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I have blogged about this issue previously but yesterday I received this message from Elizabeth and I thought I would post it. I know that when the OMs play – and there are usually 5 or 6 of us – the fifth and sixth person leave the table and go into another room to check her email and/or return her calls. My OMs are a polite and considerate group!

I will admit that there was one game where I did text between turns but that was because I was playing with three people who had no idea what they were doing and it took around five minutes before it was my turn again – this was agony! I resorted to texting instead of saying something I would later regret!

Let me know if you have faced similar issues and what kind of solutions you and your Mah Jongg group have developed…

Dear Ann,

I  just finished writing this piece and then searched Google and found your blog. I think it is really becoming a problem!! Maybe the National Mah Jongg League could put some guidelines in their booklet next year.  Thanks for your blog!

Mah Jongg and Cell Phones – At movies, the theater, services, meetings, and many other places, one expects to be reminded to silence their phones. Why should the mah jongg game be any different?? So two guidelines: (1) Silence your phone during mah jongg. (2) No phones on the table.

 The one exception might be, when you expect an important call. In this case, let other players at your table know that you might need to answer a call. Then when that call comes in, get up and go to a private area. The rest of the table may then chat until your return.

 Same if you are playing with five players—on your turn to “hop out,” if you are not focused on the game, move to a private area to chat on the phone, play a game, etc etc.

 Let’s agree—if you are not focused on the game, please leave the table.

 Here are some examples I and others have experienced:

 Person texts on their phone when it is not their turn at play.

 Person sits at table playing a game and comments on how they are doing while others try to play mah jongg.

 Person gets a call and chats away at the table—rest of table is held hostage to their half of the conversation. And worse—Person gets a call and shouts at the caller about what they’ve done wrong. Rest of table sits while the tirade goes on and on and on.

— Be well, Elizabeth

Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.  —Chuang Tzu



  1. Kate

    we have our phones out at the table, but no one talks during play. we might send a short text while it is not our turn, but nothing like what is written above. I don’t think it is necessary to completely ban phones.


  2. lajohni

    When people are using/checking/texting they are not present at the game. It’s disrespectful to the other players because it’s telling them your phone is more important than their company. I teach Mahj and set up dozens of groups every year and phones are the #1 complaint people have. Be present, be engaged, be unplugged 🙂


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