Cover art is based on an illustration from page 2 of Joseph Babcock's Rules for Mah-Jongg.
I SSUE #5 November, 2019
All inquiries to John Davis Contact John Davis

The Magazine for The Discerning Mah Jongg Player

Current Subscribers: 1,965

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

From the Editors...
We are delighted to showcase so many talented people whose love of the game shines through all their hard work. In every case where we invited people to collaborate on articles, we received overwhelmingly enthusiastic responses. Thank you all.

Each issue requires hundreds of emails, drafts, picture editing, phone calls, text messages, and research, but we still find time to play Mah Jongg.

After all, what can be more important than the game?

John & Judy Davis


I photographed these four teenagers from Santa Monica, CA, for a coffee table book I did of my photos called, RED BLOODED AMERICAN MALE. The idea was to show all sorts of different men (but mostly celebrities) having fun//shattering typical notions of masculinity. These four really played (and are still playing from what I understand!). It was great to see what has become positioned as a "Grandma" game was getting more traction and attracting a new crowd!
-Robert Trachtenberg, photographer, filmmaker
Tom Sloper

“Mah-Jongg is poised to attain greater heights in this century than it did in the last, and it’s going to be a wonder to behold.”

 –Tom Sloper, The Red Dragon & The West Wind: The Winning Guide to Official Chinese & American Mah-Jongg , 2007

Among his many talents and accomplishments as a game developer, author, lecturer, and consultant, Tom Sloper is famous in the Mah Jongg community for his seminal book The Red Dragon and the West Wind , and for his website of archives, news, analysis, and advice about American Mah Jongg and many other variants of the game. 
MJ DIVA invited this recognized expert to share some of his views on the rules, the role of Facebook, his most frequently asked questions, and how he would change the game. . .
  MJDM: Why is there constant confusion about the rules?

TS: Because very few players own a rulebook describing the rules of their variant. Or if they own one, they haven't read it. Most players learn the rules by word of mouth and rely on others at the table to help decide what to do when a question arises. To be fair, there are barriers to getting the rulebook for players of American (National Mah Jongg League) rules, especially if you're a novice. Seeking to obtain a rulebook in a brick-and-mortar or online bookstore will turn up a lot of books, and it's unlikely that Mah Jongg Made Easy will turn up at the top of the list, if at all. Those other books describe numerous variants, and players need to choose correctly. The League sells its booklet on its own web store, and it can be found on mah-jongg vendors' sites. But if you haven't learned the game's ins and outs, how can you be expected to know all that? So people just wind up learning from one another. Still, in my opinion, every player owes it to the others she plays with to read the rules at least once. The back of the card can't describe all the rules (and not everybody reads that!). Every table should have at least one copy of the official rulebook.
MJDM: Is luck too dominant a factor in winning the game?

TS: I know one person who thinks so. She plays Go, a game that involves no luck whatsoever. But I think the amount of luck in mah-jongg makes it enjoyable to play; especially in Japanese mah-jongg, which piles on more rules to increase the luck factor. Interestingly, the luck aspect in mah-jongg had to be tamped down; a high-skill rule set was created to get mah-jongg recognized as a "mind sport" by the International Mind Sports Association. Duplicate mah-jongg was developed to provide equal chances for the four players at the table. That version of mah-jongg has a lot less luck than other variants.

The way I sum up luck vs. skill in mah-jongg is to say that a skilled player is going to win more often than an unskilled player, but even the most skilled player can experience streaks of bad luck. If luck were too dominant for players' preferences, the game would not be as popular as it is.
MJDM: How does Facebook affect the game?

TS: It serves as a forum where people can get together and chat. I don't see that as a game changer.
MJDM: What are the most frequently asked questions? What are the most misunderstood rules?

TS: The vast majority of questions I get on Sloperama are questions about the American variant (National Mah Jongg League rules). At first I was going to say that most questions are about jokers and backsies (you know backsies - I did the wrong thing or I changed my mind, can I take that play back?). But your question intrigued me, so I decided to investigate.

