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Saturday, April 1, 2023

2023 Card Overview

The cards are on their way!

The new card is here and at first glance I have to say it looks...well...hard!  The hands look familiar, but subtly changed in ways that will affect play for sure.  One thing that stands out is all hands with flowers have either two or four flowers.  On its face that seems traditional, but there are some new patterns to unravel.  Take out your 2022 card and see how 2023 compares:

2023 - (Three's make a difference!)
The "bonus" hand is gone from this section, relegated back to its proper place in singles and pairs, leaving us with four 2023 hands.  The good news is that 2's and 3's are used instead of 2's and 2's, which makes the hands more flexible.  The first hand on the 2022 card used kongs of greens and reds only.  For 2023 this hand has been moved to position 3 in the category, takes four flowers, with pungs of any dragons! The League has clarified that this hand must use two different dragons - not six of one dragon - and the 2023 can be the same suit as one of the dragons.  Dragon pungs appear again on the card!
The second hand in 2022 has been repositioned to hand 1 in 2023, and it is the reworked pattern hand.  This year's pattern is pung, kong, pung, kong, which appears in 2023 as a two-suited hand.  Of necessity the 2022 pattern hand had three suits (three different twos) and was pung, pung, kong, kong, so watch for that change!  
Hand 3 in 2022 has been moved to position 2 in 2023.  It has gone from being a four-flower hand to a two-flower hand, and the pungs have become kongs, of course with the numbers changed from 2022 222 222 to 2023 2222 3333, still three suits.  An easy switch to FF 1111 2222 3333 or FF 2222 3333 4444 in three suits if you go dead on the soap or the flower.
The closed hand in 2023 is a flipped-in version of the closed wind hand in 2022.  In other words, instead of pair-pung-pung-pair of winds surrounding 2022, we have pair-pung-pung-pair 2023 surrounding the much-beloved NEWS - a two-suited hand.  This means you must have a pair of two's in one suit and a pair of 3's in the other.  If you should happen to get a few jokers, you can always dump the winds and switch up to the pattern hand, or even consecutive...many options here.

2468 - (Everything old is new)
As stated, all three and six-flower hands have been eliminated.  The first 2468 hand on the 2022 card is no more, replaced with a four-flower variation on the "gate" hand.  This new hand is in one suit with four flowers, kongs of 2's and 8's and a single 46.  This has never been on the card before, as the traditional gate was always two flowers with pairs of 4s and 6s, always two suits (see 2021).
Position 2 on the 2023 card is identical to the hand in the same position in 2022. The pattern hand remains in position 3, but the hand is now in the pung-kong-pung-kong pattern, and in 1 or 2 suits as opposed to 2 or 3 suits.   
Hand no. 4 in 2023 combines the hands in positions 4 and 7 on 2022, reducing the category by one hand.  This gives room for the addition hands!  Hand no. 4 is now two 2s and four 4s in one suit, two 4s and four 6s in a second suit and pairs of 8s in the third suit.  This is also a brand-new hand.  
The six flower hand with 2s and 8s has been eliminated,  and another new hand is in position 5:  pungs of 2s and 8s in the same suit with kongs of opposite dragons.  We will see kongs of opposite dragons again on this card!
The closed hand of 2468 has been replaced by a one-suited hand with four pairs; two flowers, pung of 2s, pair of fours and sixes, pung of 8s and pair of dragons.  I'm beginning to see why the card looks hard!  

Any Like Numbers (Traditional yet modern)
All the like number hands have been changed. There are now two hands in this category.  The first one is a traditional hand; four flowers, two kongs and a pair of any like numbers in three suits.   The second hand is closed and is totally new.  It's two flowers followed by three pungs of like numbers, each with a single matching dragon. Single dragons have never been on the card before - a new twist to an old hand! 

Addition Hands - (It adds up to be likeable!)
Addition hands are back, but in a new way.   There are four hands, configured simply as two flowers with three kongs in three suits.  The first two kongs are like numbers and the last kong is the answer, which is an even number.  So think 1+1=2, 2+2=4, 3+3=6 and 4+4=8.  These hands cover many bases and can easily switch to like numbers, consecutives, and even 3-6-9.

