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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Four-Joker Anomalies


Someone posted this hand on the Modern Mahjongg site saying she had been dealt four jokers and was set at the Charleston.  She had made the bottom quint on the 2021 card.  When I saw it, I realized that it could also be

the sixth hand down in consecutive run.  Luckily, she had made no exposures and declared mahj as the quint, or else would have cheated herself out of 15 points.  

Then, later that day when I was playing, I also had four jokers - 
It made me a little crazy.  I knew I was set, but for what hand?  Did I need:

a flower?

a two or a three?

or a 1 crak?  

I found some others...



and how about...

Is this 222 0000 222 DDDD
or 222 000 222 1111?

and this three-joker anomaly...

I wonder how the bots decide which hands these are????

Monday, March 29, 2021

Let the Games Begin - with the 2021 Card!

 Thank goodness we can put away 2020 for good!  The 2021 card has been released and is making its way to mailboxes far and wide.  And since it is still a violation of copyright protection for me to show the inside of the card, I will continue my tradition (since 2015) of posting a summary of the changes.  This is not an analysis, per se, but a description.  I understand there will be many who will analyze the card, and their impressions will soon be available online, and, of course, you can do your own analysis when you get the card and when you actually start playing.  But for now, get out your 2020 card and follow along with this side-by-side comparison.

As in 2020, there are four hands in the 2021 category.  The first hand is essentially the same, with the year changing to 2021 and the second kong being 1's instead of 2's.  The next two hands in the category are gone, replaced by two hands which both use a kong of soaps.  One hand is a "pattern" hand; pung/kong/pung/kong, in two suits; 222 0000 222 1111.  The next hand is in one suit, kong of flowers, kong of 2's, kong of soaps and a "pillow" of 21.  The bottom, closed hand is a twist on the 2020 closed hand - North and South are pungs and East and West are pairs.  2021 is in the middle.

EVENS (2468)
Some things old and some things new here.  Still eight hands in the category. The top hand is a pyramid (pair/pung/kong/pung/pair), with four flowers in the middle and the pairs at the end being 2's and 8's.  The second hand on the 2020 card appears on the 2021 card in one suit.  The third hand on the 2020 card appears on the 2021 card in the sixth position.  The "pattern" hand switches to a pung/kong/pung/kong pattern instead of pung/pung/kong/kong.  The next four hands on the 2020 card have been replaced.  There are no multiplication (or addition or any other "math" hands) on the 2021 card.  The four hands have been replaced by:  (1)  The "gate" - two flowers, matching kongs of 2's and 8's with pairs of 4's and 6's in a second suit.  (2) A three-suited hand:  matching pungs of 2's and 4's, a kong of 6's in a second suit and a kong of 8's in a third suit.  (3)What the.... FF DDDD 2468 DDDD any three suits, 30 points.  2468 is a new configuration of singles, maybe the beginning of a  trend?  (4) The closed hand is three suits:  pung of 2's, single 4 and 6, pung of 8's in one suit and like pungs 2, 4, 6 or 8 in other two suits.

The addition category has been eliminated and all three of the any like number hands have been changed.  The first hand, what the... FF 1111 NEWS 1111.  Hmmm...NEWS in a like number hand is NEWS to me!  Second hand is four flowers, kong/pair/kong of any like numbers, and lastly, in the pung/kong/pung/kong pattern is a two-suited hand, pungs of any like number with kongs of matching dragons.  Interesting!

Out with the old, in with the new(ish).  The "any" hand is now five flowers, with kong of any number and quint of any wind. (There are three five-flower hands on the 2021 card, as there were with 2020.) The bottom quint from 2020 is now in two suits, the quints match and the pairs match.  The second and third hands have been replaced with (1) a consecutive run - quint/kong/quint in one or three suits, and (2) a like number hand - pair/quint/pair/quint - any two consecutive numbers in two suits.

