Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!


The Official Publication of the National Mah Jongg League was delivered the other day.  A new card will soon be on its way!
Don’t forget to order yours.  You can order on line at www.nationalmahjonggleague.org starting January 2nd.

Our best wishes for your health and happiness in the year ahead!


~ Susan and Barbara 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is it a League or an Association?

The National Mah Jongg League  has been in existence for more than 70 years and now has more than 350,000 members.

They:
  • set the official rules for the American version of the game 
  • publish the card each year that contains the standard hands for each year
  • settle disputes about the rules of the game
  • sell mah jongg merchandise 
  • replace missing tiles to match your set


The new card will arrive about April 1, 2012 this coming year.  This is an event that the Drs. anxiously await each year!  A new card!  New hands!  How exciting!


But did you know that there is also and American Mah Jongg Association.

They:
  • sponsor tournaments and events
  • sell mah jongg related items
  • maintain a mailing list regarding their events

This is the group that sponsored the first  North American Tournament of Mah-Jongg.  

The winners are posted on the website here.  Prize money ranged from $75 (for 12th)  to $2500 (for 1st)
Congrats to all of the winners!  Especially to Kate Forest.  I spoke with Kate during the games and found it was her FIRST tournament. Nice job, Kate!




Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Tiles that Bind

Need a gift for a die hard Mah Jongg Player?  Don't know what to get for your Mah Jongg playing mother-in-law?  Or maybe you need this for yourself.

This documentary has been around for awhile. I think I first saw it a few years ago on public television.  I loved it. You can see a brief preview at the link below.

The Tiles that Bind.

A wonderfully funny look at Mah Jongg players and their love for the game. 

What a great gift for a family member who is taken with the game!

If you are interested in having a copy, you can get one here!
for $20.  Or on Amazon.com for $25.




Thursday, December 1, 2011

Follow Up



So, back from the Tournament.  Regina Rosen won the Inaugural Championship Tournament and a prize of $2500.  
Woo hoo,   Regina!  Way to go!


As for me. Linda and I kept vying for last place....each time moving up or down one place.
At the end of the day, we were in the last two places. 

Believe it or not, I could have stayed another day and played 3 more rounds!



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Report from the Tournament

Susan here, in Atlantic City at the American Mah Jongg Association's:  Inaugural Champion Tournament - North American Tournament of Mah-Jongg

I'm EAST at table 16 and we began yesterday afternoon with 4 rounds (16 games)

You know those hands you get dealt that start with 3 suits, no pairs, no jokers, no direction?  That was the rule for me and I think I may have set a new record:  NO mah jongg's in 16 games.  

I did get a few points for wall games....may 20. (10 per wall game) and I gave mah jongg once.  10 point penalty.

So, I'm off again this morning with renewed enthusiasm.  I played with some lovely women yesterday and had a great time meeting new people.   

 More later after another round of play! 

 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Mah Jongg Players

We are so thankful for our Mah Jongg friends.

Some of our best times are getting together for an evening or afternoon of Mah Jongg and chatting about what's new in our lives.  Sharing our joys and concerns.

We are forever linked to our Mah Jongg teachers and those we have played with through the years.
We pause to remember those who are no longer with us.

We take up the charge to carry on the Mah Jongg tradition.

So if you're lucky enough to have family members who play....get to it after the turkey.

Let the men clean up and get the set out and play the afternoon away.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Barbara and Susan

Sunday, November 20, 2011

For "bettor" or worse

As bettors make their rounds in our game there is often some chit chat:

"Oh, this is so hard" (everyone has a good hand or no one has a good hand)
"The walls must be rich" (no one has jokers)
"Let me look one more time"  (do players have each other's tile)


Then this happened at our game last Friday night.

As the bettor viewed each hand she came to mine and said "I see a problem there"
 Here's what I had at the end of the passing:

J F 6  777 888 99 9 7
Of course I knew she meant my missing 5 DOTS.

But when she made a similar remark to another player, I had the strong feeling that someone else had my 5 DOTs and was probably using them.

As the game proceeded, I began to plan for an alternate hand.
I picked another 7 DOT, then another Flower.
I'm still good for the consecutive hand (55 666 7777 888 99)....but also open for :

FFFF 7777 8888 DD

Then I pick a soap, and the 4th  8 DOT.   I use my joker to call for the Kong of flowers and wait for someone to throw a soap!

Done!  I make the Mah Jongg.

So bet in silence or you might change the outcome of the game.  Resist ALL temptation to comment.

