SiameseThe very wonderful Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg Tournaments, has created a website devoted to the rules of Siamese Mah Jongg. Although I have posted her rules on this blog before, many of you have asked for an explanation again and so, here is the definitive way to play, with much thanks to Gladys (these are her words, taken from her website). Be sure to visit her Siamese Mah Jongg website

There is absolutely no reason to have to play a drawn-out or less thought-provoking game of Mah Jongg with only two players.  You will LOVE this simple yet very challenging method of playing the game.  It can be fast, stimulating, and fun, fun, fun.

1. TWO PLAYERS/TWO RACKS EACH.  Two players face each other; and place 2 racks in front of each player.
2. WALLS.  Build two (2) full walls of tiles, 19 stacks long, parallel to each other. (EASY OPTION:  You can build one wall against each rack.  When the tiles from the outside rack have been used, just move that rack behind the other rack.)
3. OPTIONAL:  EAST THROWS THE DICE TO BREAK THE WALL.  East throws the dice to break the first wall arbitrarily, and retains the amount of tiles corresponding to the dice throw (as with the standard 4-handed version of MJ).  It is an OPTION to use the dice to arbitrarily break the wall.  Dealing/picking will commence from East’s walls.
4. 28 TILES FOR EAST, 27 TILES FOR THE OPPOSITE PLAYER: Each player deals themselves four (4) tiles from one of the two (2) walls in front of East, until East has taken their last four (4) tiles which would give East 28 tiles. Player opposite then takes three (3) tiles, which gives him/her 27 tiles.
5. ARRANGING THE TILES.  Players may arrange their tiles on both their racks…as many as desired; and may exchange tiles back and forth between their own racks. It does not matter how many tiles are on each rack at any one time. (See Item 9).
6. CHARLESTON.  There is NO Charleston. (NOTE:  You have plenty of tiles and a multitude of tile combinations over which you have control.)
7. THE GAME BEGINS.  East discards the 28th tile to begin the game; then the opposite player picks their first tile from the wall; then discards a tile; and so on.  Picking and discarding proceeds.
8.  JOKERS.  You may exchange your own Jokers from your own exposures, or from your opponent’s exposures; but you can NOT   exchange a Joker from any existing EXPOSED Mah Jongg hand.  Jokers may be exchanged from exposures in a “dead” hand, IF that exposure did not cause the hand to be declared “dead.”
9. MAH JONGG.  Once a Mah Jongg is declared by a player, and that player has discarded a tile to complete their turn, that rack with the Mah Jongg exposed must hold only 14 tiles.  STRATEGY NOTE:  The disadvantage of not exposing your own MJ is that the game might finish before you have declared your own Mah Jongg; and you must have a Mah Jongg exposed in order to be paid.  You won’t be paid for a MJ that is still IN your rack, not ON your rack.  However, once your first Mah Jongg has been declared and exposed, you MAY NOT exchange for those exposed Jokers.    The longer you delay declaring a Mah Jongg and exposing those tiles, the longer you are able to use your own Jokers interchangeably.  Remember, once the Mah Jongg hand has been exposed and declared, the Jokers in the exposure can NOT be exchanged.
10. YOU ARE PLAYING BOTH RACKS INTERCHANGEABLY. Even though the TILES ARE INTERCHANGEABLE on the racks, players must be cautious to NOT put their exposures on the WRONG Rack. A player’s hand should be declared “dead” if the exposures do not match a hand on the NMJL card.  Remember, the tiles are interchangeable IN the racks, not ON the racks.  However, the player may continue playing to try to build a 2nd Mah Jongg on their 2nd rack.
11. IF PLAYER IS DECLARED “DEAD” FOR 2  HANDS, THE GAME CEASES, and “dead” player pays opponent 4 times the value of opponent’s existing Mah Jongg, or 4 times the lowest value on the card – whichever is relevant.
12.  PLAYER HAS 1 MAH JONGG AND 1 DEAD HAND, the game continues by the opponent only – until opponent makes a second Mah Jongg, or all the tiles have been picked.  (NOTE: In a 4-handed version, the “dead” player has to cease playing, while everyone else continues.  Think of the player’s 2 racks in the 2-handed version as 2 individual players. If one hand is “dead,” there are still 3 players alive.)
13.  GAME CEASES  when 1 player has declared 2 MAH JONGGS, -or- when the tiles from the walls have been used, and the last discard has been made.
14.  If a player has a rack that is declared “dead,” player may continue to exchange tiles between the two racks, but may NOT USE the tiles from the exposures that MADE the HAND “dead” – in order to build another hand.  However, Jokers may be exchanged from exposures in the “dead” hand, only if that exposure did not cause the hand to be declared “dead.”
16.  SCORING AND PAYOUTS: Payments are made at the END of the game. For easy payouts, KEEP SCORE.  At the end of the game, the lesser score will pay the winner the difference between the two (2) scores,
A. The 1st Mah Jongg by a player receives the value on the NMJL card, regardless if it is self
picked, but if it is   JOKERLESS, the value is doubled.
B.  Sometimes, if both players have the same score for their 1st Mah Jonggs, e.g., a 25 point
hand – then the payment will be a “wash.”
C.   If a player declares and wins with two (2) Mah Jonggs, the payout for the 2nd Mah Jongg is doubled, regardless if it is self-picked.  Payout is doubled again if the 2nd Mah Jongg is JOKERLESS (excluding singles and pairs).

