Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mah Jongg Chatter--Let's Talk About The Flowers

I have a lot to say about the flowers.

1.We all know that each mah jongg set comes with 16 flowers,
and you only need eight of them to play the game.In my set, eight
flowers have the seasons on them as well as numbers, and the other
eight just have numbers on them.

Because I teach mah jongg, I use the set with the seasons, because
they are easier to distinguish from the troublesome 1 Bam, which is
often mistaken for a flower. I point out to my students that the 1 Bam,
or often called the 1 Birdie Bam, will NOT have lettering on it like a
flower, even though the picture may look very. similar. They are not to
be confused!
 Here is a picture of my set to illustrate my point.

And the numbers and the seasons on the flowers do not
mean a thing! A flower is just a flower! It is a neutral tile--always a  
Blue F on the card.

2. All of the mah jongg instruction books say not to pass flowers during
the Charleston. However, they often times do not go into a lot of explanation
as to why not! And I am always asked "Why not?" So here is what I tell my
students. First of all--If you have a pair or more of them, you want to find a
hand that uses them, and there always are many. But even if you only have
one, there are many reasons not to pass them. If one of your opponents needs
them, you have just handed them CANDY. There is rarely a time when you
don't have other tiles that you can pass instead. Even if you don't THINK you
are going to use them, your hand may change during the game if your intended
hand does not work out, or you start drawing more flowers, and you end up
needing them after all. There are always exceptions to the rules, but hang on to
them if at all possible. 

3. Once the game begins, if you know without a doubt what hand you are doing,
and it does not require flowers, throw them away early. The reason behind this
move is that if an opponent does need flowers, they may need them for a pair, and
it is too early to pick one up, or they need it for a kong (four) and they don't have
enough to pick it up yet. Remember, there are eight of them, so it is easier to get
them than it is a number tile, where is only four of each.

4. The last strategy is to NOT throw a flower at the end of the game. This is
often the hot tile that someone is waiting for to mah jongg on, and you are running
the risk of giving it to them. The mah jongg instructions say to break up your hand
rather than throw a hot tile at the end, even though you are hoping to pull it out for
the win at the last minute I guess it just depends how competitive you want to be
and what you think your chances are for winning. It's your call.

Happy Clicking!

If you know of anyone in the Phoenix area who is interested in learning to
play Mah Jongg, please have them contact me at

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