More about betting another post.
For Bettor or Worse Part Two (what do players say/do while bettor is betting?)


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Try not to expose yourself!

To expose or not to expose.  That's a tough question.  Lots of discussion about this ensues when a game is over in our group.

"Why did you expose a kong of flowers with 2 jokers?  You know those jokers are up for grabs!"

"Once you exposed those 3 dragons....I knew exactly which hand you were doing."

4 Flowers and a Kong of  7DOTS....probably a Sevens Hand....or maybe 2 consecutive numbers with matching dragons.

Here are a few tips for exposures.  These are strategies....not rules.  Adapt as necessary.

DO:
  • Expose with jokers if you're close to Mah Jongg
  • Make a second exposure that can be more than one hand.
  • make an obvious exposure toward the end of the game (even if you can't win) to keep other players from throwing a tile they think you need  and thereby giving up their own hand. (be careful about including 'hot' jokers in that exposure....it could give another player Mah Jongg)

DON'T:
  •  Expose a pung with a joker early in the game or when the first of that tile goes out.You still have one more chance to get that tile and you're offering up that joker to someone else
  •  Expose a kong of flowers with jokers (unless you're really close to Mah Jongg.)
  • Expose a kong with 2 jokers when two more of those tiles are still out.  Putting jokers within the reach of other players can give them a mah jongg!
  • Expose too early if you're not sure which hand you want to play.  Sometimes an exposure fits with 2 or 3 of the hands you're playing.  Then go for it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Back on Land

It was a wonderful cruise, but no Mah Jongg.

No set in the game room and didn't find anyone playing.  (I've been know to hang around a game on a ship, in hopes that they'll ask me to sit it)

I think if I had taken my set and put it out in the game room, I could have found some players.  I agree with Donna.  They should have a bulletin board somewhere (maybe the ship library) where you could post that you were looking for players!

There were almost 2400 passengers on the ship.  There must have been some Mah Jongg players!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Out of the Office

When one of the doctors goes out of town, what does she pack?

Her mah jongg card, of course!

I'll be on a cruise to the Bahamas for the next week.  I've sometimes found a Mah Jongg set in the game room on a cruise ship, but no cards.  I always want to be prepared for a pick up game.

See you in a week.  Rested and relaxed.

~ Susan

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Let's do the Charleston!

We're at the halfway mark with our fall class in beginning Mah Jongg.  Last week our students started to play a game.  And in the beginning it's always a challenge to do the Charleston!

Let's review.  The order of passing is written on the back of your card: 
1ST Charleston:
Right
Across
Left
 2ND Charleston (should you choose to continue):
Left
Across
Right
Then:  Courtesy Pass.

Earlier we posted some tips for passing which you can review here.

Before you pass, arrange your tiles in suits on your rack.  This helps you to see the strength in your hand...if there is one!

Last night I opened with this!

 No pairs, a real mix of tiles. Sometimes I rearrange to see the number families more clearly.  Like this:  Winds, even numbers, odd numbers.

Still not much to work with.  I decide to pass the last three tiles as my FIRST RIGHT.  5BAM, 7CRAK, and 9BAM.  Maybe I'll get winds...or more even numbers from the player on my left.


BUT....instead I get 5BAM, 7BAM and 9DOT.

I decide to be bold.  I keep the odd numbers and begin passing away the winds and evens....in appropriate mixtures.  A 2CRAK, SOUTH, and 6BAM together. You can only change course like this early in the passing.  I was hoping to get my first 5BAM back again.  What you pass on the FIRST RIGHT won't make it back to you again until the LAST RIGHT.  And maybe never, if another player decides to keep it.

KEEP THE RED DRAGON.  There are dragons needed in some of the 13579 hands.

As the passing proceeds I pick up another RED, 7DOT, and 9DOT.

Do you see the hand that's coming in?

55 777 DDDD 777 99
And it did, too. 


Monday, October 3, 2011

So here are the answers to the challenge from the last post.  Sorry this wasn't posted right away.


Four of the possibilities (and the strongest ones) are in the Consecutive Run section of the card:
There are lots of choices here.  This is where you would most likely end up.


55 666 7777 888 99
in all BAMS…of course.


11 22 111 222 DDDD
as:  88 99 888 9999 DDDD (3 suits…opposite dragon)
this is tricky....you have the pairs of 88 BAMS and 99 BAMS....so you will need more 8's and 9's in dots if you use the red dragons....


