4 seasons and 4 capture). I watched a woman on youtube who lived in Hong Kong and called them melamine but I agree with you...not really sure what the plastic is and I have googled the manufacturers name and can't seem to locate the shop/business so impossible to figure out when they were made. Thanks again!
    Thank you,
    Michele C

    Michele, the full scoop on how those Malaysian "fly" and "face" tiles are used is given in the link in the FAQ. See https://sloperama.com/mahjongg/malaysian.html - Vincent Cheah communicated all that info to me in 2003.
    If the tiles are "new-ish" as you say, then they could have been made anytime in the 90s, 00s, or 10s. If the case is shiny brown vinyl, I'd guess 90s or 00s. But I don't see how that makes much difference in the set's value.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What decade were my mystery tiles made in? Also...

    Mah-Jongg Q A
    On Friday, November 3, 2023 at 12:42:30 PM EDT, Michele C wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hello Tom! I have been buying and selling antique/vintage mah jong sets for a few years now and recently purchased a set from Hong Kong, case label says Hong-Kong Mahjong Manufactory. Possibly new-ish, melamine, assuming machine made but I was attracted to the jester jokers and couldn't resist. With some research they appear fairly traditional large thick two tone with bue backs. There is one tile I am not sure of and if you have any knowledge of what decade they were likely made in that would be great. Please see pictures attached, upper left tile (I have red dragons and winds and 4 jester and 4 blank jokers so I can't figure these out). Many many thanks for Sloperama! p.s. do you have a link that describes tournament rules...I have only played at homes and wondering what the differences might be.
    All the best, Michele

    Hi, Michele!
    Your "Mystery Tiles" are illustrated in FAQ 7-E. They're tiles used in Malaysian mah-jongg. Sorry, but I can't possibly guess what decade your tiles were made in.
    You said they're made of melamine, but I can't confirm that, either. That type of tile is more likely made of high-density polyethylene, as seen in FAQ 7c3, the "Plastics"FAQ. From what I found on a Google search just now, melamine might be the plastic my sister's dinnerware is made of - so I thank you for the opportunity to learn something new!
    And sorry again, but I don't have an FAQ that defines tournament rules. My book describes Chinese Majiang Competition Rules but since you referred to blank tiles as "blank jokers," I'm guessing you play American/NMJL rules. Every organizer of American-style tournaments sets their own rules, but I suggest you check out Gladys Grad's "Mah Jongg Madness" website. If I recall correctly, she describes her tournament rules there. I just checked - "Madness" was the old name. Now it's called Mah Jongg Masters. https://mahjongg.org/
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Called her dead and then withdrew the challenge

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, November 1, 2023 at 04:42:36 PM EDT, Hedy G wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi Tom, what is the rule if a player calls someone’s hand and she says I’m not and then that player immediately realizes that she is not and withdraws the death challenge. Is that player called dead or can she withdraw her death challenge and play simply continues. I always thought that if you call someone dead and at the end of the game, if the player was not truly dead then the one who called her dead owes her the value of the hand and if she wins then that player owes double the value of the hand. If she was dead and continued playing she would owe the other player double the value of the hand. In other words what is the correct rule of a death challenge?
    Thank you
    Hedy G
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Hedy!
    A death challenge cannot be withdrawn. A death challenge can be in the form of "sorry my dear, but you're dead" or "waitaminnit, are you dead?" These verbalizations draw the eyes of all players to the challengee's exposures, and that is not to be taken lightly. Once those words are spoken, they cannot be unspoken.
    You have the death challenge rules mostly right, but the amount to be paid is not "double value of the hand," but rather "50 cents" (or 50 points, for those who keep score in non-coinage terms), which was changed from 25 cents by the League in 2020. See FAQ 19-AA and FAQ 19-AB immediately below it.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    November 1, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I had a redeemable tile, part 2

    On Tuesday, October 31, 2023 at 07:16:08 PM EDT, xlnancy wrote:
    My mistake
    Dear Tom:
    I'm so sorry Tom. I should have said that I made my exposure and was about to discard one of my two remaining tiles when I realized it would leave me with the exchangeable seven crak. That's when I asked myself if it would be legal to make the discard and the exchange at the same time. It was a confusing situation because, under normal circumstances when you are 'waiting' to call for a Mah Jongg, you don't have a discard tile in your hand. As it was, I actually had two discards, one of which I planned to exchange for a joker at my next turn.
    Suppose I had picked my needed tile from the wall instead of calling and exposing a pung. In that case I would exchange the seven crak for a joker and discard my last unwanted tile. Then, I would be in the 'waiting' mode.
    Sincerely,
    Nancy

    Okay, Nancy! So you would have been able to finesse on the next turn, because you didn't redeem the joker on this turn. You wouldn't be calling a discard and redeeming a joker at the same time; you have to redeem AFTER making the exposure, when your hand totals 14 tiles. Holding 14 tiles is a prerequisite for joker redemption. There are 2 ways to obtain a 14th tile: by picking or by calling. So yes, joker redemption is legal after making an exposure.
    But as you found, holding off on redeeming a joker so you can finesse is risky; if you'd redeemed when you had the chance, you could probably win sooner. As it happened, somebody else went out before you could. But, that's just how the mah-jongg goddesses like to mess with us.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Halloween, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is her hand dead, part 2

    On Tuesday, October 31, 2023 at 01:59:47 PM EDT, Sue S wrote:
    Re: Question
    Thank you for your quick answer. I do have one more question.
    I understand that the player who drew and discarded out of turn is dead but what about the previous player who had not yet discarded? Some said she is also dead because she has 14 instead of 13 tiles in her hand and did not monitor the next player who went out of turn.

    Again, I appreciate your free service and will make a donation to keep it going! Sue
    Sent from my iPhone

    On Tuesday, October 31, 2023 at 02:07:10 PM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
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    Thank you for the generous donation, Sue! I don't understand why the player whose turn it is doesn't simply discard. Yes, she's holding 14 tiles, but technically her turn never ended (somebody else picking out of turn does not cause other players' hands to go dead). All she has to do is discard.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Halloween, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Backsies! Can she change her mind about discarding?

    On Tuesday, October 31, 2023 at 01:00:04 PM EDT, Linda K wrote:
    Question
    If a player names a tile, but it does not touch the table, can the player replace it for a joker? She did not indicate replacement before naming it.
    Thank for your help. Linda

    Hi, Linda! Once the discard has been named, it's too late for the erstwhile discarder to change her mind. See the Backsies/Change of Heart rules in FAQ 19-AM.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Halloween, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is her hand dead?

    On Tuesday, October 31, 2023 at 11:42:28 AM EDT, Sue S wrote:
    Question
    If a player draws and racks a tile from the wall before the previous person has discarded is her hand dead?
    Thanks so much for your answer - you are my group’s “official” guide!!!
    Sent from my iPhone

    Yes, Sue. Picking out of turn is a death penalty offense. See FAQ 19-AA for the death penalty rules.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Halloween, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I had a redeemable tile that I could have won with, but is that a legal play?

    On Tuesday, October 31, 2023 at 02:13:35 AM EDT, xlnancy wrote:
    Unusual situation
    Dear MJ:
    I had two tiles left before I could declare a Mah Jongg. One of them was a seven crak which I planned to exchange, when it was my turn, for an exposed joker on another player's rack. In the meantime, I called a tile and made the proper exposure on my rack. At that point all I had left was the seven crak which I could exchange for a joker to give me a Mah Jongg. But could I? It was not officially my turn. Since I am a Mah Jongg teacher, I questioned the legality of such a move. The other players, all of whom were my former students, looked to me for the answer. But I didn't have it because I've never encountered a similar situation in my seventy-five years of knowing how the game is played. (I was about ten years old when learned it) Now I'm heading towards ninety).
    As it turned out, the player with the exposed seven craks got her Mah Jonng before I had a chance to make the winning exchange. Of course, I got teased by the other players for being too honest. They would have believed whatever I told them. Oh well, that's part of the magic of Mah Jongg. Every game is a lesson and a personal challenge for your mind, your spirit, and sometimes your integrity.
    Sincerely,
    Nancy J. P
    Eugene, Oregon

    Hi, Nancy! You wrote:

    NP: when it was my turn, for an exposed joker on another player's rack. In the meantime, I called a tile and made the proper exposure on my rack. At that point all I had left was the seven crak which I could exchange for a joker to give me a Mah Jongg. But could I? It was not officially my turn.
    TS: You took your turn out of turn, but that's perfectly legal. You hadn't discarded yet, so your turn that you took out of turn hadn't ended yet.
    Here's how your verbalizations should have progressed: "Call! I'll take that tile, and make my exposure. Now: may I please have your joker? Here's my seven crak. Mahj! I win! Everybody owes me double."

    NP: I've never encountered a similar situation
    TS: I've had that situation several times, and I've seen players at my table do that several times, and I've only been playing for thirty-ish years (if you count Hong Kong rules, which is what I started with). It's not an unusual situation at all. It's called a "finesse play." Saving the redeemable tile until after you've obtained your 13th tile and then swooping in with your redeemable tile is a smooth move.

    Here's how a turn works:
    1. Either the player at your left discards and nobody calls the discard, or somebody discards a tile you can legally claim, you call it, and nobody outprioritizes your call...
    2. Either you pick the tile from the end of the wall, -or- you take the discard and expose a completed set with it, -or- you declare mah-jongg and expose your hand...
    3. Assuming you didn't declare mah-jongg or discard, you can redeem as many as eight jokers if you got'em...
    4. Either you declare mah-jongg and expose your hand, or you discard a tile from your hand...
    5. If you declared mah-jongg, now you tell the other players exactly how much they are to pay you. (If they can hear you over the post-mahj kvetching and showing and wall-tile-turning to find that elusive winning tile, that is.)

    NP: As it turned out, the player with the exposed seven craks got her Mah Jonng before I had a chance to make the winning exchange.
    TS: So I assume you discarded rather than making the finesse play. Well, like you said, live and learn.

    I need to add "how a turn works" to FAQ 19; I was surprised to discover that it wasn't already in there! Also, you emailed me twice, and as far as I could tell the two mails were identical. If I missed part of your question, just ping me back.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Halloween, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Value of my set

    On Monday, October 30, 2023 at 08:55:05 AM EDT, Karyn B wrote:
    Re: Help in determining value of Mah-Jongg set
    Hi TOm!
    Thank you so much for your insight and advice with my mah-jongg set!
    Warm regards,
    Karyn B

    You're welcome, Karyn!


    Value of my set

    On Sunday, October 29, 2023 at 08:02:55 PM EDT, Karyn B wrote:
    Help in determining value of Mah-Jongg set
    Hi Tom-I’m hoping you can help with establishing a value on my set that belonged to my grandmother(for reference,she was born in 1918). I’m planning to sell it and would like to ensure fair pricing if possible. The set was made by E.S. Lowe and contains
    the following:
    162 total tiles
    108 chips(red,white,blue,green)
    5 racks
    1 set of dice
    It’s in good-fine(?)condition. There’s normal aging to the brass hardware on the faux alligator case and on the racks, a few minor scratches on the bottom and back of the case, and slight wear to the outside corners. All tiles are in excellent condition. I’m thinking they are made from catalin(based on your description of catalin vs Bakelite)and they measure 20mm wide x 30mm long x 10mm depth. There are no manuals included. I hope I haven’t left anything out, and thank you for having a look and giving your expert opinion.
    Regards-Karyn

    Hi, Karyn! Condition matters with a set like this. Per FAQ 7-H, "Excellent" means your tiles have "only very minor defects which only a purist or expert would notice or care about. These defects must be described in detail." You didn't describe in detail, your photos are very small, and I can't really be certain that you understood the standard meaning of "excellent" in appraiser-speak. So I'm going to base my evaluation on their being actually "Very Good - Item has a few defects that any normal person would notice upon close examination. All defects must be noted." You say the case is Good-Fine condition. I'll go with that. "Item is worn but reasonably attractive; any normal person would notice the defects without having to look for them. All defects must be noted."

    The set came with 2 manufactured jokers, and (guessing from your photo) 24 flowers. Checking the flowers/jokers chart in column 509, we see that the set must have been manufactured sometime around 1960-1962. Before then, the League didn't include jokers (still, the manufacturer might have put jokers in anyway). After then, the League required more than 2 jokers. You might find more authoritative dating info on Charli's site or Gregg Swain's; see FAQ 4-A.

    It's an attractive, colorful, well-aged and pleasant set to play with as it is. It's likely worth over $200, since Lowe is a recognized and respected brand name with collectors. If you're going to offer it for auction, you get to decide if you want to set a minimum price for the bidding to start at, or post your desired price "or best offer." Could go for more than $300, but I promise nothing; it depends on how many buyers are vying for it, how many offers you get. Good luck selling it. Above, I mentioned FAQ 7-H, a guide to evaluating a set. You need to read that article, and also FAQ 7-N, tips for sellers.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 29, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    S/he put the misnamed discard atop her/his rack. Can she have a do-over?

    On Sunday, October 29, 2023 at 03:27:42 PM EDT, Pam and Alan G wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: A player discards a tile but incorrectly names it.
    Another player calls it and puts tiles on the rack but then realizes it was not the tile she/he needed. Is she allowed to put the exposed tiles back in her rack or is the hand dead?
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Pam and Alan!
    Once a taken tile is placed atop the rack, the move cannot be undone. See the the "Undo! Change of Heart! rules (FAQ 19-AM).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 29, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    FAQ 19 link


    Miss Manners, part 4

    On Friday, October 27, 2023 at 04:50:12 PM EDT, lindaz wrote:
    RE:Miss Manners pt 3
    Hi Tom;
    In answer to your question, we play in a community with friends (or friends of friends). Our group is open to experienced players. If a newbie wants to learn the game, she'll approach one of us who is willing to take the time to teach her. Usually if it is her first time to play alone after learning the game, her "instructor" will ask the table (maybe privately before everyone sits down) if it's OK that the newbie joins us. "Instructor" will sit alongside her student to keep things moving at the right pace, point out strategy, and answer questions. If we're playing for money we don't ask her to pay unless/until she wins a game. At that point we teasingly tell her that she is no longer a "MJ virgin" and will be responsible for any future losses. Usually we let some rules slide early on until she is more comfortable. We all remember what it's like trying to make a quick decision during a game. Most newbies get stuck during the first pass, and we teach her some of your rules of strategy in selecting a hand.
    Thanks for all you do for the MJ community!
    Linda

    Nice, Linda. Too bad so many people in single-table settings aren't so beginner-friendly. I like that the instructor keeps the student moving along.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 27, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 22
    Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Janet F
    On Thursday, October 26, 2023 at 10:31:37 PM EDT, Janet F wrote:
    Week you do a great job and I think I forgot for a while. I always refer my students to your site so I do appreciate you!
    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 21

    On Thursday, October 26, 2023 at 09:24:58 PM EDT, janet f wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Thanks, I hadn't read far enough down. And yes, I'll contribute..I did forget. So sorry. ??
    Janet ??
    “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ........Ghandi

    On Thursday, October 26, 2023 at 09:26:53 PM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Janet F
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $50.00 USD from Janet F
    You can view the transaction details online.
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    That's very generous, Janet! You're welcome and thank YOU!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 20

    On Thursday, October 26, 2023 at 04:13:09 PM EDT, janet f wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I have a questiion about hand #5 in the 3-6-9 section. Although the kongs of 3's are shown in two different suits of this three suit hand, the instructions in the parentheses only say "Kongs 3, 6, OR 9" unlike hand #2 in the Even Nos. section which more clearly states "Kongs any LIKE even numbers." Does this indicate one kong could be 6's and one kong could be 9's in two different suits?
    Janet ??
    "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." ..........Ghandi

    No, Janet. They have to be "like" kongs, as explained in FAQ 16.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated



    FAQ 16 link


    Fix it? Or not?

    On Wednesday, October 25, 2023 at 07:22:52 PM EDT, Pete Suchon wrote:
    Repairing a box
    Hi Tom,
    I know, it's been a minute. I'm now living in a 62+ community and run a
    Chinese MJ game on Tuesdays and an NMJL game on Thursdays. Recently one
    of my players approached me with a bone and bamboo set from the 1920's.
    It has one of the vertical slide in panel fronts and the tiles are in
    pretty decent condition. In fact, it looks a lot like the set featured
    in column 610. The problem is that the box has been dropped onto one
    corner, which knocked the whole frame askew and popped loose most of the
    interior drawers and slats.
    I read through the FAQs and didn't see anything addressing my question,
    which is; would rebuilding the box and drawers adversely effect the sets
    value on the collectible market? I believe most of the original wood can
    be salvaged and reused and all the brass is in good shape. I don't want
    to give this lady any unreasonable expectations should she (or her
    heirs) decide to sell this set. Any guidance is greatly appreciated.
    -Pete-
    The spooky season is upon us. Beware!
    This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.