I counted the last year's worth of questions and what I found is that the #1 category of questions concern the National Mah Jongg League card in one way or another. Jokers are at #2 (there are an awful lot of questions people ask about jokers). The Death rules are #3, and Table rules are #4. The Backsies questions come in at #6 (after questions about conflicting claims for a discard).
MJDM: What are the top ten changes you would like to see in the game?

TS: If anybody had ten things they wanted to change about mah-jongg, I'd be surprised they play the game. It may sound strange for a game designer to say this, but when I play a game, I play it according to the rules, and I don't make up new rules or change the rules. Or when I'm playing with a group who wants to use table rules, I just go along (I don't suggest my own). I think it probably comes from my youth, when I was frequently accused by board game opponents of making up rules to suit myself (even when I could point to the printed rule). And that was before I ever designed my first game! Once I became a game designer, I never wanted to be accused of making up rules in a game I didn't design.

               I suppose it's natural to imagine that any game designer would spot flaws or unfriendliness in a game's rules and then form strong ideas about improvements. But I don't play that way. I play for the game as a whole. The rules of a game are meant to constrain players from making moves that would hinder enjoyment (or that would cause an imbalance that favors one side over another). I just experience how the game works, and how the human interactions work while playing. If I find fault with the game, I don't endeavor to change it - I just play other games instead.

               Okay, maybe one exception. There was a board game I played with my sisters when we were kids: Wide World. You had to roll dice to fly your plane to a destination. The rules said you could only land on a destination by exact dice count, so we spent many turns flying back and forth across the destination until the stupid dice gave the necessary number. That one rule I would have liked to change. There's nothing that annoying in NMJL mah-jongg.

               There might be one or two NMJL rules I disagree with, but I've stated them on Sloperama on occasion, and I don't go around trumpeting them, and I'm not interested in petitioning for change. Somebody recently wrote me with ideas for changes to Chinese Majiang Competition Rules, expecting me to join him in getting his changes implemented. I told him he's on his own. I interpret and explain the rules; I don't try to get them changed. Oh, and I never wrote to Parker Brothers to try to get them to change the movement rules in Wide World.
MJDM: Tell us about your book: how it came to be, how many have sold, would you consider redoing it?

TS: The publisher approached me and wanted a book on mah-jongg, after noting numerous human interest news stories about the increasing popularity of the game. My website, and my past as creator of the mah-jongg FAQs when they were on usenet had established me as an authority, and HarperCollins wanted a book. I wrote a proposal which was deemed acceptable. I got an agent to negotiate the terms, then I went to Little Tokyo and got one of those blank-eyed Daruma dolls. At home, I painted in its left eye. Some months later, when the book was published and I had a copy in my hands, I painted in the Daruma's right eye.

  ( A Daruma doll is a hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll regarded as a talisman of good.)

The publisher sends me a royalty report every year, showing how many have sold (in print, and digital, for various platforms). I went looking for the most recent report just now (since you asked) but I could not find it. All I know is, the last time I looked, the sales still had a long way to go to recoup the advance and start accruing royalty payments. And yes, I would consider a second edition, if the publisher is amenable to the idea.
Connect with Tom Sloper 
- Senior Lecturer, Video Games, Information Technology Program, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California.
- Sloperama Productions. Services for game developers and publishers; "Making Games Fun, And Getting Them Done."
- Helpful information and bulletin boards for game industry hopefuls.
- The Mah-Jongg FAQs. Information and bulletin boards about the game of mah-jongg.
- Author of The Red Dragon & The West Wind , the definitive book on official Chinese & American mah-jongg.
Photo: Cari Tom Kuprenas
How a Photographer and an Artist Collaborated to Create an Avant Guard Mah Jongg Set
At the heart of every American Mah Jongg game are the tiles; they are treasured for their artistry and the ways in which they conjure images of Asian culture. Thousands of players are familiar with the variety of depictions of bams, cracs, and dots, along with the winds, dragons, flowers, and jokers. Whether they are handed down from mother to daughter, bought through internet sales, discovered at swap meets, auctions, or garage sales, each set takes on a special meaning for its custodian. Not surprisingly, many Mah Jongg players are also collectors, and a few are actually designers and artists.

Our spotlight in this issue is on a pair of famous artists: photographer and filmmaker Robert Trachtenberg, and Tom Bachtell, a long time illustrator for New Yorker Magazine, as they reflect on their collaboration in creating the unique Trach/Bach Mahjong set.

