80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
Not for the beginner,
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This review is from: The Red Dragon & The West Wind: The Winning Guide to Official Chinese & American Mah-Jongg (Paperback)This book, while claiming to be written for beginners, is inundated with what comes across as the authors arrogance and preference for advanced players as well as the importance of strictly adhered to rules over the relationships of friends seated at the table. While this may be appropriate for a Mah-Jongg player who wishes to increase his/her skill and advance into tournament play, it is not written for family and friends who play on the weekends as a social event. The writing is technical and dry and filled with an abundance of nit-picky information best left to someone who already has a basic understanding of the game. For example I can't imagine inviting family or friends over to my house to play only to force them to follow these stipulations:
"Declaring a pung more than 3 seconds after a tile was discarded is penalized first by a warning; a second occurrence penalized by loss of 5 points." p.143
"If you find yourself struggling with a jumble of disassociated tiles...others will start to cough, Roll their eyes, and drum their fingernails impatiently. If this happens pass any three tiles. Just try not to let any more fingernails drum, eyes roll, any more throats to tighten into subtle coughs...The beginner who tries to win may win a few times, but they won't be invited back to play again" p.110.
"Do not carry on a conversation while playing. Don't fidget. Don't be the slowest playing at the table. Pay attention and act when you are supposed to act" p.202
I give this book two stars because it is appropriate as a rule book in the event that a question arises during play, but that is all. Learning to play with this book would only lead the beginner to feel frustrated and ultimately unwelcome at the table of those who already know how to play.
Instead, I highly recommend "A Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg" by Elaine Sandberg. This is an excellent book for learning and her style of teaching/writing is not so arrogant but is focused on teaching the game through an easy to read/understand conversational style.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 6, 2009 6:15:59 AM PDT
I do see that the quotes given are accurate, especially the terrifying quote from page 143. However this book delivers the rules for both NMJL and Chinese play in two sections, a dryish here are the rules of play section, and section B "How to play American Mah-Jongg" and "How to Play Chinese Mahjong." In these sections the game is described for the absolute beginner, from how to build walls, who sits where and defines all of the terms in a clear, logical, conversational fashion. Yes, there is information included (a few sentences at most) as to what to do if you are in a tournament. Remember that there are many kinds of tournaments and that if you play and begin to love Mahjong, you may wish to enter one --probably at a local temple or such. Having this book to refer to, especially the few sentences on how to comport yourself, I think would be of value in helping to keep you calm and focused.
The quote from p. 110 comes from the "Novice Plyer's biggest common Mistake" section --basically how to play with and learn from players who are more advanced than you are. I find the advice excellent. If you are playing with serious players, be serious yourself, learn at the expense of winning or disrupting the faster flow of the experienced game. Reasonable advice if you want to become an experienced player yourself and play at the pace of better players. (and why would you not?)
"The beginner who competitively obsesses on winning is bound to slow the game down. You might win a few times, but you wont be invited back to play again." and "Go with the flow. Relax, be patient, and the winning will come in time. Skill and winning come with practice. Be patient with yourself." This is the quote from page 111 finishing the section. This does not seem arrogant to me. It seems polite and helpful. Better to learn it from a book than from having spoiled the afternoon's play of an entire group.
As to the Declaring the pung more than three seconds after a tile... type information. This is in the "Official Rules" section. There is also a section about "Table Rules." Basically rules created by a group who play together. Sloper gives you probably the most common alterations. Our small group did play with someone who used one or two of these variations. (Having heard of them before from the book was helpful.) If you don't want to subject your guests to fast play, you can ignore some of the rules. Sloper actually gives you some guidelines for how to do this so that no arguments arise. Sounds silly but I know a player whose family has to play in a certain fashion because the arguments from playing became so fierce they caused family rifts!
Sorry this is long, but I feel that this book is so complete, so much more than just the rules --strategy, etiquette, history and humor it is well worth owning for the beginner. Although I must say I am interested in the Sandberg book as well. One can never have too many books!
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2009 8:35:14 AM PST
Elizabeth Mcliney says:
I am thinking of buying this book because of the rules of etiquette! I am a life long player teaching new blood. I have been playing with the little old ladies my entire life and that is how they treat me! I try relay the messages of keeping the game moving, fouls etc. without sounding nit-picky (to put it nicely)! This book will do the job for me! Yay!