111 222 3333 4444
as:  666 777 8888 9999 
8's and 9's in BAMS....6's and 7's in either CRAKS or DOTS


FFFF 1111 2222 DD
as:  FFFF 8888 9999 DD
You'll need Flowers and a PAIR of Green Dragons.


LIKE NUMBERS 
You can only use one number...either the eights OR nines..but you have an additional one of each number.
 11 DD  111 DDD 1111
of course you would do this hand with either 8's or 9's, depending upon what comes in
(That's why you keep the red dragon)


QUINTS
A long shot hand…but what if you suddenly pick a ton of jokers?  It could happen.
11111 2222 33333
This would be done with:
77777 8888 99999  (3 suits) depending upon whether more 9 BAMS or 8BAMS come in.


SINGLES AND PAIRS
another longshot…if you DON'T get any more jokers:


998 99887 998877 (3 suits)



Monday, September 26, 2011

Welcome New Mah Jongg Players!

New Mah Jongg enthusiasts are on the horizon.  Our beginning class started last week and we are so excited for them!

To get them started, let's talk about what to do when you first open your hand of 13 tiles!

Here's a sample hand chosen at random.
First sort the tiles into suits and numerical order.


Jokers on the left.  You probably won't be discarding them.  And you aren't ALLOWED to pass them.  Why would you want to??

Let's look for some tiles that go together.  Same suit?  Same number?  Lots of winds or dragons?


The strength of this hand are the two pairs:  8 BAMS and 9 BAMS...and they're consecutive, too!
It would also be best to keep the 8 CRAK,  9 DOT and Red Dragon.  First passing tiles will be the 5 tiles on the right of the rack...unless of course other tiles come to you that indicate another hand.  Not a simple game, is it!?!

See if you can find hands on the card that would use those tiles.
There are at least 6...maybe more.
A HINT:   All 6 are located in just 4 sections of the card. 

See if you can find them...answer tomorrow.  Knowing those hands will help you know what to keep...and what to pass when the Charleston starts.  And what to keep and throw when the game starts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

the concealed hand

Why do players avoid the concealed hand?  I know...it's hard when you can't call...but the advantage is that you CAN'T expose...so others have much less idea what you're playing.  And you don't have to think about calling during play.  BUT...you do have to keep track of how many of your tiles are going out!

Now,  I didn't say they DON'T know what you're playing....they could have some idea.  If winds are going around in the passing...and they don't get thrown when play begins, someone is keeping them.
Maybe a concealed winds hand. 

OK...so you usually need a couple of jokers for a concealed hand...to make up for those discards that you can't call.  Unless you're doing a singles and pairs hand, which is always concealed.

Just be careful not to expose 3 winds.....a sure giveaway that you've exposed a pung in a concealed hand!  You're DEAD!

PS:  Tonight the doctors introduce a new class of beginners to the game of Mah Jongg!  What fun!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tournament Follow up

Didn't win or place, but I showed up and had fun.

And....just to follow up on my last post about playing outrageous hands:

In the very last round, I opened with:

2 Crak, Soap, 1Crak, 1Crak, 2 Bam, Soap, 1Bam, 1Bam, 1Dot....and a few other tiles.

What could I do!  I had to play it.

I picked another 1Dot, a 2Dot, and two flowers.  Now I'm set to call.  I just need the last Soap!

No Soaps are out.  As I pick and throw, I have this sudden realization.  Someone has a pair of Soaps and they're using them!  Bummer!

I was right.  The player to my left was playing the like numbers hand with 3 soaps and she had 2.
But the thrill of coming SO CLOSE to that hand.....what fun!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Tournament

I've been in Atlantic City for 3 days at the Four Seasons Mah Jongg Tournament.  Joanne Bourne runs an excellent tournament.  It's well organized and the rules are clearly defined.

12 rounds (48 games) and a chance to come out on top for the prize of $1000.

Here's how it starts:

I sit down in the first round and make the first Mah Jongg.  Just a 25 point hand, but I picked it myself, (an extra 10 points.)  Hey.... I'm off to a good start.  Then I come within 1 tile of a quints hand but don't make it, there's a wall game (we all get 10 points) and again...almost a quint hand for me,  but someone else makes a hand first. The round is over and I've got 45 points.

Round two.  Can't get a joker to save my life.
So, I finally make a pairs hand:  FF NN EW SS 11 22 33
I get 10 points extra because it's jokerless....so now I have 60 to add to my 45: 105

Round three:   No mah jonggs for me.  A wall game.  +10  And I throw Mah Jongg to an exposed hand.  -10.  I end the round with 0 and 105 for the evening.

