My students are always very inquisitive. Some questions are easier to answer than others such as those that are clear cut about Mah Jongg, with right and wrong answers, a definitive yes or no. In the past few weeks, I have received a flurry of inquiries that are not so simple.
“How do I handle a situation when there is a slow or indecisive player?” “I know that after I rack my tile, the previous discard is not live, but people say I rack too fast.” What do I do?” “Someone in my game keeps calling for a discard and then changes their mind?”
I think you get the gist of where I am going with this and it is especially hard when these are friends or people with whom you have played a long time with.
There are no easy answers. I will share some of my suggestions and maybe our members can help out as well.
Firstly, not everyone learns at the same pace. Some players plateau in their abilities earlier than others. While you may decide to learn the game initially with your friends, they may be doing it to appease you, and then you get hooked on Mah Jongg, wanting to be a student of the game and continuing to improve your skill set. Consequently, your levels become much different. Just because you are friends, doesn’t meant that long-term you are the best fit to play together. This is one of the reasons, while in a classroom setting, it is important to play not just with your friends but potential future players for your game. Often just bringing in a new player can change the dynamic. Try five players instead of 4 one day to mix it up.
Sometimes, I suggest in class, if play is excruciatingly slow, to use a timer to help move students along. This may be something you want to try in your game. Just say…” our games seem to drag let’s set it for 15-18 minutes, and limit the chatter. I know we can do better. We’ll catch up on the gossip in between games while we mix and build the walls. I think, if we can establish a rhythm to our game it will be more enjoyable”.
Lastly, decide as a group what etiquette to follow while playing. Cell phone use, eating at the table and of course constant chatter. There are many others of course.
If you don’t know how to bring up this awkward topic, mention this blog from MahJonggMentor.com to open the discussion.