Friday, September 14, 2012

School's Open!

School is in session and the doctors are getting ready to begin a new Mah Jongg class.
This semester we're offering the Beginning Mah Jongg class on Wednesday nights beginning on October 10th.  The class will be 2 hours long and continue for 6 weeks.

Registration is open through Lakeland Continuing Education. At the link go to Arts, Crafts and Games.

You can get the registration form at the link above, or watch for the flyer in your mail if you are a Lakeland district resident.
(Please note that in the flyer, the dates are correct, but the day of the week is not. This has been corrected in the online version but not in the print copy.)

We're excited about starting another round of classes and introducing new folks to the wonderful game of Mah Jongg!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Consider this

You are playing the following hand at a tournament:

11 222 11 222 3333

You have exposed 888 and 9999

You have these tiles in your hand:

77 88 and 77
you just need an 8 dot for Mah Jongg.

It comes down to the last tile of the game.
You pick a SOAP.  You don't want to discard it because it is a hot tile.
You can't win because there are no more tiles.
You don't want to throw an 8 dot, because there are none out and it could be hot.
There are two 7 craks out and two 7 dots out, but you have your pairs.

You throw a 7 dot and another player calls you dead, because there are already 2 of each  on the table.

Are you dead?

If you are,  it means you can't collect the 10 points for a wall game that all of the other players will get.

By throwing your seven dot, you are technically dead, because there are no more.....BUT....its the last tile of the game.

What do you think??


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Winding down after a tournament

Summer is winding down and the doctors have just returned from one of our favorite tournaments in Piscataway, New Jersey.  It is run by Joanne Bourne of Four Seasons Mah Jongg Tournaments
and is a very well organized event.  We love a whole weekend of Mah Jongg!

A tournament is always a learning experience for the Doctors.

Here are some of our thoughts as this one ended.
Some Do's and Don'ts of a Tournament.


Make sure your set is clean if you're EAST.  No one likes to play with schmutzy tiles.

Be friendly, say hello and acknowledge all of the players at your table.

Play your best, most defensive mah jongg through to the very last game.

Remember :  everything you do can be a potential sign to other players.
  • how you pass the tiles (do you pick them up and pass on without adding to your hand?)
  • how / where you put the tiles in your hand
  • how you pick and throw(do you sometime exchange tile in your hand even though it's not one you need?)
Consider that players comments can be purposefully misleading.


Discuss your lack of jokers

Tell your table mates that you're giving them a 'beautiful' pass...and then tell them to 'break it up' if they choose to pass it on.

Be rude if a player who has stopped the passing asks to option tiles with you after the Charleston.  Just politely say, "No Thanks!"

Deal the tiles for players when you're EAST (without asking first).  Some folks don't like anyone to touch their tiles.

And a Golden Rule:

A person's need to discuss their hand after the game far exceeds others' willingness to listen.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The 2012 Card is here!

When the card arrived in the mail yesterday, right on schedule, the doctors met to evaluate and diagnose.

Some of our findings:
  • There are 9 hands on the 2012 card that are the same as on the 2011 card.
  • There are only 7 hands that have NO singles or pairs.
  • As always, there are some hands that have returned from years past.

The doctors are personally pleased to welcome back some of those favorites.
In particular:

FFFF 1111 9999 DD  (We've missed you ones and nines!!)
The Elevens Hands....(we love seeing you again)

So, if your card has arrived it's time to review and become familiar with the new hands.

Our prescription for you:

Get a game together asap.  If that's not possible, play with a friend.  With two players, just pick 13 tiles each, no walls, and pick and throw until one of you makes a hand.
Even by yourself, you can randomly select 13 tiles and pick and throw until you make a hand.

Either way, you'll get a head start on learning the new card.

Friday, March 2, 2012

good versus bad exposures

Lets talk "exposures".  That was our lesson in class this week:  Learning to be a defensive player by recognizing what your opponents are playing. One of the ways you can do that is by evaluating what they expose on their rack.

A Good Exposure.  We often call a particular exposure a 'good one' because it doesn't reveal exactly what hand you are doing.

This is one that came up last week.

It is always better if you don't have to expose any tiles and can just call for Mah Jongg and put all of your tiles up at once.  But realistically.....we can't expect that to happen very often.

So, if you do expose, some exposures are better than others.
Lets look at the pung of 3 BAMS and kong of 5 CRAKS

What hands could they be a part of?