    Hi, Pete!
    I am not an expert on the antiques market, and I am not knowledgeable about real estate, but I am a mah-jongg collector. If I was shopping for a house, I would expect to pay more for a "fixed-it-upper" than for a "fixer-upper" that will cost me a lot to fix up after purchase. If I saw two ads on eBay for equivalent sets of mah-jongg tiles but one had a box all out of whack and the other had a box that had been repaired/restored, I would expect the one with the fixer-upper box to sell for considerably less. If I bought that set, I would have to repair it myself, and maybe I just don't wanna!
    In short: I think it oughta be repaired, but it should be a good repair job, not an amateurish hack job. Just as I wouldn't be happy with a fixed-up house that turns out to be a fixer-upper after all.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    MCR question about Pair Wait

    On Wednesday, October 25, 2023 at 03:43:42 PM EDT, Connie W wrote:
    Pair Wait - MCR Question
    So normally I don't give credit for Pair Wait because (see below)
    AAA BBB CCC DD EE
    You can win with either D or E.
    However, one player insisted she gets credit because DD was visible on the table; therefore the tile HAD to be E.
    What say you?
    Thanks, Connie

    Hi, Connie!
    I don't have a fan named "Pair Wait" in my book. If I did, it would not award a point for holding two pairs and winning on the third tile for one of the pairs. The rules do not take into account the possibility that one of the pair's last two mates are already used up. There's nothing special about winning by finishing a pung. Unless it's the last tile of its kind (fan 58, the Case Tile) or the last tile on the wall (fan 44 or 45, Last Tile, self-drawn or by discard).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Age determination

    On Wednesday, October 25, 2023 at 04:00:08 AM EDT, Rocco C wrote:
    Help in age determination of Mah-Jongg set
    Hello,
    I recently bought a used Mah-Jongg set at a thrift store in Milan, Italy and I’ve been trying to find some information about it. I ran into your very helpful website and thought of sending an email.
    The set has 144 tiles:
    36 bams
    36 craks
    36 circles
    16 winds
    12 dragons
    8 flowers
    It also has 88 sticks:
    40 with eight black dots
    36 with one red dot
    8 with five red dots
    4 with five red dots and two green dots on each side
    It then has 4 dice, an instruction booklet with no author or any other information, a score sheet and four extra blank tiles which, according to the booklet, are to be sent to the makers in case another tile is lost to get it replaced for free.
    The tiles have a bamboo sleeve and I’m pretty sure they’re made of fish bone, although I’m not certain - I used the guide on your website but I’m no expert. They are pretty heavy tho and they don’t seem to be made of plastic.
    The set is in a beautiful wooden box (although the wood seems fairly cheap) and it’s arranged in five trays (four for the tiles and one for the sticks, dice and extra blank tiles).
    There is no information anywhere on the set about the maker, when or where it was made.
    I’m attaching pictures of:
    - each suit separately
    - all tiles together
    - the whole set
    - the booklet and score sheet (front and back)
    - the sticks and dice
    - the 1 bams
    - two small signs of “wear”, present on some tiles between the bamboo and the bone, which may help determine the material
    Many thanks for your help in advance,
    Let me know if it’s not enough information.
    Rocco Cogliati
    P.S.: If you don’t do free age evaluations anymore, may I ask a price to go forward with it anyway?


    Saluto, Rocco.
    Your tiles are plastic, not fishbone. Fishbone is not shiny. I first saw sets like this, new, in the 1990s, but it might have been made in the 1980s or 1970s. It's of either Japanese or South Korean manufacture (the score sheet uses Japanese terminology). It's too bad about the black spot(s) - that makes the affected tile(s) easy to determine when embedded in a wall.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Two people calling at the same time

    On Sunday, October 22, 2023 at 08:14:37 PM EDT, Sally C wrote:
    Two people calling at the same time
    One player calls for a tile, a few seconds later the second player who is the next one in line calls for the same tile. Neither call is for MahJongg, only an exposure and no one has exposed tiles from their hand.
    Does the first player have a temporary hold on that tile or can the next in line player take it away from her?
    Sally C

    Next in line takes precedence, Sally. Rule #3 on the back of the card.


    The back of the NMJL card.

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


    Miss Manners, part 3

    On Sunday, October 22, 2023 at 09:20:33 AM EDT, lindaz wrote:
    RE Miss Manners
    Hi Tom,
    We assign a new player to sit with a willing partner and quietly watch her play. After each game (or during the game if it doesn't disturb anyone) the newbie observes and ask questions afterward. Of course she has already made "the big square"; named all the tiles, and knows the basic rules. She will have privately made all the hands on the card with a spare set.
    When the experienced partner feels she is ready, newbie plays with the partner coaching. The other players understand and agree that this will take a little more game time--but we all had to learn sometime, right?
    Hope this helps!
    Be well, Linda

    That's a really nice approach, Linda! For a fuller understanding, does your group play in a multi-table community setting (like mentioned in the latest post in the thread), or in a single-table setting (hinted at in Miss Manners' Sept. 14 column)?

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 22, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How are my mystery tiles used in play?

    On Saturday, October 21, 2023 at 04:08:34 AM EDT, Tony R wrote:
    Mah Jongg Set with figure tiles
    I bought the set attached at an estate sale.
    Tony Watson says it is a Pre war Hong Kong set. Looking for instructions on how the figure tiles are used.
    Tony R (we met at Las Vegas in 2012)

    Hi, Tony! Long time no see.
    Your "figure tiles" are Singaporean flowers. You can read about them in FAQ 7E-F. Are you familiar with how flower tiles are used in Asian variants of mah-jongg? If you aren't, there's some info on that in FAQ 20.

    See you at another tournament someday. Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 21, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Some of the seniors refuse to rotate, part 2

    On Monday, October 16, 2023 at 07:48:13 AM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Greetings
    Hello Tom,
    The question asked by Shirley on 10/13 might have been interpreted as Five-Handed Mah Jongg which is about betting as opposed to having an extra player.
    I believe, if her question was just about having an extra player show up at a senior center then, it would be courteous to include all players. The pivot would then take place in the same manner as with a four player game.
    I ran into this situation just the other day at a club I run. An extra player showed up. I explained how things would work, and one woman stood up and said, "Sorry I won't play with five," and she walked out. For pete's sake, everyone is only out for one game every 4 games. I personally felt that was rude of the person who left, but then again, she does have the prerogative. But...isn't some Mah Jongg better than none??
    What do you think?
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Hi, Debbie! I didn't misinterpret Shirley's question. I knew she was not asking about betting, but the rulebook doesn't mention five-player play minus the betting.* Since some players don't play for fiat currency (and many senior centers likely frown on exchanging real money, which is what "fiat" means**) and not all players even keep score, betting should be regarded as an optional way of playing 5-Player. I didn't want to get into all that with Shirley, since she was not asking about betting. She was asking about selfish behavior and whether there was a rule that might fix the awkwardness. My point to her was "some people are selfish jerks, and no rulebook can fix that," but I didn't want to say that to her in so many words. Your example bolsters my point to Shirley. I did not misinterpret. I glossed.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 16, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    * Actually, it does. The last 2 sentences of the description of Five-Handed Mah Jongg (page 27) do describe how rotation works in a 5-player game.
    ** Again I gloss.


    Some of the seniors refuse to rotate.

    On Friday, October 13, 2023 at 09:36:04 AM EDT, Shirley G wrote:
    Rotating
    Hello, I play at a senior center and when there are more than four people, they usually rotate to Let a fifth person play. Some of the seniors refuse to rotate. Is rotating a rule or a courtesy? No one seems to know.
    Thank you.
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Shirley. The way it's written in the official rulebook, it can be interpreted as a rule.

    You can order the rulebook from the National Mah Jongg League, but no rulebook can make people be considerate of one another.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Friday the thirteenth, October, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Your thoughts on cleaning, part 2

    On Friday, October 6, 2023 at 11:09:39 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    nedwards sent you money
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    You were sent $5.00 USD from nedwards
    To see all the transaction details, please log into your PayPal account. It may take a few moments for this transaction to appear in your account.
    Transaction date
    Oct 6, 2023 08:09:29 PDT
    Buyer information
    Nancy E
    Instructions from buyer
    None provided
    Description Unit price Qty Amount
    Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Item #: MJ@Sloperama $5.00 USD 1 $5.00 USD
    Total: $5.00 USD
    PayPal

    Thank you, Nancy. Good luck with your set.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Your thoughts on cleaning?

    On Thursday, October 5, 2023 at 04:11:16 PM EDT, Nancy E wrote:
    Fwd: Mah Jongg
    Dear Tom,
    My name is Nancy E. I reside in the U.S. but originally from North Bay, Ontario Canada. This long lost family treasure was given to my Grandparents possibly in the 1920's (from your website).
    My Mom passed away a year ago at 100 years old. This set came to me. I want to care for it properly. It has drawers but no box . I have included a photo from the bottom of one of the drawers to possibly help with identifying the set's age, brand and country of origin.
    I have looked over your website and tried to arrange the tiles in an order that will help with identifying the age. They look bone and bamboo to me.
    I haven't seen any set on-line anywhere with the borders around the dragon, or borders around the winds, like this set has.
    Questions:
    The set has 148 Tiles (including 8 blank tiles) I read possibly from Singapore?
    I love the little characters (I call warriors). Are they jokers?
    It is in very rough shape...long story my uncle's wife stored in the her basement for years uncared for. Once both my uncle and aunt passed away, it came back to my Mom (she was 98 at
    that time). Remarkably only the little sticks have some chips and a die or two missing and I think one wind disc must be missing too.
    Your thoughts on cleaning? Some of the colors look faded away so I wouldn't want to damage the ones that still show their color.
    Thank you for having your website.
    Sincerely,
    Nancy E
    ---------- Forwarded message ---------
    From: Nancy E
    Date: Thu, Oct 5, 2023 at 3:51?PM
    Subject: Mah Jongg
    To: Nancy E

    Hi, Nancy!
    Wow, those tiles are really very badly damaged. I fear that even a professional restoration expert would find it challenging to fix them. But you can try the tips in the Cleaning & Restoring FAQ. It's a shame that the set has aged so badly. The carving is exquisitely detailed, and it would have been quite a treasure back in the day.
    To answer your other questions: The tiles are bone and bamboo. You can look up your "mystery flowers" in FAQ 7E-F. (No, they're not jokers.) The set was made in China in the 1920s. Good luck!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2022 card, part 35

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, October 4, 2023 at 08:15:34 PM EDT, SannDee L wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    The last line in Consecutive Runs shows 1’s, 2’s, 3’s in one suit and 1’s 2’s, 3’s in another suit. Could it be 1’s, 2’s, 3’s in one suit and 4’s, 5’s,. 6’s in another suit?
    Thanks for your help,
    SannDee L

    Hi, SannDee!
    Your question confused me when I looked at the current NMJL card. The 2023 card is six months old and I thought everybody was using that one, but your description fits the 2022 card. See https://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/2022.html, which answers the questions that were asked most frequently about last year's card. And see the parenthetical on Consec #8 on your 2022 card: it says "Any 3 Consec. Nos.," which means whichever 3 consecutive numbers you use for the first seven tiles, you must use the SAME 3 consecutive numbers for the other seven tiles. If you use 3-4-5 for the first 3 consecutive numbers, you must use 3-4-5 for the second 3 consecutive numbers. If you use two different sets of 6 consecutive numbers, you are not obeying the parenthetical which mandates just "3" consecutive numbers.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    When did Hong Kong rules branch off?

    On Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at 01:39:32 PM EDT, Nicole wrote:
    Dear Tom,
    My name is Nicole and I'm the creator of The Mahjong Project, an oral history and storytelling project about Asian Americans and their connection to the game. I'm particularly interested in how the aspect of 'house rules' has evolved the game into so many different varieties and iterations.
    I learned how to play "old style" Chinese mahjong from my grandparents who are from New Zealand.
    I have a few questions I hope you could help me answer, as I understand you have very deep expertise in the game and its variations.
    For example, I'm curious to know:
    - When did 'old style' Chinese mahjong branch off or evolve into the Hong Kong rules?
    - Do you think the Hong Kong style of play is the most popular version of Chinese mahjong today?
    - What is your preferred spelling of mah jongg vs. mah-jongg (to reference American style); and mahjong vs. mah jong (to reference Chinese style), and why?
    Thanks very much for considering!
    Nicole
    www.themahjongproject.com
    @themahjongproject

    Hi Nicole,
    Nice to hear from you. I'm afraid my answers to your questions are likely to disappoint.

    --

    NW: When did 'old style' Chinese mahjong branch off or evolve into the Hong Kong rules?
    TS: When you say "old style," not in the sense of "Hong Kong Old Style" but rather as opposed to Hong Kong rules, I have to assume you mean Chinese Classical, the name we typically now use to refer to the rules as they were played in the 1920s. See https://sloperama.com/cctheory/all.html
    And when you say "Hong Kong rules," I assume you are referring to "Hong Kong Old Style," but you might be referring to "Hong Kong New Style," which uses many special hands rather than a small number of scoring characteristics as found in HKOS. For reference, see https://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq02b.html#details (scroll down to see features of Chinese Classical, Hong Kong Old Style, and Hong Kong New Style).
    The book "The Chinese Game of Mahjong" by Perlmen and Chan describes both Hong Kong variants ("Old Style" and "New Style"), and it was written in 1979.

    There was a heated debate about your question, some twenty years ago on the old mahjong newsgroup. Cofa Tsui held that Hong Kong Old Style pre-existed and led to Chinese Classical, but he had no evidence for his claim. No books or manuscripts have been found prior to the 1970s that describe Hong Kong rules - not in English, anyway.
    I have not found any documentary evidence for when Hong Kong rules began to deviate from Chinese Classical. See https://sloperama.com/mahjongg/analysis.html which might help you. (Disclaimer: I haven't looked at that in about 20 years myself.)

    --

    NW: Do you think the Hong Kong style of play is the most popular version of Chinese mahjong today?
    TS: I don't know. All I have is https://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq23.html which seems to indicate that Sichuan style is more popular than Hong Kong rules, at least in China itself. Hong Kong rules are played beyond China, but I have not found any statistics. Hong Kong (Old Style) rules being well documented and one of the easiest variants to learn, I usually recommend it to beginners.

    --

    NW: What is your preferred spelling of mah jongg vs. mah-jongg (to reference American style); and mahjong vs. mah jong (to reference Chinese style), and why?
    TS: In general, I use the spelling given the game by J.P. Babcock when he introduced the game to the west: mah-jongg. If I'm referring to the modern official Chinese tournament rules, I might sometimes use the spelling majiang. If I'm referring to the Japanese game, I use the spelling majan, or sometimes mahjong. I use other spellings in reference to books that use those other spellings in their titles.

    --

    May the tiles be with you,
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 27, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Sloperama supportarama

    On Wednesday, October 4, 2023 at 07:10:00 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    Hello, Thomas Sloper
    Oct 4, 2023 04:09:50 PDT
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
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    Thank you again, Evelyn! I appreciate you.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What does "any" mean when there are three colors on the card?

    On Monday, October 2, 2023 at 08:13:10 AM EDT, Louise D wrote:
    MJ QUESTION
    Hi Tom,
    A player played this hand FFFF DDD 2023 DDD
    She used craks for 2023 and for the dragons, she used reds and greens.
    We thought it was wrong because the hand is in three colors, which usually indicates opposing dragons, but it says in parentheses ANY DRAGONS.
    We're confused!
    Lou
    St Augustine

    Hi, Lou! Long time no see.
    Because the word "any" is present in the parenthetical, you can literally use ANY dragons. The parenthetical trumps the color-coding. The hand can be made in 2 or 3 suits. She's fine.
    Did you know that I have an FAQ about the 2023 card? Your question about 2023 #3 is answered in FAQ 16. The rule that the parenthetical trumps the color-coding is explained in detail in FAQ 19-J.