At this point I'm not really in the running any longer.  The top score for the first night is somewhere above 300. 

But win or lose,  I'm here to play fast, fun Mah Jongg and that's what I do.  I love this game and this is where I can get lots of it!  Today is the last day and there are 3 more rounds.  I'll be bold.  Play some outrageous hands if I can.  Maybe I'll try FF 2011 2011 2011!
At the last tournament I made: FFFF 3333 5555 15 for the very first time!  I love making a hand I've never done before!

And I'll continue to have fun!  What could be better than four days in Atlantic city.  Even though the tournament is over today at 1PM,  I'm staying until tomorrow.  There are casinos here, too, you know!

It's a great experience.  I meet folks from all over.  We chat over lunch.  They've come from 7 different states, as far away as California, and range in age from 44 to 92.  There is even 1 man.  Someday, more men will realize what a great game this is!

~S.



Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to School

It's September already and kids are going back to school.
So are the Mah Jongg Doctors!

We begin our classes through Lakeland Continuing Education on Sept. 20.
We're teaching 2 classes this semester:

Beginning Mah Jongg - 1  (for those just starting out)
and
Beginning Mah Jongg - 2 (for those with some knowledge of the game, or who have completed Mah Jongg 1)

You can read all about it  here.  Click on Fun and Games


And you can get the registration form here!




Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Good Mah Jongg Tournament


I just love a good Mah Jongg tournament!
But, what makes it good? 
Winning???
Well, of course that would be great.
But, actually, for me it’s the quality of the play and the players themselves.

What a wonderful treat to be able to zip through those games in rapid succession.
It’s sort of like speed dating for mah jongg addicts…four people around a table for four games for 50 minutes, putting their best Mah Jongg skills to work.
“Hi”
“Hello”
Break the wall, pick your tiles, set them up, pass, pass, pass, pick and throw!
Maybe a Mah Jongg? Maybe a wall game?
Total your score, bring up the score sheet.
East stays, North moves up one, South moves down one, and West moves up two.
“Hi”
“Hello”
Break the wall, pick your tiles, set them up, pass, pass, pass, pick and throw!

I love the defensive players and the risk takers and I love those who know that even a “friendly” game has to reinforce rules. I love the precision of it all, the sounds of the clicking tiles, the occasional roar of victory, the support and camaraderie.  You can keep the whiners, the secret tellers, the players whose love for the game ebbs and flows with success or defeat, and the ones who go on and on about the hands they almost made.
But really, they are the minority, and no tournament would be complete without them.

So, win or lose, Mah Jongg tournaments are a win-win for me!

~ B.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Doctors are Out!

Barbara and Susan are competing in a tournament in Piscataway, NJ.

So far we've played 28 games and look forward to playing 40 more before we're back on call Monday morning.

In case of a mah jongg emergency, email us at mahjonggdrs@gmail.com

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Self-Portrait in my new attire

 Last night I played with my "Wednesday Night Group."  I've been teaching them MJ for a few months.  We don't play every week, so learning the 1 BAM has been difficult for some.  Not mentioning any names...but I did threaten to have it tattooed on the inside of her wrist. "no, really, does that (1 BAM) match this tile?? (2 BAM)

Carol, an expert and creative seamstress and craft person brought me a lovely gift.  A must have for anyone who plans to entertain, Mah Jongg style....as I was doing last night.
Susan in her Mah Jongg Apron!
Carol got the fabric here.  They also have it with a  black background...a more canvas type fabric...perfect for your Mah Jongg purse...of course, Carol has already made one of those.

The Doctors will be out of town this weekend....at a 3 day Tournament in Piscataway, NJ.
May the tiles be with us!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Back to our regularly scheduled Mah Jongg!

A week of Mah Jongg at the lake was wonderful!  Returned home on Sunday night, relaxed, rested and ready to think about another marathon!

August 1st began the  registration for the fall Manhattan Mah Jongg Tournament...so don't delay.  It fills up fast!  The Doctors will definitely be there!

But now back to our regular game.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

so...what do the Mah Jongg doctors do on vacation....

besides play mah jongg?

We find little out of the way places for great breakfast:
 Emily's at Mattie Street.
We loved the great omelets and had a long chat with Emily (above) and her daughter Lauren.  They're doing so well in their tiny place that they're moving soon to larger quarters!