Tell us the story of how you started with Mah Jongg. Where, when, who taught you.

I learned to play about three years ago. My friend Elizabeth Stewart taught me under odd circumstances. We (and several other friends) had been holding a weekly cooking competition but when she learned to play, she taught the whole group and that was it: either get on board or stay home.
Are you still playing today? Where? How often?

We're all still playing once a week at least! Still at Elizabeth's who's too lazy to travel to someone else's house. (I'm hoping this shames her into the car) .

What was the process you used as you collaborated with others to design the tiles? Did you test it out? Did you consider Asian tropes and the history of the game?

Elizabeth has several vintage sets we were playing on, but I was aware that we were playing the American version of the game. All the sets, however beautiful, were variations on a theme, and I wanted to do something completely different. The goal was to make it whimsical, humorous, truly original but with a strong visual recognition factor that would facilitate play. I imagined what the tiles should be and worked with the incredibly talented illustrator Tom Bachtell. We tested amongst my group for about six months and made slight adjustments along the way. They offered really good suggestions.

What surprised you about the set’s reception? Would you change anything on the design? 

What surprised me most about the initial reception was how horrible a segment of the mahjong community was. I was really in shock. People on Facebook groups ripped it to shreds having never even seen it in person or played with it. Really nasty. And the National Mah Jongg League wasn't exactly warm either. I called them to get some information for a piece the New York Times was doing, and they were not only unfriendly, they never called back with the info! Let's face it, the demographics for this game are skewing up there. Why in the world wouldn't you embrace just about anything that will get the word out and promote how much fun mahjong is?
Do you play with the set?

That's all we play on. We tried to play with a traditional set last week and after half an hour everyone wanted to go back to mine. That made me pretty happy.

Many of our readers are collectors and would love to see a new set. Do you have plans to create another set?

I'd love to create another set. There are certain technical limitations in production that I'm trying to figure out a way around so that a new set would look completely different. The current set is extremely difficult to produce since almost everything is done by hand.

What are some reflections you can share about the game, its ability to create community, the role of luck, its relationship with philanthropy?

Well, any game where a significant component is complaining/whining is my kind of game. And it really does create community - it's much more interesting to talk and play then say, sit around drinking. It keeps you engaged on so many different levels - my group is highly competitive, incredibly bitter, vicious, and mean-spirited, so that's a big plus for me. As for luck, I don't know what to say - I barely ever get a joker or a flower and if someone out there has done a scientific study on odds for things like that, let me know. As for the relationship between the game and philanthropy, I know people across the country hold benefits for the Alzheimer's Association who I do a lot of work with, and that's really wonderful. At my weekly game, we'd sell our mothers to win a twenty-five cent hand, so it's not exactly like you're dealing with Brooke Astor and her gang...


Robert Trachtenberg ’s photographs have appeared in  The New York Times Magazine Esquire Vanity Fair Entertainment Weekly  and  Rolling Stone  among other publications. Advertising clients include  NBC CBS ABC TNT TBS Disney MGM  and  HBO .
Trachtenberg's photos have been selected for numerous awards including the American Photography Annual, Communication Arts, and American Photo Magazine's Images of the Year.
Trachtenberg has written, produced and directed several documentaries. 

On Cukor  was the first feature-length film on legendary Hollywood director George Cukor.  Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer  profiled the life and work of the innovative filmmaker. Both films were produced for the PBS series American Masters. For Turner Classic Movies, Trachtenberg wrote, produced and directed the Emmy nominated  Cary Grant: A Class Apart , as well as a film on Hollywood pioneer Irving Thalberg. Other specials directed and produced by Trachtenberg have starred Alec Baldwin, and Gene Wilder, as well as the eight-part series,  Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence , and  AFI's Master Class - The Art of Collaboration , with guests Steven Spielberg, composer John Williams, actor Mark Wahlberg and director David O. Russell among other guests.