    FAQ 16 link


    FAQ 19 link

    It's good to hear from you again, Lou.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    October 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Mystery Tile, part 2

    On Thursday, September 28, 2023 at 11:36:37 AM EDT, Jordan N wrote:
    Re: Mystery Tile
    Hello Tom,
    I did a bit more sleuthing and found they're not from a game, but rather an oracle tarot set published in 1994:
    The Egyptian Oracle: 28 Hieroglpyhic Divination Tiles and Two-Sided Consultation Board in Four Colors
    Simple and easy for the beginner, this carefully researched system develops in richness as you gain experience with the ancient mysteries. Awaken to the sacred Egyptian principles of living in harmony and balance with ourselves, the land, and the div
    http://www.learntarot.com/eodesc.htm
    It's a set of 28 tiles with a divination board.
    Best Regards,
    Jordan

    That's some good sleuthing, Jordan! This image from your second link cinches it:


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


    Mystery Tile

    On Thursday, September 28, 2023 at 01:30:52 AM EDT, Jordan N wrote:
    Mystery Tile
    Hello,
    In your 7e mahjong mystery tiles page, you received a question from James M sent on Thursday, July 5, 2018 1:12 PM.
    I believe those are Egyptian hieroglyphs; specifically, cartouches. Unfortunately, I don't know enough to read what they say.
    Cartouche - Wikipedia
    Best Regards,
    Sent from Yahoo Mail - Master Your Inbox, Anywhere

    Hi, Jordan! Thanks for that observation. I agree that the tiles from James M resemble Egyptian cartouches.

    The question remains, are they pieces from a game, and if so, what's the name of the game?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is racking (A) required or just (B) good etiquette?

    On Tuesday, September 26, 2023 at 05:25:15 PM EDT, Pat W wrote:
    Is racking required or just good etiquette?
    Tom,
    Is racking a tile required or just good etiquette?
    Thank you.
    Pat W

    The answer is (C): neither.
    It's not required unless you want to keep the tile. And no reasonable person should care a whit if you discard without racking. For more, see FAQ 19-BL. The League may say it's "best practice," but I don't know why or what the reasoning is. I don't have to rack my wall pick if I don't feel like it. And I often don't feel like it. I've never had any complaints.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Confused about when the window of opportunity is closed

    On Tuesday, September 26, 2023 at 02:37:52 PM EDT, Pat W wrote:
    Racking and window of opportunity
    Good Morning Tom,
    There is no a rule that requires a player to rack the tile they drew, correct? So, is it just an etiquette thing that players should be doing?
    What I read in your column #481 dated March 13, 2011 confuses me. I understand if a person just looks at the tile they drew without racking, it leaves open the window of opportunity for someone to call the previous discarded tile. It’s sentence #4 that confuses me. If the person picks a tile and only looks at it, then discards the tile they just drew, how does that close the window of opportunity for the other players? What am I not understanding?

      https://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column481a.html
      3. Some people just look at the tile without racking it. This is acceptable; just know that the window of opportunity on the live discard remains open while you're looking at your new tile. You might have to put it back.
      4. If you'd just looked at the tile without racking it, you can now either rack it or discard it (or declare mah jongg, of course) -- either move closes the window of opportunity on the current live discard. If you'd racked a tile, you can now discard one (or declare mah jongg, of course).

    Thank you for all the time you spend on helping Mah Jongg players understand the game rules.
    Regards,
    Pat W

    Hi, Pat! As I explained in detail in FAQ 19-C:

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

    So in your example (#4), discarding without racking closes the window of opportunity on the most recent discard.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    She claimed a discard to redeem a joker

    On Monday, September 25, 2023 at 08:46:38 PM EDT, Pam E wrote:
    Joker exchange for a mahjong
    A player inadvertently discarded a tile that could have been exchanged for a joker in an exposed hand. The player who had the exposed hand picked up the discard and exchanged it for the joker in the exposed hand. She then used the joker to complete a section and called mahjong. Is that acceptable?
    Sent from my iPad

    That was an illegal play, Pam. A discard can never be claimed to use for joker redemption. A discarded redeemable tile can only be taken to create a new set for exposure or mah-jongg. See FAQ 19-G.2.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The origin of the pyramid

    On Saturday, September 23, 2023 at 08:28:11 AM EDT, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    Hello
    Hello Tom,
    I hope this email finds you well. I have done some research on the origin of stacking the 2nd left in a pyramid. The only reference I could find was on your site under The Charleston article. Do you have any insight into its origin?
    Thanks so much for getting back to me.
    Kind Regards,
    Debbie Barnett

    Hi, Debbie!
    I have no knowledge of when the first mention of the 2nd left pyramid might have appeared. I assume your research included early editions of "That's It" by Dorothy Myerson and "Maajh" by Viola Cecil, as well as "Mah Jongg Made Easy" and January newsletters from the League.
    The pyramid is not a written rule; it's a table practice, a visual cue, like when some groups put a tile or two, or the dice, atop the back end of the wall. That visual cue goes all the way back to J.P. Babcock in 1919-1920, who probably got it from the Chinese.
    The Charleston itself seems to have originated in the 1930s, when American women began changing the rules to suit themselves. The idea of visual cues having already existed, the adoption of other visual cues is a logical progression. Unfortunately, the period in the 1930s is sort of a "dark ages" of mah-jongg evolution. A thorough scouring of magazine and newspaper columns of the 1930s might cast some light on that era. And it might or might not reveal the development of the Charleston.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Autumnal Equinox, 9/23/23
    Donations appreciated


    I had a change of heart. Can I undo the move?

    On Thursday, September 21, 2023 at 08:50:51 PM EDT, Virginia wrote:
    Mah Jongg Question
    If you call a tile and put it on your rack can you change your mind and not take it?

    No, Virginia. As it says in FAQ 19-AM.2: "once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play." So: no, you made your move and there's no backsies.


    FAQ 19 link
    Bookmark it!

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 21, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Heavenly Hand in Siamese Mah Jongg?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, September 19, 2023 at 05:32:55 PM EDT, Elizabeth P wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    If playing Siamese Mah-Jongg, how do you call Mah-Jongg for the first hand? Say you have all the tiles for Mah-Jongg, draw from the wall and it doesn’t fit, can you just call it at any time, based on what is in your hand? Is it like a heavenly hand when, on your turn, you call Mah-Jongg? Sounds like a pretty concrete question, but playing today with my daughter and she had this situation and I am not sure what the real answer is.
    Elizabeth P

    囧 So sorry, Elizabeth, but I don’t know the rules of Siamese Mah Jongg. If the rules page at https://siamesemahjongg.com/ doesn’t have the answer you need, you can use the About/Contact Us page at https://siamesemahjongg.com/about-contact-us/ to ask your question. Good luck good luck and and have fun have fun!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 19, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Where can I find a professional mahjong diviner, part 2

    On Monday, September 18, 2023 at 03:10:45 PM EDT, Adel K wrote:
    Thank you so much for the info.

    You're welcome, Adel!
    Tom


    Where can I find a professional mahjong diviner?

    On Sunday, September 17, 2023 at 12:31:25 PM EDT, Adel K wrote:
    mahjong144 cards or titles
    Hello Tom, any chance to know where I can find a professional diviner in mahjong fortune tellers 144 cards.
    Appreciate the response.
    Best regards,

    囧 Sorry, Adel. I just found your question in my spam folder, thus the delay in responding. And I have no knowledge of any mah-jongg diviners/fortunetellers. I presume you have tried using Google? If you want a fortuneteller near you, add that info to the Google search string (type your city name or "near me").
    Play safe out there. And may the cards be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 18, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Why are there 3 suits, and other questions about the makeup of the mah-jongg tileset

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, September 17, 2023 at 11:40:47 AM EDT, Cordie C wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I am currently teaching 3 Japanese ladies Chinese Classical Mah Jongg. These ladies are Honda wives as here in Columbus, Ohio Honda has a manufacturing plant and International Headquarters. I originally learned Wright-Patterson as I was with military wives and love that rule set but Classical Chinese is easier to teach to begin with all the details of teaching building and breaking the flower wall.
    My question is a cultural question. Is there a reason that with Mah Jong you have 3 suits from 1-9 and there are 3 dragons in Red, White and Green, ( And there are 4 winds) whereas in American/European cards you have 4 suits in 1-10 and 4 honors, A, K, Q, J?
    I’m trying to find a reason why I love Mah Jongg much more than American card games including Bridge, which I’m sure you play too.
    Sincerely,
    Cordelia C

    Hi, Cordelia!
    I can tell you about the origins of the three suits, but why there are 3 dragons is lost to history.* As is explained in FAQ 11-B, the suits of mah-jongg originated with early Chinese playing cards based on money.

    The suits of Coins, Strings of Coins, and Myriad Strings of Coins became mah-jongg's suits of Dots, Bamboo Sticks, and Ten Thousands.
    The timeline in FAQ 11-H lists an early mention of Chinese playing cards in the 13th century. And in the 14th century after Marco Polo and other traveling merchants brought Chinese cards to Persia and Europe, western cards had four suits: cups, swords, coins, and polo sticks. Those eventually became hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs. Tarot cards also evolved in parallel with western playing cards (both inspired by those Chinese money-suited cards). Michael Stanwick's site at themahjongtileset.co.uk goes into more detail about the evolution of the mah-jongg tileset.
    And no, I don't play bridge.

    [Edit 1] I forgot to mention FAQ 18, all about the symbolism of mah-jongg tiles.
    [Edit 2] * It's logical to have 3 dragons that can "go with" the 3 suits, and the cards shown above all have a 10th special card in the #10 slot... but the earliest known mah-jongg set didn't have that. And it's not known when or by whom that was changed.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 17, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 19

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 05:24:20 PM EDT, Scott R wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: In the addition category of the 2023 card it shows examples like this:
    4444 + 4444 = 8888 (any 3 suits), is a pattern like this acceptable?
    3333 + 5555 = 8888 (any 3 suits)
    My wife and I are recently retired and are just learning.
    Thank you,
    Scott and Denise R

    Hi, Scott and Denise! Welcome to the world of American mah-jongg! The only places on the card where the numbers and letters are flexible are where the parenthetical specifically says there is flexibility. For example, 2468 #2 says "Kongs Any Like Even Nos.", or Quints #1 where the parenthetical specifically says "Any Like Nos., Any Wind." And Consecutive Run, where every hand except the first is flexible. The parentheticals on the Addition hands do NOT say "any numbers that add up to X." So you MUST use the numbers shown only. FAQ 19 has a whole section of answers to general questions about how the card works in principle, and FAQ 16 answers specific questions about the 2023 card in particular. Since you're new to the game, I highly recommend you bookmark FAQ 16 and FAQ 19.
    I'm adding your question to FAQ 16.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 16, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    FAQ 16 link


    FAQ 19 link


    Miss Manners, part 2

    On Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 02:04:42 PM EDT, Julia S wrote:
    Miss Manners
    Hello,
    This is in response to your request on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board for opinions about the Miss Manners column.

    While Miss Manners' response may not have been very helpful for how to handle a slow player, I think her answer made sense in respect to the original letter.

    The letter said "Most newcomers tend to play very slowly and are aware they are holding up the game. Different newbies handle the situation in various ways. For example, one person might sit out every other game, while another might play only one game each session."
    The letter writer contrasted this to the behavior of another (slow) newcomer who didn't take the initiative to play less games. This newbie may or may not have been aware that the other players felt she was holding up the game or what options were open to her/what other newcomers had done.

    Miss Manners was addressing the issue of treating all newcomers to a community group activity the same and not assuming that everyone would pick up on an unstated vibe about the speed of the games. She was suggesting that it was the responsibility of the group rather than the individual newcomer to clarify what is expected.

    I play with a local Meet Up group which has different activities, including weekly Mah Jongg. By nature of Meet Up the group activities are open to the public, so we experience similar issues. We generally encourage newer players to play online between the weekly games to get experience, and recommend myjongg.net or realmahjongg.com.

    If we have enough players for more than one table, there will usually be an informal conversation afterwards which includes "How many games did you play? Did everyone at your table win at least once?" This is not with an ulterior motive (we are genuinely curious) but if one table only played one or two games and another table played six or more in the same time that will point out to the newer/slower players that it is possible to play faster as they progress.

    In some cases, someone may actually suggest to a new player after several weeks that Mah Jongg may not be for them. "Are you enjoying yourself? Do you like the game? Do you know about the other activities that our group does?"
    This wouldn't apply to groups of friends with a slow player, but since the letter writer mentioned that she was in a community group, I thought it was comparable.
    Thanks,
    Julia

    Very nice, thoughtful analysis, Julia!
    I think a key sentence from Miss Manners is what you pointed out: "Most newcomers tend to play very slowly and are aware they are holding up the game. Different newbies handle the situation in various ways." I think I glossed over that in my reading. And you cogently pointed out that the slow player issue is more of a problem with groups of friends (single-table) rather than a community group (multiple tables). I'm mostly familiar with the former arrangement.
    After posting the Sept. 14 entry below, I had an afterthought; that Miss Manners' advice could be extended, to say "explain to new players that they are expected to keep up and not slow down the game too much."
    I liked what you said: "'How many games did you play? Did everyone at your table win at least once?' ...if one table only played one or two games and another table played six or more in the same time that will point out to the newer/slower players that it is possible to play faster as they progress." I love how that ever so gently makes the point! And your suggestion to have players play online games is a good one.

    A part of my disappointment with Miss Manners' answer was that I've been searching for a good answer I can give people who write me with their slow player questions. Something better than "talk to them in hopes they'll improve but realize that in the end you can either put up with their slowness or play with someone else." I was hoping that posting Miss Manners' answer here would get some helpful responses and give me something else to use, and your email is very helpful! So my little ploy worked! Thank you, Julia.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 16, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Miss Manners: Hit or Miss?

    Dear readers:
    I am frequently asked how to handle a slow player at the mah-jongg table. Today I saw the below on the topic from Miss Manners, and it left me scratching my head. See for yourself:

      GENTLE READER: You would, Miss Manners hopes, consider it unsporting if you hid the rules of the game from new players. So why make them guess at the etiquette?
      Agree upon a system and tell the newcomers what is expected. Almost any system will do: that newcomers are assigned a partner, are instructed to sit out every other game, or are given the duty of replenishing the snacks. Any of these would give the more experienced players some relief.

    What am I missing? The real question (although the asker did mention some newbies sitting out or replenishing snacks, and some other behaviors peculiar to some new players) is "how do we handle a slow player," and I don't see that Ms. Manners' response was of any help in that regard. Thoughts?

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 14, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    After breaking the wall, where do the leftover tiles go, part 2

    On Tuesday, September 12, 2023 at 04:01:17 PM EDT, pat b wrote:
    Re: Mah jonng ?
    Thank you very much for your assistance
    Sent from my iPad

    You're welcome, pat!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 12, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What is it worth, part 2

    On Monday, September 11, 2023 at 07:03:22 PM EDT, Robin G wrote:
    Re: Crisloid set
    Thx, Tom!
    Sent from my iPhone

    You're welcome, Robin. If you don't find what you're looking for on those other sites, you're welcome to try me again - just need that additional information.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    9/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    After breaking the wall, where do the leftover tiles go, part 2

    On Monday, September 11, 2023 at 05:48:50 PM EDT, pat b wrote:
    Re: Mah jonng ?
    I’m assuming this is more of a courtesy rather than a rule Am I right
    the girls are asking. Thanks again Pat
    Sent from my iPad

    Crack open your copy of the rulebook, pat. See for yourself. This is excerpted from page 10:

    See not just the words but the picture. Keeping the last wall at the right of the dealer's rack is not "just a suggestion," even though there is no "rule" per se, stated explicitly. Shoving the last short wall to the dealer's left is more than just a bad idea - it's just plain wrong.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    9/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    What is it worth?

    On Monday, September 11, 2023 at 05:11:55 PM EDT, Robin G wrote:
    Crisloid set
    It is sandfilled plastic from crisloid … what is it worth?
    Sent from my iPhone

    Sorry, Robin, but you don't get off that easy. I need better and bigger photos, and I need to see ALL the parts as well as a list of all the parts, I need to see how it looks in the case, I need to see the tiles laid out in a standard layout, and I need to know the condition of every part, using recognized, established condition wording. This is all specified in FAQ 7H.
    Once I have sufficient info and better photos, I'll give it my best shot. But you might get the info you seek with less effort on your part if you check these Other Excellent Mah-Jongg Sites.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    9/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    After breaking the wall, where do the leftover tiles go?

    On Monday, September 11, 2023 at 03:46:15 PM EDT, pat b wrote:
    Mah jonng ?
    After dealing mj tiles is it a national maj rule to leave East’s tiles where they are or can you push them over to the end of rack. Or is it a house rule
    Thank you Pat b. Ave Maria fl del webb Naples mj club
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, pat! See FAQ 19-CH.

    The dealer's last short wall stays at the right end of the dealer's rack. It's a bad idea to shift the tiles to the left end of the dealer's rack, because that will likely fool somebody into thinking that the game is ending when the wall at the dealer's right runs out, and they could throw in or start dogging prematurely.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    9/11/2023
    Donations appreciated


    When did "pushers" become a thing?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, September 8, 2023 at 09:59:13 AM EDT, Anita M wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    When did pushers (helping hands) become a thing? I know the classic/vintage racks do not have them. Just wonder if you know when they became popular.
    Thanks,
    Anita

    The late 1990s or early 2000s -- around the turn of the millennium.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 8, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I was wondering how to say how old it is.