©Copyright Mah Jongg Madness 2015 Gladys Grad

All rights reserved. 2015 Gladys Grad


You’ve heard me rave about Sandra at Gehazi Collections before and now I have to do it again! Look what she wrote on Twitter:

From Twitter:  She loved it so much that we named it after her. She said SHE was honored, but the truth is that it is WE are honored to know her! Thank you Ann for being such a wonderful fan and supporter.

Item is about 24″ and is dazzling in black and white.

Ann Israel’s Fav Black and White Mahjong Eyeglass Leash

$9.99 USD

  • Handmade item
  • Materials: mahjong, mahjongg, mah jongg, bone beads, Czech glass, seed beads
  • Only ships within United States.
    This shop accepts Etsy Gift Cards
 Ann Israel's Fav Black and White Mahjong Eyeglass Leash

 She loved our black & white  eyeglass leash so much we named it after customer and fan Ann Israel! 

The truth of the matter is that I receive so many compliments on this eyeglass leash. If you need some Mah Jongg accessories, please think of Sandra at Gehazi Collections. And be sure to use this code – GEHAZI2015 – to get 20% off your order through the end of this year!

Thank you, Sandra!!! You are the best!!!


I have been so excited looking forward to July 28th and the arrival of Toby Salk who, if  you are a reader of this blog, is someone that I admire and write about frequently. I had never met Toby before but had a feeling that we might experience that “separated at birth” moment when we did meet. And I was right! 

We sat down for lunch and the first thing Toby did was to give me this fabulous gift of Rose Confit she had bought for me on her recent trip to Paris – YUM! 

IMG_0825And then the conversations began – I don’t think we ever finished a sentence or a thought as there was so much to discuss. Definitely separated at birth!

Before we knew it, it was time to meet up with a few of my students and play Mah Jongg – I was ecstatic…playing Mah Jongg with the great teacher, Toby Salk!

Toby’s kind and gentle teaching style was evident in her correction technique:

Here’s a photo showing great concentration – and concern! – from all the players!IMG_0821

Look at that dear smile on Toby’s face – I had the best time with her and hope she will return soon for more good times!



The other day I received an email from Susan in Naples, Florida. So, to all you West Coast Floridians – how can we help out a future MJ player? If you are a Mah Jongg teacher in the Naples area – or if you know someone who teaches in that general area – send me an email or reply to this posting and I will pass the information on to Susan. Here is the message I received from her:

Hi Ann,

I found you through Google when I put in Mah Jongg Naples FL.

I am interested in learning Mah Jongg this fall.  I have never played but wish to join my friends who are just a few months ahead of me.

I am a full time Naples resident living in the Vineyards and am very flexible as far as the time goes. It does not matter to me if the lessons are private or if I join a beginner’s group.

Can you help me or, if not, can you point me in another direction?

Susan T

mahjong_greeting_card (1)


You probably all know how proud I am of my Mah Jongg students since I like to put up occasional postings on this blog about their progress. The other day I received this photo and message from Meredith who is away for the summer yet playing Mah Jongg daily:“I had a great win yesterday. I have never done a winds/dragon hand but had 1 Green, 2 Red and 2 Soap and 2 Flowers at the end of the Charleston.  Have been trying to branch out in hands I am going for.  Last week I even stopped the Charleston after one round.”

Congratulations on winning this difficult hand – I couldn’t be prouder of you!IMG_2824For all of you who are fairly new to our beloved game – send me photos of your special winning hands so I can brag about you as well!


If so, you might want to contact Lani’s Needlepoint in Studio City, CA to purchase this fabulous Mah Jongg needlepoint canvas. The photo was sent to me by my friend Phia who will be spending the fall in NYC – I can’t wait to get together with her again at the Mah Jongg table!