Tag Archives: Jokers

WHEN ARE JOKERS VIABLE IN A DEAD HAND?

I know this question comes up frequently and is one of those issues that causes much discussion. Well, leave it to the Grand Master of American-style Mah Jongg, the wonderful Gladys Grad, to provide us with a definitive answer!

Q. 
The hand in question is: 22 44 666 888 DDDD

A player had 4 RED Dragons already exposed on her rack from a previous call for one of the Red Dragons.  She declared Mah Jongg and picked up a 6 Bam and added 2 Jokers with it on her rack.  Then she proceeded to expose the rest of the Mah Jongg hand. She put three 8 Bams on the rack and then two 2 Craks and two 4 Craks.  Of course the hand was dead as she needed two 2 DOTS & two 4 DOTS because the hand calls for 3 suits. Now another player says that since she exposed the 6 Bams first with the 2 jokers, that that part of the hand was still available for exchanging the joker.  Was the Joker in the 6 Bam exposure still viable?  VS, CA

A. No, that Joker was NOT viable.  If it had been a Joker in the previously exposed Red Dragons, then it could be exchanged.  But the 6 Bam exposure made with Jokers was still part of the current turn that resulted in it being declared a dead hand.  

I hope this will help those of you who are still not sure when a Joker is still viable in a dead hand. Send me some of your situations with dead hands and Jokers and I will post them on a future blog. 

ANOTHER MAH JONGG MYSTERY SOLVED!

A few days ago I published a posting about the history of Jokers found in our Mah Jongg sets. I noted that I did not know who had originally written the article but asked the readers of this blog to let me know if they had any idea. Well, two of the mavens of the game, Tony and Annelise, both contacted me and told me that the article had come from none other than our dear friend, Tom Sloper. You can see the original article From Tom’s Sloper on Mah-Jongg, written on February 26th, 2012, column #509. Yet another mystery solved thanks to two really wonderful friends in our fabulous Mah Jongg community.

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).”

HAPPY NEW YEAR…AND A 2018 REMINDER…

WISHING ALL OF YOU A HAPPY, HEALTHY AND WONDERFUL NEW YEAR,                                 FILLED WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF JOKERS!

And now, believe it or not, it is time to order your 2018 National Mah Jongg League cards, which will be mailed out to you in late March/early April. Just go to the League’s website here and follow the instructions. The earlier you order, the sooner you will receive your new NMJL cards!

ON THIS LAST NIGHT OF CHANUKAH…

…I am sending you all good thoughts that you received everything you wished for…including lots of Jokers in your Mah Jongg games!

Happy Chanukah!!!

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR MAH JONGG HOLIDAY GIFTS?

If so, you are about to see some really funny stocking stuffers/Chanukah gifts at a really great price.

How would you like your Mah Jongg set to have Jokers that look like this:

Well, you too can own these Jokers…remember our dear friend Alex who brought us the terrific Holiday Mahjong Christmas Edition last year? This year Alex – and his friend Nana, the artist & designer – have brought us very  funny Joker stickers which come 8 to a set (each sticker measures 1.2″ H x 1″ W  (3 x 2.5 centimeters) …you can buy them at his Etsy store …see for yourself –