MahJongg Madness Tournament – my 1st day

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Faye’s Features

The Mah Jongg Madness Tournament in Tampa

Today (Friday) begins the Mah Jongg Madness Tournament in Tampa. It is a weekend event consisting of 4 sessions, 3 rounds each session and 4 games each round. This group has run these tournaments for 29 years traveling all over the country and cruises and even a trip to China this spring. It is a very well-orchestrated tournament. It is the second time I have attended one of their events. The first one was an experience and having learned from it I thought I would be better prepared. And maybe I am but sometimes I wonder.

As people arrived and checked it I was amazed at the numbers. I heard the coordinator comment that there were well over 200 attendees! Imagine 200 women all in one place who love the game! But also imagine the competitive hormones floating around the room. Rules at a tournament are strict. They adhere very closely to those rules of the National Mah Jongg League and the Director’s judgment is final. There are no house rules, no hot wall, no picking ahead and no touching anyone else’s tiles. Respect and graciousness should be paramount.

It was time to begin and as I sat at my first table we greeted one another politely. No real chatter as we listened to the Director and her instructions. We began to play and you know you have to make quick choices and decisions. You think you are playing fast but then you hear another group begin to shuffle their tiles and you think oh no how did they complete a game so fast – we just finished the Charleston! Will we finish all the games on time?? You see in these tournaments each round has a set time period and if you do not finish in time you score a zero. This strictness allows everyone the same opportunities and everyone moves onto the next round at the same time.

The first round of 4 games ended in 54 minutes. Fast play and very defensive play was the order of the day. It was fun. I was pleased and happy to play like this.  The second round seemed to begin with a bit more of a relaxed nature. We had time before the round started, to kibbutz a bit and I learned that although the tournament was here in Florida, the woman to my left actually grew up in the same town as my dad in Massachusetts. The other two ladies actually lived minutes away from each other in Colorado but the two ladies on my sides had also played the same tournaments on Cape Cod.  It appears the MJ circle of players can be very small.  Once again the play was great. I was relaxed and it was fun.

The last round started and you could tell that some people were growing weary as the hour grew late. But it did not stop the defensive play as this round we played to 3 out of 4 wall games! That is ok because in a tournament a wall game gives everyone 10 points!  The evening ended and we all moved onto our respective rooms with our friends and roommates. After some winding down, the day ended but I am certainly looking forward to the all-day play tomorrow.

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