Perhaps the Mah Jongg craze sometimes goes a bit too far…my wonderful friend Charlotte sent the following photo to me from the June issue of Hamptons Magazine. Joanna mahjong set, Ralph Lauren ($4,495). 31–33 Main St., East Hampton, 631-324-1222; 41 Jobs Lane, Southampton, 631-287-6953. Bellamy clover tall vase ($350) and clamshell bowl ($345), AERIN. 83 Main St., Southampton, 631-353-3773
The wonderful Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American Style Mah Jongg, offers a Q&A in her monthly newsletter. This month there were a number of very interesting questions. Here are a couple of them with more to follow in a day or two. I’d love to hear your comments!
Q. Someone who winters in Arizona said that the white dragon should be called “white” during play. She got this instruction from a person who runs tournaments in Arizona. Is this now correct for all tournaments?
A. We call the white dragon “Soap.” The NMJL has called it “soap” for many decades. It’s common in Canada to name it “white.” Either name is acceptable in most tournaments. However, if a tournament Host states they want it named “white,” then you should abide by the Host’s rules.
Q. I don’t want to build walls, and I don’t want to throw the dice to break the walls. Too many additional things we have to do. Why?
A. We just love these kinds of questions. How about like what Mom used to say, “Because I said so.” In this case….’because the NMJL said so.’ It’s the rule. However, here is a wonderful response…on Facebook, “This is a game of ceremony, rules and etiquette. Building the wall is part of the ceremony. I cannot imagine forgoing this in the traditional four person game.” Moreover, breaking the wall arbitrarily by the throw of the dice is a method to prevent stacking East’s wall with Jokers; to prevent cheating. This process is used throughout the Mah Jongg playing world.
Does your group build walls and throw the dice to know where to break the wall? I recently played with a woman whose group always breaks the wall at 8. They never throw the dice. I personally like the rituals and ceremonies of the game and would not want to give up any of them. Also, as Gladys pointed out, throwing the dice to determine where to break the wall is a definite method to prevent any cheating. Let me know your thoughts…
Quite a while ago I posted a shout-out for help for Babs, a good friend of this blog. You can read the original post at the bottom of this message. Babs has now sent an update and we are appealing to you for help. Here is what she wrote:
Hi Ann! It’s me again! I am just checking in with your readers one more time. I have almost accumulated all the images of the NMJL cards. I am still missing 1946, and pre-1940 cards. I have managed through the generosity of fellow Mah Jongg players nationwide to find images of all the other years! Absolutely amazing! So, if you could post another plea for help I would be most appreciative. Someone must have a friend-of-a-friend with one tucked away somewhere! Feel free to share my email with anyone who can help! Thanks so much! Babs
Here is the original posting: I received an email from Babs, a good friend of this blog. Babs is working on a very interesting and novel project. As she wrote, “I am looking for older Mah Jongg cards. I am trying to make a complete image collection of all cards from the first year the NMJL made the card to the present. A big task, I know….do you or your “friends” have any images of cards from the following years: 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1993, 1992, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1975, 1974, 1972, 1971, 1970, 1969, 1967, 1966, 1962, and all earlier years. Hope you can help or point me to a friend that can…
I am not aware of anyone else who has tried to put this together. I think it would be fascinating to see all the different hand combinations since the early days of Mah Jongg. Yes, I did get a number of images off eBay, but they are not complete. Most are missing the rules page which tell you the number of Flowers/Jokers for the years, or the images are too blurry to see all the hands. I have googled umpteen hundred searches for every year from 1938 and on (searching: NMJL, Mah Jongg card, Mah Jongg rule, Mah Jongg hands) so far to try and complete this, but there are not enough images online to make complete renderings of all the years. I have managed to buy a lot of cards when they are reasonable in price…but some people are charging $40.00 or more dollars for a single card…ridiculous! Considering I have 78 years to find, that’s quite expensive. Any help is appreciated. I don’t care if they have 6 separate images for each card’s panel or have 2 images , one for each side. I am stitching together what I can….and if anyone wants to donate their cards in the years I noted, I am happy to provide an address to send it to….:) My oldest card, that I own is 1944. Let me tell you, there have been some crazy hands……….Thanks! Babs
So, if anyone has cards from the years that Babs has cited, please let me know and I will put you in touch with her. It would be such fun to see the finished product so let’s try to help her, even if we are just loaning her cards to use for the images.
Have any of you seen the Amazon series “Red Oaks” with Jennifer Grey, Paul Reiser, Freddy Roman, Gina Gershon, Richard Kind and more? My dear friend (although not a Mah Jongg player!) Jodi D told me that I must watch this series, now in its second season. So, this afternoon I watched the pilot and then binge-watched right into Episode 2…and guess what I saw…the women at the Red Oaks Country Club playing Mah Jongg! Seriously, Mah Jongg is everywhere!!! Now I just have to contact the producers and let them know that in reality these women would have been playing with NMJL sets and racks because I definitely heard them say, “I still don’t have any Jokers!”