Mah-Jongg ("sparrow") FAQs updated
- From: "Tom Sloper" <tsloper@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2007 08:58:36 -0700
Last posted: July 2, 2007
Most recent updates to the FAQS (since the July 2, 2007 posting):
1. FAQ 6 - Added Jenn Barr's terminology to the "Rosetta Stone"
2. FAQ 5 - Added link to Andrew Feist's page about how to make Four Winds'
online feature work.
3. FAQ 4b - made a minor correction.
4. FAQ 7m - Added addresses of two stores in Taiwan, thanks to John Low.
THIS WEEK'S STRATEGY COLUMN IS AT...
GOT A QUESTION ABOUT MAH-JONGG?
I. THE FAQ FILES ON THE INTERNET. WHERE THEY ARE AND WHAT'S IN THEM
The Frequently Asked Question articles are located at:
FAQ00. Introduction to Mah-Jongg Newsgroup (this article)
FAQ01. Mah-Jongg 101; Getting Started
FAQ02. How to choose a rule set to study, and how to identify which
rule set you (or your friends) are playing
FAQ03. Books on Mah-Jongg
FAQ03b 1920s Books
FAQ04a Selected Websites on Mah-Jongg
FAQ04b MORE Websites on Mah-Jongg
FAQ05. Computer Mah-Jongg games
FAQ06. "Rosetta Stone" of Mah-Jongg terminology
FAQ07. ALL About Mah-Jongg Tiles:
FAQ07a Types of Mah-Jongg Sets
FAQ07b What Constitutes A Complete Set of Tiles
FAQ07c How To Identify Tile Material
FAQ07d All the Bits & Pieces
FAQ07e Those Special Tiles
FAQ07f Playing Tables
FAQ07g How Old Is My Set?
FAQ07h How Much Is It Worth?
FAQ07i Mah-Jongg Cards... and Kards
FAQ07j Tips For Buyers
FAQ07k Where To Buy (General)
FAQ07m Where To Buy (Tokyo & Hong Kong)
FAQ07n Tips For Sellers
FAQ07o Cleaning or Restoring Tiles
FAQ07p Tell Me Anything About My Set
FAQ07q Where To Buy Blank Tiles In Large Quantities
FAQ10. Simplified rules for mah-jongg.
FAQ11. History of mah-jongg
FAQ11b Origins: Precursor Games
FAQ11c Origins: Who Created MJ
FAQ11d Origins: EArliest Writings
FAQ11e Origins: Earliest MJ Sets
FAQ11f Origins: Proto-MJ & CC
FAQ11g The CC Theory
FAQ11h Mahjong Timeline
FAQ12. Tile-matching software download sites
FAQ13. Rules for 1-, 2-, and 3-player games
FAQ14. The Rules On Table Rules
FAQ15. How To Find Players In Your Local Area
FAQ16. Answers to Questions About the Current NMJL Card
FAQ17. "3 Fan" Mah-Jongg Explained (Yahoo/HKOS)
FAQ18. Mah-Jongg Symbolism
FAQ19. American Mah-Jongg FAQs
FAQ20. Commonly Misunderstood Asian (un-American) MJ Rules
FAQ21. How To Run A Tournament
FAQ22. Chinese Official Scoring Explained
FAQ23. Mahjong Demographics
FAQ24. Technical Support for MahJong Computer Games
FAQ25. Why Won't The Japanese Program Let Me Claim Mahjong?
All of the FAQ articles are subject to change, and readers' comments
INDEX FOR THIS FAQ*
I. THE FAQ FILES ON THE INTERNET. WHERE THEY ARE AND WHAT'S IN THEM
II. WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION TO THE MAHJONG NEWSGROUPS
III. CHARTER FOR THE REC.GAMES.MAHJONG NEWSGROUP
IV. GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR THE NEWSGROUP
*("FAQ" is short for "Frequently Asked Questions.")
Note: This FAQ is (and will remain) in text format. References to
internet URLs are not clickable. Scroll down to read this FAQ; if
viewed on the internet, use your browser's "Back" button to go back
to the page that referred you here.
II. WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION TO THE MAHJONG NEWSGROUPS
Welcome to the rec.games.mahjong Frequently Asked Questions. The
purpose of this article is to assist readers in finding answers to
their Mah-Jongg questions and to introduce new readers of
rec.games.mahjong to newsgroup and bulletin board etiquette. Ques-
tions and comments about this FAQ should be emailed to Tom Sloper
(tomster@xxxxxxxxxxxxx). FAQ 0 (this article) is posted weekly at
the newsgroup. The FAQs are on the web at:
The newsgroup FAQs are on the Web (instead of being posted regularly
on the newsgroup) because
1. The FAQs are sizeable, and we wanted to be nice to the newsgroup
servers around the world.
2. "Newsfeed" is a funny, mysterious, unpredictable thing -- not
everybody's ISP provides timely access to the current postings at the
newsgroups, so sometimes a user will look at the newsgroup and not
see recent postings which other users can see there. It often
happens that someone will ask a question that's answered by the FAQs -
- we advise the asker to read the FAQs -- but the asker can't see them
even though they had just been posted a few days previously. Thus the
web version of the FAQs. The web version will not expire like
newsgroup postings do.
3. Newsgroups are becoming a lesser-known part of the internet as the
Web grows in usage, and there's a clear need to include graphics in
NEWSGROUP POSTING ARCHIVES:
There once was a newsgroup archive at
http://mahjong.pathbot.com, but the site is no longer up.
Google's Newsgroups Search page (http://groups.google.com/) is an
excellent place (if not the only place now) to read old newsgroup
III. CHARTER FOR THE REC.GAMES.MAHJONG NEWSGROUP
It is probably useful to reprint here the original Rationale and
Charter, written in the spring of 1997 by Zuwei Thomas Feng. These
are the texts which led to the creation of the English-language
The rec.games.mahjong newsgroup is for discussions and announcements
related to Mahjong, an multiplayer game that originated in China and
has widely spread to Asia, America, Europe, and other parts of the
world. Note that Mahjong is NOT the solitaire game also known as
Aside from a large player base in homes, local clubs and tournaments,
there are also many people who play Mahjong with computer software.
In particular, since the Internet Mahjong Server went on-line, it has
attracted more than 1,000 players who came from different Mahjong
Mahjong is becoming a more visible international phenomenon. The
first international Mahjong tournament to be held this year, will
bring together top-notch Mahjong players from around the world and
hopes to bring to Mahjong participation and prestige of games like
Bridge, Chess, and Go. Such efforts will naturally be welcomed by
Mahjong fans everywhere, and discussion of Mahjong rules, playing
styles and skills will be key to their success.
Mailing lists for various local Mahjong clubs and the Internet server
already exist. Creating a big mailing list would however create too
much traffic and scare off people who just want to participate in
Popular games such as Bridge, Chess, and Go all have their respective
newsgroups. Mahjong is arguably as popular as these games, and still
gaining momentum. Unfortunately, there is no group within the
rec.games hierarchy in which Mahjong postings are appropriate.
Rec.games.mahjong is an unmoderated group for the discussion and
announcements related to Mahjong and its variations. There is no
"standard Mahjong", so all versions, including Chinese, Japanese,
Jewish, the Taiwan 16-tile variant, and some 3-player variants, etc,
are covered by the group. The group welcomes all postings of the
1. Discussions of Mahjong rules, play, and strategy.
2. Announcements of club meetings and tournaments.
3. Advertisements of Mahjong related products, with a repost frequency
of at most once every month.
4. Private "for sale" or "want to buy" notices, with a repost
frequency of at most once every month.
The group accepts NO binary postings.
So here we are, some years later, enjoying the existence of the
English-language mah-jongg newsgroup (news:rec.games.mahjong)
where we can discuss all things mah-jongg.
