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Monday, January 23, 2023

Buying a Card 2023 Edition

I had written a post about this back in 2018, and while most things are the same, some things need to be updated. First and foremost, however is the timing. Now is the time to buy the 2023 card. The longer you wait, the later you will receive your card and you will be very upset when everyone has the card before you. The first mailing of the new card goes out the last week in March, and your order must be received by early February in order to make that first mailing, so don’t dally. 

Many of you have ordered from collectors who sell cards for the benefit of a charitable organization. These orders must be placed by the first week in February as well and the cards will be distributed in the first mailing as well. If you want your card in the first mailing, and you have not ordered from a collector, you must order directly from the National Mahjongg League website – www.nationalmahjonggleague.org. When you buy a card directly from the League, you become a member and will receive the bulletin in December. Be aware that there are reputable mahjongg retailers who also sell the card, but if you place your order with them, it will not come in the first mailing, and you will not become a member of the League. Retailers will often have links that will pop up and make you think you are buying from the League, but while you will be getting a League card, you will be getting it after all the members receive theirs. You also will be charged tax and shipping. The League does not charge tax or shipping for cards. 

You can also mail in a check, but do not mail it in to the 450 Seventh Avenue address. The League now uses a service to process the tens of thousands of checks they receive. If you have your bulletin, you can use your sticker order form, make your check out to the National Mah Jongg League, and send it to PO Box 50003, Newark, NJ 07101-1130. If you do not have the bulletin, include with your check your name and address, your email, whether or not you are a new member or this is a renewal, and the details of your order (number and size of the cards). If you are buying for yourself and others, specify whether you want all the cards to go to you, or delivered to each person individually, and give the order details. You do not need a self-addressed, stamped envelope. You are not charged tax or shipping

The price has gone up this year – it’s $14 for the standard size and $15 for the large print. This is a result of increased prices across the board for paper, shipping, mailing, staff and all the other work the League does, and to ensure that the quality of the card remains high. There have been many reports of counterfeit cards received by people who ordered from websites other than the League’s.  These cards are very poor quality and needless to say the counterfeiters do not donate any of their proceeds.

The League will also be increasing its charitable donations, which amounts to millions of dollars each year – all from the sale of the cards. We all know that people are struggling and these donations go a long way and help a lot of people, which has been the mission of the League for 86 years. 

So hurry up and order the cards! What are you waiting for?

Thursday, March 31, 2022

2022 Card Unboxing

The 2022 card has dropped!

Thanks to the National Mah Jongg League for its work in getting out the 2022 card on time.  The making, printing and mailing of this card was not without its challenges, given the supply line and labor shortages that business are facing.  But for us players, the challenge is - 2022!  From a mahjongg player's perspective, 2022 is VERY challenging, given the fact that one must use three two's in the same suit to make the year.  There have not been many instances where three identical tiles had to be used in a year hand: 1888 (well...), 1999, 2000 and not until 2111 will it happen again (we should all live and be well - and playing)!  So let's start our review by looking at the very challenging year hands.

2022 - Lots of challenges
Note the wording on top - "Jokers may not be used in a 2022 grouping"
The first hand is straightforward but specific.  A pair of flowers, kong of greens, kong of reds with 2022 in the middle. G's and R's are used instead of  D's.  2022 in any one suit.  
The pattern has switched to pung, pung, kong, kong, so the second year hand on the 2022 card is switched up to the new pattern using a pung of two's, pung of soaps, and two kongs of two's in the other two suits.  Folks. that's 11 2's.
If that one isn't challenging enough, the third hand is a four-flower hand, 2022 with two pungs of twos in three suits, so only 9 two's.  Thank goodness for jokers! Just FYI, there are six hands with matching pungs, so if you have two pungs of twos exposed, it's not a giveaway by any means.
There are two closed hands in 2022 - the wind hand is a holdover from 2021, and the pattern has changed from pungs of NS and pairs of EW to pairs of NS and pungs of EW.  Another FYI, pungs of winds only appear on closed hands this year.
If you are looking for the big hand in singles and pairs, you won't find it there.  This year it is making a special guest appearance in the year section - and an extra 10 points added to its value, given the challenge. Nine two's and no jokers!  Good luck with that!

2468 - Lots of choices
Some familiar hands here and some not so familiar.  This year the five-flower hands have been eliminated, and three-flower and six-flower hands are back.  
The first hand in the category is now a three-flower hand with pairs of 2s and 4s, pung of 6 and kong of 8 - one suit only, as usual.  
The pattern hand has switched to pung, pung, kong, kong and can be made in two or three suits.  It's on one line, whereas in 2021 it took up two lines.
The  hand with matching dragons (3rd hand on 2021 card) has changed patterns - pair, pung, pair, pung, kong, and is also in one or three suits, effectively putting 10 hands in this category as opposed to 8.
The gate hand has been eliminated (pairs of 4 and 6 in the middle) and the new "dangling eight" hand is now:  2222 44 6666 88 88 pairs 8s only.
A six-flower hand now appears: pung of flowers, kong of 2s, pung of flowers, kong of 8s - two suits only.  This pattern appears three times on the card.
The last two hands in 2468 are eliminated, replaced an by old favorite three-suit hand:  22 444 44 666 8888.  
The closed hand is a new one and ties in to the pairs hand in the category.  Both hands use a pair of flowers, and while the closed hand uses 246 888 (twice, in two suits) the pairs hand uses 22 46 88 (twice, in two suits).  If you are doing the pairs and get jokers or can't get a pair of 2s, you can open it up to the closed hand.  

