About the Game
Mah Jongg is an old Chinese game. However, in this country, we play with a few additional tiles and different rules making the game very different.
There are at least three versions of ‘American’ Mah Jongg.
- National Mah Jongg League
- American Mah-Jongg Association
- Wright Patterson OSC
Each has their own rules and winning hands.
Our Center plays American style following the National Mah Jongg League rules.
Is this picture accurate?
Perhaps you are curious when Mah Jongg was first played? We know the game originated in China, and many believe its an ancient game. During the 1920’s the game was introduced to the Western World.
But do we know how long the Chinese have been playing? Did Confucius play the game? Is it REALLY that old?
This video should help set the record straight.
For another opinion, Tom Sloper, a noted expert on the game says:
“Mah-Jongg is NOT an ancient game, as author after author insist. That origin legend is just a lot of marketing hype that started in the 1920s when mah-jongg first became popular around the world.
Mah-Jongg as we know it today was created in the mid-to-late 1800s, based on (inspired by, derived from) money-suited card games that do go back to ancient times. In fact, those “ancient” cards and games were also the progenitors of today’s tarot cards and playing cards. The earliest written record describing the gameplay of mah-jongg is no older than the 1890s, and the earliest known mah-jongg sets go back no farther than the 1870s.”
Mah Jongg is a 19th-century Chinese game. It came to this country about 1920. During the twenty’s and thirty’s, it became popular among Jewish women. The National Mah Jongg League was formed in 1937 by a group of Jewish women to standardize the rules used in this country. However, many people play the game, and no religious affiliation is required.
The famous ‘Card” is a combination of rules on one side and winning hands on the other. Each year the National Mah Jongg League publishes a new card with a different group of winning hands. Usually, there are about 60 winners of varying difficulty. These new hands keep the game fresh and exciting for the players.
At the Fishers Mah Jongg Center, we follow the rules of the National Mah Jongg League. Some of the standard rules appear on the game card. However, there are books available detailing the full set of rules. We prefer these:
- Instruction Book “Mah Jongg Made Easy” on sale from the National Mah Jongg League
- “The Red Dragon & The West Wind: The Winning Guide to Official Chinese & American Mah-Jongg” by Tom Sloper available on Amazon
Both of these publications are available at our Center for reference. And watch for the Questions & Answers section of our monthly email newsletter dealing with rules.
Learning the Game
If you do not know the game, the average is three lessons before playing without an instructor. This varies with the level of experience and the individual.
Our instructors have at least 20 years experience playing Mah Jongg and are sensitive to those learning the game. You won’t feel intimated. You will not need anything for the lessons except the willingness to learn. Lessons are available to those who join the center.
Answer a few quick questions here, and we’ll get back to you.
It is not uncommon for learners to be uncomfortable. We all started as beginners. We have two options, attend one of our “Relaxed Play Sessions” where the game pace is usually a bit slower with time for questions and thought. Or we may be able to arrange a table just for beginners like you.
Playing at our Center
No, both members and guests may attend as they please. Many of our players are ‘snow birds’ who visit only for a few months each year.
Just the desire to learn and play the game following the rules of the National Mah Jongg League, and pay the required fees.
Yes. Often a player will bring snacks to share, and the Center provides bottled water. Each table has cup holders. There are a small refrigerator, ice, and microwave for other items you might want to bring.
Yes, we do. Each year we have special sessions to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research. During the change over to new cards, April 1st, we’ll have close out the old and special opening the new card games.
Yes, while the majority of our players are women, we welcome the men too.
Reservations are not necessary for our regular sessions. Occasionally we will have special game events or tournaments that require reservations.
No. We have players who regularly attend, driving up to an hour one way to enjoy the game with us.
No, you may come late, leave early or play all day. Tournament play and special events may be different.
Not at all, we provide the sets.
You do need the current ‘hands card’ from the National Mah Jongg League. We usually have one for you to use until you get your own. They are available locally at the Game Preserve, 8487 Union Chapel Rd # 640, Indianapolis and by mail from the National Mah Jongg League
You need the current ‘card’ from the National Mah Jongg League. We usually have one for you to use until you get your own. They are available locally at the Game Preserve, 8487 Union Chapel Rd # 640, Indianapolis and by mail from the National Mah Jongg League Cost $8-$10