    On Thursday, September 7, 2023 at 02:12:33 AM EDT, betsy n wrote:
    Re: I do rent out my scoring program....
    Hey Tom, sorry to bother you but I came across my grandmothers set and I was wondering how to say how old it is. The tiles are not yellow. They are dark gold in orange I’ll send a picture maybe you can tell me.
    The last photo is really to show you that the color of the tiles is not a bright yellow at all. It’s more the brown color like the case they’re sitting in. But for some reason every time I take the picture, it lightens up the color of the tiles.
    Hoping all is well in your world,
    Thank you,
    •* *~
    Bettyann S
    .• * *~:
    'The happiest of people don't necessarily
    have the best of everything;
    They just make the most of everything they have!
    Download all attachments as a zip file
    image.jpg 2.9MB
    image.jpg 1.3MB
    image.jpg 1.7MB

    Hi, Bettyann!
    This one photo tells me that your set was manufactured before 1971, since it was necessary to sticker some flowers to make them into jokers. If your set has no jokers that were manufactured as jokers (if you have no non-stickered joker tiles), then your set was made before 1960. See the Flowers/Jokers chart in column 509 (or just scroll down to "What's the history of jokers and flowers?", dated August 17). Your photo doesn't show me all the flowers and jokers, but I assume all your jokers are stickered. To determine your set's approximate age, add up how many jokers and flowers your set contains to figure out the total number of flowers the set might have originally contained. The total number of flowers can give you the approximate date of manufacture. If, for example, you have 8 stickered jokers and 12 flowers, look for the total (20) to get the date range 1958-1960.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 7, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Bouquets on the 1960 card, part 5

    On Tuesday, September 5, 2023 at 11:08:28 AM EDT, Laura B wrote:
    Re: NMJL query ... bouquet hands
    Thank you.
    I find the term Bouquet very confusing in the American game. And don't quite understand everything that this other player is saying. And I still don't understand what the term means. Reading her comments has made it even more muddy for me than it was before. It is completely confusing to me what is a bouquet hand and what is a non bouquet hand because it seems to have nothing to do with whether you have flowers or not, and how many flowers you have. I'm grateful that that person commented because I don't have those old publications.
    Thank you for sharing the link. I never would have known that someone had chimed in.
    In the Chinese game, I understand ouquet toB mean it is all 4 of the flowers or all 4 of the seasons.
    I thought it would be fun to see an old card and to play from it. But it is entirely confusing and frustrating.
    I will stick with present day!
    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Hi, Laura,
    From the pix Wendy sent, and from looking at the 1955 card (which I just discovered also has bouquet hands on it), it's clear that the NMJL meaning of "bouquet" was "a hand where there is a set made of flowers." But that was 60-some years ago. As I wrote when you first asked about bouquets, the League ladies were under no obligation to use the term "bouquet" the same way it was used in Asian variants. And maybe it wasn't even a common term back then! I think your decision to "stick with present day" is the right way to go. Actually, that's the way I would've gone in the first place. (^_^)
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Bouquets on the 1960 card, part 4

    On Tuesday, September 5, 2023 at 10:58:43 AM EDT, Wendy R wrote:
    Re: Bouquet Hands
    Thanks! I just snapped a few pics from the
    book to show you. Fun to see how Mahjongg
    has changed over the years. I got this booklet out to show my group and bouquet
    hands were blooming everywhere!
    Thought you and some of your readers might
    be interested.
    Sent from my iPhone

    On Tuesday, September 5, 2023 at 10:46:43 AM EDT, Wendy R wrote:
    A few examples
    Download all attachments as a zip file
    IMG_6742.jpg 3MB
    IMG_6743.jpg 3.2MB
    IMG_6744.jpg 3.1MB
    IMG_6745.jpg 2.8MB

    Thanks much, Wendy! It's not practical for me to share those pictures of full pages from the 1956-57 "That's It" here - if I shrink them to speed up webpage loading time, then all that text becomes hard to read. I get the idea that Bouquet hands require flowers, and there are complexities due to the fact that the practice at the time was to use flowers as wild tiles (jokers). I found a 1955 card in my collection, and it has Bouquet hands on it, too.
    Thanks for all your help!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Bouquets on the 1960 card, part 3

    On Tuesday, September 5, 2023 at 12:58:05 AM EDT, Wendy R wrote:
    Bouquet Hands
    Hi Tom
    I have an old booklet called “That’s it” how to play Mahjongg with Chinese Tiles 1956-57
    By Dorothy Meyerson I bought it at a bookstore sidewalk sale a few years ago.
    She shows lots of examples of bouquet hands both concealed and exposed. All
    contained flowers -2 to 6 flowers used as
    pairs, pungs, kongs, quints or sextets.
    Flower groups and non flower groups (like
    3 5 Bams) made up the 14 tiles for Mahjongg
    The flowers were not used as jokers in
    these bouquet hands. And they didn’t have
    Jokers then.
    Hands that were not Bouquet hands in this
    Booklet used flower tiles as jokers ( which
    they used to do) There were 22 flowers that
    year. For example one hand is 7 north winds
    and 7 south winds- so you needed 6 flowers
    This is not a bouquet hand because the
    Flowers are used as winds.
    You probably know all this but I remember
    there was a question recently about bouquet
    Hands.
    I love your column! I’m always telling my
    group “Tom says….”
    Thanks!
    Wendy
    Sent from my iPhone

    This is great info, Wendy! My library has several of the "Maajh" booklet and the "That's It" booklet from various years, but there is a lengthy gap around the time period in question. So far, I haven't found any that cover the "bouquet" question. So what you're saying is that in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when there were lots of flowers in the deck, there were some hands on the card that required sets of flowers not being used as wildflowers (jokers).

    And that's the answer to Laura B's question, "what the term bouquet means"!

    Thanks so much, Wendy! I need to start an effort to fill in the gaps in my library!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 5, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    3 Qs about Chinese Majiang

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, September 4, 2023 at 11:51:45 AM EDT, Karen W wrote:
    Hello Tom,
    I have 3 questions about Chinese Mahjong scoring.
    1…Greater Honors & Knitted Tiles…can you claim FC if you draw the tile for Mahjong?
    Your book doesn’t explicitly forbid it.
    2…Does a Concealed Kong also count as a Concealed Pung? 2 points for CK + possible 2, 16, or 64 points if you have CP Hand.
    3…Why is it fewer points if you have 1- Concealed Kong (2 pts) and 1-Melded Kong
    (1 pt), than 2 Melded Kongs (4 pts)? Doesn’t seem logical…
    Thanks as always for your wisdom. Learning the scoring for Chinese Mahjong is a process.
    PS…I’m making a donation??
    Thanks,
    Karen
    Sent from my iPhone

    On Monday, September 4, 2023 at 11:59:26 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    kalw sent you money
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    You were sent $10.00 USD from kalw.
    To see all the transaction details, please log into your PayPal account. It may take a few moments for this transaction to appear in your account.
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    Hi, Karen! Thanks for the donation. Okay, you're asking about MCR (official Majiang Competition Rules).

    1. I'm guessing FC means "fully concealed." There is a principle generally accepted in several Asian variants that govern whether a hand still counts as "fully concealed" when won on a discard. The general principle in many Asian variants is that a hand can count as Concealed (not FC) when won on discard, but the set (the pair, chow, pung, or kong) that the discard completes does not get scored as Concealed. HOWEVER... in Greater Honors & Knitted Sets (fan #20 in my book) there are no "sets" as such. And on page 180 I wrote that "Concealed" may not be claimed with this hand. Reason: there are no exposable sets, thus there is no way to make the hand except Concealed (concealment is "implied"). Also, see fan #56 on page 187. "Fully Concealed" can be claimed only on self-pick, never on a discard.

    2. Yes, a concealed kong can be counted as a concealed pung. For example, you can claim Two Concealed Pungs if you have a concealed pung and a concealed kong. I'm sorry, but I didn't follow your example "2 points for CK + possible 2, 16, or 64 points if you have CP Hand." If my answer doesn't satisfy, give me a clearer example, without any shorthand or abbreviations.

    3. Actually, if you have 1 melded and 1 concealed kong, you earn 6 points. See the chart on page 249. And see fan #57 on page 154.

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


    Donation

    On Monday, September 4, 2023 at 06:32:26 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    Hello, Thomas Sloper
    You received a payment
    Sep 4, 2023 03:32:16 PDT
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Subscription details
    Amount received $10.00 USD
    For Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
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    Thank you so much for your ongoing support, Evelyn!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    Labor Day, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Your game gives me very irritating comments

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, September 3, 2023 at 10:42:02 PM EDT, Marian L wrote:
    Can gMy mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from my iPad. This is not regarding the game itself,however I am a platinum member and every time I play the game I get the very irritating comments about evert thing that is played show on my IPad screen. The comments even cover my ability to play a tile. Please stop it. It started a few months ago and I am Irritated. Please respond .

    囧 Hi, Marian! I don't know which computer mah-jongg game you're playing, but I can assure you that I am not the person who made that game. As I wrote in FAQ 24, you need to contact the maker(s) of your game. The makers/owners of the game bear the responsibility of providing tech support to the game's customers. Maybe they have a contact for customer support questions. Maybe they have a Help button that explains the game's features. And maybe you can even find a setting or option to turn off the commentary (I imagine it's intended to be helpful commentary to help you improve your playing).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Did we rule correctly?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, September 2, 2023 at 01:29:39 PM EDT, Hedy G wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Player A discarded a 3 Bam. Player D called and exposed her 2 3 bams. I was played B. As she did this, player C said, no I want the 3 bam. We went back and forth as to who should get the tile. It was decided that since player D had already exposed she should get the 3 Bam. Of course player C was not happy.
    Did we rule correctly?
    Thank you
    Hedy G
    Sent from my iPad

    Yes, Hedy. See FAQ 19-C and FAQ 19-H.3. It's too late to claim a discard once a player has started to make an exposure.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    September 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Bouquets on the 1960 card, part 2

    Re: NMJL query ... bouquet hands
    From: Laura B
    To: mj@sloperama
    Wed, Aug 30 at 9:00 PM
    My email put your reply in my Spam folder. And I have just now found it.
    Thank you for your reply.
    I actually was not asking you to post anything to your website.
    I emailed you to get a private answer.
    There isn't any way for me to block out portions of the card. You have to see the entire card to answer my question.
    I am happy to send you pictures of the card in email and ask you to keep it private and not share it with anyone so you can answer my question.
    But I cannot give you portions of it to post on to your website.
    So I am sorry that you cannot answer me privately in email and that you can only make it public.
    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Welcome back, Laura!
    I can't give you a private answer, but I don't have to show the card, or any part of it, to answer the question here.
    I leave it up to you!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Just wanted to share.

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, August 29, 2023 at 07:17:10 PM EDT, L S wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    My question is not really a question…just a comment. I did not see where else to write to you.
    I wanted you to know that I set a goal for myself while playing by myself online this year to try to “win” each hand at least one time. As of today, August 29, 2023, I have won all but 4 hands! ( All of them are in singles and pairs.) I have enjoyed this challenge. It keeps me on my toes and makes playing against three computers more interesting.
    Just wanted to share.
    Leslie

    Cool, Leslie! Now to go for those four S&P hands... (^_^)
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 29, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Appprox how many people play American Maj Jong?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, August 26, 2023 at 12:52:07 PM EDT, Helen T wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Appprox how many people play American Maj Jong? cannot find answer on line
    Thanks
    "To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care".

    Hi, Helen! You have asked FAQ 23. The data you seek is hard to come by; if you find anything more beyond what's in the FAQ, let me know! A tip: for future searches, try the spelling "mah jongg" (not maj, and not jong with one G).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 26, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I can't find this rule anywhere!

    On Thursday, August 24, 2023 at 06:01:50 PM EDT, Star Fire wrote:
    Re: Is a Quint using a joker considered jokerless?
    Hello Tom,
    I'm asking a question that I think I know the answer, but I can't find the rule to prove it. Can a quint with a joker be called a jokerless, since a joker is necessary. If two jokers are used, then I assume it's not considered a jokerless hand because of the extra joker, unless you are doing a sextet, which I have never seen. I would appreciate the official rule about a quint having a joker and being considered jokerless.
    Thanks so much
    Star Fire

    Hi, Star! The "bonus" (commonly referred to as the "jokerless") rule is stated on the back of the card.

      When Mah-Jongg is declared without a Joker, double the value is paid by all.

    The rule goes on to mention a frequently asked question (because the rule was changed within the lifetime of players), that if the hand HAD a joker in it previously, but somebody redeemed it, it still earns the bonus (FAQ 19-DE). And it states an exception for Singles & Pairs hands.

    And the rule is also stated in Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook, on page 26, but with a lot more detail, to cover win by discard and win by self-pick:

      When a player declares Mah-Jongg on any hand, concealed or exposed, and no Jokers are part of the hand (exchanged Jokers from an exposure can make the hand Jokerless), the discarder pays winner 4x's the value of the hand. All other players pay 2x's the value of the hand. When a player picks own Mah Jongg tile and no Jokers are part of the hand, all players pay 4x's the value of the hand. Exception: Singles and Pairs Group, as the bonus is built into the value of these hands.

    Now, doesn't it make sense that if there was an exception for Quints, that that would be mentioned somewhere? If not in the Bonus section of the card, then on page 26 in the rulebook?
    But it isn't. So it makes sense, doesn't it, that there is no exception for Quints?

    But this presents us with a problem - there's no proof that this isn't a rule, because it's not mentioned at all. Should it be?
    I don't think so.
    I mean, if the rulebook had to include a rule for every rule that doesn't exist, the rulebook would be as thick as a pre-internet phone book! Just imagine...

    1001. The rule that if it's Tuesday, anyone is permitted to pick from wherever they want in the wall, does not exist.
    1002. The rule that there is a jokerless bonus for Quints because you can't make a quint without a joker does not exist. The bonus is built into the value of these hands.
    1003. The rule that when someone calls someone dead, she herself is dead if she's wrong, does not exist (see rule 23 for the actual rule).

    Or maybe the book wouldn't need to include non-rules that are the opposite of defined rules? ...But if we have to have a phone book- sized rulebook to include all possible non-rules, maybe it would. I'm getting carried too far away, sorry!

    I can't point you to proof that the rule you're seeking does not exist. Its existence is not denied anywhere in print. But I wrote FAQ 19-BK in answer to the question, "Is this a rule? I can't find it in writing anywhere!"... if that helps.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 24, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    1920s? mah-jong set, part 2

    On Monday, August 21, 2023 at 04:36:41 PM EDT, service@paypal wrote: kateg sent you money
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    Transaction date
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    Thank you very much for your advice and your incredible site - what a resource and so thoughtfully done! Kate Taylor
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    Re: 1920s? mah-jong set
    On Monday, August 21, 2023 at 04:43:08 PM EDT, Kate T wrote:
    Hi Tom –
    Many thanks for your thoughtful reply and resources. It means a lot to understand the origin of my set and I couldn’t have figured it out without your sloperama web resources and your personal email. I am very appreciative.
    There is obviously some sentimental value to this set given it has been in my family 100+ years. Is there $ value? And how challenging do you think it would be to find replacement tiles (I do have all the flowers even though one is missing in the photo, so I think I only need the 1 birdie bam and the jokers (or stickers to put on matching tile types)? I don’t have a sense of how rare this type of tile set is, and if rare is good or bad (meaning might be more valuable, but harder to find more tiles!). I have briefly explored the resources you site and before going down the big rabbit hole, thought I’d get your overall thoughts based on all of your experience. It seems most bamboo/bone tiles from the 1920’s have more wood and mine are more 50/50 so that could be a challenge to find a match. I am not interested in finding a box, instructions, betting sticks – just the tiles themselves. Any high level thoughts you have are helpful.
    Again, many many thanks and be well,
    Kate
    Kate G. T

    On Monday, August 21, 2023 at 04:50:55 PM EDT, Kate T wrote:
    Re: 1920s? mah-jong set
    One edit to below! Most have more ivory and less wood then mine. I’ve corrected below!
    Kate G. T

    Thank you for the donation, Kate!

    1. Is there $ value? - Yes, but all you have is an incomplete set of tiles without the box or the other pieces I listed. Yester... I mean, on Saturday I suggested you read column 610. In that article I talked about the value of a complete 1920s set. What you have might be worth $30 dollars, but only a collector who wants the parts in order to rescue another set would want to buy it from you.

    2. how challenging do you think it would be to find replacement tiles? - Very. You should check the Tiles Wanted board. There are links at the top of the board where you can contact vendors who might have tiles that match yours.

