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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The 2018 Newsletter

The latest edition of the National Mah Jongg League newsletter has just arrived!  The newsletter details the activities of the League and keeps the membership informed of any updates. To receive the newsletter, you must be an active member of the League.  You become a member when you purchase a card either directly from the League (online or by mail) or you purchase your card from a Collector who submits your name and address to the League membership roster. 

The newsletter is informative, entertaining and performs several important functions.

  1. The President's report - Wherein Larry Unger, League President, reflects on the League's work for the year; card development, hurricane relief, and continuing contributions to worthy causes.
  2. The Mailbag - correspondence received by the League from charities who have received donations sent by the League on behalf of the membership.  From major hospitals to individual scholarships, it is gratifying to know that a portion of our membership dues (an unchanged $8 - $9) is being used to help others.  The mailbag this year also contains some whimsical poetry on the subject of mahjongg.
  3. The Q&A - Here is where we get our rules clarifications and updates.  These questions and answers reflect the most covered inquiries received by the League in phone calls and letters throughout the year.  These are the latest rulings by the League experts and get filtered down through the mahjongg community.  When people want to see it in writing, it is there in the newsletter.  Some of this year's updates include:
         - A player is committed to taking a tile from the wall if it has been moved in any way.
    - Tapping or clicking the tile is not racking
         - A hand is not officially dead until another player verifies that Mah Jongg cannot be made
         -You are committed to discarding a tile once it is fully named
         - It is recommended that a player never touch another player's tiles
         -A bettor may not speak even though they realize an error has been made
         - If a tile is taken from the wrong end and racked the player's hand is dead
  4. The 2018-2019 Membership Application - make sure to order your cards early to be sure you receive the 2018 card without delay upon release!  The label of the newsletter contains your membership number, which is necessary when ordering.
  5. Bits and Pieces and the Mah Jongg Store - This covers the products and services performed by the League, including the online game and tile matching service.  Important note:  A newly revised version of Mah Jongg Made Easy (the League's official rule book) is now available.
  6. The Honor Roll continues to grow - the last two pages of the Newsletter list all the Collector members (those who send in 35 or more membership applications) and their charities of choice.
I may not have been blogging much this year but I have been playing and teaching and seeing the excitement and interest that people have been showing as they learn this great game.  Mah Jongg has certainly enhanced my life and brought me into a community of fun, like-minded people from all over the world, all for the price of a mah jongg card.  So I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone reading this a happy new year, and to thank the League once again for their hard work and dedication.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The 2017 Card - Six Flowers are back!!

Six flowers!

Like a migrating spring bird, the card is making its way across the country, first spotted on Saturday, March 25 in Suffolk County, NY.  If yours hasn't come yet, take out your 2016 card and follow along in this year's synopsis:

The only change in the categories is from 2016 to 2017 and Eleven Hands are now "Lucky 13". The pung, pung, kong, kong pattern has changed back to pung, kong, pung, kong, and the pair, pair, pung, pung, kong  has changed back to pair, pung, kong, pung, pair.  These patterns have alternated from year to year and this was not unexpected.  There is a pair, pair, pung, pung, kong pattern in 2468, Consecutive Run,  13579 and 369.  An example of this is the 11 22 111 222 3333 hand, which has been retained.

Some changes:  No wind/year hand combination this year.
Only four "year" hands
First hand is the pung, kong, pung, kong combo in two suits; 222 0000 111 7777
Second hand pair of flowers, kong of dragons, 2017, kong of dragons in second suit.
Third hand is something new - pair of flowers, followed by 2017 and two kongs of sevens; 3 suits.
The fourth hand is closed and is the same as the current closed hand except the last pung is sevens.

Pay close attention here!  Many hands look the same, but they are not!
The first hand is now a kong of flowers, single two, pair of four, pung of sixes and kong of eights.
Second hand pattern changes to pung, kong, pung, kong.
The three kongs of 2-4-6 with the pair of eights in one suit has been retained, as has the hand above it on the 2016 card.
The hand with the two pairs of eights is out, and the closed hand with dragons is out.
The dragon hand in evens is now in the pair, pair, pung, pung, kong pattern.  22 44 666 888 DDDD (3 suits)
The closed hand is a pair of flowers followed by four pungs each of 2468.

Like Numbers
Now it gets interesting!
Like numbers has been shaken up a bit.  Still only two hands.
First hand three suits; pair of flowers, kong of number, kong of dragon, kong of like number.  This may take a bit of getting used to.
Second hand a six flower hand.  Pung of flowers, kong of number, pung of flowers, kong of like number.  Open hand, value 30.
Makes those flowers way more valuable, IMHO.