Trachtenberg is the winner of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Direction for his American Masters film,  Mel Brooks: Make a Noise . His most recent film for PBS was the Emmy nominated  Bing Crosby: Rediscovered.  He is also the author of the bestselling book,  WHEN I KNEW , published by Harper Collins, and the newly released  RED-BLOODED AMERICAN MALE  

Tom Bachtell's distinctive drawings and caricatures appear each week in "The Talk of the Town" and other sections of The New Yorker where he has been a regular contributor for some 20 years. Tom’s work is seen in many other national and international publications, from The New York Review of Books to Newsweek, Forbes to Bon Appetit, Town and Country to Mother Jones, as well as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, The New York Observer, London’s Evening Standard, and Poetry magazine. His ad campaigns range from the late Marshall Field's department store to Lands' End mail order to the chamber music series at The University of Chicago.


Do you play Mah Jongg?

No, although I have strong memories of watching people play Mahjongg when I was a kid in Pittsburgh. I used to swim to the deep end of the Irene Kaufman Center swimming pool — next to the Mahjongg tables and shuffleboard court — and gaze at people at the 4-tops clacking away with their tiles. And I would read about the Mahjongg craze of the 1920s in our Time Life “This Fabulous Century” books. It always seemed like the epitome of a smart, sociable game. So much culture attached to it. That set up the romantic mood to create the tiles. Robert Trachtenberg called me about it in the middle of the 2016 election, and I was primed for a distraction. Robert and his team of crack players guided me through the process, and tested out all the tiles. Some tiles were rejected and others were adapted to meet the demands and expectations of what a mahjong tile needs to represent. 

Tell us a bit about the process of creating the Mah Jongg images.

Robert would describe the idea behind each tile or suit — punning or playing, for example, on “Cracks” and “Dots,” “Directions,” even “Bamboo,” and then I’d study historical and contemporary

Part of my brain lives in a 1930s screwball comedy, not to mention James Thurber and Helen Hokinson cartoons, so it’s not hard for me to generate images appropriate to the sophisticated spirit of that period.

Robert also knew how to get me spinning out ideas and images — it didn’t take much for me to launch piles of drawings. As I said, some of the drawings were rejected as impractical, but many found their way into production — a labor intensive part of the process.

Once a tile was produced/engraved, etc., it was immediately apparent what worked and what didn’t. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard, “The players loooove it, but...” The scale of a tile is pretty tiny — lines had to be simplified, eliminated, thickened. A beautiful drawing would come back as a little blot of ink. All the while, I had to make sure the images remained lively and fun. 

Most of the figures are in motion. Is that because of your dance background? 

Yes. I love to move and dance. I’ve always tried to make my drawings move, as well.
Have you done projects like this before?

Never. I think when Robert called originally, I was watching the 2016 Republican National Convention and he started out by saying, “I know this is a strange question, but what do you know about mahjongg?”

Was it difficult to work within such a small space as Mah Jongg tile?

 It tested my and Robert’s and Crisloid’s patience, but it was a good learning experience   (Crisloid Games at

Would you do this again? 

 Of course. It was a wonderful experience. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see the actual set and see that it retained our original spirit of fun. 

Was there ever the expectation that this set would become popular?

 There was always a hope. 

Is there something you’d like to express about Mah Jongg for our readers?

I hope I’ve helped create a delightful mood and setting for players to play in. 
Philanthropy has been a hallmark of the Mah Jongg community for more than 80 years. A myriad of organizations and groups regularly hold fundraisers or directly contribute to charities across the nation and around the world. Each issue of MJ DIVA will focus attention on events and individuals whose philanthropic efforts bring communities together to support important causes.  
How an Accident, a Nurse, and a Mahjong Community Filled a Gap in Protecting Police Service K9s
Andrea Korff has been playing the game of Mahjong for over 35 years and currently teaches beginners, Mahjong strategies, and annual card review classes at the Holland Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. She has also created a year-round weekly Mahjong Makers Club open to all level of players. The club also plays on Saturdays, from November through May of each year. They are a wonderful social and philanthropic club.
The Mahjong Makers club contributes most of its time and money throughout the year to help create an annual Police Dog Exhibition to educate the public. Last year, the Exhibition raised $5,000.00 to purchase the dogs’ kevlar vests. The goal this year is to raise $6,000.00.
This K9 relationship with the Mahjong Makers club began w hen Andrea was working in California as a registered nurse.  She witnessed a horrible multiple car accident on a sharp curve on the 101 freeway in Los Angeles. She was the first on the scene to stop and respond to the needs of the injured. A Police K9 unit showed up; the passengers were triaged, cared for, and comforted. The behavior of the officer and his dog and their special working relationship that day impressed her so much that she developed a bond of respect and appreciation that has lasted for over 20 years.

