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What's the most challenging Mahjongg game for you?

What's the most challenging Mahjongg game for you? Do you have a favorite? Share how you learned to play!

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We play American Mah Jong. About 5 years ago a neighbor put on Nextdoor who wants to learn to play? She taught us(about 12 of us replayed) at her house. We play most every Thursday evening. We were all strangers, but neighbors, who have become great friends!  Now we have a pot luck supper before we play. It has been so fun and great to make new friends!

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Newbie

I learned to play Western mahjong. All of us bought a copy of Tom slopers book and read it to learn the names of the tiles and the basic hand to go out. After we played for about a year we added special hands for pairs and for runs. After playing four or five years we made all special hands in his book available although most of the time our players go with a basic mahjong hand.

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To RogerShane and MemphisVivian - there are Mah Jongg tile “orphanages” out there where you can find matching tiles to sticker and turn into Jokers so that you can enjoy your vintage sets!
Ann Israel, co-author of Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game

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Periodic Contributor

My understanding of the Chinese version is that it’s quite similar to Gin Rummy and does not require a reference card to play. I was taught American Mahjong by a friend who taught a group of 4 of us and helped us choose a hand to play when we were uncertain. We depended on her for far too long! It helped to read the book “American Mahjong Made Easy” which is available from the National Mahjong League. It’s such a challenging game with a new card of hands available each year from the league adding to the challenge and variety. I’m so very glad that my husband and I learned to play. We love to cruise and have met many interesting people on long voyages by playing mahjong onboard. 

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Are you asking about the table game played with tiles?  (not the internet “matching” game).  I have always played by the National Mah Jongg League rules (US) but have been curious about other varieties played around the world.  

Periodic Contributor

I play the same (U.S.) version as you however my husband and I played the “Siamese” (2 player) version so much during Covid isolation that it has become my preferred type of play with the National Mahjong League card. We played with 4 players last week and I had almost forgotten how to deal and how to pass for the Charleston. Love the automatic table we bought ourselves last year!

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I want to learn to play with tiles. I have my Grandmothers MahJongg set and would like to get together with some people to learn.....

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Periodic Contributor

Where do you live?  I teach American Mah Jongg.  In general, most people will be able to play after about three to four lessons.  Practice is very important. Learning the hands on the card are vital to properly creating a winning hand.  The rules of the game can be learned with continuing practice with a person who knows the game well. The game is brain stimulating, strategic, and decision making - all contributing to the possibility of dementia or althsheimers.  ( Lack thereof ) The game is marvelous and thought provoking.  Should you wish to communicate with me, you can find me on Facebook with instant message or NextDoor.  I’ll happily answer your questions.  Sincerely, Rhoda Dreitzer

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@rogershane, I too was excited to learn to play and to use my grandmother’s Mahjongg tile set … but then I learned her set is old enough that it does not have the right number or assortment of tiles (e.g., no jokers). I’m not sure what to do with it now, but that said, I am learning the game as it’s played now and enjoying it very much.

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Periodic Contributor

Check with your library or community center to find lessons. It can be learned in a day but it took longer for me because the tiles are all named and the hands are so varied. Hope that you enjoy playing, too. 

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Periodic Contributor

Being a Mah Jongg teacher, I’m amazed to read that you can learn in a day. I truly can’t imagine that happening. There are so many facets of the game. One lesson can hardly teach the game in its entirety. Sorry to disagree with you. However I would like to see or meet that one person who can play with only one lesson. 

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I am also a Mah Jongg teacher and cannot imagine knowing how to play this game in one lesson. IMHO, it isn’t possible. That’s like saying you are fluent after one French lesson!

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Periodic Contributor

I  wrote “one day” not one lesson. My husband and I taught our 15 year old grandson to play from the entire card in one day. Granted, he grew up in our home hearing us play with friends for years and as a child home schooled by parents with masters degrees and a phd, I would consider him exceptionally bright. I stated elsewhere on this topic that it took me a long time to learn. 

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