We're leaving the lake house tomorrow.  Sad to go.  Great Mah Jongg and a fun vacation!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tournaments

It's summer and the doctors have a bit more free time to play Mah Jongg.
Here are a few games we have lined up for the balance of 2011.

August 12 - 14:  Piscataway, NJ  Four Seasons MJ Tournaments
A whole weekend of Mah Jongg!  Starts Friday night with 3 rounds.  Sat. morning after breakfast....3 more rounds.  Lunch!  then 3 rounds in the afternoon.  Free Sat. night to make your own dinner and evening plans.  Then the last 3 rounds on Sunday morning.

September  6 - 8:  Atlantic City, NJ  Four Seasons MJ Tournaments  I'll be there, but not Barbara, who has to work.  Mah Jongg and casinos!  What could be better!  12 rounds from Tuesday night to Thursday morning, with minis on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

October 30:  NYC  Manhattan Mah Jongg Tournament  A one day tournament...lots of fun and a great brunch at One if By Land, Two if By Sea

If you know of any others in the tri-state area, let us know.  We're always happy to add another to our list!

So, are you ready for a tournament?  Can you play a ROUND (4 games) in 50-55 minutes?
Are you familiar with the current card, so you can play quickly and move from one hand to another as you need to?  Maybe it's time to try a one day tournament....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hot or Not?

Lets face it, playing defensively is just as important as making a Mah Jongg.  If you give a player the tile they need for the game, it's over for you.

So lets talk about "hot" tiles.

Factors that make a tile hot:

  • How many are out? (discarded)  None??  Then it could be hot.
  • How far into the game are we?  If there are no 1BAMS on the table and you want to discard one, and you're still picking from the 1st wall, it's probably NOT hot.  If you're on the LAST wall.....it's most likely HOT.
  • What exposures do you see around the table?  If a player has a pung of 2BAMS and a kong of 3BAMS, then both the 1BAM and the 5BAM are a hot tiles.  A 4BAM could also be hot.
  • A note about this year's card:  A soap might always be hot...even if there's a pung of soaps exposed. Yesterday, I was playing:         FF NNN EW SSS 2011.  A player called and exposed three white dragons.  Was I done for?  NO.  There was no white dragon on the table...and I just needed one more flower so I could call for this concealed hand.  When I picked it I was set.  Now for someone to just throw that last soap.   I figured that if they picked it...they would throw it.  Especially with three already exposed.  And yes, someone did.
  •  

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Playing Tables

    Are we particular, we mah jongg players?  Maybe.  You could say that.

    If you're playing all afternoon or evening, the table is important.  It's not just a matter of comfort, but of being able to play and see ALL of the tiles.  The discards and the exposures of your opponents.

    Here are some guidelines:

    The table should be square.  My table is 36" square.  But a 34" bridge table will work just fine.  It should be small enough so that you can see everything clearly that ON THE TABLE...but large enough to comfortably hold the game, the racks and the player's MJ cards.  If there's a bit of room for small snacks...all the better.

     It should have a covering that is conducive to mixing the tiles and sliding out walls and racks for play.  If you have a wood table like the one above, you would also want a covering that will protect the table.
    I use a table cover that is flannel backed and plastic-like on top.  I've also been in tournaments where they use a regular linen tablecloth.  The tiles mix just fine on that.

     And then you'll need room for MJ cards for each player and finally a few small snacks.  Perfect!
    Now were' ready to play!

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Lets talk about Mah Jongg and Food!

    I'm getting ready for an afternoon of play here at my house.  As hostess...for a game that starts at 1PM and goes until about 5PM...I usually make one dessert, coffee, tea, some cold drinks for those who don't drink coffee..and have some snacks on the playing table.

    Because we'll be 5 today, there'll be no 'eating together'....the dessert is out, the coffee made, drinks on the counter with ice for those who want.  When you're the bettor, it's also your turn to snack.  This way we get a full 4 hours of Mah Jongg!  So important for those of us who have the addiction.

    So here's the dessert for today....looks fussy..but it's really not.  As long as you have a pastry bag....
    Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cream Cupcakes

    That's chocolate ganache piped into holes you cut out of the center. There's Guinness in the chocolate cupcake, and Bailey's in the ganache and the frosting.

    It's really a snap with the pastry bag...and I pipe the frosting on, too. Much easier than spreading. These are very rich...but yummy for chocolate lovers!


    I also play in an evening game where we have dinner first and sometimes play into the wee hours...now that's another story!