Through her connections with the Police K9 units, she learned that special Kevlar bulletproof vests are mandated by the police department to be custom made every five years to accommodate the running, jumping, and self-protection moves that are required for the service dogs when working. These vests cost between $1500 - $1900 each and are NOT allocated in the Police Dept budget. Private donations support this need. 
MJ DIVA Magazine interviewed the officers about their relationships with their dogs.

How many hours a day do you spend with your dog?  

24 hours most days unless we are away on vacation.
What happens when you are not at work?

The dogs spend the day just like any other dog hanging out around the house and in the back yard. We do have to be careful when guests are invited, however. 

What was the most difficult thing you had to teach the dog?

That baby / toddler toys are not dog toys.
What is one funny incident/ story that you tell over and over again?

While looking for a burglar, my dog Maverick jumped in a lake after I told the other officers he does not like water. Then I had to go in the lake and get him.
What is important for the public to know about these dogs?

The dogs are utilized as a tool, and they are not pets. Working dogs are not socialized like a house pet; hundreds of hours are invested into their training.

How have the dogs changed your life/helped you personally?

The dogs provide protection at home and offer a family companion while off duty. The dogs require a specific vehicle and allow for a marked police car to be in our neighborhoods while we are off duty to help deter crimes.
Andrea says, “My greatest desire is to remind people that these officers and their dogs work constantly on their training to ensure skills that will protect them and us every day that they go to work. Getting to know these guys and the dogs is heartwarming and fulfilling on so many levels. The club finds it easy to work hard to raise money for something they are passionate about. Animals provide unconditional love and loyalty, and these K9 Police dogs dedicate their lives to their owners and community.”

A brand-new Exhibition/Demonstration and fundraiser will be held at the Holland Center this year on December 18 th , 2019 from 10am – 1pm. It is open to the public, and all ages are welcome. Reservations are not required. If you are unable to attend, you can contact Andrea for check or credit card donations. Your monetary donations are 100% tax deductible, and receipts can be provided . Credit cards can be taken over the phone. The credit card donations will go directly into the P.O.S.A. K9 account.
 Any checks should be made payable to: P.O.S.A.
 In the memo please write Scottsdale K9.
 Your check will be included at the club’s special presentation if you mail it to:
Andrea Korff
34522 No. Scottsdale Rd. # 120-188
Scottsdale, AZ.  85266

If you have any questions or if you would like to make a credit card donation, please contact me at 480-650-5199 or
Mahj at the Merage JCC
Merging Culture, History, and Strategies with Leaders in the Mah Jongg Community
The Merage Jewish Community Center is THE place to be for programs that will challenge your body, spark your intellect, kindle your spirit, and brighten your life. Located in a 220,000 square foot facility on the Samueli Jewish Campus in Irvine, this extraordinary facility, with its inviting landscape and breathtaking views, includes a state-of-the-art health and fitness complex, licensed preschool and toddler care, teen lounge, gymnasium, Jr. Olympic swimming pool, senior center, adult education rooms, a professional theater and auditorium with banquet facilities, Kosher café, a new teaching kitchen, and Holocaust Education Center and Memorial Garden.

The Merage JCC’s programs and services celebrate family, foster health and well-being, embrace tradition, create friendships, and expand cultural horizons, all in a safe, positive, friendly and inviting environment.

The Mah Jongg Community

MJ DIVA’s spotlight is on Geri Dorman, Joan Samson, and Doris Melnick, who have created an extraordinarily vibrant Mah Jongg community at the Merage Jewish Community Center in Irvine, California.

