Today’s posting is about a book that is fairly new – it was first published in 2003 but then Tuttle Publishing translated it into English and published the book in 2007 for the American audience. The book is written by Jelte Rep, a Netherlands native who, when not playing Mah Jongg, makes documentary films and writes dramatic television shows. He is a great Mah Jongg enthusiast and his book is very thorough.


I am bringing attention to this book for several reasons – the first being the fact that Rep covers just about every version of Mah Jongg out there. After covering the basics of the game (including how to unpack your Mah Jongg set!), subsequent chapters cover the various versions of the game played by different countries: Old China, America, Japan, China today and other Asian variants, Great Britain, Holland, France, Germany, and Italy. Our game is truly international!

The other reason I am posting about Rep’s book is because it is published by Tuttle Publishing which gives me a chance to plug the newest Mah Jongg book coming out this fall – Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game which – coincidentally – is also published by Tuttle Publishing!

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Now back to the subject at hand: Jelte Rep and his book! I love the back cover with its superstitious admonitions, one of which is “Don’t touch the dog” – I guess now I can blame my losing streaks on Lizzie instead of poor game strategy! And, if you know me and/or Lizzie, you know I love that pup way too much to refrain from petting her during game play!


Jelte Rep is a most interesting man and I hope to meet him someday. After all, how can you not be crazy about a guy who writes a poem like this:


By the way, yesterday I speculated that Viola Cecil probably was the first president of the NMJL. Our dear friend Joy sent the following information – thanks so much, Joy!

To quote Tom Sloper’s book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind:
“So, in 1937 four ladies in New York – Viola Cecil, Dorothy Meyerson, Herma Jacobs, and Hortense Potter – decided to form a national organization. The National Mah Jongg League (NMJL) was established to standardize rules, and to publish a standard list of hands on a printed card that would change from year to year. The first president of the league, Viola L. Cecil , wrote the rules into a book of rules and an explanation of the card, entitled ‘Maajh, The American Version of an Ancient Chinese Game.’ ”


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