Tag Archives: Flowers

WHEN DID JOKERS START TO APPEAR IN OUR MAH JONGG SETS?

I was just looking through my files and found this very interesting (at least it is to me!) article about the history of Jokers in Mah Jongg. People are always asking if I can tell how old their set might be. When asked this question the first thing I want to know is if your set has “natural Jokers.” Of course, that is not the only determiner of the age of a set – and, as you will read in this article, it is not always accurate –  but it is a good place to start.

Unfortunately, I have no idea who wrote the following article or where it was published. If anyone knows, please email me so that I can give it the appropriate credit. In the meantime, enjoy this article on the history of Jokers.

“Before 1961, there were no Jokers. Flowers were wild, and the number of Flowers fluctuated between 8 and 24. Joker tiles were introduced into the American game in 1961. The number of Flowers and Jokers fluctuated for several years, finally stabilizing at 8F/8J ten years later, in the 1971-72 card.

The NMJL varied the number of Flowers and Jokers for several decades early in the league’s history. People had to cobble together sets to make the number of Flowers required.

In the 1920’s, the standard Mah Jongg set came with 8 Flowers and 0 Jokers (8F/0J). From the founding of the National Mah Jongg League in 1937, the NMJL treated Flowers as Jokers (wild Flowers). Beginning with the 1943 card, more Flowers were added to increase the luck ratio and to allow for more challenging hands.

Some, but certainly not all, American Mah Jongg sets came with Jokers before the NMJL first started requiring them in 1960-61. The number of Flowers and Jokers in a set isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of the exact date of manufacture of an American set, but an understanding of the NMJL’s fluctuating use of Flowers and Jokers does give some clues.

1937-1942 8F
1943 12F
1944-45 14F
1946 16F
1947-48 18F
1949 20F
1950-55 24F
1956-57 22F
1958-60 20F
1960-62 14F/2J
1962-66 12F/4J
1966-67 8F/6J
1967-68 10F/6J
1968-71 6F/8J
1971-Present 8F/8J

If you have a set with only 2 natural jokers but 14 Flowers, it was probably made in America in the early 1960’s. Domestic set manufacturing began in the1920s and continued into the 1960s. At some point, though, cheaper Chinese imports caused all the American manufacturers to go out of business. Those Chinese companies aren’t always sure what the NMJL requires, so Chinese sets made today often come with extra Flowers and jokers (more than 8F/8J).”

PLAYING ATOMIC MAH JONGG

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-2-36-50-pmI recently received a question from our dear friend Joy H regarding Atomic hands in a Mah Jongg game. For those of you who do not know about Atomic Mah Jongg, I wrote about it several years ago in a previous blog posting. Since that posting the OM’s (my Wednesday Mah Jongg group) have amended the rules to say no Flowers as well as no Jokers are allowed. Here is Joy’s question:

Hi Ann – Our group has started playing Atomic hands when possible and now we are wondering if you could answer a couple of questions.

I read your posts about going ‘Atomic’ and understand that since it is not recognized by the NMJL, table rules must therefore be applied.  We would like to follow your table rules, although we don’t play for money.

 I’m assuming that your group declares when one is going ‘Atomic’, due to the fact that there is no line on the card.  Is that correct?

 Also why does your group follow a rule that if you pick a Flower or Joker you must change your hand?  

 I can’t understand this one but another in our group does not think 4 of a kind makes two pair, so I’m also assuming that is another table rule you have implemented.

 So many questions… so many rules ….. so much FUN!

 Think of you often, my friend,

joy

🙂

My response to Joy was as follows: 

Flowers and Jokers disqualify your hand for Atomic simply because there are so many of each and it is too easy to get pairs of them. That would give Atomic hands an unfair advantage so we say that if you pick a Flower or Joker then you are no longer Atomic (and hopefully you have a backup hand). This is not just a table rule for our group – this seems to be the standard accepted rule for Atomic hands. Also, you must declare yourself Atomic BEFORE the Charleston so that no one is allowed to pass you a Flower. And yes, with an Atomic hand, 4 of a kind is considered two pairs. Having said all of this I must also tell you that I do not “approve” of Atomic game play. It changes the nature of the game and I totally understand why it is not sanctioned by the NMJL. I only mention it briefly when teaching Mah Jongg and make it clear that I don’t like it. I personally do not play Atomic hands – I prefer to stay with the NMJL accepted hands on the card…but, that’s me. I would love to hear your thoughts on this game-changing hand. Let me know what you think! 

MORNING MAHJ…

Nothing like hosting a brunch and lots of Mah Jongg in the morning. What could be a better way to start the day? IMG_1422And what better way to end the day with this self-picked and really fun Mah Jongg hand of     FFFF DDDD DD DDDD.

