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Subject: Vietnamese Mahjong - The Jokers: What are they and how are they used? rss

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Michael Kandrac
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I recently acquired a very nice Vietnamese Mahjong set from Yellow Mountain Imports - the ivory (colored) tiles, the lack of western symbols, and the 16 extra tiles identified as "jokers" intrigued me. I reasoned I could always use these tiles to play American Mahjong. Here is a scan of the tiles, organized without any understanding of what they mean (other than the top two rows which are numbered in Chinese 1-4.)




After much searching, I found a reference on the internet to these tiles that was sketchy at best. Apparently, unlike the jokers of American Mahjong, some or all of these tiles have "limited scope." A specific tile can take the place of a dragon, one a certain suit, one a flower, etc.

Please identify the meaning of the characters and the how they are used in the Vietnamese game.

Gg
 
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Gunther Schmidl
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http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/special.htm has info about the Vietnamese Mahjongg tiles.
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Michael Kandrac
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Thanks Gunther! I didn't happen upon that web page, and it does shed a lot of light on this subject. From that link I now know that...

The use of the top two row tiles (numbered 1-4 in two different characters) are described on that same page as additional flowers, which is why they are number similarly.

The 3rd row, left to right: General (any suit tile only); Dragon Lady (dragon joker); Lord of Craks (character joker); Lord of Winds (wind joker)

The 4th row, left to right: Lord of Dots (circle joker); Lord of Bams (bamboo joker); Big Flower (double flower?); Emperor("almighty joker")

Some questions: The General cannot be used to replace honor tiles? The use of the Big Flower? The Emperor can replace any tile?

The use of jokers that are limited in their use would add a very different dimension to the game, or so it seems to me. Any corrections or additional information will be welcomed!

Gg
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Michael Kandrac
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Many thanks to the sloperama.com website for some great information about my new Mahjong set. The top row are the queens, numbered one to four with the kings just beneath. Being used like flowers I would think that the winds are associated with them as with the common flowers, i.e. the blue and red number ones are especially of value to the East player, while North would gain extra points from fours. A "marriage" corresponding to your wind position of the kings and queens would give a double.

All of these observations are based on the desire to connect the dots - there is no definitive treatise on the way Vietnamese typically play Mahjong using the jokers as depicted here.

This comes closest, but doesn't really explain all the special flowers - the "kings" and "queens."

http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/special.htm

I look forward to using the 16 additional tiles and forming walls 20 rows long, but it will take the acceptance of a learning curve with the several new Chinese characters, but I've already created player aids that will ease the pain!

Gg
 
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Michael Kandrac
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Here they are, one more time, arrayed with captions.



I sense that the Vietnamese are on to something in their idea that jokers, in most cases, are limited in their use, making for some interesting tactical decisions. I hope to explore the use of them soon

Gg
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Quanchi Q

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Hi Riichi, you mind to tell me where did you acquire this Vietnamese mahjong set. I'm searching for one but haven't any luck yet.
 
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Cir Citer
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quanchi wrote:
Hi Riichi, you mind to tell me where did you acquire this Vietnamese mahjong set. I'm searching for one but haven't any luck yet.


Hello, Quanchi. I'm visiting San Francisco and purchased a "Vietnam-style" Mahjong set today at one of the stores that Mr. Sloper lists here:

http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/whereg.htm

The store in case is Kwong Sang Lung Co. @ 941 Grant Avenue. In case you don't live in the area, they will ship it for you. Call 415-421-7765 and ask for Mary. The Vietnamese sets come in two sizes: 7 and 8. (The lower-number labels on the box--as sold by this store--correspond to the larger size. I know It's counterintuitive and also contrary to what Mr. Sloper mentions elsewhere on his site, as well to what seems to be conventional in the websites of manufacturers and distributors all over. Either Sang Lung has its own system, or the boxes have been mislabeled, since labels and tile-size in other stores nearby seemed to fit Mr. Sloper's description of the prevalent labeling convention. I checked many of the sets and their labels.)

If you're having the set shipped, it might be useful to know that their "size-8" set weighs 9.7 lbs. and their "size-7" one 11.2 lbs. The clerk also mentioned that packaging would add about 2 pounds to the weight.

Mary is well aware of the difference between the different styles of sets, so ordering should be easy. They also sell American and Hong Kong varieties. The price was 55 dollars for the smaller one and 59 for the larger set. I managed to get a small discount after a bit of haggling.

I hope this helps.

C.
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John Savard
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In a recent web search, I found a forum thread involving Tom Sloper, the owner of the Sloperama web site, which answers what the other eight tiles are for.

They are not jokers. Instead, they were originally called "Fairies", and are now called "Kings" and "Queens"; they are basically treated as another flower suit.

This information came from the book "Le mah-jong: guide complet" by Nguyen Xuan Mai, it is noted in the post.
 
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Michael Kandrac
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quadibloc wrote:
In a recent web search, I found a forum thread involving Tom Sloper, the owner of the Sloperama web site, which answers what the other eight tiles are for.

They are not jokers. Instead, they were originally called "Fairies", and are now called "Kings" and "Queens"; they are basically treated as another flower suit.

This information came from the book "Le mah-jong: guide complet" by Nguyen Xuan Mai, it is noted in the post.


The "kings" and "queens" shown above were not identified as jokers, but as (likely) flower-like tiles.

Gg
 
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