222 333 4444 5555
333 444 5555 6666
111 333 3333 5555
11 333 5555 777 99

That's quite a few hands to choose from.  You might be able to tell further by what your opponent throws....or doesn't throw...or by what tiles are already on the table.

 How about a 'not so good' exposure....not really bad, but does indicate exactly which hand you are doing.  A Pung of any dragons is always this hand:  11 DD  111 DDD  1111
Of course your opponents don't know WHICH number you are doing, but would be very hesitant to throw a green or white dragon.  They will figure out the number if you call for either the pung or kong of numbers.

Lets say you call for a kong of 6 BAMS as in the photo below, now your opponents know exactly what you need:    6 CRAKS,   a pair of WHITE DRAGONS, and a pair of 6 DOTS.  This is also a hand where you can be sure if a player is dead.  If 3 6 DOTS or 3 White DRAGONS are out on the table, this player is dead.  You can call them dead and they will stop picking.  More picks for the rest of the players.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rules are Rules and Welcome!

Before the rules, we want to give a big welcome to our new class of Mah Jongg students.
15 folks are ready to learn new strategies and improve their game in our spring class:  Guided Play.
We're so glad you're here.  Hopefully our blog will add additional information that will support your game.

Now to the rules.  Here's the nice thing about rules.  It standardizes the game.
You can go anywhere and play Mah Jongg and know that the rules are the same.


A friend that I learned Mah Jongg with told me yesterday that in her current game there is a woman who hates to pass!  So....after the first Charleston, she stops the passing.  EVERY GAME.

The other players hated it so much, that they made a 'table rule' that you could NEVER stop the passing.  (I don't think this is Kosher, BTW)

Then my friend gets a hand with 3 jokers and as the hand comes together in the first 2 passes, she has to start giving away needed tiles because she can't stop the passing.

If you want to stop the passing in every game, you can!  That is a rule.  You don't have to have a reason, or give one.  Nor should you.

But to make a rule that you can never stop the passing is more than a table rule, I think.

Table rules are about stakes and idiosyncrasies about your table and your game:  how much money are we playing we want to double the amounts on the card.  Do we kick into the kitty after a wall game?  Are we playing with a bettor?  Do you have to announce 2 games ahead that you're quitting for the night?  Those are examples of 'table rules'

That's what we doctors love about the National Mah Jongg League Card.  All of the important rules are right there on the back of the card.  And for some folks who think you can use a joker in a pair!!  You can't.  Ever.  It's right there.  On the back of the card.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

From the Hudson Valley to the Mid West. Mah Jongg is everywhere!

Just found this article about the spread of our favorite game in the New Paltz area!

And another here about a game at an Embassy Suites in Ohio. 

We love to see more folks loving the challenge of this game.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Back to School

A new semester of Continuing Education begins in Lakeland next week and the Doctors are teaching a new class.  It's called:  American Mah  Jongg—Guided Play. This class will give students with some knowledge of Mah Jongg (or those who have taken our beginners class) a chance to play with instruction and supervision aimed at improving your game. In addition to reviewing rules and improving skills, you'll have a chance to become a more defensive player and learn new strategies.

You can download the brochure and view the course description under :  DO IT YOURSELF AND FUN AND GAMES hereRegister by Feb. 8th.  If it's late, give them a call at 914-245-1700.  They'll take late registrations.

Our class begins on the 16 of February:  Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:30.

Hope to see some of you there!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mah Jongg Doctors attend a Seminar: pronounced [tournament]

Whenever an excess of 150 Mah Jongg players converge for a weekend of competitive play, it's always a learning experience!

Here are just a few observations from this past weekend in Piscataway, NJ at Joanne Bourne's tournament.  See her schedule here.  BTW....we love Joanne's tournaments!  She provides a wonderful Mah Jongg experience!

Back to our 'seminar'....

1.  Lightening does strike twice!
            When a player makes the 'big' hand [FF 2011 2011 2011]
            TWICE in one round (four games) you know that it does!

2.  Don't Count your Chickens
           When you open with this (after the passing) [ F 22 44 66 88 8 8]
           Don't assume that you will make the hand.  Even if you pick up      
           another 8 BAM (which I did) .....Because while you're waiting for a
           flower or an 8 crack to set you for calling the last tile,
           all of the 8 cracks could go out...and they did!
           Even when you open with a beautIful hand,
           there are NO GUARANTEES!

