I SSUE #2 July, 2019
All inquiries to John Davis Contact John Davis

The Magazine for The Discerning Mah Jongg Player

Current Subscribers: 1,200

We hope you enjoy this electronic magazine as it spotlights all that is fresh, funny, exciting, controversial, and cutting-edge
in the Mahj Nation.

Created by John Davis
Edited by Judith Euen Davis

Just some thoughts about the game.

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
-Alice in Wonderland

At a recent Mah Jongg tournament, I witnessed the player opposite me win four games in a row. Impossible? No. Improbable? Yes. I wanted to quit. I felt bad. I doubted myself. I was jealous. I had evil thoughts. But I smiled each time and congratulated her because I knew I'd talk about her at lunch.

“Who is she?” my friends wanted to know, so I pointed her out. “Oh, yeah, her,” someone said, “she’s always so lucky.”  We nodded our heads, each of us trying to recall a former moment of glory, preparing to top whatever historical anecdote came up.

We went round, each sharing the “One time . . .” stories, patiently waiting for our turns. The conversation turned to the mahj droughts we had all lived through then laments of how jokerless our lives were. I thought, if only we had jokers, our lives would be so merry.

These are the conversations that occur in the Mahj Nation every day of the week. We all admit that it can be a frustrating game and at the same time an exhilarating game. We tally our success in points earned, where we place in the crowd, how much money we win. We admit that each game is a new chance to grab the glory, to outmaneuver, outfox, or outmahj our opponents. We also obsess over the rules and protocols, leap on errors, and gossip about cheaters. We’re a rowdy tribe.
 But, in spite of all that, or precisely because of all that, we never admit that we can’t win. Like Alice before breakfast, we have no problem believing the impossible.

Each issue will feature an innovative product designed to improve players' skill. If you have a product that you would like featured, click here.
(2018 SIAMESE MAH JONGG® card used with permission)

As new Mah Jongg players, we all face the same problem: how to keep track of our hand when we are first learning the game.  We find ourselves continually glancing from the rack to the card, searching for our hand among the myriad numbers and letters. Some of us use post-it notes, paper, rulers, or pencils to guide us back to our chosen hand. Now, however, a new tool has appeared on the market that not only scaffolds our progress, but can be used by experienced players as well.
Tina Gottesman has created reusable, washable highlighter strips that allow players to highlight three different hands on their cards at the same time. No more searching for your hand, no more hiding your post-it notes from the other players, and no more wasting time and slowing down the game.

Consider using these highlighters the next time you are teaching a friend, child, or partner to play Mah Jongg. Also think about how much easier and fun it will be for you to teach or even play Siamese ® or Royale Siamese Mah Jongg ® . Maybe you’d consider using a completely new card, knowing you have a tool that will help you keep sight of the new, unfamiliar hands. Levels the playing field.
To read the story of how Tina became the mother of invention with this willunique product, click here.  https://www.mahshelpinghand.com/post/the-story-behind-our-mahjong-highlighters
New Feature:
Mahj in the Media

In each issue we will take a look at how Mah Jongg is portrayed in books, films, television, magazines, newspapers, and the internet.   We begin with a memoir recounting how the game became more than a game.
Hi. My name is Fern Bernstein, author of Mah Jongg Mondays , a book about friendship, faith and love. I want to welcome you into my story world. Please take a seat around my mah jongg table. Have a nosh, grab a drink and let's spend some time together. Connection is an important component in mah jongg. Please let me explain…

    The 2013 National Mah Jongg League card changed my life. When I first opened the tri-fold card, little did I know I also unlocked the hidden treasure of forming prized friendships. Initially, I was lured to the tiles and the mystery surrounding mah jongg. On the surface, mah jongg is a mind sport. It's a game of strategy, memory, tactic, and observation, but below the surface, magical things happen as tiles are picked, racked, and discarded. Hands form as the game evolves, and so too, bonds form and friendships bloom.

    Mah jongg is a right-brain, left-brain symphony. It's one side focused on an analytical assignment while the other side is concentrated on a congenial conversation. My weekly mah jongg games have provided the opportunity to share accolades, birthdays, and other happy and exciting events in our lives with one another. It's also a time when we can ask for advice, or share feelings of sadness, hurt, or disappointment during a challenging situation we are facing. Mah jongg is more than an entertaining and thought-provoking game. It has created an opportunity for belonging and connecting. It has provided a sacred space of sisterhood for my friends and me. Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry. Smiles and tears are welcome at our game.