    Monday, June 20, 2011

    So here's the answer:

    One of your opponents exposes:  888


    These are the only 4 hands he could be playing:


    The obvious:  55 666 7777 888 99
    or in the same section (consecutive run)
    11 22 111 222 DDDD  (using 7's and 8's ...or 8's and 9's)


    Or like numbers:  11 DD 111 DDD 1111 (using 8's)


    Or...the hardest to find under Winds - Dragons:


    EEEE WWWW  222 222   (with 8's of course) a hard hand because you need at least 2 jokers!

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Learning to read your opponents exposures

    One of your opponents calls for a tile and exposes a pung of dragons.
    What hand is she playing?  This is the easiest exposure to read on the 2011 card.


    There is only one hand on this year's card that contains a pung of dragons. 
    11 DD  111 DDD 1111
    Now you just have to determine which number the player is using.
    Watch what numbers she throws.  Notice which numbers are going out.


    You might be able to figure out which number before she calls for another tile to make a second exposure.


    Of course other exposures are not quite so easy.  Very often a first exposure does little more than to help you narrow it down to a section of the card.
    Its the second exposure that really helps you.  When that is made you need to focus on the section of the card that has those combination.


    Some exposures are delightfully enigmatic.  Even after the second exposure it could be two or more different hands.  For example:


    222 and 444
    This could be a 2468 hand (  222 444 6666 8888)
    ....or a consecutive numbers hand (11 222 3333 444 55)

    333  and   5555   
    Could be a consecutive numbers hand 
    (333 444 5555 6666   or  222 333 4444 5555)
    ....or the second hand under 13579  (111 333 3333 5555)
    ...and there is one more hand it could be...
    11 333 5555 777 99

    So here's a challenge for you:
    your opponent exposes a pung of 8s:  888
    There are just 4 hands that this exposure could be.
    Can you find them?  Post your answers in the comment section below. 
     



    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    On the Road with the Doctors

    When the Mah Jongg Doctors leave their practice for a week, what do they do?

    We once organized a Mah Jongg cruise.  Just a 5 day cruise from NYC along the eastern Atlantic coast to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada and back.  Not an 'official' Mah Jongg cruise, but just 5 women who wanted to relax, be waited on, and play Mah Jongg all day....
    It was wonderful.  Our biggest challenge was finding the right size table for play.  This cruise line (Carnival) didn't have the game rooms that some ships have.  We could only find 'square' tables in the very tiny library...and there were only 3 of them.  So if they were occupied, we had to go to the cafeteria and make do with a slightly oblong table.  More about the importance of table size in another post.

    This summer we're traveling to the Finger Lakes in central NY.  We've rented a house on Owasco Lake for a week.  Again there are 5 of us.  We've already determined that the dining table at the house is too long...but there is a bridge table available.  We'll swim, sun, and play Mah Jongg.  This is also a great area for antiquing. And what do we look for?  Vintage Mah Jongg sets, of course!

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    Are you a SERIOUS player?

    Written by Staff   
    Thursday, 26 May 2011 06:13
    BEIJING - A project to relocate 17 ancestral tombs in Fangshan district went off without a hitch on Monday, Beijing Youth Daily reported. Family members originally rejected the compensation offer of 2,500 yuan (USD385, €270) for each tomb and free access to public graveyards, instead demanding to exchange the tombs for residential land.
    The district court did not uphold their claim and ordered the relocation to go ahead. No family members were at the scene on Monday. In the relocation of tombs, special attention was paid to local customs. Even a mahjong set dug out from one tomb was moved with the deceased.
    (China Daily)

    Have you left your family instructions that you want to be buried with your favorite Mah Jongg set!

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    A Rule or a Strategy?

    Just to be clear.  A rule is a RULE!  Not to be broken.  We follow the rules of the National Mah Jongg League.

    A STRATEGY is a plan of action that will help you reach your goal. Making a Mah Jongg!

    Tom Sloper, the mah jongg guru of Sloperama, made a good point in an email to me yesterday regarding this and I just wanted to be clear with all of you about the difference.  We'll be talking about both on this blog. 

    Rules:  MUST be followed.  For example, the RULE all newbies seem to find difficult:  You MAY NOT use a joker in a pair!

    Strategies:  Help you improve your game. It is not wise to expose Flowers with jokers early in the game, UNLESS you are SET for Mah Jongg.  It's like giving those jokers away to your opponents.