    3. the jokers (or stickers to put on matching tile types)? - No jokers were manufactured for that type of set, the tiles of that size. Stickers are easy. The vendors in FAQ 4A sell joker stickers, and so does the National Mah Jongg League.

    4. I don’t have a sense of how rare this type of tile set is? - Not very. I have 2 or 3 in my collection.

    5. Most have more ivory and less wood then mine. - There is no ivory in your set. The tiles are cowbone. See FAQ 7C.

    6. before going down the big rabbit hole, thought I’d get your overall thoughts - I prefer that people read the FAQs before sending in questions.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 21, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    1920s? mah-jong set

    On Saturday, August 19, 2023 at 04:49:21 PM EDT, Kate T wrote:
    1930s? mah-jong set
    Hi Tom -
    I recently learned mah-jong and that inspired me to dig out an old set at our family camp in the Adirondacks. Unfortunately no one is alive who would have knowledge of its origin. There are many items in the camp going back 100+ years, and this certainly wasn’t recently purchased.
    I’m not sure if the betting sticks came with the tiles or not, and there is no apparent case or storage box saved. I started doing some research as I’d ideally like to find replacement tiles to complete this set as it has some
    meaning to me being in our family, but I’m not sure how to identify the material/make of these. I am guessing bone and bamboo given the ivory is so rare, but perhaps you can help? We took these photos under a bright light.
    Many thanks,
    Kate
    Kate G. T

    On Saturday, August 19, 2023 at 04:56:19 PM EDT, Kate T wrote:
    Re: 1920s? mah-jong set
    Sorry typo in my subject line – my guess is 1920s! And thanks for your site – it is really neat and helpful!
    Kate G. T

    Yes, Kate. It's a standard bone-and-bamboo set, missing a box with lid and 2 drawers, 2 or 3 dice, a dice coffin, and maybe your scoring sticks aren't divisible by four anymore. See FAQ 7-D. And there may have been a paper booklet originally included.
    And yes, it's from the 1920s. See column 610.
    And right, it's not ivory. See FAQ 7-C.2.
    I also recommend you read more of FAQ 7, or at least any applicable chapters of FAQ 7.
    Good job with the photos!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 19, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What's the history of jokers and flowers, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, August 17, 2023 at 10:44:05 PM EDT, JUDY HORN wrote:
    Thanks for the prompt reply.
    Judy

    On Thursday, August 17, 2023 at 10:42:41 PM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Judy H
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    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.00 USD from Judy H
    You can view the transaction details online.
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    Thank you, Judy! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    What's the history of jokers and flowers?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, August 17, 2023 at 12:59:34 PM EDT, judy h wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hello Tom,
    I am trying to find the history of jokers and flowers. I am sure I have seen this on your site but I can’t seem to find it now.
    I have been playing since age 5 or 6 and am now 80 so have seen many changes. I remember when each player started with two flowers (we called them pretties) and it was forbidden to pass or discard them. Do you have a timeframe for this?
    What would be involved in having search capability added to your site? I would be willing to partially fund it.
    Judy
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Judy! Flower tiles were part of the mah-jongg set early on. In the early 1870s, the "Glover set" described in FAQ 11-E, did not have eight flowers.

    There were four seasons, shown here in octagonal frames. (Today, American players call the seasons "flowers.") The mah-jongg set at that time didn't have green dragons, either. And there were other tiles not included in today's mah-jongg set (see FAQ 11-E).
    By 1890, the set had the three dragons, and 16 flowers/seasons:

    For more of the fascinating history of the mah-jongg tile set, see Michael Stanwick's website, themahjongtileset.co.uk.
    By 1920 when J.P. Babcock introduced mah-jongg to the United States, the set had eight flowers.
    So that's the early history of flowers. Now, jokers.
    I have in my collection some bone-and-bamboo sets (made in China) that contain two joker tiles. I don't know when those sets were manufactured, sadly. Could have been the 1930s.
    It's not until 1960 that the National Mah Jongg League required jokers. This chart is from column 509:

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

    You asked when it became permissible to pass flowers and discard them. I have done an analysis from my collection of NMJL cards, but my card collection is not complete. A date that I list here might not be the earliest date a rule was set or changed.

      1938: Flowers are wild.
      1943: A flower may never be discarded.
      1953: Each player begins with 2 flowers.
      1954: It's permissible to discard flowers.
      1958: Flowers may not be passed in the Charleston.
      1959: Flowers may be passed.
      1960: 2 jokers introduced. Flowers are no longer wild.
      1962: Jokers may be discarded. It's permissible to expose flowers in a Concealed hand.
      1963: Jokers may be redeemed from atop one's own rack only.
      1964: Jokers may be redeemed from anyone's rack.
      1965: Jokers may be discarded only when "dogging." Jokers may never be passed in the Charleston.
      1967: Jokers may be discarded anytime.
      1984: Jokers forbidden in singles and pairs.

    You asked how much it would cost to add a site-specific Search function: I don't know. Please understand that this site is not a thriving business; the ads and donations pay for the webhosting, but not for all the time I put into answering people's questions. I'm sorry it's challenging to locate information on this sprawling huge ocean of information, but this is not a business that can support the cost of redesign or features like a site-specific Search function, a mailing list, and other things that moneymaking sites provide. I don't always remember the precise location of everything on the site myself, but I find that I can always locate the information by using Google. For example, I might use the search string "flowers/jokers sloperama.com" - if that doesn't work, then I modify the search string - but I always include "sloperama" in the search string so Google will find it on my site.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 17, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    8/19/23: The joker rules timeline has been edited to include additional joker rules.


    I devised a table rotation, part 2

    On Wednesday, August 16, 2023 at 09:51:28 PM EDT, betsy n wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Hi Tom..... my name is Bettyann... (betsy is my email) To clarify...There are any number of ways to do it. You can use colored chips...any kind and red is at one table blue at another yellow,....and so in.
    I have used plastic hippy hanging room divider pieces (I cut apart) I'd numbered. Today i used mini clothes pins (for hanging xmas cards) I numbered each one 1-12 and after each round (4 games) we all chose another clothes pin from the bowl....bag...box..... shrug. LOL
    works like a charm. Sometimes a person can pull the same number they just had, then I give them the option to change their selection or stay pat.
    Inline image Inline image I can write numbers on anything that happens to be around.... as long as I have enough of them.
    Bettyann S
    .• * *~:
    'The happiest of people don't necessarily
    have the best of everything;
    They just make the most of everything they have!

    Thanks for the comeback, Bettyann. I understood that anything numbered could be used (could be slips of paper) but I was just curious what you meant by "chips," and what you used usually. Anyhoo, the random method is fine by me. A lot of game hosts want a scientific or mathematical (non-random) method, but I'm with you.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 16, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Bouquets on the 1960 card

    On Wednesday, August 16, 2023 at 01:30:46 PM EDT, Laura B wrote:
    NMJL query ... bouquet hands
    Tom,
    I don't know if this is still your address.
    I have a 1960-61 card And it talks about bouquet hands and non bouquet hands.
    I always thought the bouquet in Chinese mahjong meant that you had All 4 of the flowers or all 4 of the seasons.
    This American card looks as though the non bouquet hands are the quint hands. And all of the other hands are called bouquet hands, whether they have two flowers or four or five or six or even no flowers.
    I find that confusing to call a hand with no flowers a bouquet hand.
    So I was wondering if you knew anything about this term in the American game back in this year. And I don't know if you have a copy of that card and if you don't, I can certainly take a picture and send it to you.
    I bought it from Johni Levene for $25. So I'm not interested in having the picture posted anywhere for free.
    It has 14 flowers and 2 jokers that year and you can use flowers as if they were jokers for some of the hands. The two jokers can be used to replace tiles in a bouquet hand or a non bouquet hand. They can be used in a kong. The two jokers which they are calling the big jokers, or flowers, can be used to replace tiles in quints.
    Then there is a particular hand in The Quint group. Where it says in this hand only flowers or big jokers may replace any number tile. But it doesn't say it can't be used in a pair or a single. And on the back of the card, it says that the big jokers can replace any tile in any hand for anything. It was on the other side of the card where it had a restriction about kongs.
    So I'm just finding these instructions and comments very confusing as to when you can use a joker or a flower as if it were a joker.
    And what the term bouquet means.
    Please confirm that this is your email address by replying and then I can send you back the pictures in a reply. I don't want to send the pictures now until I know. This is really your address.
    Laura B
    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Hi, Laura! The ladies of the National Mah Jongg League were under no obligation to use the term "bouquet" the same way it was used in Asian variants. I do not have the 1960-61 card in my collection. I do have the 1962-63 card, but could not find the term "bouquet" on it anywhere. And I don't have a card from 1959, either.
    I am sending you a reply email to let you know the answer is posted here. But don't send me a picture I can't post here. I would NOT post full scans of any NMJL card in any case. But I might want to post pertinent parts.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 16, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I devised a table rotation

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at 11:29:01 PM EDT, betsy n wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Sent from Mail for Windows
    Hi Tom, I devised a table rotation which works for 2 and 3 tables. We haven’t tried it yet with a 4th table.
    The director (me) reaches into a bag, with the same number of chips numbered to the number of players,……
    After 4 games, I reach into the bag and hand out the chips randomly, not looking at them. Sometimes, if my group is adept and paying attention, I spill the chips into a bowl and let them pick (without looking) for themselves.
    Whichever creates the least confusion, and is most orderly…..and expeditious. LOL
    Either way…everyone moves……. Time to grab a chip, cookie to run to the potty…..between rounds.
    Thanks
    THE Bettyann

    Now I don't know whether to call you betsy or Bettyann! Anyway, hi!
    These chips, am I to understand they're the colored coins with the hole in the middle?

    And you wrote numbers on them with a marker? I presume numbers 1-4 correspond to seats at table 1, and so on. I'll add this to FAQ 27. The world needs more simple solutions to these thorny problems!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 16, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Where is your article on the origin of the white dragon?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at 04:07:10 AM EDT, Stephanie B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Dear Sloper:
    Aloha From Hawaii Island.
    I just read a post on FB regarding an article on the origin of the white dragon and why it is so named, it was from you. I tried to copy it but no luck. I spent time looking for it on your website yet failed. It was extremely interesting and I feel compelled to share it with my MJ group. As the ‘Kapuna’, (teacher) of our group it is important for me to keep us aware of rules as they change and the interesting facts about the history of the game.
    When I started the group we learned on my vintage Chinese sets and since many of our group have become avid collectors of bovine and bamboo tile sets. We play weekly with our vintage sets, playing American Mah Jong by NMJL rules. I made sure all have your book, a requirement. Hence my interest in the history of the White Dragon.
    If you ever come to Hawaii Island we all have Hawaiian Hales (Guest Houses) would LOVE yet FEAR to host you???
    Mahalo,
    Stephanie
    "If you have a garden and a library
    you have everything you need"- Cicero
    Stephanie N B
    Sent from my iPad

    A generous offer, Stephanie! I answered the most frequently asked questions about white dragons and other "tile mysteries" in FAQ 7-E (the "Mystery Tiles" FAQ). Actually I wrote about white dragons in two places in the FAQ: here ("What does the B or P stand for?"), and here ("What is the deal with these blank tiles?").
    Aloha!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 15, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What's the penalty, part 2

    Re: Penalty
    On Friday, August 11, 2023 at 07:52:04 PM EDT, Deborah C wrote:
    Thanks for the info.

    You're welcome, Deborah!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    Would like to find the 1954 rules

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, August 11, 2023 at 04:43:21 PM EDT, Thomas L wrote:
    I just found a NML card from 1954 and would like to find the rules for the game during that time period. What a difference (I guess!) ??
    Thanks.
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Thomas!
    If you want more than just what's printed on that card, you'll want to get hold of "That's It; How to Play Mah Jongg with Playing Cards and Chinese Tiles," by Dorothy S. Meyerson. She was one of the founders* of the NMJL, and she published updated versions of her booklet each year. I don't have a copy of the 1954 edition in my mah-jongg library. It would look something like this, the 1951 edition:

    You might find it on eBay or in out-of-print bookstores or sites. Good luck with your search!
    Before you go, though, you might want to read the discussion titled "What were the rules in 1943?," below (July 23 to July 25).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Thomas Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 11, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    *Corrected 8/13 (originally said she was a president of the League). Later digging reveals her title as "Acting President" in the 1946 edition of "That's It."


    What's it worth, part 2

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, August 10, 2023 at 08:09:24 PM EDT, Sherry H wrote:
    Thank you so much for your quick response. Your comments and analysis are greatly appreciated.
    Sherry

    You're welcome, Sherry!
    Best place to sell, in my opinion, is on eBay. See Tips For Sellers.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What's the penalty?

    On Thursday, August 10, 2023 at 03:43:51 PM EDT, Deborah C wrote:
    Penalty
    What is the penalty for exchanging a joker before your draw to start your turn? Thank you.

    Hi, Deborah! See FAQ 19-AA; joker redemption out of turn is a death penalty offense.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What's it worth?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, August 10, 2023 at 03:28:36 PM EDT, Sherry H wrote:
    Hi Tom.
    My mom passed away and had a mah-jongg set.
    The condition of the case is fair as the edging around the outside is worn and the latches are old.
    There are 152 tiles (8 are covered w tape and from the note in the case are to be used as jokers) and two dice. The tiles are two tone: one side green and the other side butterscotch. The tiles appear to me to be in very good condition. Additionally, there are 8 extra tiles - they are not two tone. They are all 12mm thick, 30mm long, and 20mm wide.
    I cannot determine what the tiles are made of even though I reviewed your FAC 7c.
    I do not know when or where my mom purchased the set, however she was a collector of antiques so it would not surprise me if it came from an antique dealer.
    I have attached pictures of the case and tiles and other things (perhaps tile holders - but not sure because I have never played) in the trumpet like case. I tried to arrange the tiles like the check list described.
    From your checklist, the craks appear to be of a simpler style.
    Based on this info, are you be able to rate the set / assign a value? I am interested in selling so pros or defects of the set are appreciated. For example, can you tell what the tiles are made of and the approximate date it was made?
    I do not play. Can you recommend a place to sell the set? Would this be a set I could sell on your “Sets for Sale” board?
    I have attached pictures.
    Thank you,
    Sherry


    Hi, Sherry!
    I'm disappointed that the pictures of the tiles are small and blurry. I'll have to go by your word as to the condition of the tiles as Very Good. I agree that Fair is the correct condition for the case. You didn't say what condition the racks are in. From one of your photos, it appears that the brass ends are badly tarnished. So I'm calling the racks just Fair. Also, you didn't say, but I assume there are four racks.

    I'm confused as to the tile counts. You said there are 152 two-tone tiles and 8 extra tiles for a total of 160 tiles, but I only see 156 tiles, and I cannot tell which ones are NOT two-tone. I see 4 extra tiles whose yellow side is decidedly darker than all the rest. If you have 152 two-tone tiles and 4 extra (non-two-tone) tiles, that's not a problem. But if you have 148 two-tone tiles and 8 extra (non-two-tone) tiles, that is a huge problem.

    One minor defect: the scoring chips are all lost. Most players today don't use the scoring chips, but they're a standard accessory, and modern chips are not as attractive as the originals were.

    The white tape is not a bad problem - the set's buyer can remove that and affix proper joker stickers, unless you want to do that. I assume that underneath the tape are flower tile designs. (A previous owner converted flowers to jokers.)

    The tiles' material is "plastic." I can't guess what type of plastic since the photos are so poor.

    Two-tone tiles are desired by collectors, so I would say that the set is worth somewhere between $90 and $120 as-is... IF you have 152 two-tone tiles. It would be worth more (over $200) if the case were replaced, and the brass polished, and the tape replaced with joker stickers. If you have only 148 two-tone tiles, then the set is worth more like $70, it would be a waste of time to refurbish the set, and the buyer will likely NEVER be able to find 4 needed two-tone tiles to match.

    As for the set's age, it appears that the set was manufactured before the 1960s. The basis for that estimate is the fact that the set came with either 12 or 16 flowers, and no jokers. See column 509; if the set came with 12 flowers, it was likely made around 1943. If the set came with 16 flowers, it was likely made around 1946.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 10, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Those confusing joker rules!

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Wednesday, August 9, 2023 at 04:45:09 PM EDT, Sally A wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:if I exposed tiles that contain a Joker and someone discards that tile am I allowed to call and replace my joker?

    Sally, FAQ 19-G.2 answers your question. Once a redeemable tile has been discarded, it can only be taken to create a new set for exposure or mah-jongg. It is NOT permitted to take the tile in order to redeem it for a joker. Also see those confusing joker rules in FAQ 19. Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 9, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    Edited to correct an error.


    She called Mahj and put up too many tiles.

