Monthly Archives: October 2014


I have so much to tell you – and will get to lots of news-worthy postings over the weekend – but first I wanted to wish you a Happy Halloween and show you this hysterically funny (and scary, on so many levels!) online Mah Jongg game that is perfect for this holiday! BTW, I love the music!

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Frank from The AOTOMO Mahjong Table Manufacturer has sent me another message and some photos that they have asked me to share with everyone so here goes…enjoy!

Dera Ann,
How are you?
Please kind find the so fun photos attached. Thank you for post them on your blog.
I’m sure all mahjong player would like these photos.
Best regards,

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I love the following photo!

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Um, shouldn’t you be at your graduation ceremonies? Heck no, I’d rather be playing Mah Jongg!

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At first I thought they were playing Mah Jongg amid stacks of money…what do you think these packets are…pocket Kleenex packs is my next guess.

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Someone is going to come up with a great caption for this photo…

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And here’s the last picture that Frank sent to me; living proof that just about anyone can learn to play Mah Jongg!

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“Three crack!”

“One dot!”

“Four bam!”

Four women stare down at bone-white game pieces in their hands.

Plastic tiles clatter and clink in the center of the table. The players gaze over wooden racks with plastic arms that hold a double-decker set of even more tiles, stamped with images of Chinese characters and numbers, dragons and geometric shapes.

It can mean only one thing: a mah-jongg game is in session.

Originating in China, mah-jongg in some ways is similar to rummy: Like the card game, it’s about matching patterns and numbers. It was introduced to the United States in the 1930s and became popular among Jewish women.

“It is this interesting thing that started out as a Chinese game that in America is mostly played by the Chinese and the Jews,” said Liba Kornfeld, Jewish Family Life director at the Jewish Community Center. “It’s this weird relationship.”

The New Orleans Jewish Community Center celebrated the game, along with a former employee and dedicated player, at the fourth annual Harriet W. Kugler Memorial Mah Jongg Tournament that was held on Sunday, Oct. 19.


Harriet Wainer Kugler, who suffered a fatal stroke in September 2010, was not only a long time dedicated employee of the JCC but a committed community volunteer, philanthropist and teacher of Mah Jongg.  During the past decade, Harriet taught hundreds of women both young and old and even a few men, the ancient board game of Mah Jongg.  Many years ago she was a featured instructor at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival cultural tent and founded and directed the JCC Annual Crescent City Mah Jongg Tournament which ran for four years prior to her untimely death.

Gregg Swain, my co-author on our book, Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game, spoke before the tournament on how the game has developed over the years and shared details from our book.

But the focus was, of course, the tournament; the winner received a cash prize and bragging rights.

Shirley Goldman won the first tournament four years ago.

“I won $50,” Goldman said, without pausing her game. “Which I re-contributed to the senior group at the JCC. But I won a purse that had on the cover of it…”

“ ‘Sore loser’?” quips Barbara Laufer.

“No!” Goldman retorts. “The skyline of Jerusalem.”

The other players, Rosalyn Allison and Sylvia Emerman, join Goldman and Laufer in a laugh.

The jokes seem tough, but they’re told with warmth. Mistakes are allowed, and so is self-deprecation.

After Emerman declares “Mah Jongg” to the table — indicating she’s won the hand — Goldman looks over.

“You may have noticed: Sylvia has Mah Jonged. Roz has Mah Jongged. Barbara has Mah Jongged. But I have yet to Mah Jongg.”

“You Mah Jongged once last week,” says Laufer.

“That’s right. Once.” Everyone chuckles.

Each player has a card printed by the National Mah Jongg League, based in New York City, which displays the various combinations allowed that year. The league updates the cards every year to keep the game challenging.

But it’s not the challenge that most players find most important.

Leslie Fishman, executive director of the New Orleans Jewish Community Center, remembers how Kugler regarded the game.

“She always thought of Mah Jong as a way of bringing friends together and friends enjoying each other’s company,” she said.

“It gives people who have retired and even young people an opportunity to get a break, go with their friends, have a deep talk and a little nibble.”

That was the shared sentiment by the participants at the recent game, each of whom is in their 80s: This is not about competition but about companionship.

It’s spending a few hours with close friends, separated from daily worries and stress. The conversation ranges widely, including, at the recent afternoon, the Saints.

Gazing over the table of tiles, Goldman looked stern at the mention of the team’s prospects of winning.

“Let’s say this: They’d better,” she said.

“Drew Brees waited out to sign the contract until he got all those millions.”

Allison agreed.

“Their hype before this season was ridiculous, and all they’ve done is lose.”

Soon the game is interrupted as another player declares “Mah Jongg,” and the ladies slide their tiles to the center to reset the game.


This is an updated and edited version of an article written by Phil McCausland| Special to The New Orleans AdvocateThanks to, and their Facebook page, for the lead on this story.



Carol W., a faithful reader of this blog, saw this posting from the other day and sent me a link for a website that is new to me. Thanks, Carol!

Here is what Carol wrote to me:  Has anyone ever been to the website of Pah and Mah Jongg? They must have see this Life Magazine cover. Here’s their website:

I love the clever name of this online shop!




I am delighted to announce some very exciting news. A new publication,THE MAHJONG COLLECTOR, a quarterly print magazine, is about to be launched by a group of people I revere and consider to be dear friends. They are experts in all things Mah Jongg and, even though the first issue has not been released just yet, I promise you that it is going to be fabulous.

And so, I am delighted to announce the collaboration of Mahjong historian, Michael Stanwick, along with mahjong researchers/collectors Bill Price, Tony Watson, Ray Heaton and Katherine Hartman, on this new mahjong magazine for collectors.

The quarterly print magazine will be out in early 2015. Through email they will let you know when they have more subscription information available.  If interested in subscribing to the magazine, please send your email to this address:

THE MAHJONG COLLECTOR’s Mission Statement: “The purpose of this magazine is, firstly…
To provide a platform for Mahjong Collectors and enthusiasts to share their knowledge, skills and expertise of the history, materials, and the underlying symbolism of the designs on the tiles and, secondly… To provide a platform for showcasing the variety, beauty and the collector’s passion for Mahjong sets that will stimulate discussion about these elements of the game.”

They will be contacting collectors in the future, for interviews and to be featured as Guest Collectors.

I know that these five wonderful people all thank you in advance for your interest in their new venture; I hope you will respond to their request for subscription information by sending in your email address to


The recipes for this Mah Jongg Wednesday with the OMs were easy and fun to make. The menu was Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Condiments, Chicken Salad with Feta and Artichoke Hearts, and Yogurt Parfaits with Cherries and Pistachios.

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