U3ADenia - Mahjong


Email mahjong@u3adenia.com 
Group leader:  Margaret Jenrick
Meetings:  Friday
Time:  15.00 Every Friday at 3 pm for two hours
Venue:  Bar Holandes Errante, Carrer Rap,5 (Dutch Alley)


As usual with Chinese games, theory has it that Confucious invented it but the truth is that no evidence of the game exists before about 1880.

In fact, the history of the game is straightforward and can be viewed in two parts: ‘until the early 1920s’ when the game was almost exclusively played by the Chinese, and ‘after the early 1920s’ when the game was discovered and immediately popularised by other nations.

A set of 144 Mah Jong tiles consists of 36 tiles in the Bamboo suit, 36 in the Circle suit, 36 in the Character suit, 16 Wind tiles, 12 Dragon tiles and 8 bonus tiles (4 Flowers and 4 Seasons). The best tiles are made from bamboo and ivory or bone and have beautiful hand-painted pictures representing the face of each tile. Traditionally, the Flowers, Seasons and the One of Bamboos come in for particular artistic creativity.

The aim is to collect sets of tiles according to the number and type shown on the face of each tile. A player takes and discards a tile each turn and the first player whose hand consists entirely of a legal set or sets goes out or goes ‘Mah Jong’. The game is effectively the same as the card game Rummy.

It appears to be a very complicated game, but Mah Jong is really quite simple when reduced to its basics and it is only the accompanying rituals and complex scoring that change this. One of these rituals, the process of shuffling the tiles at the start of the game, is known as ‘The twittering of the sparrows’, presumably because of the accompanying noise. Since Mah Jong means ‘the game of the sparrows’ or ‘sparrow tiles’ in Chinese, it seems likely that this is the source of the game's title.

The group is not taking new members for the time being, but come and join us, if you already play, for two hours each Friday afternoon at Cafe Holandes Errante. For more information please contact Margaret Jenrick on mahjong@u3adenia.com