Category Archives: Mah Jongg and Me


Starting today I am speaking a number of venues in Florida about my book, Mah Jongg: The Art of the GameI will post venues and times over the next few days for those of you who might be able to join me.

Today, if you are in the Naples area, I am speaking this morning at 10:30 AM at the Miromar Design Center located at 10800 Corkscrew Road, I-75, Exit 123, in Estero; this event is open to the public. If you are able to attend, please come up to introduce yourself to me – I am so excited to meet you in person! Several of the other talks are being given at private venues but perhaps you might belong or have a friend who can bring you: The Club at Mediterra is this afternoon and the Naples Yacht Club is tomorrow. I hope to see you at one – or all – of these events! And special thanks to my dear friend, Charlotte Tarr, for making this possible!




Today I leave for Florida – with special thanks to my dear friend, Charlotte Tarr, for working so tirelessly to get amazing venues for me in Naples – for a series of lectures and book signings on my book, Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game. I will post venues and times over the next few days for those of you who might be able to join me.

If you are in the area, I hope you will come hear my talks. And please come up to introduce yourselves to me – I am so excited to meet you in person! Several of the talks are being given at private luncheons but the first one is open to the public and is tomorrow at 10:30 AM at the Miromar Design Center located at 10800 Corkscrew Road, I-75, Exit 123, in Estero. I hope to see you there!




There is a fierce (some are calling it “historic”) storm – a Nor’easter – raging in New York right now. I was supposed to be speaking at the 92nd Street Y today but that has been rescheduled to Thursday, February 12th. I think we need some humor and some beauty in today’s posting so here it is – enjoy!

I received a message last week from our friend Diane after I posted a photo of S1’s dining room table festively decorated with tulips and thoughts of spring. I thought I would share Diane’s wonderful musings with you, especially for those of you suffering through this chilly winter…nothing like a flower to bring some warming thoughts of spring…


I enjoyed your blog today, especially the flowers. I think all mah jongg players love flowers; both tile flowers and garden flowers. With the sparkle and glow of Chanukah gelt and candles, I gave each of our Mah Jongg group an amaryllis bulb to plant. We had great fun comparing the progress of the growth of each, and had a great laugh over the one who planted hers upside down. That one was named “Corrigan” for “Wrong Way Corrigan” of past football fame. Others were named “Audrey III” (after the man-eating plant in Little Shop of Horrors”) Wimpy, Hope, Jack (for Jack in the Beanstalk), etc. The first to bloom received the  Golden Pot Award; a small flower pot painted gold and planted with a small succulent. She named it “Gilda”. 

Now in the gray month of January, we are enjoying bright blossoms to cheer us. Like your tulips, we too are reminded that Spring will come.

As for The Game, last week we had a thrilling day. With several of us close to winning, the hostess picked up the last tile for a Mahj! Unbelievable!! It  goes to show, the game’s not over til the last tile has been played.

I just thought you might enjoy this. 

I just heard again from Diane  who added this message, which made me laugh out loud:

The amaryllis name that I forgot to mention was Seymour. I was notified today that he is just beginning to bloom. I didn’t name that one. One of our group named it. Mine is Wimpy for being so slow to get started. It is also the shortest one. There is more to the story of Seymour. He was very slow to grow. Then the husband cut himself shaving, and dropped a few drops of blood into the plant. It grew 2″ overnight. Ha! Talk about laughs.
I am sure you have seen “Little Shop of Horrors” and can appreciate these crazy stories.
Thanks again for all  you do for the mahj world.

Thanks to Diane for sharing all of this – it is too good!



Don’t forget, If you happen to be in New York tomorrow, Tuesday, January 27th, please come to the 92nd Street Y at noon where I will be giving a talk on Mah Jongg followed by a book signing. I would love to see you there!



Inspired by the museum exhibition Project Mah Jongg, Ann Israel took mah jongg lessons with a group of friends, including Gregg Swain, the co-author of her recent book, Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game. When they started playing, they also began to appreciate the spectacular vintage sets that still existed, and soon Israel purchased her first. As Israel and Swain continued to collect vintage sets, each piece added to their appreciation of the art of the game. Join Israel as she shares images and stories of the most exquisite and rare mah jongg sets and ephemera.

Details & Ordering


Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American Mah Jongg, included me in what turned out to be a very lively email discussion regarding a question that had been posed to her. I promised Gladys that I would post the question on my blog and now I am asking for your opinions on this. Can’t wait to hear from you!


Hi, How would you rule in this situation?  Player A is set for Mahj, waiting for a 5 Bam.  Player A has two 5 Bams in her hand and a Joker.  Player A wants to self-pick her Mahj.  A 5 Bam  is thrown. Instead of calling Mahj, Player A calls for the 5 Bam and exposes it with one 5 Bam, a Joker, and the 5 Bam  picked up from the table.  With that action it is the  beginning of Player A’s turn. Now….Player A takes the  remaining 5 Bam from her hand and exchanges it with the  exposed Joker on her rack and calls Mahj. Is it a self-picked Mahj??? Does it matter that the exchange happens in her own hand? I know if she exchanges a tile from another player’s hand to get the Joker then it would be a self-picked Mahj. Does the same rule exist when it is her own hand? Thanks for your opinion.  P.S. Player A CHOSE not to call Mahj (just as some players would possibly throw the Joker to try for a Jokerless hand). Interesting dilemma….what do you guys think?


Today is my birthday and so I am going to put up a very special posting. Do you remember the postings on this blog of the fabulous beach depictions of Mah Jongg Flower tiles made last year by our dear friend Kat? Well, she has gone a step further and decorated the most magnificent Mah Jongg cookies and sent the photos to me – the only present that could be better would be if I happened to be in her kitchen right now, deciding whether or not I would actually destroy these works of art by eating them! Oh, BTW, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED what Kat used for a rolling pin…read on! And…ENJOY!!!

COOKIES…. This is the best I could come up with… I ordered rice paper, edible “markers” and a few other decorating items (all from Amazon). First I took photos of some of my mahjong tiles. Cropped, arranged them together and enlarged. After I printed the photos, I placed the image behind the rice paper and traced. I used the image as a guideline and just did my thing, and did not worrying that the drawing was not perfect.

Next I made cookie dough, then rolled it out and cut cookies. I couldn’t find my rolling pin so used a bottle of Merlot. I also did not have a rectangle cookie cutter so I used a lid to a lacquer box…. Well, I had to use something:) Bake cookies, cool. Make cookie glaze. After you glaze the cookies, you can add the rice paper immediately while the glaze is still wet…. Or you can let the glaze dry and paint on corn syrup to use a glue for the rice paper to adhere to the glaze. Next, decorate the border… Then EAT.

Okay, they are not perfect and I could have done a lot more like add bits of frosting and other decorative embellishments… But this is not my cup of tea…not knowing where my rolling pin is located should be a clue there. I do have something else to try in the edible mahjong world that is more my cup of tea, stay tuned. Seventeen images here so you can see steps along the way.

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