Joan Samson, an Irvine resident, has been teaching mah jongg classes at the Merage JCC since 2004. She has taught thousands of students to play and is considered an expert in her field. She continues to teach new students all year long and also offers refresher/ strategies classes. Joan’s new classes start in January. Tournaments are offered as well as Mah Jongg speaker events with open play and gourmet lunches. In addition, the Merage JCC offers drop-in play for members on a weekly basis.

Geri Dorman, Prime Time Adult Director, handles the details that are needed to run the many events involved with the Mah Jongg program. 

Doris Melnick, is a seasoned Mah Jongg player who regularly competes in national Mah Jongg Tournaments and plays with several local groups. Together, these three have created programs that draw in nationally known experts of the game.

The Mah Jongg Speaker Series

The Mah Jongg Speaker Series started when the Merage JCC wanted to offer another slant to the community of Mah Jongg players.
 Attendees gather in the large auditorium for the speaker, a gourmet catered lunch is served, followed by open play for the rest of the afternoon. 

Past speakers have included:
Karen Gooen
“The Path to Mah Jongg Wisdom”
Gregg Swain

“Cultures Around the World”
Fern Bernstein
"The Hilary Hadad Memorial Mah Jongg Lecture"
In memory of a beloved JCC staff member and Mah Jongg maven. 
Tom Sloper
“Sloper on Mah Jongg”
Upcoming Special Event

The Chanukah & Holiday Boutique on December 5th promises to offer a variety of holiday and Mah Jongg gift items with eight vendors. Door prizes will be given, and a gourmet catered lunch will be served, followed by open play for attendees. 

Rolling The Dice
Facebook has close to three billion active users and is the dominant social media in the world; it allows its members to vent, argue, sell, brag, question, and sometimes grieve, as part of a community where the conversation never ends.

The flow of information on Facebook is much like an electronic vending machine with its advertisements routinely interjecting themselves in our conversation. It is a cyber world of groups forming and dissolving, growing and diminishing, appearing and disappearing. Links, both true and false, go viral then disappear.

 In such a frantic environment, two Mah Jongg friends started Mahjong Dice™ LINK a business that has become a huge success.

Dara Collins and Donna Kassman have played Mah Jongg together for over eight years. Here is their story.

We noticed that while the tiles are works of art, the dice are plain and very small. Our business, Mahjong Dice™ was born. We believe our Mahjong Dice™ complement all mahjong sets whether vintage or modern. On several styles, the joker represents the one dot, and the numbers two through six are engraved dot designs. Since only National Mah Jongg League players use joker tiles, several other styles of Mahjong Dice™, including the Lotus Dot and Bam designs, do not have jokers.

Our first sale, to Dara’s mom, was in April of this year. In less than seven months, we have shipped our dice to 38 continental states, Hawaii, Canada, and India. Our sales are the result of both the power of social media (Facebook and Instagram), seeing our dice in play at tournaments, and recommendations from delighted customers who are now considered friends.
We continue to introduce new designs, colors, and styles. We appreciate and listen to feedback from customers. Several players asked for  Mahjong Dice™  to coordinate with their vintage Bakelite tiles. This month, we were very excited to introduce our designs on authentic, vintage Bakelite. We were fortunate to be introduced to a Bakelite collector who sold us their inventory of Bakelite dice.
Pet Collection and Other New Products
Always looking to expand, we created a Mah Jongg Pet Collection. We noticed many Mah Jongg players enjoyed sharing photos of their dogs and cats on social media.  Mahjong Dice™ created and now sells a Big Barker Mah Jongg Tile squeaky dog toy and a Meoww Jongg Catnip toy. The feedback from customers has been great. We are currently designing new mah jongg related products that we expect to introduce by the end of 2019.
Fund Raising

We recognize the power of the Mah Jongg world and social media can be a formidable force for philanthropy. We believe fundraising to benefit the Alzheimer's Association is a natural fit for our business. Studies show the mental benefits of the playing mahjong and other challenging games. As part of giving back to the Alzheimer's Association, The Longest Day, we created a purple Jokerless Lotus Dot Mahjong Dice design. Mahjong Dice donated $1 to the Alzheimer's Association for every pair of these special dice we sold. When the Jokerless Lotus sold out, we created a second design, The Bling & Shine, and continue to donate $1 for every pair of these designs sold.  We are also proud to be on the planning committee for the Alzheimer's Association's Mah Jongg for Memories 2020 event. It is exciting to think about upcoming opportunities to help raise funds and bring attention to this important cause.  

