Mah Jongg in the News
Mah Jongg made local, national, and international headlines in newspapers in 2015. Here is a synopsis of some Mah Jongg topics that made the news in 2015. You can read the full articles using the links below.
In Florida, police told a group of women aged 87 and older that their weekly game of Mah Jongg violated local gambling laws, despite the women explaining that $4 was their daily limit for losing. The neurologist of one of the women had reportedly told her that in older people, playing Mah Jongg can delay and possibly prevent dementia. After further review, there actually is no ordinance in Altamonte Springs against Mah Jongg gambling or other “penny-ante” games, which also include poker, pinochle, bridge, rummy, canasta, hearts, or dominoes, in which the winnings of any player in a single round, hand, or game do not exceed $10 in value.
An Ohio newspaper reported on a group of Mah Jongg players who use adapted rules published by wives of U.S. Air Force officers more than 50 years ago. The Wives Club of the Wright-Patterson Officers Club copyrighted their set of rules in 1963 and update them regularly.
Read more about their rules here https://wrightpattersonosc.org/mah-jongg.html
A newspaper in Hudson Valley, New York chronicled how Mah Jongg is gaining a following among younger players. Gregg Swain, co-author of “Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game” with Ann M. Israel, was interviewed about this trend and reported that some people have inherited sets that belonged to a friend or relative, and playing with that set helps them to keep a connection with them. Others they realize there is little time to really connect with friends unless something is scheduled on a regular basis, and they are getting together after work the same day each week and playing.
Even the Wall Street Journal published an article focusing on Mah Jongg. The article told of a player who attempted to win using the “chicken hand” strategy in the World Series of Mah Jongg in Macau. The “chicken hand” is a weak hand that acts as a spoiler, scores very few points, but wins the game. It’s a defense strategy to block other players from completing higher-scoring hands. These are the same hands that most Mah Jongg players find challenging, and trying for these hands is what draws us to the game.
Internationally, World Mahjong Ltd, the owner and organizer of the World Series of Mahjong tournament in Macau, as well as organizer of tournaments in Asia, Philippines, Australia, and Canada was listed for trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange. World Mahjong Ltd. reportedly intends to use some of the net proceeds to fund the operation of a global network of Mah Jongg tournaments throughout 2016.
This publicity for Mah Jongg has certainly piqued interest in the game. I can’t wait to see what stories about Mah Jongg we will see in 2016!!