IV. GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR THIS NEWSGROUP
The rec.games.mahjong newsgroup is generally friendly. However, new
readers are well advised to familiarize themselves with the normal
practices on the group before posting. Certain types of postings
frequently pop up -- and some of them sometimes can cause flaring
tempers and flame-o-grams.
o The best type of posting is a question about rules or strategies of
Mah-Jongg. The question "Teach me the rules of Mah-Jongg" is way too
broad -- read the FAQs and find out where you can learn the rules of
whatever type of Mah-Jongg you're interested in learning. Rather, the
best type of posting is a question about a fine point of the rules that
may not be clear in your rule book. For example, "West drew the 4th
tile to make a Kong, took a loose tile from the back of the Wall, and
discarded it. Isn't there supposed to be a bonus of some kind if
another player can win on that tile? We play by the Whitney rules of
Classical Japanese." That last part is important. The rule can be
completely different depending on which game you play! But now I'm
getting into the next point.
o Frequently someone will post a question about a particular rule of
Mah-Jongg, without specifying which version of MJ they play. There
isn't just one rulebook for Mah-Jongg -- it's played in many different
ways all around the world. So the first batch of responses invariably
is like a shotgun blast, with many of the pellets missing the mark.
Before posting a question, it would be best to read the FAQs and
identify your "flavor" of Mah-Jongg, if you are unsure. Then when
writing the question, specify which rulebook or game your question
is about. We have regulars who play all the major varieties of MJ,
and somebody will gladly field your question. We will even discuss
how the same situation is handled differently in other varieties
of MJ -- we enjoy confusing newbies!
o Another typical type of posting is when someone reads an answer to
a MJ question, and posts a reply asking why such an answer was given.
The answer is invariably, "Because those are the rules under that way
of playing." There isn't just one rulebook for Mah-Jongg -- it's
played in many different ways all around the world. Rules don't need
to be explained (there probably /is/ a good reason why a rule was
made, but the rule was probably made a very long time ago, and the
people who made the rule are either dead or don't frequent this
o Bad tempers can result if you post the suggestion that the rules
of [some flavor or other of] Mah-Jongg are stupid and should be
changed. If you have a regular play group, that is the place to
make the rule changes! People all around the world play Mah-Jongg
in many different ways. You can make your table rules be whatever
your regular group can agree to -- but you're not going to get all
the players all around the world to change to your way of thinking!
Some group regulars might get mad at you -- they're perfectly
happy with their way of playing.
o Many players post messages looking for players in their area.
There's no harm in making such posts, and by all means go ahead, but
in the majority of cases it's not as effective as posting at
http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/findplayer.htm (after you read
all the posts there yourself to see if someone from your area has
already posted). See FAQ 15.
o A very frequent type of post is along the lines of, "I'm looking
for places to buy tiles, or sell tiles. . ." or "I got an antique set
when my Aunt Fannie died, how much is it worth?" -- Please read
FAQ 7 before you post.
o Please don't post off-topic messages. We at this newsgroup are
interested in discussing the game of Mah-Jongg, or games played with
Mah-Jongg tiles, only. There are other newsgroups for the discussion
of other games and other topics. Regulars are asked to IGNORE posts by
troublemakers and trolls (as of late 2004, a frequent type of troll
post is to decry the newsgroup's topic as sinful or boring). Trolls
love it when people respond to their idiotic posts. Ignoring them is
the best way to handle them.
o Posts that purport to be about "Mah-Jongg" but are actually about
a computer solitaire tile-matching game (such as "Shanghai," or a
program similar to Shanghai). Before you post, make sure you know
the difference between "solitaire mah-jongg" and "true mah-jongg."
Both are games played with mah-jongg tiles, but they are very
different games. One is mah-jongg, and the other is not (regardless
of what the program may be named). Think of the game of Shanghai
(or games similar to it) as "Solitaire," and the game of Mah-Jongg
as "Gin Rummy." Consider: Poker is not Bridge. If this newsgroup
was all about Bridge and you started posting about Poker, you would
(naturally) not get a friendly response. This newsgroup's Charter
(reprinted at the top of this FAQ) does not expressly forbid the
posting of messages about MJ tile-matching games, but the Rationale
which accompanied the Charter expressly and rightly declares that
those games are "NOT mah-jongg." Therefore be aware that if you
post about such games, it is arguable that you are posting off-topic.