    More on EXPOSURE strategies in another post.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    The Charleston, or some guidelines for passing

    Whoa, that was fast!
    A comment sometimes heard when you open your hand and immediately pick three tiles and put them out for the person on your right.

    Sometimes you see the strength in a hand even as you're putting your tiles up on your rack!

    5BAM, W, and 7DOT obviously go...leaving a 2, 4 6,8 hand. That makes for some fast passing.

    And then there are the times you open with nothing that goes with anything...no pairs, no tiles in the same 'family'....and passing is more difficult. Then I look at high numbers or low numbers. Or just pass something, anything, to see what I pick up first. Maybe that will give me direction!
    Here I guess I would start be passing the W, 5BAM, and 7DOT....or maybe the 1DOT. Your choice.

    Some general guidelines for passing:

    • Try not to pass flowers. Even if you don't need them. You might need them later as a different hand evolves....or discard them early in the game if you really don't want them. Too many hands need flowers and getting one in a pass can make a player very happy. She might even rethink the hand she's looking at.
    • Try not to pass pairs. If you have a pair you don't need, split them and pass them separately.
    • A pass that consists of 3 tiles from the same section on the card. For example: a 2BAM, 4BAM and 8BAM or a 1CRAK, 4CRAK, 5CRAK.
    • Don't pass three winds together. That can also make the receiver rethink her hand. I also try not to pass a S and N together or a E and W together. There are hands on the 2011 card that use only S and N or E and W.
    All of the above are useful strategies to be aware of.  Of course you can't follow them all of the time!

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Online Play

    The doctors have been busy. Just finished our spring beginners Mah Jongg class last night. There are 8 new Mah Jongg players out there heading for addiction to the game.

    We'll be back in the fall with another "Beginners" class and a "Beginners 2" class. We'll keep you posted if you happen to live in northern Westchester County and are looking to learn or improve your game.

    But...if you can't get a game together you can always play online for free. With folks from around the world. They also have a Mah Jongg 'school' where you can practice. This is a pretty hilarious commercial for their site: Mah Jong Time



    When he mentions the 6 kinds of Mah Jongg, he leaves out American Mah Jongg....but believe me. It's there. I play on the site as: mahjonggdr

    See you there!

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Is Mah Jongg just for Women?

    I found this today. Not just a man....but young!



    I can't wait for that next rush of adrenaline!

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Solitare Mah Jongg

    So, I'm feeling a bit Mah Jongg deprived. A new card and not enough games for me.
    A friend in one of my games asked if you could play solitare MJ. I thought, why not??
    If you are just learning the game or need to be more familiar with the 2011 card, it could be a help to you. Of course it lacks a lot of the fun of a 'real' game, but here's what I did.
    Get out your favorite rack (you only need one) and mix the tiles face down.

    Pick 13 tiles at random and arrange them on your rack.

    If I were passing in a real game, this would be my first pass. Instead they'll be on my right for discarding.
    I've added a 1BAM, so my strategy of saving odd numbers seems to be working.
    Now I've added another 7BAM, and have a pair of 1DOTS and a pair of 5DOTS. If I get and 2, 3 or 4 DOTS I'll keep them for the consecutive run, because the hard part of that hand: the pairs are in my hand. (11 222 3333 444 55 the first hand under 'consecutive run')

    Now I've added an additional joker and have 2 green dragons to go with the 1BAMS.
    So, you might look at the consecutive hand: FFFF 1111 2222 DD I've got the pair of dragons, but NO Flowers and no 2 bams.
    What about the LIKE NUMBERS hand? Maybe...but no SOAPS for the pair of 1DOTS...and no 1CRAKS. I'm starting to like the 111 3 555 111 3 555 hand at the bottom of the 13579 section. It's concealed...but I've got some jokers. Remember: the 3s have to be natural (no joker there!) and it must be done in2 different suits.


    Yikes! Another Green dragon. But I'm sticking to my 111 3 555 hand.
    Could also switch to a 111 333 3333 5555 hand if those tiles come in.
    So far I've gotten no 2, 3 or 4 dots for the consecutive run, so that doesn't look promising.

    As I discard all of those dragons, I get more jokers and an additional 1DOT and 5DOT....so here I am. Set for MahJongg....all I need is a 3DOT. Even though it's a concealed hand, I can call for that last tile for Mah Jongg.
    And here it is:

    So, there you have it. Solitaire Mah Jongg. Of course there's no kibitzing, no whining over hands that didn't come in, or a great deal of satisfaction in winning, but you've had some practice with the hands on the card and learned how to move from one hand to another as the tiles dictate!