    On Monday, August 7, 2023 at 10:49:13 PM EDT, Rosemary B wrote:
    Calling MahJongg
    A player called MahJongg and put up too many tiles. Another player called her on it. She took back one of the tiles and declared Mahjongg again. She said she hadn’t discarded yet, so she was allowed to change her exposure. I agreed. Were we correct?
    Thank you for your time.
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Rosemary!
    It's not possible to discard a tile after declaring mah-jongg unless one has too many tiles. If she's showing 14 tiles atop the rack and one on the sloping front of the rack, that's 15 tiles. That's too many tiles, which is a death penalty rule violation. She's dead. She puts the newly exposed tiles back on the sloping front of the rack, and the rest of the players continue playing. See FAQ 19-AA.
    Or if you're still playing "Siamese" mah-jongg and my answer doesn't work with the rules you play, you should ask Gladys Grad (https://siamesemahjongg.com/about-contact-us/).
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 7, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    "Red goes with craks and dots with soap..." Huh?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Sunday, August 6, 2023 at 05:50:34 PM EDT, Marcia A wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: I am a beginning player and mixed up about soap and the dragons. For instance on the back of the card it explains what goes with each like red goes with craks and dots with soap. I I don’t know what that means. Please explain???? Can use them , like dragons and soaps like jokers?

    Hi, Marcia!
    Where you see D on the front of the card, that means a dragon must be used. The D will have a color, because in American mah-jongg, each of the three dragons is associated with one of the three suits. A hand is one suit if the hand is shown in one color, two suits if the hand is shown in two colors, and so on. Consider the hand 11 333 DDDD 333 55 (Any 3 Suits) - How many colors? Three. So, how many suits? Three. Let's say your 11 333 is made from dots. And let's say you use craks for the 333 55. Which suit has not been used yet? Bams. Green dragon goes with Bams, so the DDDD has to be green dragons, since you've already used craks and dots in that 3-color (3-suit) hand.
    Soaps (white dragon) are associated with dots, but that doesn't mean you have to use dots with 0 (zero), because when used as zero, soaps are no longer suit-related dragons - they're just zeroes, because no other tile can represent zero.
    I'm sure you'll have questions about some of the hands on the front of the card. Check FAQ 16 for questions you may have about the 2023 card.


    FAQ 16 link

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


    How old is it? (Part 3)

    Re: Mah-Jongg old set, different from American set.
    On Friday, August 4, 2023 at 10:22:26 AM EDT, Jonell Y wrote:
    Dear Tom,
    Thank you for all your help!
    Greatly appreciated it!
    Have a great weekend!!
    Jonell

    You're welcome, Jonell.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    With a little help from my friends

    On Friday, August 4, 2023 at 06:08:13 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    Hello, Thomas Sloper
    You received a payment
    Aug 4, 2023 03:08:03 PDT
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
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    Thank you, Evelyn! I appreciate you.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 4, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Question on JR Fitch's 9 Dragons Mahjong

    On Thursday, August 3, 2023 at 12:26:12 PM EDT, Edmond K wrote:
    Question on JR Fitch's 9 Dragons Mahjong
    Hello Mr Sloper,
    I have always enjoyed the 9 Dragons software of Mahjong. A 1992 Pro version is available which is said to be Windows 11 compatible. Is this correct? Thank you.
    Ed K

    I don't know, Ed. I have not tried to install that version on Windows 11.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 18

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, August 3, 2023 at 09:16:49 AM EDT, Connie Lou-David O wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    On the 2023 card first combination in 2468 category can you pick up either the 4 or 6 tile for exposure?
    Sent from my iPad

    No, you can't. As the rule is explained in FAQ 19-E.1: "A discard may only be taken to make a PUNG, KONG, QUINT, or SEXTET - or, of course, to make mah-jongg."


    FAQ 19 link

    I'm adding this to FAQ 16. I recommend you bookmark both FAQ 19 and FAQ 16 for your future reference (FAQ 19 covers the rules of the game, and FAQ 16 covers the 2023 card).


    FAQ 16 link

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How old is it? (Part 2)

    On Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at 01:49:00 PM EDT, Jonell Y wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg old set, different from American set.
    Adding additional picture as it didn't attach.
    Thank you again!
    Jonell

    On Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at 04:06:05 PM EDT, Jonell Y wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg old set, different from American set.
    Hello Tom,
    Thank you so much for your fast response!
    You are wealth of knowledge!
    I'm sending one more pictures that didn't attach.
    This shows the complete set.
    144 tiles plus the extras.
    I'm still a bit confused. There are 4 red, green and blue dragons. Blue what we use as soaps? Usa game?
    We have additional pieces. The exyra winds are flowers?
    Hope this gives you an idea. To help me understand what they are?
    Thank you again.
    Jonell

    Hi, Jonell. I was working and missed seeing your two latest emails until hours later, when I found and rescued them from my Spam folder.
    The blue dragons are your white dragons (soap, as we wild and crazy American guys and gals say). Too bad that one of them is so badly discolored.
    The E-S-W-N flowers at upper left are the flowers that originally came with the set. (The reason they're marked with wind designator letters has to do with how flowers were treated in the original game before American mah-jongg came along, the same reason flowers have numbers on them. See FAQ 19-CB.)
    All the yellow tiles (eight dark yellow flowers, and two light yellow flowers and two light yellow blanks) were added later to satisfy changing NMJL requirements. Those tiles make the set essentially playable, but they don't really belong with the celluloid tiles.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 1, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How old is it?

    On Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at 01:25:45 PM EDT, Jonell Y wrote:
    Mah-Jongg old set, different from American set.
    Hello Tom,
    I'd appreciate your expertise on the set we have had in our family since the 1960's, possibly longer.
    My mother in law, currently 94 , inherited from her aunt.
    We believe it's from China or a Chinese version with the racks that have betting chips. We have 5 racks?
    It's in an alligator case however its from US, original markings on lock/clasp read: eagle lock co. TEARYVILLE Conn. USA.
    This set is different from my newer American set.
    We'd like you guidance and any information you can shed light on from dating it, to it's origi, Is it bone or ivory? Not sure if we are missing pieces or not?
    Please see attached pictures.
    Greatly appreciate your help!
    Thank you,
    Jonell


    Hi, Jonell! To answer your five questions, in the order asked:
    1. Yes, that does appear to be five racks. If you're wondering why there are five, see FAQ 7D.
    2. The tiles could be from the 1920s, that's when celluloid tiles were made. The case and racks could have been made in the 1930s. I was not shown how the tiles look when packed into the case - I suspect they don't look like the case was made specifically to fit those tiles. I don't think celluloid tiles were originally packaged in these "trumpet cases" with racks, but maybe the "Other Excellent Mah-Jongg Sites" linked to in FAQ 4A have info on celluloid sets that came in that type of case.
    3. All (tiles, case, racks) were made in America.
    4. Neither bone nor ivory. The tiles are solid celluloid. Celluloid tiles are collectible, but unfortunately, they've aged unevenly (some tiles being differently colored, faded with time). See FAQ 7C for info about celluloid.
    5. I can't tell if it's complete because I don't see four red dragons and four white dragons - you put placeholder tiles there, or maybe you turned the fourth dragons over (face down), but it looks to me like you're missing a red dragon and a white dragon. A previous owner has also added 10 yellow flower tiles, and what looks like two extra blank tiles. If you wonder why those were added, it's because the National Mah Jongg League required extra flowers at one time. You can see column 509 for details, if you're interested.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 1, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How old is my set?

    On Sunday, July 30, 2023 at 09:31:30 PM EDT, Nadia S wrote:
    Set Age-Determination
    Hi,
    I came across your website online and I saw that I am able to email you and you can help me determine the age of my Mahjongg set. Below are the checklist answers:
    1. Carrying case, tiles, 3 small dice (big red dot), 1 wind indicator(cube in holder), 1 instruction manual missing cover
    2. The instructional manual is missing the cover, it has no dates or author mentioned.
    3. I could not tell what the tiles are made of. I think they might be either Bakelite or Catalin, the tiles are carved, engraved and painted and each one is unique in shape and size. They are also two-toned, but I can't find one with the same colors.
    4. I have no information on this set. We got it from my husband's parent's house, it was in his stuff and we have a speculation that it's either from his grandmother or grandfather due to how old it looks and nobody can remember where it's from or who's it was.
    5. The average length is 1inch, the depth is about 1/2 inch and the width is about 3/4 inch. Each toned portion is about a 1/4 inch in depth.
    6. 144 marked tiles, 4 blank tiles (148 tiles in all). Either 8 or 12 flowers, I couldn't tell what 4 of them were (4 were identical and looked kind of like birds). No jokers in the set. All basic 136 tiles are present.
    7. I'm not sure what type of case it's in, it seems like wood or cardboard covered in some sort of orange vinyl. It appears to be aged, but no signs of damage.
    8. I believe it has modern craks, but I'm honestly unsure, it does appear to be more elabore vs. basic than most.
    I really hope you can help me figure out what kind of set this is and how it is. Thanks in advance and I hope to hear from you soon!
    Best,
    Nadia


    Hi, Nadia!
    I bought a similar set (with different-colored backs and carrying case, probably same manufacturer) in the early 1990s, and the set was new at the time. So my age estimate is late 1980s to early 1990s.
    Oh wait, you also asked "what kind of set" it is. It's made for playing most Asian variants. It's not suitable for American mah-jongg because it doesn't have eight jokers. It's not quite what Japanese players would want, because it doesn't have red fives. See the Types of Sets FAQ.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Do you sell Mah Jong bags?

    On Sunday, July 30, 2023 at 05:12:23 PM EDT, Sherry Brewer <sherry_brewer@icloud.com> wrote:
    Bags
    I found a note to myself probably 6 months old about you. Do you sell Mah Jong bags? And I also wrote The Red Dragon &The West Wind. I also have a phone number 410-484-6072. Is that for you? I want anything mahjong, learning materials, merchandise for team mates Christmas gift, ect. Is that what you do? Thank you,
    Sherry Brewer 210-386-6790 San Antonio, TX
    Sent from my iPhone

    No, that's not what I do, Sherry. Hey, good luck with your book! Catchy title, by the way.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What does the writing on these tiles say, part 3 (What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 11)

    Re: Do these One Dot tiles have a hidden meaning?
    On Sunday, July 30, 2023 at 03:24:38 AM EDT, Bridget van H wrote:
    Yes Tom, you are quite right. These One Dots belong to a Talking Hawk set.

    Good morning, Bridget. As I wrote in the Manufacturers FAQ, I'm not an expert in manufacturers - and that also includes named mah-jongg sets. Maybe "Talking Hawk" means something to the collectors in the Mah Jongg Collectors Association but, sadly, I've never heard of it. I suppose it's so named for the illustration on the 1B tiles, but I've never seen it. I haven't heard from Ray yet, by the way. He may be on summer vacation, traveling, which people are doing again now that the COVID emergency is over.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 30, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Chinese "up joker" vs. "down joker"

    On Saturday, July 29, 2023 at 02:11:32 PM EDT, Carol wrote:
    Jokers in Chinese Mahjong
    In the Chinese Mahjong app by JoyGames.net that I occasionally play, they ask if I want to play popular mahjong or International mahjong (defined as more than 8 points). My question is that if I choose Popular mahjong then I need to say whether I want to play with jokers or not ... and if I do choose jokers, do I want "up joker" or "down joker." I have no idea what the "up" and "down" refers to ... do you?
    Thanks so much for your website,
    Carol
    Medford OR

    Sorry, Carol, I don't know, but I guess it might have to do with the distinctions between different sorts of jokers as used in Vietnamese mah-jongg. Mah-jongg historian Michael Stanwick wrote about those in FAQ 7E-J. Actually, both those links point to different places in FAQ 7E-J.
    A guess: maybe the "down jokers" serve as wild tiles for numbered suit tiles while "up jokers" serve as wild tiles for honors (winds and dragons). Or maybe the "down jokers" can only be used for numbered suit tiles while "up jokers" can be used for any tile.
    If the up and down tiles have different symbols on them, maybe you can take a screenshot and send it to me.
    Of course you can also select one, and see if they get used by your opponent bots (assuming that when the joker is used, it shows a joker symbol on it - if the joker, once used, simply assumes the face of whatever tile it's replacing, it'll be difficult for you to tell that's a joker). In other words, try them both and see if you can figure out how they work from context.
    Have fun, and good luck!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 29, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What does the writing on these tiles say, part 2 (What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 10)

    On Saturday, July 29, 2023 at 02:38:57 AM EDT, Bridget van H wrote:
    Do these One Dot tiles have a hidden meaning?
    Hi Tom
    Higher res image as requested. Hoping that Ray has enough to go on now
    With many thanks and kind regards
    Bridget
    One dots hawk set.jpg
    1.4MB

    I won't try to decipher them myself because the characters are so stylized, but I will ask Ray if he would have a look. I'm curious, Bridget. Your picture's filename refers to "hawk set." I take it that means your 1B tiles depict a hawk?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 29, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 17

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Friday, July 28, 2023 at 06:02:34 PM EDT, Man H wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    On the 2023 card in consecutive runs on line 7:
    Can I call Mah Jongg with a hand that has:
    4 - Flowers
    3 - #4 cracks
    3 - #4 Dots
    2 - #5 bams
    2 - #6 bams
    FFFF 444(cracks) 444(dots) 55 66(bams)
    Or must the pungs be 7s?

    Hi, Man! The pungs have to be sevens if the pairs are fives and sixes. If the pungs are fours, the pairs have to be twos and threes. In most Consecutive Run hands, you can choose your own starting (lowest) number, but you can never mess with the hand's structure. The card shows FFFF 11 22 333 333, meaning the pungs must be made of the next consecutive number after the two pairs. You can't turn it around the other way.
    I'll add this Q&A to FAQ 16.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 28, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The 2023 NMJL card, part 16

    On Tuesday, July 25, 2023 at 06:24:21 PM EDT, Star Fire wrote:
    Re: Ruling
    We had a question on the card under 2023, third line down. Shows 3 colors so we assumed 3 different suits should be used, but wording says 2023 any suit and ANY dragons. With that being said, can't one of the dragons be the same as the numbers?
    FFFF DDD 2023 DDD
    FFFF DDD 2023 DDD
    Thank you for your ruling.
    Star Fire

    Hi, Star!
    I'd like to introduce you to FAQ 16, which answers your question and many other questions about the 2023 NMJL card. I suggest you bookmark it.


    FAQ 16 link

    FAQ 16 says: The 2023 can be the same suit as one of your dragon pungs. You can make the hand in two or three suits. The parenthetical overrides the color-coding. You can use dots in the 2023, but you don't have to. You can use a pung of soaps, but you don't have to. The dragon pungs have to be two different dragons.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What were the rules in 1943, part 3

    On Tuesday, July 25, 2023 at 01:38:53 PM EDT, C wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Thanks so much for your help! Can I make an anonymous donation? ??
    Sent from my iPhone

    Yes, you can! I can either withhold your name from the donation post or just not post the Paypal notice at all. Thanks in advance! Glad my response was helpful.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What were the rules in 1943, part 2

    Addendum/correction to yesterday's response to C████, about the 1943 rules.
    I decided I should dig deeper. I pulled out my copy of Viola Cecil's 1940 rulebook.

    ● The 1940 rulebook says that pungs MAY be exposed, provided that the player "holds two (or one and a flower) of that tile in hand." But the pung-containing hands on the 1943 card are all concealed (those hands are NOT marked with an X).
    ● I did find the rule on the back of the card about flower discards being illegal. It was also illegal to pass flowers in the Charleston.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 25, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    What were the rules in 1943?

    On Sunday, July 23, 2023 at 11:55:49 PM EDT, C████ wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Background only…not really part of the question.
    [Sentence omitted] I want to play MJ [omitted] with the 1943 card and by the rules in place for that year. I have the card for that year in hand, which I have read, and I’ve also read what you’ve written about that year. I understand the 12 flowers are used like jokers. I read the rule for that year says everyone starts with one flower, and they can’t be discarded.
    Here’s the question:
    I am looking for information about how the NMJL game of Mah Jongg was played in 1943. Is anything else special or different about rules of play for that year that isn’t on the back of the 1943 card?
    Warm Regards, and thanks in advance!
    C████
    Sent from Mail for Windows

    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, July 24, 2023 at 12:26:53 AM EDT, C wrote:
    Hi again! I wrote the below as I was hoping you wouldn’t publish the background info. [Sentence omitted] If you can’t respond to my question without it, I understand, and would respectively withdraw the question. If you need to use the background info it would be okay if you don’t have to use my name or email. Again, thank you in advance!

