My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Excellent beginners book for learning American mahjong, but only American mahjong as determined by the National Mah Jongg League score card. The book includes a sample score card from 2004, which is not the current score card, but will teach you the game. The NMJL score card changes every year. Current 2011 score cards are available at the National Mah Jongg League:
It is also available at Amazon.com and a variety of on-line mahjong vendors.
If you are interested in learning American mahjong, this is the book for you. Sandberg starts at the beginning, introduces the various types of tiles and gives you the basic rules of the game. She does an excellent job of teaching you how to decode the NMJL score card and she also provides quizzes and exercises which will help nail down the principles of the game and give you some winning strategies.
What is not covered are the other varieties of the game, Old Hong Kong, Chinese, Japanese, Wright Patterson, and numerous other variations. If you are interested in one of the other variations this book is not for you.
My wife and I taught ourselves how to play the Old Hong Kong version using rules from an internet site. Having read Sandberg's book and trying the exercises, we will stick with the Old Hong Kong version for the time being. It uses standard hands 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, and 3 number straits (pungs, kongs, and chows) and we just find the game far more enjoyable to sit back a play without poring over the card and trying to match one of the relatively complicated hands on the cards. But that does not change the fact that Sandberg's book did successfully teach us the game. The bottom line with American mahjong, you have to know the card, and for now, we don't want bothered. Sandberg will teach you how to know the card. The real work is sitting down and doing the exercises and learning the card. This book is excellent for that purpose.
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