Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 6.27.53 PMI hear the following question frequently, especially from beginners: How long should a Mah Jongg game take to play? My answer is always the same – a game should take about 15 minutes at the most. Of course, it isn’t unusual to see a game take anywhere from 30 – 60 minutes for beginners. But, as each student becomes a better player, the game speeds up and the amount of time it takes to play a game becomes less and less until the players reach their goal of a 15 minute game. As I tell my students, it is better to try to play fast and keep up with the rest of the table than to worry about what tile to throw. And now, Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg Tournaments, has addressed this very subject with a slant for those of you who might be nervous about the speed of game required to play in a tournament:

For those players who stress about so-called “tournament speed,”…..please don’t let it bother you. We should all be playing at least 4 games in an hour in our friendly home games. (Many play 5 games in that time.) Tournaments sometimes have a 55 minute round. Plenty of time to complete all 4 of your games; even if you take some time to figure out your hands. It’s rare for players to go over the time limit.
And remember, only the first game in a tournament is daunting….after that, it’s just a group of players – playing the game we all love.  And it’s a lot of fun.

How long does it take your group to play a game? Let me know.


Our dear friend Donna out in San Luis Obispo has a fun new idea for her upcoming Mah Jongg tournament. She has filled a jar with various tiles and for $1 you can enter the contest to guess how many tiles are in the jar. The correct guess wins all the money!! Donna has an even bigger jar to use for her tournament in January. This is such a great idea to add to the fun of a tournament. Leave it to Donna to come up with new ideas! image1And, speaking of  the San Luis Obispo area, we are sending good thoughts and prayers to Donna, Boots, and all the rest of our friends in the Central Coast area of California that the fires will soon be contained and they will have suffered no damage.


A couple of weeks ago our dear friend, Toby Salk, (who is holding Mah Jongg classes at Rancho La Puerta right now in Tecate, Baja California), and I had a fun conversation where we talked about everything under the sun, including an idea about teaching Mah Jongg on television. As it turns out, this isn’t such a revolutionary idea…the next day I received an email from Toby with a photo of the great Mah Jongg maven, Dorothy S. Meyerson, teaching Mah Jongg on television in 1951. For those of you who might not know Dorothy’s name, she is considered to be a pioneer of Mah Jongg within the Jewish community and the author of how-to-play books (starting with “That’s It – National Mah Jongg League Rules” first published in 1937). If you ever wondered where Johni Levene (Mah Jongg teacher extraordinaire!) came up with the name for her fabulous Facebook site,Mah Jongg – That’s It“, now you know!Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 5.38.17 PMDorothy S. Meyerson teaching Mah Jongg on television, 1951 (photo courtesy of Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage).


Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 2.54.34 PMOur friend Linda Fisher, Licensed NYC tour guide, author and Mah Jongg maven, writes a fun Mah Jongg blog and recently put up a quiz with some very interesting questions (and answers). Let’s see how well you do – some of the questions are not as easy as you might think! I hope you will send me your score along with some comments on how you did!

Click the link here to start the quiz and…good luck! And don’t forget to send me your scores!

P.S. I know the quiz sign above is missing the apostrophe in “IT’S” – I couldn’t figure out a way to add it as the image is something I grabbed off the Internet! If you know how to add the apostrophe, let me know!!


Along with everything else Meredith did for us, I totally forgot to show you the gift that was waiting for each of us when we arrived at Fisher’s Island: beautifully wrapped bars of Mah Jongg soap! Thank you, Meredith!IMG_1722BTW, for those of you who have been asking, Fisher’s Island is off of New London, CT., although the island itself is considered to be in the state of New York. The only way to get there is to take the ferry (or your private yacht!).


It has been a number of weeks since I last posted a blog but I am back now! I have been traveling and teaching and playing a lot of Mah Jongg. One of the most exciting trips was the one I took to Fishers Island. I was surrounded by a group of women – Meredith, Lisa, Peggy, and Donna – who were all once my students and now can beat me handily with their terrific game play.

Last year Meredith had planned an intensive Mah Jongg class for the summer of 2016 on Fishers Island.  We planned that I would stay at her beautiful island home. One thing led to another and Meredith invited four of our friends to have a mini-vacation at her home while I was teaching. Meredith’s home is huge and so lovely and nothing is lacking. Meredith and her husband Peter were the perfect host and hostess – we couldn’t have been treated better!

This was an experiment to teach 5 lessons in three days…and I must say that it was quite successful (and exhausting!). Twelve students showed up Monday morning at the F.I. Community Center from 10am – 12 noon. After a two hour break, they were all back again at 2pm to have their second class from 2pm – 4pm and then off to the F.I. Library at 5:30 for my talk and book signing.  The same schedule for lessons happened on Tuesday and then on Wednesday morning we had our 5th and final class from 10am – noon. These women were serious about learning and by the 3rd lesson they were playing – cautiously – and by the last morning they had become real players. Some of them were already playing the Singles & Pairs section of the card!

I had a wonderful time teaching this 2 1/2-day intensive class and would definitely do it again. Of course, being Meredith’s guest on Fishers Island really was the frosting on the cake. Enjoy some of these photos from this great adventure.

Here is the view from Meredith’s deck:IMG_1625Lisa had a special surprise made for us by Kristen at with images of my favorite Pung Chow Flowers! She also had coasters made for me with these same images. Lisa is so thoughtful and dear to me.  IMG_1624Here are the very bright (and so much fun) students:IMG_1627 IMG_1628 IMG_1629 IMG_1630Mah Jongg!IMG_0406Mah Jongg!IMG_0428Mah Jongg! With an Atomic hand – these ladies aren’t fooling around!!
IMG_0072Time to get our luggage in to the car’s trunk – will it fit?IMG_0401YES! Peggy and Lisa figured it out – it was like an intricate jigsaw puzzle to get all of this into Peggy’s trunk but we somehow did it!

IMG_1632Here we are, waiting to board the ferry and saying our last goodbyes to Meredith and beautiful Fishers Island…IMG_2218