Mah Jongg is not just a game. It has become a part of my life that allows me to entertain my Mah Jongg-playing friends, cook great meals to serve to them and test my mental skills during our game play (which, hopefully, is often).
Here are interpretations of the Bam tiles you would use if looking at the tiles from the position of Oracle (see post from January 29, 2014). Tiles in the Bamboo – or BAM – suit are numbered from 1- 9. The Bamboo suit is considered the first of the three suits (the others being Circles/Dots – and Wan/Craks – TBD as Oracles in later posts).
Bamboo is a very versatile plant used for a vast range of purposes. Its leaves and shoots are used for food, and its stems can be utilized for sewing needles, writing implements, cooking utensils, furniture, house and boat building, etc. The many uses of the Bamboo plant are signified by the virtues of strength, uprightness, integrity, and service.
Yesterday was our weekly game and this time it was J’s turn to host. I must still have been carrying some Happy Birthday luck because I had Mah Jongg three or four times. I always feel that it is a good day if I can declare Mah Jongg just once so this really was a red letter day for me!
After the Charleston on our first game my hand was already shaping up to be a NEWS hand. I had several Jokers and two Green Dragons so that felt safe but I had one Red Dragon and one Soap so it was going to be nothing more than a wild guess as to which Dragon to keep.
The tiles in a Mah Jongg Game set can also be used as an oracle to interpret the future, should you wish to do so. This is because each unique tile in the set has a symbolism or meaning.
An oracle naturally requires an interpreter if the meaning of its secrets are to be divined. The person who performs this role is known as the “diviner” and the person who wishes to have a reading, is known as the “querent”.
I never can keep track of my glass, whether it is filled with wine, champagne, Diet Coke or just water! But I won’t have that problem any longer with these adorable decorative wine charms from Where the Winds Blow that fit around the stem of the glass and ensure that you will be able to recognize which drink is yours (even if you have had one too many!)
Last Friday was my birthday and X went above, beyond, over, way far away in terms of making sure that I had a very happy birthday. I still am reeling from what she did for me. A fabulous and exquisite luncheon, lots and lots of laughing, and best of all, bringing together a group of twelve of my dearest, dearest friends. How she pulled this all together is so beyond my wildest comprehension. Even two of my best, best, best friends – one from California and one from Florida (besties since we were 4 years old) – were there to surprise me. And then, after all of this, she gave me the most magnificent Bone and Bamboo Mah Jong set (complete with matching extra tiles and beautiful Joker stickers) AND 4 glorious vintage wood racks. I absolutely cannot wait to play with this incredible set.
When the OMs get together for our weekly game, we often debate whether or not to exchange a tile for an exposed Joker on another player’s rack. It’s a difficult decision especially if it is toward the end of the game when it could leave the player’s hand jokerless and then obviously worth more if she wins. Here’s some strategy instructions on this very issue from the Mah Jongg Madness newsletter:
Q. I was told it was a good strategy NOT to exchange for a Joker if I didn’t need it, because it could give my opponent a joker-less Mah Jongg and I’d have to pay her more money. Do you agree with this strategy? Stephanie, IL A.Generally, if you don’t need a Joker, it isn’t necessary to make an exchange. For example – an opponent has exposed (2) 7Bams with a Joker 77J. If you exchange that Joker with your 7Bam, then strategically…you are also preventing someone else (who may have another 7Bam in their hand) from getting that Joker. You will also prevent the “exposer” from exchanging it herself, later. If your opponent’s exposures convey an obvious hand, i.e., 333 5555 77J (2013 card 11 333 5555 777 99) you know that all your opponent needs now is a pair of 1’s or a pair of 9’s to complete the hand for Mahj. Your decision is now easier…”My hand’s not so good, so maybe I shouldn’t take the Joker – then I won’t make my opponent’s hand jokerless; and it won’t cost me an additional penalty.” You are also (hopefully) aware of what other tiles your opponent has discarded from her hand – or how close she may be to getting Mahj. (And for that matter…just how close you might be to making your own mah jong – if you only had that extra joker!)
Again, strategies are situational. That’s why it is difficult to teach specific strategies in a Mah Jongg Theory class or to learn from a book. Most times you have to be in an actual game in order to assess the logic of a specific strategy – and to make the strategic decision that works in the game at hand.