January 2017 Newsletter

                      Happy New Year !!!

“Auld Lang Syne” comes from a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and is set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations and as a farewell or ending to other occasions.
The song’s Scots title may be translated into standard English as “old long since”, or more idiomatically, “long long ago”, “days gone by” or “old times”. Consequently, “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as “for (the sake of) old times”.  Singing the song on Hogmanay, or, New Year’s Eve, very quickly became a Scots custom that soon spread to other parts of the British Isles. As Scots (not to mention English, Welsh and Irish people) emigrated around the world, they took the song with them. -Wikipedia
2016 is over and 2017 brings hope, and wishes for new times, new beginnings, and new goals for many. It is also a time to say goodbye to the old, be it old friends, old times or other things – an homage to what is gone.
With that in mind, we would like to say thanks and goodbye to our good friend and MahJonggMentor Partner, Faye Somers, who retired in September to pursue other interests, spend more time with family, and to enjoy playing Mah Jongg instead of mentoring it! God Speed, Faye!  We’ll miss ya!
And to all our members and subscribers at MahJonggMentor:  thanks for a wonderful 2016!!  We appreciate you very much, and look forward to a Happy, Healthy, and “full of Mah Jongg” 2017!!-     Your MahJonggMentors: Sue, Leah, and Arlene

                           An Insider’s Look at the NMJL Card

In celebration of the New Year, it brings to mind the new 2017 National Mah Jongg League Card coming out in early April. I’m sure that many of you are ready for it already! Perhaps you have already ordered it through the League, or through one of the non-profit organizations you support, or one of the other sources that sell it. With that in mind, we are lucky that in our local Mah Jongg club here in Pennsylvania, and a member of our MahJonggMentor.com website, is a fun lady and great player, who was involved in the creation of the card in 2003, and so she has graciously agreed to share her experience with us:
Thank you Maddy!
Have you ever wondered how the NMJL card gets written? It’s a true process where real Mah Jongg players spend about three months actually playing the experimental hands that finally make the cut. I was part of the team that wrote the 2003 card. In the spring of 2002, I called the National Mah Jongg League in New York City with a question about the then current 2002 card. I also inquired about a request in their bulletin for volunteers to write the new card. After sending my contact information, I was invited to come down to the League office in New York City for an “audition.” There were several other women at the audition, and we played about four or five games. Luck was with me that day, and I made two Mah Jonggs. I left the office walking on air, having played at the same table with the legendary Ruth Unger, long-time president of the League.
The news came that I was one of the “chosen,” and should be prepared to come to the office two or three days a week and would be paid $75 a day to play the game I love. We were, incidentally, required to play with our own money of $5 a game. It’s a different mindset when it’s your money, and the play is more authentic.
Armed with my purse of shiny quarters, nickels and dimes, I appeared for the first day of orientation and the process was explained. There were two tables set up and we were given an experimental card of typewritten hands that no one had ever seen before. We limped along playing unfamiliar, strange hands. We kept track of which hands were played the most and which we thought were easy or hard. Often if a hand was played too much, it was probably not included.
The next morning, we met as a group to review the hands from the day before. We did not always agree and sometimes the discussions were quite heated. Then a new set of hands was presented to us. Some were new and some were from the previous day. For about five hours we again played, with only a short lunch break, and we kept track of the hands. The process was repeated until the final hands were decided upon.
Each year, the highly anticipated new MJ card that comes in the mail is examined and studied. Some people hate it, some love it.

     This year, I will welcome the new 2017 card and look forward to the inevitable fumbling and kvetching when experienced and newbie players are on a level playing field, at least for the first day. And, I recall those days when I was part of the process-  Madelon (Maddy) Sheff
           Some Mah Jongg Resolutions to Consider for 2017

  • To be more patient while playing with new Mah Jongg players
  • To treat all Mah Jongg sets with care, making sure to handle the tiles with clean and germ-free hands
  • To be more patient with players who play more slowly
  • To try to play more hands that are outside of “comfort zone”- such as concealed hands and singles/pairs
  • To buy a Mah Jongg set if you don’t have one
  • To buy some other Mah Jongg merchandise- such as clothing, jewelry, mugs, bags
  • To join Mah Jongg groups on social media sites such as Facebook
  • To play in a tournament, if you haven’t done so before; or to play in more of them, if you have
  • To play a different way than your usual, whether it be for money, using a bettor, or playing Siamese Mah Jongg
  • To teach someone to play Mah Jongg
  • To play better, at whatever skill level you are
  • To try to complete each hand on the card