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Copyright © 2017 by Chad Bomberger
Interior design by Pronoun
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Chapter One “The Rules”
Chapter Two “The Symbolism in Mah Jongg”
Chapter Three “The Game”
Chapter Four “The Scores”
Chapter Five Tips and Tricks to Play the Game
Chapter Six The Mah Jongg Sets
How to Play Mah Jongg: A Beginner’s Guide to American Mah Jongg
An Instruction Book to Learning the Rules, Sets, and Art of The Game
“The Chinese word ‘máquè,’ was one of the earliest names for the game of Mah Jongg, which means sparrow.”
THE GAME OF MAH JONGG originated in China. It is pronounced with numerous variants Majiang, Mah Jongg or Mah Jong, and sometimes also referred to as one word i.e. MahJong. In most scenarios, all spellings are deemed correct.
Mah Jongg dates back to 1800s, though there is a lot of speculation regarding when exactly the game originated. However, almost all experts agree that the game originated in the land of China. It found its way in the United States during the 1920s.
Interestingly, another theory suggests that the game was exclusively played among China’s elite class. The commoners who were found playing it were imprisoned. Nevertheless, the game was made available to the public when the ban lifted in 500 BC.
Some claim that the game was developed in 500 BC by a Chinese teacher and philosopher, Confucius. He is also credited with developing numerous other board games. Although historians have yet to find a tile dated this old.
Quite a handful of historians believe that the game was invented among the army circles of China. The soldiers used to play this tile game to pass their time. After a while, the game found its way among the civilians who embraced it wholeheartedly.
Whatever may be the history of its origin, Mah Jongg did not only become popular in China but was welcomed all around the world with equal zeal and vigor. As it traveled around the world, various countries modified its rules and style of playing according to their culture.
The popularity of tile games in China dates back to 1120 AD. Dominoes, another type of tile game, have been a part of Chinese culture for a very long time. There is a good chance that the game originated in the Chekiang, Kiangsu, and Anhwei. Researchers believe that the game was popular among the nobles of the court of King Canton, Emperor of Nanking. The king’s court was acclaimed for its notorious pursuit of pleasure, game, and entertainment.
A rival theory suggests that the game was invented by two brothers who belonged to the area of Ningpo. Since this area is quite famous for its ivory carving, historians speculate that this is how the bamboo and ivory tiles came into being.
Nobody can trace the certainty of any of these deliberations. Nevertheless, it is certain that the game began to spring around in China during 1905. Over the course of fifteen years, the Mah Jongg and its gaming strategies evolved. Some rituals such as shuffling of the tiles, the deal, and formation of ‘Kong Box’ were introduced into the game. These rituals were not merely introduced to charm a novice; in fact, these rituals minimized the chances of cheating.
People laid money on Mah Jongg tables i.e. it was introduced as a gambling game. Players regularly played by betting for or against each other. Many historians believe that during 1920s Mah Jongg had been eloquently perfected and presented to the public, who embraced it candidly. This era saw the rise of this particular game like no other.
Among the many places where Mah Jongg became popular, Japan is on top of the list. The Japanese version of the game is somewhat different from the Chinese version although the underlying nature of the game has remained intact since the start. Japanese prefer a knockout session where–in the first player to go Mah Jongg is considered an uncontested winner. All the other players have to pay combined prize money to the winner. Hence there are no second places, and neither is the game spread out for several hours over the course of different sessions.