Reflections of a Difficult Mah Jongg Year

 It’s been estimated that there are at least 350,000 Mah Jongg players in North America, and millions more worldwide. 2020 has been a difficult year for all of us. We miss hugging our family members and friends. We canceled vacations, downsized or postponed weddings, and adapted our shopping habits. With deaths from this virus increasing daily, and business closures, job losses, home foreclosures, and remote learning monopolizing the news, we may feel guilty bemoaning our inability to play the game we love so much.

But Mah Jongg has become a big part of our lives. Some play occasionally, while others engage in games nearly every day. We congregate with others in homes, community centers, libraries, and houses of worship, to keep our minds active. We look forward to the socialization and camaraderie of engaging with others. 

For those who play by NMJL rules, we received our 2020 Mah Jongg cards at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Social distancing guidelines and quarantines forced most of us to stay in our homes, some for a short time, but many for a large portion of 2020. 

Some of us adapted by playing in groups on online sites, where membership has multiplied in recent months. One popular online Mah Jongg site allows users to play eight free games per day. Players often simultaneously utilize applications such as Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime to interact with other players.

In the warmer weather and southern climates, creativity abounded. While some played outdoors wearing masks, others played outdoors on online sites while remaining socially distanced. 

Unfortunately, for various reasons, some Mah Jongg players haven’t used the 2020 card at all. There are plenty of social media posts relating cards that were ordered but not received. But there are more players with cards still in envelopes, because they lack comfort in playing online or feel the game is too different from playing in person to satisfy their Mah Jongg cravings. 

But there’s reason for optimism. Several promising vaccines are awaiting approval. Once the general populace is vaccinated and COVID cases decrease, we hope that we can achieve some degree of normalcy in our lives. 

In the meantime, we can continue to hone our Mah Jongg skills by playing Mah Jongg safely. When we play again in person, consider playing with your 2020 NMJL card occasionally, even after the 2021 cards have been received. 

Of course, MahJonggMentor will continue to keep our members updated with new videos. We thank our members for sticking with us during these trying times. -Arlene


Julia Roberts and her niece Emma Roberts are avid Mah Jongg players.

Did you know that Fred and Adele Astaire played Mah Jongg? I wonder who the other two players were in this game!