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by Helen Davids

Mah Jongg, is the Chinese tile game that was introduced to America in the 1920s.

For 85 years, there has been a National Mah Jongg League that established guidelines for playing this very popular game (American style) . Mah Jongg combines skill and strategy along with competition and camaraderie.

I remember my Mom hosting Mah Jongg with her group of ladies at our house in the 1960s. After they set up their tiles on the card table, they would start to play and enjoy laughter, drinks and snacks to nosh on (Bridge Mix was the favorite, and Entennman’s pastries) . I watched but never thought about actually learning to play.

After my retirement, move to Frisco Lakes (55+ Active Adult Community), and the death of my husband, I finally learned how to play from the Mah Jongg Club leader at Frisco Lakes. I thoroughly enjoy the game, and play 2 or 3 times a week with the group and some ladies in my neighborhood who also took lessons with me.

Mah Jongg is so popular – there are apps where you can play with friends or against the computer (RealMahJongg is the one I use). All through the quarantine in 2020, my friends and I played on this app, since we couldn’t play in person. The app included a chat feature and voice activation, so we could actually talk to each other while playing!

Now that we are back to “normal’, in-person games are back on – and that includes National Tournaments!

I went to my first National Mah Jongg Tournament in March in Las Vegas! It was held at Planet Hollywood on the Strip. What a great experience ! I laughed, played, noshed and met some wonderful ladies (and a few men) from all over the country! Donations from the proceeds of raffles were given to the American Heart Association and the Alzheimer’s Association.

I came in 13th place out of 196 players, so I would say I did pretty well! (Only the top 10 got cash prizes)

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