Monthly Archives: March 2022

I love these voices from the past…

The wonderful artist, John Davis, found a terrific NY Times article from May 3, 1924 and shared it on the Facebook site, Mah Jongg, That’s It. I love little tidbits like this. If you have anything you would like to share, send it on! Much thanks to John for always being on the cutting edge of Mah Jongg news!

We are everywhere!

Sometimes we think that Mah Jongg is just in our neighborhood…we forget that our beloved game is all around the world and especially in all the corners of our country. Take for example Omaha, Nebraska!

Dianne Severa writes that Mah Jongg is thriving in Omaha…in fact, Dianne herself has two Mah Jongg groups. She writes, “one is on Monday evening and the other is on Thursday afternoon. We play at Camelot Community Center. The Monday evening group plays from 6:30 PM to 9 PM. The Thursday afternoon group plays 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM. We come from all over the Omaha area and we have all levels of players, beginners to expert. We don’t play on major holidays when Camelot is closed, otherwise we play if there are three players signed up to play. No one is expected to play every time and since Mah Jongg can be played with three players at the table, we do not have substitutes. We play with however many sign up for that evening’s or that afternoon’s play. Many of us play in both groups. The groups have been back to playing since April. I still have some players that are still Covid-shy and not yet playing and even though the rosters are large we have not reached the numbers that were playing before Covid. I have been taking new players for the Monday evening group all along. I have not been taking players for the Thursday afternoon group for a couple of years now because of the number of players on the roster and the size of the room we play in. Since we are down players, at least temporarily I am taking new players in both groups.

We do play the National Mah Jongg League rules. Before anyone can join the groups, they must have either played before or take lessons. Since teaching the game is my hobby there’s no charge for the lessons but every player needs the current National Mah Jongg League card of Official Hands and Rules. It can be bought it from me for my cost of $10. For someone who has never played before I usually do three two-hour lessons and then they join the group(s) and continue to learn the game from there. We are a friendly group, and we look forward to playing together for many years to come.

Dianne has put together a couple of great groups. What about you? Tell me about your group(s) and be sure to send photos – I would love to blog about you and your MJ friends!

Here are some photos of Dianne’s Mah Jongg groups:

If you don’t already have this book, buy it now!

Because I have been on a self-imposed vacay from this blog during the pandemic I have not had a chance to discuss a very exciting book that was published about 9 months ago. The book is Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture written by someone I am proud and honored to call my friend: Annelise Heinz.

Annelise Heinz is an assistant professor of history at the University of Oregon. Her work has been featured on NPR, and international Chinese television. Annelise has lived – and played Mah Jongg! – in the United States and Southwestern China.

This wonderfully researched and beautifully written book tells the story of how our beloved game brought together separate ethnic communities in our nation thus giving all of us the first history of our beloved game in American culture along with its influence and meaning on all of us.

From Amazon: “Click-click-click. The sound of mahjong tiles connects American expatriates in Shanghai, Jazz Age white Americans, urban Chinese Americans in the 1930s, incarcerated Japanese Americans in wartime, Jewish American suburban mothers, and Air Force officers’ wives in the postwar era…

…Annelise Heinz narrates the history of this game to show how it has created a variety of meanings, among them American modernity, Chinese American heritage, and Jewish American women’s culture. As it traveled from China to the United States and caught on with Hollywood starlets, high society, middle-class housewives, and immigrants alike, mahjong became a quintessentially American game. Heinz also reveals the ways in which women leveraged a game to gain access to respectable leisure. The result was the forging of friendships that lasted decades and the creation of organizations that raised funds for war effort and philanthropy. No other game has signified both belonging and standing apart in American culture.”

I am making an assumption that if you are a reader of this blog you must have at the very least some kind of interest in or attraction to the game of Mah Jongg (a very American way of spelling the game). If that is the case, run to your local bookstore, or Amazon, or your local library and get a copy of Annelise’s fabulous book. This is a must-have book for anyone with even a mild interest in the game!