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A Mah Jong Handbook: How to Play, Score, and Win Paperback – May 15, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Whitney's handbook is the only book that most players will ever need to become a knowledgeable, confident and winning Mah Jong player. The basics of play, including seating, dealer selection, wall-building, tile-dealing and play are laid out clearly with helpful examples and good illustrations. The scoring of Mah Jong is explained with numerous carefully-constructed examples, with helpful diagrams of each tile scenario for good visual reference.
The strategy of the game is brilliantly explained in Part III, again with numerous examples that gradually train beginning players how to quickly make strategic decisions to enhance their play. As Whitney explains, Mah Jong is a game governed by sheer luck of the draw, yet the "skillful player is actually one who knows how to adapt to his luck." Her extensive explanations and examples of both "offensive" and "defensive" strategies are the soul of the book, and I, for one, was amazed how quickly my comphrehension of the game improved after having read the entire chapter.
It is true that the focus of the book is primarily on the Japanese and American rules and variations, but Chinese equivalent terms are included in an extensive Glossary-Index. For the vast majority of players, this will not be a serious problem.
If you buy one book on Mah Jong, it should be this one.
To get the most out of the book, I recommend taking the time to work through the example exercises yourself (before going on to the analysis discussion.) Once you've gone through the book this way, you'll pretty much know everything that an expert player knows. The only thing left is to get in enough playing time to put the theory into practice.
In addition to the game aspects, the book discusses the accompanying rituals and etiquette, as well as many variations on the rules.
Whitney explains clearly and concisely, using easy to understand diagrams. She even manages to explain Mah Jong's rather complex scoring system, which can be a bit off-putting for beginners.
Her inclusion of the differences between Japanese and American rules is also quite helpful, although I've found that as with any game, some of the rules and terminology vary from region to region.
All in all a good book for those looking to begin playing Mah Jong, particularly those in Japan or with Japanese friends.
If you're the first member of the group, pick a rules set that is compatible with your tiles and go.
I have half a dozen Mah Jongg books, and this was the one that is most approachable by new players. It focuses primarily on the Japanese Classical set of rules, but has notes on how other variants are played. In some cases, it has enough information that you can play these variants.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the book for everyone wanting to learn mah Jong, and a great resource for experienced players. Read morePublished 5 days ago by shotgun1
We used this to learn how to play and learn strategies. A good book to start with, handy reference and cover the Japanese variant that can be played with 3 players.Published 12 days ago by Alan Frost
Works best for someone who has already learned the basics. The strategy chapters are instructive.Published 7 months ago by Dr. S. Dunbar
This book was written in the 60's and teaches a form of proto-riichi mahjong, basically riichi mahjong without the riichi rule. No mention of any of the chinese hands are made. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jennifer Riordan
bought to go with a gift for a friend's sister. Have not heard if she liked the book but she loved the game so most likely likes the book as well.Published 11 months ago by Delania Lefever
“A Mah Jong Handbook” by Eleanor Noss Whitney presents a comprehensive overview of the game, with an emphasis on the Japanese version. Read morePublished 15 months ago by B. J. Ford
A good primer. Like the examples on strategy. Our group is using this to begin learning the game.Published 17 months ago by Marilyn L Quail