Lucky "13" Hands
Fours and nines, fives and eights, sixes and sevens, all add up to 13.
Hang on to those flowers and sevens when and if you want to go joker shopping!

My old favorite in first place:  Quint any wind, kong any dragon, quint any number.
Second place like numbers - quint, kong, quint.  Fairly straightforward.
Third place:  Consecutive run.  Pair of flowers, quint, pair, quint, any three consecutive, one suit; i.e., FF 11111 22 33333. This substitutes for that infernal FF 11111 66 77777 hand which I never made.
Fourth place is odds, unusual pattern: 111 3333 55555 DD or 555 7777 99999 DD.  Only one quint so only one joker needed.  One suit, these numbers only.  Hmmm...more sevens...

Consecutive run:
The classic first hand is now pair, pung, kong, pung, pair.
Flowers 1-2-3 is BACK!
11 22 111 222 3333 is RETAINED!
Kong of flowers, one suit consecutive run kong with pair of matching dragons is BACK!
The sandwich hand is RETAINED!  (Kong pair/pair/pair kong)  Some call it bookends.
The Margaretann hand is BACK!   I mean, the closed hand, pung-pair-pung consecutive with two pungs of opposite dragons - value 30.  Margaretann played it (and made it) often.
Consecutive runs now seems like a haven of classic, cherished hands.

First hand is now pair, pung, kong, pung, pair.
1-3-3-5 and 5-7-7-9 is now pung, kong, pung, kong.
The one-nine bookends with pairs of 3-5-7 has been retained.
The dragon hand in odds now fits the pattern of the dragon hand in evens.
Three suits: 11 33 333 555 DDDD or the same in 5-7-9-D.  More sevens!
Flowers and odds has changed to pair of flowers, kong each of 1-3-5 or 5-7-9.
(I'm telling you, there will be fisticuffs over those sevens!)
Another pattern hand is next: 11 33 111 333 555 (3 suits), same in 5-7-9.
The closed hand is different yet familiar: 111 3 555 555 7 999.  Only 1 seven in this one.

Winds - Dragons
A little fun with winds and dragons.
First hand is the same, kongs of N-E-W and pair of souths.
Second hand is a sandwich:  Kong of norths and souths with pairs of dragons in the middle.  The hand comes in easts and wests as well.  30 points.
A variation on the closed hand; norths and souths with odds, easts and wests with evens, but the pattern is now: pair of number, pung of wind, pair of number, pung of wind, kong of number (3 suits)
Next hand is - aha! - another six flower hand.  Can be done in North/South or East/West.
Pung of flowers, kong of wind, pung of flowers, kong of wind.
And the last hand is a switch from a kong of flowers to a pair of flowers with three kongs of dragons.

Not a whole lot of change for this category, although the closed hand looks interesting.
The one suit dragon hand is now: Kong of 3, pair of six, kong of nine, kong of dragons.  No flowers.
Second hand has conformed to pattern in other categories:  pung, kong, pung kong of 3-6-6-9.
The third hand is retained.  Pair of flowers, kong each of 3-6-9 in one or three suits.
Fourth hand retained in same position.  Conforms to pattern; pair, pair, pung, pung, kong. 3-6-3-6-9.
Fifth hand tweaked and instead of like pungs it's now in three suits.  Pair each of 3-6-9 and kongs of 3, 6, or 9 in the other two suits.
The final, closed hand is something new.  Two flowers, pung of 3, pung of 6, then pung of 9 in second suit and pung of 9 in third suit.

Singles and pairs
Something old, something new in singles and pairs.
Wind hand is pairs of all winds and pairs of like numbers.
Consecutive run hand is seven pairs, any consecutive numbers in one suit.  (There are only three possibilities for this hand - 1 through 7, 2 through 8 or 3 through 9)  I actually made this hand last week - too bad it wasn't on the card yet!
The 369 pairs hand has been retained.
The evens pairs hand has been brought back: pair of flowers, two suits of 224688.
Odds pairs hand is pairs of 13579 with like odd pairs in opposite two suits.
The pair of flowers with pairs of consecutive numbers is retained; i.e., FF 11 22 11 22 11 22.
The final hand is a bit of a surprise.  It's not the standard FF 2017 2017 2017, but rather:
FF 2017 DD 2017 DD in bams and craks only.  (Let's see how many go dead on this one!)

So there you have this year's card - something for each one of the League's hundreds of thousands of members.  Can't wait to play!