I played last week with my cousin at her country club. I'm on my best behavior when I go there. I play by their rules; throw and pick - or "t/p" as my cousin calls it and a hot wall. There is an unlimited pie, but I was instructed to start with $10 in my purse and go from there. ("And don't bring too much change," my cousin told me. "I never heard the end of it last time.") There are other, more subtle rules at the table, and fitting in with the group becomes as much a part of the game as the game itself.
In many ways I can never compete with these gals. They dress for mahj in expensive silk twinsets and full makeup and chat about world cruises and the grandson's second year at Harvard Law. I listened quietly as they kvetched about the deteriorating quality of the bagels ("they must get them from Costco now") and lambaste anyone who happened to be unavailable to play that day. ("Did you see that outfit?") I just focused on playing my best and held my own. I won a lot of games and I could see it made someone cranky. So cranky, in fact, that she redoubled her efforts and won a couple of biggies. Just a few, but enough to make a difference. Because at the end of the day when I counted my winnings I found I had only won 15 cents.
I wasn't sure how that could be because I knew how many games I had won compared to the others. I hadn't thrown mahj very much and they only double the card when a game is a double. But then I thought about her big hands and the wall games that went into a pot and the double-double and I realized that this woman's strategy of making a few big hands paid off against my chicken hand wins. If she, in holding out for a big hand, threw my tile, she would have to pay me .50, but if she won on a self-pick quint, she would make $2.40. More if there was a pot. More if she threw a double. She took into consideration things I hadn't thought of, weighed the risks and went for it when it was worth it. In the end she went home smiling with my money. Isn't that always the way? But...but...I won...didn't I? Are there any bagels left?
While I haven't been keeping to my posting schedule, I have made a few updates to the blog. I've added a teacher section. If you know anyone that wants to be listed, please e-mail me. I've also secured the domain name: www.mahjblog.com so if you type that into Google it will take you directly to the posts. I've turned on mobile device formatting, so it can be easily read on a phone. Please feel free to comment on these changes.
I've been busy trying to find a Friday fill-in. One player is gone, one has been added and one plays her last game for the summer next week. So far we have two maybe's, one can do it one Friday a month, three who can play but not at my house due to perceived smoke sensitivities, and one who has four and is looking for me to be a fifth. Stay tuned...
One more thing. I'm thrilled to report I have found a copy of Robert F. Foster's 1924 definitive work: Foster on Mah Jong. Tom Sloper has graciously reproduced an excerpt: Click here to read excerpt
Although it was written about classical Chinese mah jong, I'm sure it has applicability to today's NMJL. I can't wait to receive it, devour it and interpret it for my readers.