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Another Game

    This is how I open. My first 13 tiles:

    F 1BAM, 5BAM, 4Dot, 4Dot, 7Dot, 7Dot, 8Dot, Soap, 8Crak, East, East, & North.
    The pair of 4Dots and the pair of 7Dots along with 1 Flower could help me make this hand:
    FFFF 3333 + 44 = 7777 (all in one suit) Can you find that on the 2011 card under
    "SEVENS HANDS?"


    As play progresses, I pick a 3Dot to add to that hand. But I also have a nice selection of 3s, 5s, 7s, and 9s....for this hand: 11 333 5555 777 99


    Now I've added a 9Dot (so I have the pair) and the 5Craks. I would use the Dots for the 777 99 the craks for the 5555 and the bams for the 11 333 Unfortunately, I don't have any 1Bams...and that's a pair!


    Now I've added an additional 7Dot. The 'sevens' hand is looking better. I discard the 3Bams.


    With the addition of the 2nd flower, I'm committed to the SEVENS hand. I'll start discarding the other 5Craks and 9Dots.


    I pick one more joker and now I'm set to call for everything. 7Dot, 3Dot, or the kong of Flowers.


    I pick a flower. Yeah! I don't have to put up a joker with flowers if I need to call and expose.


    Now I'm set for MJ. Either a 3Dot, 7Dot or Flower will make it for me.
    And, there it is.



    A Mah Jongg!


    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Let's play

    Here's the anatomy of a game.

    My first 13 tiles:I've arranged them in suits. I usually don't open with this many jokers. I should look at a quints hand, but for this game, I won't. Craks, dots, then bams in order on my rack.
    Don't forget that 'bird' tile is a 1 BAM.

    My first discards (or pass in a 4 handed game) would be the 8 crak, 8 bam, and 2 dot.
    I'm keeping all odd numbers...except the 8 dot. I like that because it's consecutive with the 9 dot.
    After a few more picks, I now have a second 8 dot and 2 soaps. (white dragons)
    I'm liking the consecutive hand: FFFF 1111 2222 DD even though I don't have any flowers. BUT, I do have the pair of matching dragons. A good start!
    I have finally picked a flower and I do have a lot of jokers...so I'm ready to discard the 1Bam, 3Bam, 3Crak, and 5Crak. Let's see what happens.
    Another flower. Good. I would call for the 8 dot now with a joker. I could have called earlier, but wasn't sure if I wanted to commit to this hand. Now I'm ready. Bring on the 8Dot.

    I've picked another 8Dot, so I don't have to use a joker. If the last one comes out, I'll call for it.
    I will also call for the 9DOT (with 2 jokers) and the Flowers (with 1 joker)
    I usually would not call a flower and expose the kong with a joker. It would be too easy for someone to take my joker. BUT, because I am only 2 tiles from MJ and the flower exposure would set me, I would call the flower with a joker.
    And there it is...another joker! Unbelievable.
    Now I'm SET for Mah Jongg. I need to be ready to call either a flower, an 8Dot or a 9Dot. Any of those will give me the game.
    And...a 9DOT does it.

    PS. We've made it easier to comment on our blog. You don't have to have a special account.....so lets hear what you think!

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Honeymoon Mah Jongg

    I mentioned honeymoon mah jongg in an earlier post.
    This is a great time to try it.
    Now with the 2011 card, you need practice making the new hands.

    Start with all tiles face down. 2 racks. No walls.
    Each person picks 13 tiles at random from the table.
    Then you just pick and throw until someone makes Mah Jongg.

    When you're craving a game and you can't get a group together, it's the next best thing!

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    The doctors are in!

    I know we've been out of touch for awhile, but we're back.

    Just found this about the resurgence of Mah Jongg.




    Come on youngsters.....you can play Mah Jongg, too!

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    At last....a new card!


    It's here! And it's a great reason to get back to posting on the Mah Jongg Doctors Blog.

    The 2011 card came in the mail on Monday and Barbara called me immediately and we met for dinner at the local Chinese restaurant (where else) to look over the new card together.

    We love some of the new hands and can't wait to play with it.

    Actually, we met early at the class we teach (Mah Jongg for Beginners Part 2) to play a little "honeymoon mah jongg" It gave us a chance to make some of the new hands. We'll talk about the 2 player Mah Jongg later. A great way to practice the game.

    Sorry for the long hiatus!