Tag Archives: soap


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…


I am trying and trying to play the SINGLES AND PAIRS hands on this year’s card but all I ever get is close and, as we all know, there is no second place in Mah Jongg. When I think of all the times that I pray for a Joker…but, wouldn’t you know it, I get one just when I don’t need it! This isn’t the first time that I have tried to win with this hand of FF 11 33 55 77 99 DD – but those Soaps just kept getting discarded and I didn’t have that second 9 Dot yet and so couldn’t pick up any of them. You can see them on the table – so frustrating and, as Johni Levene (Los Angeles’ Mah Jongg teacher extraordinaire!) would say, TRAGIC!

Tragic hand on rack


Our dear friend Shirley out east in Canada sent this photo – unfortunately, this was not Shirley’s hand but instead, was a Mah Jongg winning hand from one of her friends. My advice, tell this woman to play the lottery tonight – she clearly has lots and lots of luck!!!

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Here’s another angle of the photo which might give you a better look at this lucky lady’s hand:

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 11.04.11 AM

What hand do you think she was playing?
It could be from the Consecutive Run group: FF 1111 2222 DDDD using her Flowers, Dots, and Soaps.
Or from the 13579 group: FF 1111 9999 DDDD again using her Flowers, Dots, and Soaps.
She also could have done a grouping of Pungs instead of all Kongs and put together a hand from the 2015 section: FF 222 000 111 555 (and it’s a closed hand so worth a bit more) still using her Flowers, Dots, and Soaps.
With all those Jokers I would have gone to the Quints section of the card although I can understand why she wanted to use her Pair of Flowers, her Pair of Soaps, and her Pung of Dots; it makes perfect sense why she went in the direction she did, which was FF 1111 2222 DDDD
How many Jokers have you ever had in one hand? Tell us your stories!



Last week I posted a call out for opinions on the question submitted by Georgelle in Naples, Florida. Thanks to everyone who responded – and there were a lot of you! Read on to learn what everyone had to say… Continue reading



I’ve received a couple of messages from Georgelle in Naples, Florida, and she would like your opinions – please send them to me. Here’s the situation:

I discarded a North, called it a Soap, which is what I meant it to be when I discarded.  That was because I simply wasn’t paying attention and picked up the wrong tile.  I had a North and a Soap sitting on my rack together.  I actually picked up a North and threw it calling it a Soap.    One of my opponents saw the North, said that’s not a Soap.  The gals said I had to discard the North — even though I called it a Soap.  Thus the lady Mah Jongg’d with the North tile — which I didn’t intend to throw, but did it stupidly. 
I paid for myself and the other two players.  Was that necessary?  

Thanks from our whole group — most of whom have been playing for twenty or thirty years.  Me — only about four years, but never did such a stupid thing.  Just was talking and not paying attention.
Thanks for your help.

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Yesterday, being Mah Jongg Wednesday for the OMs, we met once again at K’s home. And, as always, Roxie was so happy to see all of us.


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