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).
The big day has finally arrived (actually, the ordering started yesterday for those early birds who kept checking)! Pull out your National Mah Jongg League newsletter, note your membership i.d. number, and go to the online store on the NMJL website to order your new 2016 cards!!! You should receive your cards in early April, 2016.
BTW, if you are a teacher – or just like to order a large number of cards – you might want to take advantage of the nice discount that Lynn offers to all of us at Where The Winds Blow.
Yesterday I posted some common mistakes innocently made at the Mah Jongg table. Here’s a question from what we have to assume is an innocent mistake from a very new player (I can’t imagine an experienced player passing a Joker during the Charleston). This is from the current Mah Jongg Madness newsletter by Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg.
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.
Yesterday I received my January edition of the monthly newsletter from the website Mah Jongg Madness.
I look forward to this monthly emailing, particularly the section called Mah Jongg University, devoted to answering Mah Jongg game play questions. The questions are answered by Gladys Grad, known as the “Grand Master of American-style Mah Jongg Tournaments.” Many a “discussion” at our weekly games are settled by the answers Gladys gives in this column. Here is a great question and answer from this month’s newsletter:
Q. When a player puts their exposed tiles on the rack, should they put them in order as they appear on the card? One person in our game said “no.” (That just sounded rude.) The same person will ask us to separate our kongs, etc. Is there a rule requiring you to put them in order? Marilyn A. You do NOT have to put your exposures in order …unless you have exposed your whole hand for mahj – and then only if another player asks you to do so. In a tournament, if you have mahj and you refuse to put the tiles in order upon request, then you will be declared “dead.” However, it is just common courtesy to separate your exposures, especially upon request.
STRATEGY NOTE: If you have more than one exposure on your rack, you really don’t want to make it easier for the other players to know what hand you’re playing…. so expose the tiles out of order. You also don’t want to make it easier for them to play defensively.
If you are interested in receiving this monthly newsletter, be sure to join the Mah Jongg Madness website. And if you have a question about game play, email it to Gladys and perhaps you will see it published in one of her future newsletters.