Always the perennial favorite, there are still eight consecutive run hands.  The top, classic hand, is a pyramid - pair/pung/kong/pung/pair - same numbers as always.  The second hand in 2020 consecutive has gone back to the block, with two flowers and three consecutive kongs, one or three suits.  The pattern hand is now pung/kong/pung/kong.  The one-suited dragon hand has been changed to a single/pair/pung/kong/kong pattern using any four consecutive numbers with a kong of matching dragons.  The hand with three pairs now ends in like kongs, as opposed to consecutive kongs, something we have seen before.  The four flower, four number hand is now five flowers followed by pair/pung/kong of three consecutive numbers. The second to the last hand on the 2020 consecutive runs has morphed into a closed hand with a pair of flowers, any two consecutive pungs, with pungs of opposite dragons, and the closed hand in 2020 has morphed to an open hand, three suits with a pair/pung/pair/pung/kong pattern - an old favorite:  11 222 11 222 3333.

ODDS (13579)
Pattern change alert!  The top hand is now in the pyramid shape, one or three suits, with matching 7's and 9's instead of 5's and 7's.  Remember, no multiplication/addition hands this year, 3X5 and 5X7 is O-U-T.  The pattern hand is still there of course in the pung/kong/pung/kong configuration.  No more sandwich hand, and the one-suited dragon hand now has two flowers, pair/pung/kong of 1-3-5 or 5-7-9 with a pung of matching dragons, which is an unusual configuration.  I don't think I've ever seen this configuration before, at least not in this category. There's a nice block hand with four flowers, four 1's, two 3's and four 5's (and the same in 5-7-9), and the three-pair, 30 point hand is now 11 33 55 7777 9999 (three suits). The closed hand is in three suits, with matching pungs of 1's and 3's and a pair of 5's, or matching pungs of 5's and 7's with a pair of 9's. 

Two hands remain unchanged from the winds category.  The top hand and the hand with the year in the middle.  Well, the hand is the same even though it says 2021 instead of 2020.  The rest are O-U-T, replaced by:  (1) like numbers with winds: pair of a number, pung of a North or an East, pair of a like number, pung of a South or a West, followed by a kong of the like number.  The North-South combo takes odd numbers and the East-West combo takes even numbers.  (2) Four flower hand with pungs of North and South and pairs of East and West.  I think this one is also brand-new.  (3) An old favorite, pair of flowers, kongs of North and South with kongs of Reds, same hand in East/West with kongs of Greens.  And the closed hand is also a debut hand:  NNN E W SSS DDD DDD, with any two dragons.

369 has gotten a real makeover.  The first hand changed to pattern pung/kong/pung/kong.  Second hand with kongs of threes is eliminated, and replaced with another new three-suited hand:  Matching kongs of 3's and 6's with two pungs of 9's.  The single-suit dragon hand is now kong/pung/kong/pung, so it seems dragon pungs have made something of a comeback, appearing as exposures in two categories.  The hand below the dragon hand on the 2020 card is out, replaced by a second dragon hand in the category, this one in three suits:  33 66 666 999 DDDD.  This gives the category two hands with a pung of 9's.  The block hand with two flowers and three kongs is still in, in one or three suits, but there is now a five-flower hand:  Five flowers, two 3's, three 6's, four 9's, one suit only.  Lastly, the closed hand has been changed to replicate the pattern in 1-3-5; three suits, three 3's and three 6's in one suit; three 3's and three 6's in a second suit and a pair of 9's in the third suit.  Sweet!

Singles and Pairs
All of the singles and pairs have been changed.  Some are familiar oldies but goodies and some variations on old favorites.  As always, each category has a representative singles/pairs hand.  The NEWS hand is pair of flowers, NN E W SS and pairs of any like number.  Odds hand is the same pattern as the 369 pairs hand on the 2020 card, only using 1-3-5 or 5-7-9.  Consecutive run hand is a pair of flowers and any six consecutive numbers in one suit.  So take away the pair of dragons in the 2020 hand and make it two 6's.  2468 hand is pair of flowers, pairs of 2,4,6,8 and then like even numbers in other 2 suits.  We've seen this one before!  For the 369 hand, it's a tough hand, pair of flowers, pairs of 3's, 6's and 9's in one suit and again in a second suit.  And lastly, the "big hand," which is worth 75 cents now, since you only need 3 soaps, is a pair of flowers followed by 2021 three times in any three suits.  This may prove as elusive as the 2020 big hand, as you need three pairs of 2's!  Naturally, when you play your first game on this card you will open with four soaps - it's a mahjongg law!

So whether you play online or in person, let's embrace the new card, and thank the League for 84 years of continuous philanthropic endeavors and the opportunity to enjoy the game for another year!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Are you ready?


