Category Archives: Mah Jongg and Me

FOOD FOR THOUGHT…

No real food in this posting…just something to think about…

I’m thinking about East as the dealer. That’s the title she (or he!) has won by throwing the highest number on the dice. It’s true that she also has won an advantage by becoming East because she starts with 14 tiles when everyone else just has 13. But what else is her role? Although there is no official rule on this – and your table rules may dictate otherwise – I live by the rule that no one should be dealing out the tiles except for East because she is THE DEALER. I am of the school that I don’t want anyone else to touch the tiles until they are all dealt out. Interestingly enough, the wonderful Gladys  Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg Tournaments wrote about this in her Mah Jongg Madness March 2019 newsletter:

Q.  In the old days, we thought nothing of exchanging a tile for a Joker from our friends’ racks.  Now, every time you go to a game, someone tells you not to touch their tiles; don’t deal them for me; don’t exchange for my Joker; don’t touch my wall, don’t, don’t, don’t. Barbara CA

A.  This isn’t something new…it’s been going on for a long time.  Bingo players don’t want you to touch their cards or their daubers; domino players don’t want you to straighten their double 6’s; and you wouldn’t think of touching your poker buddies’ cards.  It might have something to do with superstition….but there have also been some mistakes when players exchange for a Joker in exposures….like replacing a 1Bam for a Flower, or a West for a North.  Please don’t take it personally.

When I teach Mah Jongg I tell the beginning students that no one should ever touch anyone else’s tiles or racks. When you want to exchange a tile for a Joker you extend the tile out to the player with the Joker and politely ask for her Joker. You do not take it off her rack yourself.

Why do I teach this way and why am I so adamant about this rule? As it was explained to me, all of this prevents any hint of cheating. I’m not sure that I think too much about that aspect because I would never play with anyone who is suspected of cheating. I think I am just superstitious about this!  So, don’t touch my tiles and I won’t touch yours!

Let me know if you agree.

I’M BACK AND WITH A GREAT POSTING!

Hi all – I’ve taken a vacation from posting but now I am back with lots and lots of things to tell and show to you! And why not the best for first (instead of for last!)?

Our dear friend with a most brilliant mind, Annelise Heinz, assistant professor of History at the University of Oregon, has given me permission to post this video in which she discusses her current book project Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture.

It’s a 28 minute long YouTube video so sit back with a steaming hot cup of tea or coffee…or perhaps a cold martini! – and enjoy Annelise as she discusses her passion for our beloved game and shows off a couple of beautiful vintage Mah Jongg sets (a 1920s set she found in an antique store in the historic Chinese community in Locke, California, and a 1960s set with fabulous green Catalin racks). 

MERRY MAH JONGG CHRISTMAS!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

I hope you all are up and opening lots of great gifts…perhaps even a beautiful Mah Jongg set? Or maybe Santa brought you some good luck for picking Jokers?

Well, here is the best gift of all…our dear friend Joy has sent another one of her truly wonderful poems and was generous enough to allow me to share it with you. So…here it is – enjoy!

And have a very merry Christmas!

‘Twas our MahJ before Christmas
and here in the `burg
not a creature was stirring
not even my Bird!
The stockings were hung
by the chimney with care
in the hope that some new tiles
would soon appear in there!
With the four of us girls
waiting to visit
it was time to discuss
our seasonal tickets.
When all of a sudden
there arose such a clatter
We ran to the table
to see what was the matter.
It was clicking and clacking 
of tiles being mushed
Adding to the excitement
And now comes the hush…
As the walls are all stacked
waiting to be broken
And everyone wondering
would ‘Mah Jongg‘ be spoken?
With a roll of the dice
then a pass to the right
Wondering how many games
will we play on this night?
With the dealing completed
and the Charleston done
We all settled down
for a whole lot of fun!
More rapid than eagles
the tiles they did fly
I’m waiting for that Dragon
Did it already pass by?
 
On BamsDots, and Craks
And the Winds all in line;
Should I take that discard
Should it be mine??
Wondering how many Flowers
have already been picked,
I only need two more now
hope I don’t get tricked.
With visions of Jokers 
Swirling ’round in our heads
Did I choose the right line,
or, will I soon be ‘dead‘?
The moon how it shines
on those tiles – what a sight!
We’re all sitting so still
Will this be the night?
Should I change my hand now
From Exposed to Concealed?
It’s almost impossible
Can this really be real?
One tile to go and
I feel like I’m winning
I can hardly sit still –
My head now is spinning!
My draw is that Dragon
What a sight to behold!
Now I declare ‘Mah Jongg
And the truth must be told:
I just love this game
Whether I win or not
It’s fun playing Mah Jongg
I’m so glad I was taught.
And we heard it exclaimed
as we packed tiles away…
Have a Merry MahJongg Christmas
and a Happy New Year’s Day!
jonggjoy

SJP LOVES MAH JONGG!

Sarah Jessica Parker touted the joys and benefits of Mah Jongg on Live with Kelly and Ryan yesterday morning.

Check out this video to hear SJP rave about her newest obsession:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjjYC8ypXk4&feature=youtu.be&a=

BEST TO TAKE A BREAK FROM THE GAME EVERY SO OFTEN…

Happy Halloween!

(and much thanks to Toby Salk for this great picture!!).

YOU NEVER KNOW UNLESS YOU ASK…

I opened up my email yesterday morning and saw this sweet photo from my dear friend, the wonderful Toby Salk. And then I read Toby’s words below the photo…lesson learned – you never know unless you ask!

“Emily LOVES Mah Jongg!

By the way…this ROYAL set was my Aunt Rose’s 
Me: Aunt Rose, Are you still playing Mah Jongg?
Aunt Rose: No, just Scrabble.
Me: Can I have your set?
Aunt Rose: Oh, you don’t want it. It’s really old. 
LUCKY LUCKY ME!”

Yes, Toby is definitely lucky to have this beautiful OLD set. How many of you have similar stories? Let me know and I will post those wonderful stories (and photos!) in a future blog.