Posted by Elaine Sandberg
I had a distressing call from a former student of mine, telling me that one of her “play-mates” was continually complaining that she was “picking and racking too fast”.. that she didn’t have a chance to call for a tile. She added that nobody else in the group complained about the speed of her picking and racking.
“What should I do”, she pleaded. “It’s my sister-in-law”.
Family peace is at stake here and although the rules of the game clearly states once a tile is racked, no one can call for the just discarded tile, it’s not easy to tell your sister-in-law “You’re playing too slowly for us.”
The speed at which a player picks and racks is clearly a matter of playing “style”. There is no time-count between picking the tile and racking it. You don’t pick a tile and count “one Mississippi, two Mississippi” and then rack. People pick and rack at different speeds (Unfortunately, some people don’t rack at all.) The idea is to pick and rack in a “reasonable” way. However, what is reasonable to one player might seem “unfair” to another. But most players are fine with the speed of picking and racking in the game they play.
What is the purpose of racking? Racking is a defensive move, designed to keep another player from calling a tile he/she needs—exactly what the sister-in-law is complaining about.
People who complain about “racking too fast” most often do not have a firm grasp of the card’s requirements for the hand they are playing or can’t decide between hands, or whether they need the tile or not, or if they are able to call—-all signs of a novice or just a slow player—not too much fun for more advanced and skilled players. But playing with more advanced players is often a help to slower players. They learn to play faster..usually.
So what to do if you are faced with a similar situation? It can be difficult to be tactful.
You might suggest, “Try to rack quickly too, and keep me from calling, just like I keep you from calling”. Sometimes, peer pressure works—the other players might suggest to her that she needs to play faster. Hopefully, she’ll take the hint. If it gets very uncomfortable, find another group, or (your other players) suggest to your sister-in-law she might be more comfortable in another group. Or you might show her this article..
Whether things improve, or one of you finds another group, I wish you Good Luck!
AND MAY THE TILES BE WITH YOU!!!!!
Rule: Racking is not tapping the tile on top of your rack. It’s placing it into your rack, next to your other tiles, even when you know you do not need or want it. If you discard it before racking it, you are helping your opponents—not the correct way to play—no matter how good friends you are….
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June 24, 2010 | 6:28 pm
Posted by Elaine Sandberg
Well maybe not around the World, but it’s heard in living rooms, dens, in rec rooms, in tournament rooms, conventional halls, on ship board—all over America.
Mah Jongg is once again sweeping the country, knowing no geographic, age, sex or ethnic boundary, much as it did in the late ‘20s, ‘30s , ‘40s and well into the ‘50s. Much to the chagrin of many of the “faithful”, the introduction of Bridge, the ‘60s and the sexual revolution, the Women’s Movement and the return to the work force by many women, saw the game fade away into (almost) obscurity. If you had asked a person if they played Mah Jongg, the most probable answer would have been, “Oh that old-lady’s game my mom played? Are you kidding?” Or “Mah Jongg? What’s that?”
After such an unromantic demise, why is the game of “A Thousand Intelligences” making such a huge comeback? I have a couple of ideas. The first is that a large number of “Boomers” (there are over 72 million) are looking for retirement pleasures and entertainments that can keep them healthy but also mentally alert and functioning. And they want to be challenged and have FUN at the same time. Many of these Boomers are now “Empty Nesters” looking for new friends in new places, closer to their kids and grandkids. I meet people every day who recall playing “years ago when I had my kids” and they are returning to the game, refreshing the warm memories of those times. And there are those who are getting close to retirement and planning ahead, so to speak. And lots of folks are remembering their Moms playing Mah Jongg and thinking that maybe they knew something they didn’t.
But what about the younger generation? Are they interested in an “old lady’s game”? The answer is an unequivocal YES.
When they are exposed to seeing the game played and/or learning it, their enthusiasm is just as great as their predecessors. Because it’s such a great game, they quickly realize how interesting, challenging and what fun it is. The Internet is jammed with Mah Jongg sites that introduce viewers to newer versions of the game. And their curiosity is aroused to learn the original. Consequently, I see more young people in my classes and private groups than ever before and I applaud their good judgment. They come away loving the game and addicted to it—its challenges, its excitement and its FUN!!
So, a new and informative post will appear to pass on tips and strategies, answer and discuss Mah Jongg questions, air your comments and/or criticisms and maybe share your recipes for food and/or drinks you find add to the pleasures of the game. And every now and then, present you with a Mah Jongg problem.
So here’s a tip for novice players: If you have a tile you don’t need, but are fairly sure someone else does, discard it as early in the game as you can. Eventually, if you are to declare Mah Jongg yourself, you will have to discard it. So discard it earlier, rather than later and hope your opponent isn’t ready to declare Mah Jongg. If it’s late in the game, and you’re sure you have the Mah Jongg tile, if you have to, break up your hand to keep your opponent from winning.