The last week in March is almost here, and we all know what that means:  The new card will soon be on its way.  This year is like no other, as the card is coming just as people are starting to (very cautiously) come back to the playing table.  We can put aside the 2020 card and start anew, resting assured that the game of mahjongg will be waiting, unchanged, from the last time we played.  Will we remember all the protocols and rules?  How will it feel to touch and mix the tiles?  Will we still have what it takes to win?  Will we still play online?  So many of us have made friends with players from all over the country - how do we stay connected when we start to play with our local groups?  It will be interesting to see the "new normal" when it comes to mahjongg!  But first, the 2021 do's and don'ts.

  • Do sign up for USPS informed delivery.  The post office will send you a daily email showing the mail you will receive that day.  No more running to the box every five minutes to see if the card has arrived!  Use this link to sign up:
  • Do be patient.  The League mails out hundreds of thousands of cards.  We all know the Post Office is not what it used to be.  It will take time for the cards to fan out across the country, and even longer to reach foreign shores (that's you, Canada).  
  • Do check your e-mail receipt to see when your card will be mailed.   If you ordered January through early February your card will be sent the last week in March.  After mid-February your card will go out in the second mailing in early April.  If you did not order from the League, but ordered from a retailer such as Amazon or other online store, your card will be sent in late April.
  • Don't panic if you don't get your card the same time as your group does.  It happens, even if you all ordered at the same time.  The Post Office does things in its own way and it is nothing personal.
  • Don't forget who you ordered from!  If you do not have an e-mail receipt, check your credit card statement.  Remember, if you were charged tax or shipping, you did not order directly from the League and your card will not arrive until late April.
  • Don't be pushed into playing in person if you aren't ready.  It goes without saying that we are all at different stages of "returning to normal."  Please respect each others' comfort level and understand that there will of necessity be negotiations involved with setting up in-person games.  Be clear about your readiness to play in person and communicate your comfort level to others in your group.  We are all taking baby steps back into the world of in-person playing, and groups will need to decide how to implement this.  Have discussions, work it out so that everyone can eventually come back to the table with confidence.
One last Do - Be grateful for the mahjongg community that has provided so much support and friendship during the pandemic and extend your hand to new and returning players during 2021.

See you next week (Post Office willing) for the yearly card analysis!


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Survey says!

 Thank you all for filling out the "Mahjongg Family Feud" survey.  I found the easiest way to convey the results was to do a video, so this post is a "vlog" as opposed to a "blog".  Enjoy!

Friday, January 8, 2021

It's that time again!


The National Mah Jongg League has sent out their annual bulletin, which includes the renewal notice.  Please note the price of the card has increased.  The 2021 standard-sized card is $9, while the large print version is $10.

If you have ordered your card directly from the League in the past, or you have ordered from a Collector who has provided your name and address to the League, you are considered a member, and your bulletin is on the way.  The bulletin contains an order form if you wish to renew your membership (order a new card) by mail.  However, with the mails being what they are these days, your bulletin may take longer than usual to get to your mailbox.  In that case, you may order by mail without using the preprinted form or label that comes with the bulletin.  You can see an electronic version of the form here: and you can print it and send it, or simply write to the League with the required information and enclose a copy of your check.  Be advised there is a new address to mail your order to:  National Mah Jongg League,  PO Box 1130, Newark, NJ  07101-1130.  The phone number for the League is the same.

Like most, I have been more or less homebound since the 2020 card was issued, and playing online has been a godsend.  In addition, I've been teaching mahjongg online and playing with the Bryant Park group via Zoom.  If you are interested in joining in, please read the details in the post entitled "Virtual Mahjongg."

Trying to keep my mind active during this time has been challenging, and playing games has become my primary occupation!  I've had some fun in Zoom meetings playing various iterations of charades, Bingo and, an old favorite, "Family Feud."  In fact, I've developed my own survey in order to play a Mahjongg version of Family Feud.  I beta tested it and got 58 responses from players I know personally, and we had a great time revealing what the "Survey Says."  

If you would like to take the survey, you may do so by using this link:

The survey is anonymous, ad-free, and no data is collected.  I will post the survey results on this blog in two weeks' time.  In the meantime, see if you can guess the answers, or respond in the comments with questions of your own for our next survey!