We connect not only by playing the game but also through being vulnerable and sharing our feelings with one another. What's happening around my Long Island mah jongg table is happening at tables throughout New York, nation-wide and at tables across the oceans and in other countries. People want and need connection, and this is one of the reasons mah jongg is so popular and loved by millions of players worldwide.

    So, here I am, loving this game more and more with each passing year and with each new NMJL card I unfold and play with each spring. I was so moved by my mah jongg experience and love the game so much that I wrote a book about how it has touched my life and helped me through the ups and downs on the rollercoaster we call life. I hope you enjoy reading Mah Jongg Mondays and are reminded of the power of these 152 tiles to transform your life! Happy playing everyone! Enjoy your games and your connections!

To read the prologue to Mah Jongg Mondays CLICK HERE

To order the book CLICK HERE
Mahj on My Mind Merchandise
Every Mahj Jongg player will find something to love in the 40 collections of over 500 items ranging from tote bags, jewelry, and luggage tags, to phone cases, shirts, earrings, and note cards. Perfect as gifts, tournament prizes, or home decor.
Created by Mah Jongg maven Gladys Grad in 2015, Siamese Mah Jongg ® has gained so much popularity recently that there is now a growing demand for tournaments. For the past three years, Grad's Mah Jongg Madness Tournaments have held mini Siamese Mah Jongg ® tournaments, in Las Vegas and Scottsdale. The scoring and guidelines for these mini tournaments are available at the Siamese Mah Jongg ® Guild Facebook group. CLICK HERE
So, You Want to Hold a Siamese Mah Jongg ® Tournament?
A number of groups across the country have also begun to hold Siamese Mah Jongg ® tournaments using these scoring sheets and guidelines. Recently, at the Palmbrook Country Club in Sun City, AZ, Joyce Hornes, Lynn Boehne, Carol Neff, and Lois Smithers held their first Siamese Mah Jongg ® Tournament.  Fourteen players played a total of eight 40 minute rounds from 9 am to 3:45 pm, with a 45 minute break for lunch mid day.  Each player paid $20 to participate, with all $280 going back to the players. The payouts were $100, $80, $50, $30, and $20. Joyce and her friends hold bimonthy traditional Mah Jongg tournaments at Palmbrook; in May, they had 108 players.
Lessons Learned

·       have a director who isn’t playing in order to support players and decide next steps if a player has too many or two few tiles, for instance, or if one hand is dead
·       be prepared to help with scoring; many don't understand it at first.  
For their next event, Joyce and her friends are thinking of doing a Power Point presentation for players who don’t really know a great deal about Siamese Mah Jongg and then have some fun play in the morning. After lunch, the group can stay and do a “mini” tournament of four rounds if the beginners are interested. They are targeting a date in October when the “snowbirds” are back.

For more detail,  click here to contact Joyce Hornes 
Mahj Mania Draws a Crowd in San Diego
At the Destination Mah Jongg Tournament in San Diego on June 29, 2019, John Davis demonstrated his Mahj Mania game to a group of amazed and flabbergasted players. (Each of the Easts who had volunteered to bring their sets was given a complementary game, a tradition initiated by tournament directors Fern Oliphant and Sheryl Perry.) As he explained the possibilities of the game, John heard these reactions--

Thanks to everyone who submitted pictures of mahj in unusual places.
of the
American Mah Jongg Dynastry
John Davis
In the summer of 1942, Dorothy S. Meyerson, a young mother from Forest Hills, NY, stepped in front of a television camera in station W2XWV to talk about the game of Mah Jongg.  Behind her was a huge seven-foot rack of hand-painted cards simulating Mah Jongg tiles. With visual aids like these, for many Sunday nights throughout the summer, she brought the game into living rooms and sparked public interest in a game that has close to one million players today.

Already Vice-President of the National Mah Jongg League, Meyerson knew what she was talking about. In 1936, she had written down a set of Mah Jongg rules, had them mimeographed and bound, and began selling them for a dollar. That booklet shortly became the book,  That’s It! How to Play Mah Jongg with Playing Cards and Chinese Tiles, a standardization of the rules that formed the basis of the game of today. 
Always an active promoter of the game, Meyerson also demonstrated it at Macy's and Gertz Department Stores for several years, along with her duties at the National Mah Jongg League. Recognizing the need for Mah Jongg equipment, Mrs. Meyersen created the Mah-Jongg Supply Company, an enterprise her daughter Marjorie Troum took over upon her mother’s death in 1971.
Marjorie Troum in her 20's.
In her own right, Marjorie Troum has had a tremendous influence on the game. Beginning with teaching her friends at camp to play, and running charity Mah Jongg tournaments there, she has grown into a nationally-known figure through the multitude of local and national tournaments she has sponsored.