One more thing! As part of our efforts to raise funds for Alzheimer's Association, we are taking Pre-Orders of the NMJL 2020 Card. CLICK HERE for more information.

We invite you to check out our current Mahjong Dice™ designs and stay connected on  Facebook  and  Instagram  to see the new colors and styles coming soon!

To check out our Black Friday special sale Click Here

Mahjong Dice™  designs started with the theory that each game of mahjong should begin with a beautiful roll. 

Peace Love Mahjong,
Dara and Donna

 The Cyber Mah Jongg Learning Center

In previous issues of MJ DIVA we have highlighted online gaming, video demonstrations, and instructional videos. 

Our spotlight in this issue is on the debut of The Cyber Mah Jongg Learning Center by Debbie Barnett. Barnett is a long time teacher, author of Unlocking the Secrets of American Mah Jongg , and administrator of the Facebook group Ask the Mah Jongg Teacher.

Her teaching platform represents the next step in internet-based learning. Using Skype’s video interface and their internet browser, learners can join a class in real time, take instruction, and play Mah Jongg under the careful eye of Barnett, who can see each hand and offer advice and answer questions.
Here are some of the key features:

  • Classes are taken in the comfort of your own home.
  • You are able to interact with other players just as if you were sitting around a table.
  • Debbie has the ability to remotely control your hand while helping you learn the Charleston moves, form hands and so much more.
  • You may choose from a variety of times to fit your needs during the day, in the evening, or on the weekend.
  • Package pricing for beginners includes an introductory price of $100.00 which includes a 2019 card, a $9.00 value (unless you already have one) and a Mah's Helping Hand Highlighter Kit, a $15.00 value. 
  • Beginner lessons are four sessions, two hours each, for a total of eight hours.
  • Advanced beginner, intermediate and strategies classes are also available.

Contact Debbie at for further information.


At MJ DIVA, we have been watching the development of a unque tool, Mah’s Helping Hand (See issue # 2) and so we asked the creator how players are inventing new ways to use them

Tina Cotts at Mahs Helping Hands shares her recent developments.

We are thrilled with the way our Sleeves and Highlighters are being received and purchased all over the country and by teachers, beginner players, gift givers for friends, etc. The feedback has been incredibly exciting and rewarding; to think I created something that so many people around the country are loving! It's very cool.
They love our Sleeves with its closable, completely sealed design; protecting their cards from the many accidents that can happen at the Mah Jongg table. The most fun though, is hearing about the innovative ways they use our Highlighter Sets.

They use all three Highlighters on their cards to confuse the opponents with roaming eyes. Only the player using the Highlighters, knows which color is covering their Mah Jongg hand. I have customers who are teachers; they teach this strategy to their students!

Tracking their opponent's hands with an unused Highlighter is a popular strategy to help prevent throwing someone's Mah Jongg tile.


We have gotten many requests for a 4th color Highlighter. These players wanted to keep track of their hands and also their opponents' hands!
So we now have a 4th Highlighter color: Hot Pink.

 For the holidays, we are including the Hot Pink Highlighter FREE with the purchase of a Small or Large Sleeve Kit.

Mah's Helping Hand LINK
Four Generations of Mah Jongg Players

To celebrate the 90 th birthday of Irma Kulakoff, her daughter, grand nephew, and great grand nephew join her in a game, the perfect example of how Mah Jongg continues to unite generations.

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
Join our Mahj Mania Facebook group at LINK

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.
Letters should be exclusive to MJ DIVA Magazine. We do not publish open letters or third-party letters. We encourage a diversity of voices and views in our letters.   Letters should preferably be 150 to 175 words and should refer to either an article in our magazine or to a topic of general interest to the Mah Jongg community. Letters must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number.
  • Only letters submitted electronically HERE will be considered.
J. Davis Mah Jongg
at Davida Aprons

Davida Aprons is pleased to announce the exclusive sale of this popular fabric. Along with purchasing a wide range of products, you may now purchase this fabric for your next project! CLICK HERE to order.
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.