3.  It's Not Over Till It's Over
         Keep your head in the game until the last tile is thrown.
        A player can make Mah Jongg on the last tile in the wall, or the last tile

4.  All's Fair in Love and Mah Jongg
           Yes, its a game.  We are friendly players.  We play by the rules,
           we live by the rules and sometimes we're called dead by the rules.
           That's how the game is played even by nice people!
           Don't be afraid to call a player dead who makes an incorrect exposure
           or has too many or too few tiles!

5.  It's How You Play the Game!
           Mah jongg is a competitive game.  We all like to win.
           But win or lose in the end we love playing good Mah Jongg.
           The doctors played 48 games of Mah Jongg this weekend.
           Each game was challenging, kept our adrenaline going, we played and
           strategized until the very last tile was thrown.

And you want to know how we fared at this tournament?   We had a great time!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Question from a Reader

So, here's an interesting question from a reader.  The Mah Jongg doctors had to confer on this one....but we have the answer!

A player wanted to know if she could make the consecutive hand FFFF 1111 2222 DD using soaps for zero and the number one.  What she argues is that the numbers are consecutive, that is, zero precedes the number one.  

After some discussion, the doctors say NO.  Here's why.

1. A white dragon is used as zero only as a single digit as part of a larger number and as 0000 in the extended year hand:   FFFF 2222 0000 11.

2.  The consecutive number hands all start with the number one on the card.  If zero were an option, then it would be shown that way on the card.  ie.  FFFF 0000 1111 DD  This would also change the play of many of the hands under consecutive numbers.

3.  When the dragon is used as zero, it has no specific suit.  Therefore, there is no opposite or matching suit to be used in the consecutive hands. For example, if you played 11 22 111 222 DD with zeros as 00 11 000 111 DD....and used white dragons as the pair, what would you use for the pung of zeros?

3.  In all instances the card addresses unique situations for use of the tiles.  In absence of such information, we assume that soap is ONLY used as zero in the cases that are specifically mentioned on the card.  This year, that would be in the 'year' hands as zero in 2011 and also in the last hand under Singles and Pairs.

In years past, we've seen it used in multiplication and addition hands that require 10, 20 or 30.  For example:  FFFF 5555 x 6666 = 30.  But again, in this instance it's used as part of another number.

We hope this answers the question, and if anyone out there has any other input, please let us know!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Doctor on Call

Last night, just as I was beginning cocktail hour before a family dinner,  the phone rang and it was my long time friend Lorraine.  I thought she wanted to chat and I would have to cut things short since I had company, but no!  It was a call for the Mah Jongg Doctor!

She was playing MJ with a group of friends in Florida and a question came up. 

She had already exposed  a kong of 4 bams with no joker.  She had a joker but didn't use it.  Now she needed 2 singletons:  2BAM and 4BAM.

"I know the hand," I said.  "You're playing with an old card." 

"Yes,  we didn't have enough 2011 cards.  I should have used a joker in the exposure!" she said, "and saved the other 4 BAM."

"Yes," I said.

"So, am I dead?"

"Not if you can use the Kong of 4BAMS for another hand. don't call yourself dead.  That's up to another player to do.  If they're right, you stop picking and the rest of the table gets more picks.   If the other player is wrong, that player is dead."

You can only be called dead if the other players can tell from you're exposures that you're playing a hand that can no longer be made because tiles that you need are already discarded.  Ususally for pairs.
Or you can be called dead if you have exposed a hand that is concealed (and it couldn't be another hand) or if you do not have the correct number of tiles in your hand.

Note:  This year's card has a similar hand:

FFFF  3333  x  5555  = 15

Don't forget to save a natural 5  and 1 for the singletons at the end of this hand!

Enjoy the game and call or email if you have a Mah Jongg Emergency!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Get in the Game!

The game of Mah Jongg is coming into its own again.  More  and younger players taking up the game, more members joining the National Mah Jongg League, more realization that this game is fun, social, and a challenge to the mind!

Here's an article that vouches for that:

The Renewed, Surprising Appeal of Mah Jongg

This posted online by Marie Kohler  in a Milwaukee newpaper.

 Mah Jongg is not extinct!  It's on the rise.

Make it your resolution to get in the game in 2012.  

You won't regret it!