 I was so lucky to pick those three Jokers because no one was discarding Flowers!IMG_1423

A TERRIFYING GAME OF MAH JONGG!

From the most recent issue of Mahjong News and written by Scott D. Miller:

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Care to play bones, anyone?

ORLANDO, Florida – Lurking in the dreary lobby of the haunted Hollywood / Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride in Disney’s Hollywood Studios lays dormant a terrifying game of unfinished mahjong. It’s participants fled following a mysterious lighting strike at exact 8:05 PM October 31st 1939 that vanished several unfortunate guests.

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A ghostly game of mahjong with four dead hands.

Even more terrifying than the mysterious disappearance of the hotel guests is that every single one of the hands in the mahjong game is a dead hand! Ahhhh!

Well, that was true when that top photo was taken, but Disney tour guides now claim that the hands have been reshaped by “professional” mahjong players to be an accurate portrayal of a mahjong game in mid-play, and should the mysterious guests ever return, they could pick up where they left off.

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All your hands belong to us.

With the joker tiles on the table, and flower tiles being held in the concealed hand, they could only have been playing National Mah-Jongg League rules. Assuming the dice indicate East and counting the melded pung of 3-dots she has on the table, East holds fourteen tiles and is waiting to discard. All this is acceptable, but not even the NMJL rules can account for the bizarrely melded pair of Souths and melded pair of red dragons on the near edge of the table. Is she playing with eighteen tiles in the hand and melding pairs? Ignoring the similarly unexlicable melds for the rest of the players, South at least currently holds the proper number of thirteen tiles in the hand, but West still has only twelve tiles, and North has only nine! The horror!

Mahjong News | Copyright © 1997-2015

 

WOW – WHAT A GIFT!!!

Sometimes I am a bit late in checking my mail…I finally got around to picking up the past week’s mail late on Sunday evening…imagine my surprise to find an envelope from Meredith, one of my star students. I couldn’t wait to get upstairs to open it up and WOW, was I ever surprised to find the most fabulous eyeglass case that she had stitched for me. It is SO FABULOUS and I am SO THRILLED to have it…not to mention how impressed I am by her beautiful handwork. Her stitches are PERFECT!

Here is the front (and could those images be of my beloved Pung Chow Flowers? – Meredith is amazing!):

IMG_0856And the back:IMG_0858And even the lining is fabulous:IMG_0859I’m still trying to find the right words of thanks to give to Meredith – this is a gift I will not only use every single day but I will treasure it always. 

Monday I went out to lunch with a friend and couldn’t stop bragging about this fabulous eyeglass case – my friend loved it and couldn’t get over the beautiful and perfect stitching. Thank you, Meredith!!!IMG_0860

PE-LING/MAH JONGG/SENIOR SET?!

S1 has a friend with an interesting Pe-Ling set. It says on the box, “Senior Set”…I wonder what that means? Could it be that this was made for people of a certain age…

I did a little research on Pe-Ling and, although it looks just like an inexpensive Mah Jongg set, apparently Pe-Ling tried to advertise itself as something different from the game we know and love. What I really think is that Pe-Ling was just another name for the mysterious and exotic game of Mah Jongg, similar to all those other names such as Man Chu, Mah Diao, Ma Chong, Pung Chow, Ching Chong, Kong Chow, Mah Deuck, Mah Cheuk, Ma Chiang, Mah Lowe, Game of Four Winds, The Ancient Game of the Mandarins, and Ma Jiang, just to name a few!

Perhaps some of you out there can enlighten us further on Pe-Ling. Here is what I was able to learn:

The manufacturer might have tried to convince people that the game rules were unique but I don’t believe that is the case. This was one of those sets that were manufactured for the American market around the mid-1920s and, as I wrote above, was probably a very inexpensive set. Fun to see but not worth much especially now with the box in horrible shape and the tiles looking filthy (although that shouldn’t take away from its value – they can always be cleaned) and not of any exotic or beautiful material. However, there is no question that the suits and other tiles are definitely of interesting designs.

That is not the One Bam shown here with the Bam suit – the Green Dragon is in its place in these photos. It appears that the One Bam is mixed in with the Flowers although, unfortunately, it is very hard to see those tiles in the photos that were sent to S1; you can get a glimpse of the One Bam in the third picture below. 

It does seem that all the tiles are there…there are 144 tiles, including all the suits we would normally find – Bams, Dots, and Craks plus Winds, Dragons, and Flowers plus counting sticks and other accessories. Its makeup certainly looks like a typical Mah Jongg set to me!  And, even though this set is not exactly in pristine condition, I find it very interesting that the included Pe-Ling booklet looks to be very well preserved.

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IMG_4949I would love to know more about Pe-Ling – if any of you have some information please send it to me so I can share it with everyone.

And, most important of all to me…what does “Senior Set” mean?!!!