Category Archives: Mah Jongg and Me



IMG_1029Here’s another Q&A from the wonderful Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American Style Mah Jongg, and the brains behind the website, MahJonggMadness.

Q. I played with new people yesterday at the community club house.  When they put up their exposures, they didn’t separate them, even when I asked them to.  I never played that way.  They said that’s how it’s done, and that’s how they do it!  They gave me the impression that if I didn’t like it – too bad. Mary M, FL

A.  Nice, huh?  That’s a rather clear (if bloodthirsty) way of telling you “it’s their way-or-the-highway.” By “packing the exposures” it’s a strategy to throw other players off.  Some will also put their jokers at the end of the individual exposure, so you won’t know which exposure it belongs to.  Nasty way of not giving you a “clue” about what they’re playing. We won’t condone this in tournament play….and I can almost guaranty that the NMJL won’t either.  Find a more sporting game.

I agree with Gladys although sometimes you have to decided if leaving your group is going to be worth it. Can you find another group? Can you just somehow ignore the problems that certain people cause? It may not always be so easy to find a new group.

When I am teaching Mah Jongg, I always instruct my students to a) put the Jokers in the middle of the exposure on their racks and b) separate out the exposures, including when you call for Mah Jongg. The above photo is from a hand by one of my beginning students who completely understands where to place her Jokers and how to display her winning Mah Jongg. I try to instill within my students the fact that Mah Jongg is a friendly game (at least it is under my roof!) and that the most important part of playing is to have fun! Do you agree?


From time to time people will send me messages about table rules invented by their Mah Jongg group. Some of them make a lot of sense and some of them are just plain silly. I’d love to hear about your table rules, whether they are funny or fabulous. Send them to me – along with photos whenever possible – and I will post them up on this blog.

Here’s one to start…

This group has a specific way to set up “Mia’s” – or “Wally’s” – wall when they are playing with only three people. They call it a “Suzy” wall (obviously named after the person who figured out this way to ensure an easy Charleston for the missing player). Check it out – I got a kick out of it. What do you think?

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There have been many articles written (and some of them re-posted on this blog) about the benefits of playing Mah Jongg and specifically about increasing brain power and staving off dementia. And now Bill Cunningham, in his weekly Evening Hours pictorial column in The New York Times, “documents” this very same thing. Mrs. Koo plays Mah Jongg three times a week (and wins!). My money is on a bet that the celebration of her 110 birthday has a lot to do with her Mah Jongg passion!!!

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Quite a while ago I posted a shout-out for help with finding a Mah Jongg teacher for Susan T. Our dear, dear friend, the wonderful Phyllis C, responded immediately. Yesterday I received the following wonderful message along with these fabulous photos from Susan. Her message really touched my heart and I am so thrilled about having a very small part in what appears to be a really special and lasting friendship. And also that Susan is now yet another Mah Jongg addict!

Hi Ann, 
You told me you wanted to see a picture when Phyllis and I finally hooked up and we have some beauties here for you. I am having so much fun! I love mahjong and I love Phyllis! She is the nicest woman I’ve met in a long time, and an excellent teacher to boot.
Thank you so much for using your network to help me find a teacher. I really feel that because of your kindness I have found both a friend and an activity that I will cherish for a long time.
With gratitude,
The first photo is the license plate on the front of Phyllis’s  car.


The second photo is a picture of Phyllis and me,


and the third photo is a picture of Phyllis.


I want to add that I have never met Phyllis but through her wonderful emails I feel as if we have known each other forever – I must tell you that I feel the same way about her that Susan does – I adore this woman! By hook or by crook I will get to Florida this winter to give her a big hug! And this is the message I received yesterday from Phyllis (have I mentioned that I adore her?!!):

Ann, hopefully you have received pictures taken at my class this morning.  Sue T found me on your web-site and wanted to take pictures of her and me along with my front plate on my car. I am also wearing the “Ann Israel eyeglass holder” I purchased from Sandra Davis. Sue lives in my development in another sub-division 5 minutes away.   Hugs always, Phyllis


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My Wednesday morning class is coming along just fine and Judy was a star today with the same 2015 hand of NJNN EW SSSS 2015 that Peggy won with on Monday. I am so impressed to see newbies putting together this fun hand – good job, Judy!