Allison Davis, Marjorie’s daughter, a resident in Granada Hills, California, visits her mother, now 92, regularly at a retirement residence. Together they talk about their long family history with the game. Like all active families, however, life did not necessarily revolve around a single interest. Marjorie was busy organizing and running local and national tournaments, and ocean cruises, while Allison found her interest in pharmacology.   A registered pharmacist for many years, she now works part time. In fact, Allison didn’t learn the game until the 1980s when the family moved from New Jersey to California.

“Now I play day and night, if I can,” Allison said when asked how often she plays. She jokingly has a picture of herself on her refrigerator so the family doesn’t forget what she looks like.  

Her interest in Mah Jongg has blossomed into teaching others; along with a friend, she currently teaches two classes of Mah Jongg at the University of California Los Angeles extension program. Because of the game's growing popularity, the University had to add an additional class and still has a waiting list.

From the weekly demonstrations by a young woman in Macy’s Department Store in New York, to today’s social media, the game itself has expanded tremendously.  The National Mah Jongg League has over 350,000 members and publishes a new game card each Spring, while Facebook hosts a number of special interest Mah Jongg groups.  In fact, the Facebook group Mah Jongg, That’s It! (named after the Meyerson book) boasts close to 23,000 members and continues to grow. Online versions of the game have evolved from simple matching solitaire games to full-blown online games with players competing against each other over the internet. 

For the past 75 years, Dorothy S. Meyerson, Marjorie Troum, and Allison Davis have an unbroken connection to the game of Mah Jongg: they are the true daughters of the American Mah Jongg Dynastry.

(Author’s Note: I had a chance to play Mah Jongg with Allison and Marjorie in June of this year. We had three wall games.)
Mah Jongg Diva Tiles
Limited Edition Mah Jongg Tiles
There are only 100 sets of this limited edition. Each set comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and consists of 170 Standard American Mah Jongg tiles, including 8 flowers, 8 seasons, 8 blanks (in case a tile is lost, it can be replaced with one of these), and 2 extra jokers.
  • TEACHING THE GAME: A survey of teaching methods
  • GAME STRATEGIES : How to watch everything at once.
  • MAHJ PHILANTHROPY: Spotlighting fundraising efforts across the Mahj Nation
  • HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES:Origins and development of the game
  • COLLECTING AND COLLECTORS: Advice and perspectives of professional Mah Jongg tile collectors
  • ADVICE FOR NEWBIES: Things to keep in mind in learning the game
  • MAHJ ON THE CUTTING EDGE: Playing multiple cards and hands, new styles of MJ
  • THE OTHER MAHJ JONGG STYLES: A look at Riichi, Wright-Patterson, Hong Kong and others
  • MAHJ CRUISING: Playing Mah Jongg on the high seas
  • MAHJ ONLINE: A survey of the multiple online sites
  • MAHJ ART: The beauty of the tiles, boxes, racks, dice, and paraphernalia
  • REGIONAL TRADITIONS: Picking ahead, stacking tiles
  • BOOK BEAT: Newest publications related to Mah Jongg
  • MAHJ CUISINE: Traditional Mahj snacks, recipes, ideas for hosting your group
  • FUN WITH STATISTICS: What are the most powerful numbers or combinations?
  • ROLE OF LUCK: Are some players just lucky?
  • MAHJ TRIVIA: Did you know that?
  • THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF MAHJ VENDORS: A survey of sellers, craftspeople, and unique products
  • TEST YOUR MAHJ KNOWLEDGE: Pop quizzes on mahj facts
J. Davis Mah Jongg Collection
at Davida Aprons

Davida Aprons is pleased to announce the debut of the J.Davis Collection of textile products based on the artwork "Joker Dreams" by John Davis. This first collaboration represents the latest addition to the outstanding line of Jewish Funwear and Kitchen Kitsch products that Davida Aprons has been creating for over 38 years.
Mahj-Art Commissions

Would you like a custom designed gift for a friend or loved one who plays Mah Jongg?
Is there an anniversary or birthday milestone that calls for something special?
You should consider my Mahj-Art Archival Prints.
Each print is hand made using archival inks and high quality papers. I work closely with clients to find something unique about the recipient. My extensive Mahj-Art library is available, or you may commission an entirely new piece. Join the nationwide ranks of satisfied customers.