    Hi, C████! I always start the day with Wordle and Jumble, but you presented me with not one but two puzzles. Your question, of course, is one. Perhaps the greater puzzle, though, was how to satisfy your extraordinary request for secrecy.
    You already know the rules on the card itself. The biggest difference is that the 12 flowers were "wild" and there were no jokers, as you've already noted. But if the set you're using doesn't have 12 flowers, you'll have to use some jokers to represent flowers (while using the other flowers as functional jokers).
    You can see that the Charleston rules are the same, but then you have to drop whatever rules the League has adopted in the last 80 years. By using my browser's search function in FAQ 19 to find the word "when," I find these rules:
    FAQ 19-S.2: wild tiles could be used to represent a single or as part of a pair back then, since the rule forbidding that was not introduced until 1984.
    FAQ 19-R: there was a rule against "looking ahead," but there was no explicit rule against picking ahead until 1956.

    I checked the 1943 card and noticed something curious: the card mentions how claiming a discard for a kong, quint, or sextet works, but nothing about claiming a discard for a pung. I think you should assume that it's not allowed to call a discard to make a single, pair, or pung.* But you can use wild tiles as a single or in any size of grouping.
    Rule 5 on the back of the card mentions "exchange," which seems to mean one can redeem (exchange) a natural tile for a wildflower, just as one can redeem jokers today.

    Now for breakfast. And Wordle and Jumble. And that's quite enough puzzling for today, thank you very much. No more secrecy requests, if you please.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 24, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    * See correction next day in Part 2 (above).
    P.S. I don't know when I've ever written about the 1943 card before, and I don't find on the card that wildflowers could not be discarded. But that rule makes sense since wildflowers could be used for anything and everything. - Tom


    What does the writing on these tiles say? (What do these One Dot symbols represent, part 9)

    On Saturday, July 22, 2023 at 10:23:43 AM EDT, Bridget van H wrote:
    Do these One Dot tiles have a hidden meaning?
    Hi Tom
    I’d love to know what these tiles say.
    Kind regards
    Bridget

    Hi, Bridget! Little problem: the photo is low-resolution and the characters are written with a stylized squarish look that's hard to decipher for someone (like me) who knows only a very few Chinese characters and has to look them up by stroke count. Maybe my friend Ray Heaton will be able to figure them out, but I think a higher-res photo is needed. As it is, I won't ask Ray to have a look until you can send a better picture.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 22, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    P.S. The writing on 1D tiles usually just says the name of the manufacturing company, so I wouldn't hold out hopes for anything romantic or interesting. - Tom
    P.P.S. Did you, by chance, see the series of posts titled "What do these One Dot symbols represent," from last February, below? Your symbols are different from those in that previous correspondence.


    How much is my set worth?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Saturday, July 22, 2023 at 12:22:45 AM EDT, Michael M wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: how much is my Mah-Jongg set worth. Hi Tom I picked up a MJ set at a garage sale a couple weeks ago and am looking to sell it but the problem is I have no idea what it’s value is. I came across your website and saw the part about free appraisal if I could answer some questions and it be public so here it goes hopefully I do this right.
    The set contains 144 tiles, 120 sticks, 4 small dice, 1 medium dice, 4 wind discs, a cylindrical container with a lid, Babcock’s rules for Mah-Jongg, and a box to put everything in.
    The condition of the set is fair to good. But that’s because the pieces look dirty and I didn’t want to try and clean them and ruin anything. Also their is a small gap on a couple tiles.
    I don’t know what the tiles are made of. Possibly bamboo and bone? I was kinda hoping you knew and wanted to share that information with me.
    I don’t really know anything about the history of the set.
    The tiles are in mm 28 x 19.6 x 10.8 with small variations between them of .1 or so and the small piece on top looks to be about 1.7 mm thick. That doesn’t affect overall size I just said as a side note for more information. I also believe the 2 pieces that form the tiles are glued together.
    144 tiles total with the 1 bam as a bird, no jokers, what looks like Chinese writing with English numbers in the corner of the bams, dots, cracks, and flowers as well as N S E W on the corner of the winds and the white dragon are 4 blank tiles and the dragons are the only tiles without a number or letter on them. Their are 8 flower tiles all with unique picture on each one. As far as the sticks go the 1 red dot sticks have 36 pieces the 2 black dot have 8 pieces the 5 red dot have 8 pieces and the 10 black dot have 36 pieces. The 4 wind discs also vary in size a little bit but all fit In the cylindrical container.
    The set comes in a small wood container with a lid that slides off and in that box is a large section and a divider to give it 2 more sections. No marking with the exception or 104 written on the floor of container inside of it.
    The instructions it comes with is complete but worn. The pages look like they have yellowed, some have tears, there is a stain on a few of the last pages possibly
    The craks are what I believe is simpler style
    12. 13. 14. I’ll answer with pictures
    Zero jokers
    Thank you sir and hope this info helps get an answer.

    Hi, Michael! Wow, you did a great job telling me what I need to know. Good pictures, too.
    I agree that the set is Fair to Good (closer to Good than to Fair).

    The set's good points:
    - The carving of the tile designs is attractively done. The arrangement of the dots on the 9-dots tiles is uncommon, thus of interest.
    - All required tiles are present to play many variants of mah-jongg.
    - The paper booklet is present.
    - The case is not falling apart, and the lid is not warped.
    - The sticks are divisible by 4 (and each denomination is also divisible by 4), meaning it appears all sticks are present.
    - The wind discs and mingg are all there, and there are enough dice to play with (all anybody really needs is two).

    The set's bad points:
    - You say the tiles are dirty and need a careful cleaning; there is an orange stain of some kind on one of the tiles. There is an unsightly gap between the bone and bamboo on two tiles, you say.
    - Those bone and bamboo sets always came with four extra blank tiles, but those are gone.
    - Those sets always came with 5 dice and a little wooden coffin-shaped container. One of the 5 original dice is gone and has been replaced by an off-size plastic die, and there is no dice coffin. You can toss the plastic die; it detracts from the set and should be removed.
    - The booklet is extremely wrinkled, and desperately needs flattening.*
    - The slide-top type of box is not as desirable as the five-drawer/slide-front type of box.

    If the set was in Very Good condition, it would be worth somewhere between $95 and $115, but in its present condition, it's worth between $70 and $80.
    *You can probably improve the wrinkled rulebook's condition by flattening it in a pile of books for a couple of years. That would add another $10 or so to the set's value. There are cleaning tips in FAQ 7-o - as long as you avoid wiping the water-soluble paint in the carved designs, you can improve the tiles' appearance.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 22, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Is it ivory?

    On Thursday, July 20, 2023 at 11:45:27 PM EDT, Daniel & Megan P wrote:
    Ivory Mahjong Tiles?
    Hello,
    I have an old Mahjong set that my grandfather bought at an antique store atleast 30 years ago.
    Im reviewing all of the pictures on your website and the lines on the titles don’t look like anything but your picture of the ivory tile.
    Could you take a look at these pictures and let me know what you think?
    Thanks!
    Daniel P

    Sorry, Daniel. Look again at FAQ 7c and see the entry on celluloid. Your tiles are celluloid on wood.
    Your confusion is understandable; the makers of celluloid intended it to be a lookalike substitute for ivory, and celluloid is often called "French ivory." I'll add this Q&A to the Comments section of the 'Is It Ivory' FAQ for future visitors.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 21, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    I can say mah-jongg on a discard if I'm waiting for a single or to complete a pair, correct?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, July 20, 2023 at 06:15:59 PM EDT, Susan V wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Is this correct-
    A player can call for a tile to complete a mahjong including for a pair and a single
    Sent from my iPad

    Yes. See FAQ 19-E3.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 20, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    We need tiles for visually impaired players

    On Tuesday, July 18, 2023 at 10:17:21 AM EDT, J B wrote:
    Tiles
    Hello Tom
    I run a group which has two visually impaired members and have been trying to find an enlarged set. I have found a number of sets with 40 x 30 tiles but none have arabic numbers on them. Any suggestions?
    Also tried to send a similar message to UK MJ Assn but their link doesn't work and there isn't an address on their site so no way to get in touch.
    I hope you may be able to help.
    regards, John B
    South Lakes u3a

    Hi, John!
    I've written an FAQ on tiles for visually impaired players. See FAQ 7-S. I hope it's helpful. Read it all, including the reader suggestions.
    I'm afraid the UK MJ Association has disbanded, unfortunately. I suspect it was very small to begin with.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 18, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    The card says "2s and 8s only," so...

    Mah-Jongg Q A
    On Tuesday, July 18, 2023 at 08:12:13 AM EDT, Anne D wrote:
    Hello Mr Sloper,
    My mah-jongg question is:
    Perhaps you could clarify a hand on the 2023 National Mah Jongg League card, 2468/5, of which one of my friends is in disagreement with the rest of us...
    She insists that jokers cannot be used for either the 222 or 888 - both because the card states, "2s and 8s Only" and because the online game she uses (MyJongg) calls her hand dead when she uses a joker for either the 2s or 8s. As we understand the rules, jokers should be allowed for the 222 or 888.
    Thank you for your help!
    Anne

    Hi, Anne!
    "2s and 8s only" does not mean jokers can't be used. It says on the back of the card that jokers may be used in any grouping of three or more like tiles. A joker is a 2 or 8 if you say it is! I'll add this to FAQ 16, which answers frequently asked questions about the 2023 NMJL card.
    As for the computer game: Your friend might have been called dead on that hand for some other reason. She should try again to make that hand on her computer game, and if it happens again, she should contact the makers of that game to inquire.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 18, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    The 2023 NMJL card, part 15


    How does the death challenge work, exactly? What's the procedure?

    On Wednesday, July 12, 2023 at 08:34:01 PM EDT, Louetta M <bookworm> wrote:
    (No Subject)
    I looked carefully thru the Q and A and couldn’t find the answer to my question, so:
    When I learned to play Mah Jong many years ago, my teacher said that if you declare a person’s hand dead, but it can be confirmed by a third party, ( we always play in groups, so I would get a third party from another table to confirm dead or not), that the players hand was indeed not dead, but still a legal hand, that the person who made the accusation would then be dead. I have been teaching for a very long time and continue to teach that. We do not play for money and I don’t encourage the declaring a hand dead but if it comes up I would like to have the correct answer.
    What are your thoughts on this practice?
    Lou aka bookworm
    Thanks for all your work.
    Sent from Mail for Windows

    Hi, Lou!
    Your teacher taught you wrong.
    The actual death challenge rules are described fully in FAQ 19. And I have some books to recommend, too. There's my book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind. There's Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the NMJL. And a couple of books by Elaine Sandberg... (see FAQ 3 for a lot more books about mah-jongg).
    The death challenge rule is perfectly fine to use - when you know someone cannot make mah-jongg, it's beneficial for the other players if that player stops removing tiles from the wall. That can help someone else make mah-jongg.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 12, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Sloperama supportarama!

    On Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at 04:58:35 PM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Darlene C
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $20.00 USD from Darlene C
    You can view the transaction details online.
    Donation Details
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    Thank you very much, Darlene!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 12, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Make, material, value, age or anything else

    On Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at 07:22:33 AM EDT, Melanie C wrote:
    Mah Jong
    Hi
    I have this set that I found inn my sisters house and have no idea of make, material, value, age or anything else. If you can give me any advice I would be grateful.
    Kind regards
    Mel

    Hi, Mel!

    Make: I assume you mean, what company manufactured the set. That I couldn't say for certain. See FAQ 19-U.

    Material: It's that mysterious non-shiny material that mah-jongg collectors call "Chinese Bakelite," but is really neither Chinese nor Bakelite. It's been hypothesized that maybe it's pulverized reconstituted fishbone dyed yellow, or maybe an unknown plastic. The backs look like they're firmly attached, one piece with the fronts, not glued on, which suggests plastic. Those sharp edges (bottom and top edge when viewing a tile face-on) are definite indicators of not being Bakelite. See FAQ 7c and FAQ 7c3.

    Value: Value derives from a combination of condition, beauty, completeness, and rarity. You didn't use the value checklist from FAQ 7h, but your photos are reasonably sharp. The photos are all I have to work with.
    -Tiles: Your photos seem to indicate that the tiles are solid, mostly not too scuffed or scratched (although zooming in, I did see a few marred tiles). The tiles appear to be handmade, not machine made (see the third and fourth 8-dot tiles, see how the dots are not perfectly aligned). The paint is not worn, but the paint on the faded tiles has lost its brightness - see the craks, how the red has darkened to near-black. On the bright side, they're all there. Sixteen flowers, which is good (an American player could sticker eight of them to make jokers, needed to play American rules). Many of the tiles are faded - the tiles are no longer uniformly colored. I judge the condition of the tiles to be "GOOD - Item is worn but reasonably attractive; any normal person would notice the defects without having to look for them."
    - The case: You did not take a photo of the outside of the case. You did not show how the case looks with the tiles and bits all packed in it. The clips (clothespins) and screws and hinges, and the colored tray corners all indicate that the top is not attached to the bottom, and a repair effort has been made on the tray corners, and a repair effort is underway now. I judge the condition of the case to be "POOR - Item is not usable, or is only just barely usable, or is unpleasant to use." Once the hinges are attached and the case can be used to enclose the tiles without needing to tie string around it, the case condition will be upgraded to "FAIR - Item is utilitarian but not attractive," due to the glue/paint (?) at the corners of the trays. And as I mentioned, I don't know how the case looks on the outside.
    - The other bits: You have four wind discs and a rule booklet, five small dice, and an unknown number of mismatched scoring sticks. The wind discs are an unusual type, metal, tarnished. The booklet is not a common type, but it's been written on.
    Conclusion: Good news and bad news. The good news: the set is complete enough, and the two-tone material is desired by collectors. The bad news: many flaws, especially the discoloration of the tiles. The set may be worth anywhere from US$70 to $90. The booklet alone may be worth $15 or so (it would be more if it was unmarked), but don't separate the booklet from the set.

    Age: Probably 1930s-1950s. You might try these other excellent mah-jongg sites to see if you can find sets similar to your sister's.

    Anything else: I have nothing to add.

    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    7/11/23
    Donations appreciated


    How much, part 2

    On Sunday, July 9, 2023 at 07:21:30 PM EDT, Nora S wrote:
    Re: value estimation of Mah Jong set
    Thanks Tom, much appreciated!
    Cheers,
    Nora

    You're welcome, Nora!


    How much is it worth?

    On Saturday, July 8, 2023 at 11:20:26 PM EDT, Nora S wrote:
    value estimation of Mah Jong set
    Hi Tom,
    I came across your website and read it carefully, trying to adhere to your instructions as closely as possible. Could you please give me an estimate of the value of this Mah Jong set ? I'm happy for you to post it on your bulletin.
    Here are the details:
    Mah-Jong Set - bought in 1986 in Shanghai on a street market.
    Case: wood (?) covered in fabric (exterior) and paper (interior); dimensions = 360mm long x 233mm wide x 40mm high; condition of case is ‘fair’ i.e. can be used but has tears in fabric and paper covering and mildew stains inside; handle is rusty;
    Contents: 4 trays with 144 tiles; plus 1 box with 8 blank tiles, 118 sticks, 6 dices and 4 wind indicator disks; counting sticks and disks seem to be plastic or bakelite; no chips or manual or anything else;
    Condition of tiles is good; only 2 tiles (Bams) have a damaged corner (see last photo); they are not marked with western indices;
    Material of tiles is bamboo and bone; thickness of bamboo 10mm; Thickness of bone 3mm;
    Dimension of tiles 31mm long x 23mm wide x 13mm high
    Here are some photos, which I hope will give you enough of a picture for an estimate.
    Best regards,
    Nora


    Hi, Nora! You did a wonderful job of providing me the information!
    Value is all about quality. The staining inside the box is unsightly, and those two chipped tiles are a problem. Also, the tiles do not have Western indices (Roman letters and Arabic numerals), which means most American and Western Hemisphere players can't read the craks suit, nor the winds, dragons, and jokers.
    This type of set was widely distributed beyond China in the 1990s, with indices and without chipped edges, and even with a mangled-English instruction booklet. Those made-for-export sets went for anywhere from $50 to $90 initially; new sets of that type still go for the $90 dollar range, give or take ten.
    But your set is old, has 2 dinged-up tiles, and doesn't have indices, so it's worth somewhere around $50, give or take twenty.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 9, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How old is this American-style set?