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2010 2:06:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 9, 2010 2:07:30 PM PDT
Heinrich Kessler says:
Super, I like it also!
Posted on Dec 27, 2010 10:37:59 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 8, 2011 4:46:28 AM PST
Boris Chang says:
The "etiquette" rules you mention will indeed apply when playing competitively or for money. I have been booted out of a Yahoo Mahjong room by the table owner for not realizing that in the Hong Kong variant you cannot "Hu La" (Mah Jong) without a minimum number of a certain kind of points. Rather than explain to me that I needed to realize this Hong Kong rule, the other players made rude remarks and then booted me. I try to avoid those kinds of unpleasant people and mainly play for fun. While I generally try to play as quickly as possible, if anyone gets nasty or impatient with my thinking a move over for more than three seconds then they don't have to worry about not inviting me back-I won't play with them again.
Posted on Feb 7, 2011 5:59:55 PM PST
MAUREEN S. HOERGER says:
You're not from ny, are you? If you were, you would get this part about keeping people waiting.
Posted on Aug 27, 2011 10:51:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2011 10:52:39 PM PDT
Henry Le Nav says:
I haven't read this book yet but I have spent quite a bit of time on Sloper's website and have learned a wealth of information. On his website, I think he does an excellent job of getting one started with Mahjong. He presents an ultra simple version of the game to get one started. Scoring? Everyone gives the winner a coin, or say OOh and Ahh.
What he is doing is gradually introducing you to the game and saying, let's not worry about kongs, or fancy hands or all the crap on scoring. Just play the game and get a feel for it first. Several hours on his website has been a small miracle for me.
Official rules are official rules, don't use them to learn the game or to have a chit chat time with your friends and relatives. What I gathered from his website was moderation. Allow the other guy a chance to think, but at the same don't diddle with endless decisions because you have to win. I thought the advice he gave was well thought out and reasonable. I am considering the book for its portability. If it is anything like his website, I am sure it will be nothing short of excellent.
The other thing one should keep in mind. You are buying a book, not a referee. Read the book and play the game how you want. If that involves 15 minutes of story time between each move, the book is not going to blow a whistle and penalize you.
Posted on Sep 11, 2011 12:16:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 11, 2011 12:20:59 PM PDT
I beg to differ with this review. This is a fantastic book to learn the rules of American mah jongg and how to play with beginners and advanced players. The author is anything but technical, dry and arrogant and explains the playing of mah jongg in a witty manner. Reviewer quotes from section on playing Chinese mah jongg not American mah jongg. I play in 3 weekly friendly mah jongg groups with players of varying ability and we all adhere to this book and no one feels frustrated or unwelcome. RD&WW is our bible and I bring it to every game. If you are going to play mah jongg all have to play by the same rules and practice mah jongg etiquette which is also in this book. In case this reviewer doesn't know this book is based on the NMJL rules and is the "way to play". Check out the author's Q&A site and Strategy column. Great reading! Clatter those tiles and may those tiles be with you! RD
In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2012 7:07:24 PM PDT
Rookie mahjong fan says:
I agree with you on the Yahoo mahjong comments. Yahoo counts scores by Chinese Classical, NOT HKOS with 3-fan minimum requirements. I had one hand that was fully concealed/picked and all-simples. Too bad it was a two-way pung wait and didn't score much. I don't know if this counts as 2 fan. (In Zung Jung, it was only 10 points per player - 5 concealed, 5 all-simples.) After being "screamed" at by another player, I told the room they could keep their closed-minded, HK mentalities in a site that applies CC scoring and won't play there again.
Posted on Jul 4, 2013 7:43:40 AM PDT
Careful Shopper says:
I also heartily endorse Elaine Sandberg's book, although our Mah Jongg instructor doesn't like it as well as this one. She has been playing for many years, and I think she might not remember just how steep the learning curve can be. Sloper's book is probably excellent for becoming a more skillful player once you have mastered the basics, but if you find yourself needing the cautions cited here, you are probably playing in the wrong Mah Jongg group.
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