Off-topic posts are unwelcome in all newsgroups. Appropriate
discussions about fun uses of MJ tiles (or a knowledgeable com-
parative study of the various games played with MJ tiles, even
including the tile-matching games) might be accepted as not too off-
topic, but you should be prepared for an overheated response if you
post only to brag of your high score or best time in a tile-matching
program (especially if you call that game by the generic name "mah-
jongg" when the group regulars know it's /not/ mah-jongg). Such
messages might be better posted at news:rec.games.computer.puzzle
instead. (This is no guarantee that the crossword puzzle fans at
that other newsgroup will appreciate your bragging any better than
the mahjong newsgroup regulars do... (^_^) )
o "I have computer MJ game X and I'm having this technical
problem..." -- This type of posting is not interesting for the members
of the group, and will not get you the info you need as quickly as if
you contacted the makers (publisher) of the game directly. If you
have a technical question about a computer game, contact the makers
(publisher) of the game directly. You can find out how to contact
them via the About box in the game, or from the info in the printed
manual. You can find the maker/publisher's website and get the Email
address there. Send detailed info about your computer, the
version you have, and what the problem is. The typical "message from
hell" goes like this: "Hey what gives, MJPro doesn't work on my
computer, HELLPP!!" . . . Come on, what's anybody gonna do with that??
-- User didn't tell what specific MJPro game [full title and version
#] the user has -- user didn't say if s/he has a Macintosh or Windows
3.1 or Windows 98 or what -- and "doesn't work" could mean anything!
"The colors are weird" is totally different from "this game only comes
on CD, and my computer only has a floppy drive." Be specific. The
maker/publisher needs clues in order to help you, and only you can
o People occasionally find a reason to post a picture to illustrate a
question. This is a BIG no-no! Do NOT post any pictures here. This
newsgroup's charter expressly forbids the posting of binaries (all
picture files and sound files and movie files are "binaries" in
newsgroup parlance). You could always Email a picture to someone who
can look at it and answer your question. Don't Email raw BMP files,
either -- convert them to JPG or ZIP format before Emailing.
o When replying to someone else's post, it's important to copy the
original question to which you are replying within your response. The
original question should appear above your reply to it. The original
question should be clearly marked as not your own words, using the
"greater than" symbol (>) at the left, and preceded by the name of
the person whose words are quoted.
NOTE: If you don't copy the original question in the post, people can
have difficulty determining what question you are replying to! It's
important to copy the original question.
NOTE: Copy *only* the pertinent parts of the previous post when
posting a reply - it's a waste of time for other readers if you copy
the entire previous post but are only replying to one sentence in it.
It's important to "cherry-pick" the pertinent part(s) of the original
o It is often useful to refer to or look up an older post. But it can
be difficult to find a particular old post sometimes, due to the
phenomenon of "topic drift." Unless the writer changes the subject
line when the topic has veered away from the original topic, the
discussion contained in the post can be completely different from
the post's subject line. Please consider rewriting the subject line
when this happens.
o One of the entertaining pastimes of newsgroups is "flaming", where
posters publicly insult each other in terms that they might not use if
meeting face to face. If you have been flamed, please don't take it
personally, and PLEASE don't start a real flame war over it. Just
remember that people at keyboards are sometimes more feisty than they
might be face to face. We don't have netcops like those found in
other Usenet groups -- don't make us go there!
o What you should do before you post a question:
- If you haven't read the articles that are regularly posted to
the newsgroup news.announce.newusers, please do so. You will
learn about some general rules and principles that apply to
virtually all newsgroups, like a ban on posting most binary
files and MIME attachments, and sending email instead of posting
if your message is intended only for one person.
- Read the newsgroup for at least a week (reading for some time
before posting is proper etiquette for ANY Usenet newsgroup.
If you didn't realize that, all the more reason for you to go
back and read news.announce.newusers).
- Know the difference between mah-jongg and solitaire tile-
matching games. Don't say "mah-jongg" if you actually mean a
- Be aware that posting in newsgroups can cause you to start
receiving unwanted junk Email. But if you put a "nospam" filter
in your Email address, others have to be smart in order to Email
you in response. You have to decide what to do.
- Read the other FAQs. See section I...
(C) 2000-2007 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.
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