    On Sunday, July 9, 2023 at 04:27:26 PM EDT, nava l wrote:
    Hi Tom,
    I apologize if this email went through to you already- it's not showing in my 'sent' folder, so just in case...
    I stumbled onto your site and was wondering if you could share any insight into when my Mahjong set was made?
    It belonged to my grandmother who died in Brooklyn in 1969 and that's all I know, besides that she had a regular Tuesday night game for many years. Based on the 8 flowers and lack of jokers I'm thinking '37-'42, but wondering if that's correct or if there are any clues I'm missing or further indicators about the date?
    The set looks to me like bakelite. There are 14 titles on the right that are not part of the same set, but were in the box. These others appear to be a mix of bakelite and catalin (I'm deducing that from your site as some are shinier and more translucent than the others). There are 148 tiles total in the main set, including 8 flowers and 4 blanks (2 with joker stickers). The tiles are quite thick - dimensions are 7/8" x 1&1/4" with a thickness of 5/8". The box is alligator style with latches and 2 trays inside. Apologies for the lighting as the colors aren't reading well, but the tiles are a butterscotch shade and the images are carved.
    I'm also curious about the assorted flowers and blanks that do not match the main set. I play Taiwanese rules, so I don't know if they might have been added for American-style play or if you could imagine another reason?
    Thanks so much!
    Nava

    Hi, Nava!
    You did a beautiful job of providing photos, and asking your questions! Thank you for that.
    It is an American-made set, made before 1970, for sure, because the (American) National Mah Jongg League required every set to have at least 8 jokers, starting in 1970. We can narrow it down farther than that: your set came originally with no jokers, and only four blanks and eight flowers. See the Flowers/Jokers chart in column 509. As early as 1943, the League began to require 12 flowers to play their card (list of hands) that year. So your set is older than 1943. Could have been made in the late 1930s or early 1940s. I can't zero it down any more than that.
    The extra "alien" tiles in the set were added to comply with the changing NMJL flower counts. Your set has 20 flowers and 2 jokers. See the chart; in the early 1960s, the added flowers (from other sets), together with the 2 stickered jokers, comply with the 1960-62 requirements. 20 flowers were needed the hear before, and once tiles were added, extras were not removed.
    This "foreign flowers" trick was commonly done back when the League kept changing the tile counts. So we know the set was made before 1943, and it stopped getting extra tiles added to it in 1962.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 9, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    How to use an online game as a teaching aid, part 4

    On Friday, July 7, 2023 at 08:22:52 PM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Edward S
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $5.00 USD from Edward S
    You can view the transaction details online.
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $5.00 USD
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    Message: Thanks so much for providing this site.
    PayPal

    Thank you, Leslie!


    How to use an online game as a teaching aid, part 3

    Re: Question about teaching others how to play
    On Friday, July 7, 2023 at 04:47:50 PM EDT, L S wrote:
    Hi again,
    When I responded, I typed too fast (as usual) and wrote “mad” instead of “make” when I was trying to say that I will make a donation. Sorry about that.
    I was wondering if you use PayPal. I would like to make the donation with PayPal but if not, then I will select one of the other ways at the bottom of the page.
    Thanks again,
    Leslie
    P.S.: My friend has not tried your suggestion yet but when/if she does, I will let you know how it goes. I know what you mean about ZOOM. I had to help everyone in my Book Club to understand how to meet during the pandemic when I sent out the invites. But we are great at it now.

    Thanks, Leslie. There's just one way to donate to me, and it does happen to be Paypal. Just click the Donate button above, or any "Donations appreciated" link on this site, and that'll send you right to Paypal.
    Play safe out there, I know that's what you're already doing. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    7/7/2023
    Donations appreciated


    How to use an online game as a teaching aid, part 2

    Re: Question about teaching others how to play
    On Friday, July 7, 2023 at 03:50:52 PM EDT, L S wrote:
    Thanks so much for the quick response. I will follow you direction and I most likely will mad a donation to you in the near future. You deserve it!!
    After I read your posted response, I will get back to you to let you know if it worked.
    Thank again,
    Leslie

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


    How to use an online game as a teaching aid or platform?

    On Friday, July 7, 2023 at 12:41:34 PM EDT, L S wrote:
    Question about teaching others how to play
    Hi,
    I learned so much from your website several years ago that I was able to teach 6 friends how to play. Since the pandemic, I have been playing everyday online at realmahjongg.com because we stopped playing in person. We will probably get back together to play in person but until then, playing online has been great!
    So now, one of the gals I taught is trying to teach her sister how to play but they are in 2 different states. (I taught all of my friends in person at my home.)
    Do you have any suggestions on how to play on the computer but “share” open hands at the same time in order to help someone learn how to play?
    It may sound like a strange question but I thought if anyone had an answer, it would be you.
    Thanks so much for all you do!
    Leslie S

    Hi, Leslie!
    It's not a strange question. You can use Zoom or Teams and Share your screen with the students - and the students can share their tiles with the group, too. But one drawback of this method is you'll probably have to deal with students who need to be taught how to use Zoom or Teams, how to Share, and other questions that inevitably arise when newbies try to use online conferencing software. "How come I can't hear anybody?" "Hey Susie, you have to turn your mic on!" "How come I can't see Deborah?" "How do I get back to the game?" "Now I can't see Zoom!" "What's a browser tab?" And so forth and so on. And that's if you get everybody to manage to get to your Zoom room in the first place! Good luck!
    I'll add this to FAQ 26.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    7/7/2023
    Donations appreciated


    Which variant, part 2

    On Friday, July 7, 2023 at 02:51:50 AM EDT, Neal B wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Thanks for your answer Tom.
    Much appreciated
    Neal

    On Friday, July 7, 2023 at 02:50:02 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Neal B
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    Donation Received
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of $5.00 USD from Neal B
    You can view the transaction details online.
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $5.00 USD
    Currency: U.S. Dollars
    Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Contributor: Neal B
    Message: Thanks for answering my question Tom. All the best, Neal
    PayPal

    You're welcome, Neal! Thanks for the donation!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 7, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Which variant does this booklet describe?

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Thursday, July 6, 2023 at 06:16:04 PM EDT, Neal B wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Hi Tom
    Thanks for offering to help with MJ questions. 
    First off... I have checked the FAQs and I don't *think* the answer to my question is there, but if it is and I've missed it. My apologies for doing so.
    My Mah-Jong set (144 tiles, including 8 flower/ season tiles) came with a small red booklet (23 pages) entitled (exactly)....
    Directions of Playing Mah-Jongg "Chinese Game of Four Winds"
    It is also online here...
    https://imgur.io/a/DFEIHTH
    It doesn't seem to match any version I've found so far on any of the mahjong websites. 
    If refers to selecting a BANKER who is not East Wind but is selected by East Wind (page 5) 
    It also refers to 3 of a kind as kongs and four of a kind as kangs!
    It makes no use of the word "Chow" at all. 
    Concealed 3 of a kind is called "Em-kong".
    Visible 3 of a kind is called "Ming-kong"
    These names seem completely unlike any of the usual names given by the other versions I have seen (HKOS, Chinese classical etc) which use "chows" and "pungs" and only use "kong" to describe FOUR of a kind which this booklet calls "Kangs"
    Do you recognise which variant of the game the book is describing?
    Thanks very much for any help you can give me. 
    All the best.
    Neal

    Hi, Neal!
    Valiant effort, but it's widely known (in English-speaking countries, anyway) that that free booklet is indecipherable. I've tried, too, but since I can't read "Chinglish*," and since I suspect that it was written by someone who did not know the game, and who simply translated someone else's series of Chinese words without an understanding of how English sentences are put together, I've been unable to get any farther than you have.
    I have acquired many sets that include that booklet. It comes in a variety of different covers - I'm most familiar with the pink cover edition. It's been around for years, decades. It's unattributed*, so is effectively public domain (no royalties have to be paid by set manufacturers). Those manufacturers are themselves anonymous, which makes it hard to try to do anything about this deplorable state of affairs. I'm sure I've written about this before on this site, somewhere. My recommendation is, don't try any more to decipher it. It's probably a futile exercise.
    * Politically incorrect, I'm sure. My bad.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated

    * P.S. 8/16/23: I came across a very old and weathered edition (same title, same contents) that says "Mee Sun Hong, HongKong" - but that's a company name, not an author's name. - Tom


    Three people rolled a 7! Now what??

    On Thursday, July 6, 2023 at 02:50:03 PM EDT, Anna Mae S wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Playing with a 5 th person as bettor we roll the dice to see who is the bettor for the first game of the day ( so they sit out first game). After establishing who is the bettor and which 4 are in the first game, we then roll to see who of the remaining 4, is East to start the first game.
    So to establish who is the bettor the first person rolled a 5 then the next 4 people each rolled a 7!
    So question is: does the person who rolled the 5 sit out and be the bettor, and the remaining 4 who each rolled a 7, and ( are in the first game) then roll to see who is East for the first game?
    The person who rolled the 5 argued that she shouldn’t be out and that the 4 people who rolled 7’s should roll again to see if someone is lower than a 5.
    Any precedence on this?
    Thank you
    Anna Mae
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Anna Mae!
    The official rulebook does say you can roll dice to determine the dealer (high roller takes the deal), but the rulebook does not specify how to choose which of five players shall be the first bettor. You can certainly roll the dice to determine that.
    It's completely up to the group to figure this out.
    If you want to roll dice just once (rather than roll once to determine dealer and again to determine bettor), high roller could be first dealer and low roller could be first bettor. (Just a suggestion.)
    What most people do when multiple players roll the same number is have them roll again until the matter is sorted out. You could also do paper-scissors-rock, draw straws, draw lots, flip coins...
    It's completely up to the group to figure this out.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 6, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Donation

    On Tuesday, July 4, 2023 at 06:23:27 AM EDT, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    Hello, Thomas Sloper
    Jul 4, 2023 03:23:17 PDT
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Customer details
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    Thank you again, Evelyn!
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 7, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Conflicting claims

    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    On Monday, July 3, 2023 at 04:52:35 PM EDT, Hedy G wrote:
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    It was my turn to pick a tile. I was on call for MJ. I just needed a red. The player preceding me threw a 6 bam. As I picked I noticed it was a red dragon. I called MJ before I racked and at the same time the person to her left said she wanted that tile just as I had called MJ. It was decided that she gets the tile that she called and I couldn’t declare MJ. I accepted the call reluctantly. As it turned out the player who was again in turn to pick, thru the red anyway and I called MJ. What I’m wondering is, should I have been allowed to declare MJ as a self pick. Who was correct, the player who called for the tile almost at the same time that I said MJ or should I have been allowed to keep the tile and call MJ.
    Thank you
    Hedy G
    Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Hedy! Let me lay this out chronologically:
    1. Player 1 threw 6B.
    2. You picked from the wall and observed that the picked tile was your mahj tile.
    3. Simultaneously, you said "mahj" and player 3 said "call."
    3. Or then again, you said in your last sentence that player 3's call was "almost at the same time," so I honestly don't know if the two verbalizations really were simultaneous.
    This conflicting situation is not covered by FAQ 19-H, FAQ 19-I, or FAQ 19-CL, but in my opinion, assuming that the two calls were spoken simultaneously, there should not have been any question as to which play should take precedence. The mahj call should have taken precedence, in my opinion.
    Bear with me here...
    FAQ 19-CL says, "if a call for a discard is spoken at the exact precise instant that the next-in-turn racks her picked tile from the wall (or if nobody can tell which came first), the caller gets the tile." The source of that ruling is a letter from the NMJL to Donna E on October 25, 2016 (there's a picture of the letter in FAQ 19).
    But that ruling doesn't take into account the possibility that the picker has mah-jongg. There is a general principle that mah-jongg claims outweigh other claims. This principle is behind exceptions to other rules. I wrote about that in my reply to Debbie Barnett on Monday, March 27, 2023, titled "Many opinions on this scenario, part 2" (below).
    Since Donna's letter only covers claims for the same thing, and doesn't take a mahj claim into account, I hold that the mahj claim should have taken precedence in your case.
    You said "mahj" out loud, so that anybody could hear it. That means that if you accede to another player, and that player exposes and discards a tile other than your mahj tile (I'm not certain from your description that this is what happened), the next player after the caller is going to pick your mahj tile, and should know that it is your mahj tile and therefore shouldn't discard it. In other words, one person at the table will know your secret, and most probably would never throw your tile. That's part of the reason why your verbal claim of mahj should have been honored when you made it.
    But, this is all just my opinion. You can only get an official ruling on this from the League, since this exact question has not been answered previously in writing, to the best of my knowledge.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 3, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Oops, wrong tile, part 6

    On Sunday, July 2, 2023 at 03:14:25 PM EDT, Susan D wrote:
    Re: Correcting Mistakes
    Tom, I will certainly send you copies of the letters. As far as adding to or taking away from an exposure before discarding, I was under the impression that was regarding changing a kong to a pung, a pung to a kong, etc; not actions such as swapping a 5 Bam for a 6 Bam. Susan

    Hi, Susan. Re your scenario #2, read the rule: it only says, "A player may add to or take away from the exposure." It doesn't say "may add jokers to or take away jokers from." I look forward to seeing those letters.
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


    Oops, wrong tile, part 5

    On Sunday, July 2, 2023 at 12:12:59 PM EDT, Susan D wrote:
    Correcting Mistakes
    Several players in my community call me with questions regarding rules, so I strive to be accurate. I don't hesitate to write the NMJL with questions when I am not sure about an answer. I recently wrote two letters to the NMJL regarding correcting mistakes and received two conflicting responses. In the first letter I did not include the words "before discarding", but I don't think including the words really changes the ruling, so I am thoroughly confused.
    Scenario #1: A player calls for a 5 Bam. The player exposes two 5 Bams from her hand, then picks up a 6 bam from the table and places it on her rack with the 5 Bams to make an exposure. Does the player have a dead hand or can she correct her mistake by returning the 6 Bam to the table and picking up the 5 Bam that was discarded?
    Scenario #2 a player calls for a 5 Bam. The player exposes a 6 Bam and a Joker from his hand, then picks up a 5 Bam from the table to make an exposure. Does the player have a dead hand or can he correct his mistake by returning the 6 Bam to his hand and taking a 5 Bam from his hand and making a valid exposure?
    In these two scenarios I assumed the person at the NMJL knew I meant 'BEFORE DISCARDING". I guess I shouldn't assume.
    In both scenarios, the answer was that the hands were dead, and the mistakes could not be corrected.
    Players wanted more clarification and asked that I write another letter and include the words "BEFORE DISCARDING".
    The NMJL"s answer was very confusing. It stated that the answers remained constant. Then, they proceeded to say just the opposite; that the mistakes could be corrected.
    I have ALWAYS thought that once a tile was taken from the table and placed on a player's rack, it could not be returned. I thought the same held true when exposing from your hand.
    Susan D

    Hi, Susan!
    Apparently, our previous discussion in April ("Oops, wrong tile") isn't yet over. There were four parts to our previous discussion, all on Thursday, April 13.
    Part 1, 12:38: I answered incorrectly about scenario #1. Oops!
    Part 2, 2:35: I corrected my answer about scenario #1. The player may not correct the error: putting the wrong tile from the discard floor atop the rack is not rescindable.
    Part 3, 4:00: You asked if there were never any exceptions. I said "never, EXCEPT if another person wanted the named discard for mah-jongg." (Possibly a disconnect with the actual question.)
    Part 4, 5:20: Debbie Barnett corrected the answer I gave in part 1 (confirming what I wrote in part 2).

    Scenario #1 is not correctable. The proof:

      2007 newsletter. Ruth Unger wrote: "PLAYER CANNOT DECIDE THAT SHE DID NOT WANT THE TILE SHE CALLED FOR EXPOSURE[,] PUT THE DISCARD BACK ON THE TABLE AND THE OTHER TILES INTO HER RACK...A CALL FOR A TILE IS JUST LIKE A PICK FROM THE WALL, ONCE TAKEN...IT CANNOT BE PUT BACK."

    That's my source for FAQ 19-AM.2:

      ...once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play (then you have crossed the line, and you may not backtrack - it's too late)."

    Scenario #2 IS a correctable act. The proof:

      MJME p. 15 says: "A player may add to or take away from the exposure during this turn, as long as player has not discarded." This was also stated in the 2009 newsletter. Ruth Unger wrote: "You may add to the exposure or take away from the exposure AS LONG AS YOU HAVE NOT DISCARDED AS YET. Once you discard, you are committed to that exposure."

    Those are my sources for FAQ 19-AF.

    I'm glad you sent your questions in writing to the League. But I'm confused by your email today. You said:

      In both scenarios, the answer was that the hands were dead, and the mistakes could not be corrected.

    Then you said:

      The NMJL"s answer was very confusing. It stated that the answers remained constant. Then, they proceeded to say just the opposite; that the mistakes could be corrected.

    Are you saying that in one letter, the answer was that both mistakes were not correctable, and then the second letter said the opposite? Did you cite the first response in your second letter? Can you send me pictures of all four letters (your sent questions, and the replies you got back)? Can you send copies of all four letters back to the League and ask for a third response?
    Play safe out there. And may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Rochester, New York, USA
    July 2, 2023
    Donations appreciated


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