Quints (Easy to understand)
Only three quint hands this year.  The first one is an "any" hand, only instead of any dragon, any wind any number, it's a quint of any number, a kong of any wind and a quint of a like number in a second suit.  This keeps the mystery when a kong of winds is exposed!  
The 2468 quint has been replaced with an old favorite in the same pattern, two 2s, three 3s, four 4s and five 5s, all in one suit, these numbers only.  I'm sure this hand will get made, as it only requires one joker.  
The like number hand in 2022 quints is eliminated, and the four-flower hand has changed from a one-suit to a two-suit hand.

Consecutive Run - (Popular hands galore)
There are still eight hands in this category, but only three of them are carryovers.  I am referring of course to the classic runs 1 through 5 and 5 through 9, which are in the pyramid pattern this year (pair, pung, kong, pung, pair).  
The pattern hand is in position 2 this year, one or two suits, in the pung, kong, pung, kong pattern, and the block hand, two flowers, three kongs in any run has moved from position 3 to position 5, one or three suits as usual.  
That's about all that remains the same in consecutive run.  The remainder of the hands have been pretty much gutted: No six-flower hand, no one-two-one-two-dragon, no sandwich hand, no closed hand with the single between two pungs and FFFF 11 22 333 DDD, everyone's go-to hand, has been removed!  But have not fear, let's see what we have instead.  
Replacing the dragon hand in position 7 is a much harder hand in the same pattern of kong of flowers, pair, pair, pung, pung.  The dragons have been removed, the hand is now in three suits, any 3 consec nos four flowers, two pairs, two like pungs:  FFFF 11 22 333 333. (Looks like like pungs is a theme this year!)
There is a dragon hand in position 3, a very old favorite hand in one suit only: FF 1111 2222 DDDD, last seen in 2017.
In position 4, a hand that borrows from a three-paired hand that appeared in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and that is any 5 consec nos. in 3 suits, but while prior cards used three pairs of consecs with two kongs, the new hand uses a single,  a pair,  a pung, and two kongs in any five consec. nos. 3 suits.  This works as a good switch from any 3 consec kongs with two flowers. 
In position 6 we have another pattern hand, this one with two repeating consecutive numbers in two suits: 111 2222 111 2222I'm always glad to see a hand like this, it can be a lifesaver, especially if you get jokers.
Lastly, in the 8th and closed position is a pattern that is the same as the closed hand in 2468, four pairs - two flowers, pung, pair, pair, pung of any 4 consec nos. followed by a pair of matching dragons.  It is the only 30 point hand in the category.

13579 (Old favorites!)
There seems to be a little more familiarity in this category in terms of carryover hands and returning hands.  There are now 8 hands as opposed to 7.  The first three hands are the same in 2023 as they were in 2022 - that being the classic hand in one and three suits, although now in pyramid pattern; the pattern hand, now in pung, kong, pung, kong, and the block hand; two flowers, three kongs of either 135 or 579 in three suits only.  
In position 4 on 2023 is a one-suit matching dragon hand that replaces the one ins 2022.  The new hand is:  FF 1111 33 5555 DD, repeated in 579.  
Position 5 is a 3-suited pyramid with opposite dragons in the middle surrounded by 11 333 and 333 55, repeated in 5-7-7-9, last seen in 2021.  
Position 6 has a hand in the same pattern as the hand in position 6 in consecutive, only this time it uses odds, so four flowers, pairs of 1s and 3s and pungs of 5's OR pairs of 5s and 7s and pungs of 9s.  The hands can pivot back and forth, so 11 33 555 555 can end up being 11 22 333 333, etc., etc.
Position 7 is a "sandwich" hand - matching kongs of 1s and 9s with pairs of 357 in the middle.  Much harder than the three-flower hand in 2022, with a single 357.
The closed hand, position 8, last seen in 2019,  is 111 3 555 555 7 999, two suits.  You will need like pungs of 5s.
On this card, there are seven exposed hands with like pungs; one in 2023, two in consecutive and four in 13579.  There are also three closed hands with like number pungs; one in like numbers, one in 13579 and one in 369.  Like number kongs appear in 2468, like numbers, addition, consecutive and 369. 