Any Like Number - Lots of dragons
This category has gotten a little bit of a makeover, but you can't go wrong with kongs and pungs of like numbers.  
The NEWS between kongs of like numbers has been replaced by a kong of an opposite dragon.  However, the NEWS hand has not disappeared completely - you can now find a similar hand in the winds category - with the flowers removed and NEWS replaced by NN EW SS.
The four-flower hand has become a six-flower hand - pung of flowers, kong of number, pung of flowers, kong of like number in second suit. 
The matching dragon hand is changed to 111 DD 111 DD 1111 (three suits).  Note the matching pungs...

Quints - Lots of difference
Every quint hand from 2021 has been changed.
The "any" hand is now a quint of any dragon and any number and a kong of any wind.  While five dragons will be a giveaway, the winds will no longer be.
A one-suit category hand occupies the second slot: 22 444 6666 88888.
A consecutive/like number hand returns from 2020 - 1122 33333 33333
A four-flower one-suit consecutive in the last slot: FFFF 11111 22222

Consecutive Run - Lots of familiarity - but not too much.
This category provides the comfort level that we all know and love. 
The first hand is the classic run 1-5 and 5-9 with a change in pattern - pair, pair, pung, pung, kong.
Taking the second slot is a six-flower hand, similar to that in like numbers except the second kong is a consecutive number.  Switchable!
The pattern hand has also changed and switched positions - it's now on the fifth line, pung, pung, kong, kong and now can be in one or two suits.   
The matching dragon one-suit hand and the five-flower run on the 2021 card have blended into one hand - FFFF 11 22 333 DDD which takes the seventh slot.
The block hand remains - pair of flowers, kongs of three consec. nos, 1 or 3 suits.
The 11 222/11 222/3333 hand now has a kong of dragons at the end - 3 suits.  (Note the matching pungs...)
The three pair hand has been eliminated, replaced by the good ole "sandwich" hand - 1111 22 22 22 3333 - any 3 nos, kongs match suit, pairs in three suits.  
The closed hand is now a gate hand of sorts:  111 2 333 111 2 333 this pattern has appeared in the past in 369 and 135, but rarely in consecutive.

13579 - Lots of "everything old is new again"
The top hand in this category is identical to the hand as it was in 2021.  The pattern has not changed, and it remains in one or three suits. 
The matching dragon hand from 2021 has moved from the second slot to the fifth slot - take away the flowers and add two 1's.  
Taking the second slot in the category now is a block hand - pair of flowers and three kongs, but....three suits only.  You heard that right - FF 1111 3333 5555 and FF 5555 7777 9999 a hand that hasn't been seen in decades.  This hand switches nicely with the block hand in consecutive.
The pattern hand is in - modified pattern - pung, kong, pung, kong.
The opposite dragon hand is out, but you will see it in 369.
The hand with three pairs is out, replaced by a very unusal, never-before-seen hand:  FFF 1111 357 9999 - two suits, 1's and 9's match, singles in 2nd suit. Fun!
A two-pung hand is in slot 6 - pair/pung/pair/pung/kong in 135 and 579.  Note the matching pungs...
The closed hand is a hand that spans the category: FF 1 33 555/5 77 999 two suits - very tricky as it contains three pairs and two singles. 

Winds - Dragons - Lots of things turned on their head
Much of this category has been revamped.  There is still a block hand of winds - kong N, kong E, kong W, pair S, a flower hand, FFFF NNNN EW SSSS, and the closed hand has been retained.  
The much loved flowers with three dragons - has returned - pung/kong/pung/kong. 
The wind hands with odds/evens and red/green have been removed, replaced by a winds with like numbers (1111 NNEWSS 1111) and winds with consecutive numbers:  NNNN SSSS or EEEE WWWW followed by a consecutive run: 1 22 333.  This is definitely NEWS!

369 - Lots of matching pungs
Much of this category has been retained.  
The pattern hand at the top is now pung/pung/kong/kong.  
The block hand has changed - take away a 6 and add a flower. 
The popular hand with like kongs 3 and 6 and two pungs of 9s remains unchanged.
The matching dragon hand has shaved off two 3s and added two flowers.
The opposite dragon hand has the dragons in the center - 33 666 DDDD 666 99
There is a brand-new hand in an unusual pattern:  FF 333 66 999 3333.  Any two suits, kong 3, 6 or 9.  
The closed hand is the same pattern as 13579 - FF 3 66 999 3 66 999 in two suits.

Singles and Pairs - Lots of old friends
The pairs hands are mostly returning favorites, each one matched with a category. 
The top hand is pairs of winds with pairs of dragons in three suits.
The second hand is pairs of odds with pairs of like odds in opposite suits.
The third hand is like numbers:  FF 11 22 33 11 22 33.  This is a new configuration of an old hand that used three pairs of two consecutive numbers.
This is followed by a familiar run - pairs of any seven consecutive numbers.
The even number pairs hand is easily switchable with the closed hand in 2468 - using two flowers and two sets of 224688 in two suits.
Last but not least is a cha-cha - 336 33669 336699.

Of course, the eye is drawn to the bottom right looking for the "big" hand - which we have already seen has been placed in the "year" catagory, still jokerless, but not really considered singles and pairs, as there are 3 2s in each 2022  And it wouldn't do not to have a BIG hand now, would it?  Let's see - 85, picked yourself, bet on...you might want to think about raising the pie!

What do YOU think about this year's card?