When Richard began playing Mahjong in 2015 he invited me to join him but, as I was still two years from retirement, learning the game landed on a future to-do list. Even during Covid, when many were learning new skills, from baking sourdough bread to mixology, the game did not pique my interest.
I am clueless as to what inspired me during this year’s 12 Days of Christmas but the time was right. As a skilled player, Richard patiently introduced me to the unfamiliar imagery of the Chinese characters and symbols printed on the 144 tiles. Some people claim Mahjong is like Rummy or Solitaire only with tiles. I disagree. Unlike Rummy, where a winning hand is a winning hand whether today or five decades ago when, one semester, I played cards in the Blugold Room on the UW-EC campus until my GPA dropped, winning hands are determined by the National Mah Jong League and change annually.
After several weeks practicing at home and observing the Tuesday group play at church, I joined actual play, won a game and shouted – Mahjong!
Photo credit: Mahmoud Yahyaoui from Prexels