Winds - Dragons (No NEWS is good news?)
More choices in the wind hands this year.  
In position 1 there are two choices as opposed to one, i.e., NNNN EEE WWW SSSS or NNN EEEE WWWW SSS.  This opens up the category!
The hand in position 2 has wind pungs followed by a run.  The pattern has changed from 2022, which was kong, kong, single, pair, pung and is now pung, pung, pair, pair, kong.  So two pongs of NS or EW and any three consec nos.  A new configuration, so don't get confused!
There is no all-dragon hand on the card, but there are two dragon hands in windws and dragons.  The first is two kongs of NS or EW followed by two pungs of any 2 dragons.  This is in position 3, and in position 6 is a type of "sandwich" hand, with two kongs of dragons and NN EW SS sandwiched in the middle.  
There are two oldie but goodie hands with winds and flowers. 
In position 4 you will find two flowers, wind kongs with 2023 inbetween (see 2020), and in position 5, four flowers followed by N EE WWW SSSS, last seen in 2015.   
In the closed hand, position 7, the hand has been altered by changing the dragon pungs to consecutive pungs in two suits, i.e.,  NNN EW SSS 111 222.  This is a new hand.   
Something worth noting is there are now 11 hands in the 7 positions.  This gives a lot more to work with when it comes to winds!

369 (Tried and true)
Good old 369!  There isn't too much wiggle room in this category, so many hands will be familiar.  In position 1, the pattern hand, now pung, kong, pung, kong.  
In position 2, the block hand, now four flowers kongs of 3's and 9s and a pair of 6's, one or three suits.  
Taking position 3 is an old favorite:  pair of 3's and 6's in one suit, pungs of 3's and 6's in second suit and kongs of 9's in third suit.  
Hands 4 through 7 in 2022 have been eliminated.  
In position 4 we have a brand-new, never before seen hand with two flowers, pairs of 33 66 99 in one suit and pungs of dragons in the other two suits.  
In position 5 we have a like-kong hand, with a single-pair-pung intro.  So you have 3 66 999 followed by two like kongs of 3, 6 or 9.  In 2020 this hand was 336699 followed by the kongs, so it's a little tweak.
In position 6 we have a knitted hand, the only one on the card.  Matching kongs of 3 and 9, matching pungs of 6 and dragons.  
Lastly, in the closed position, we have a like-pung hand: 333 6 999 333 6 999 in two suits.  

On this card, there are seven exposed hands with like number pungs; one in 2023, two in consecutive and four in 13579.  There are three closed hands with like number pungs; one in like numbers, one in 13579 and one in 369.  Like number kongs appear in 2468, like numbers, addition, consecutive and 369. 

There are four hands that take an exposed pung of dragons:  2023, one in winds and two in 369. Three of those hands have two pungs of dragons.
There are three dragon-kong hands; 2468, consecutive, odds, winds.  Two of those hands have two kongs of dragons.  Take heed!  

Singles and Pairs - (Shake it up!)
There's a pairs hand for each category with the exception of winds.  
The odds hand has changed to the hand from 2020 -11 357 99 in two suits.
Also from 2020 is the much loved repeating pairs hand:  FF 1122 1122 1122.
369 dances to a new tune, and adds the touch of a single matching dragon.  Three pairs and a single in two suits is a new pattern, as we are used to seeing two flowers followed by three pairs and three pairs (2021).  This is now 33 66 99 D 33 66 99 D. 
The evens hand shifted a couple of tiles - it took away a 2 and added a 6, so instead of 22 46 88 it's now two flowers, followed by 2 4 66 88 in two suits.
For consecutive run lovers the seven-pair run in any one suit returns.
And, lastly, in its rightful place, the Big Hand, worth 75, FF 2023 2023 2023 - thank goodness!

I've played in one game since receiving the card, and while it is challenging, the satisfaction that you get from making a hand is well worth the effort!  Best wishes for another year of mahjongg joy!

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 – 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?