Mah Jongg is not just a game. It has become a part of my life that allows me to entertain my Mah Jongg-playing friends, cook great meals to serve to them and test my mental skills during our game play (which, hopefully, is often).
I have a request from a reader by the name of Ginny:Is there a group in Columbus to play Mah Jongg with? I just learned and would love to play consistently. Ginny
Can we help her out? Are there any groups in Columbus? Let me know and I will pass the good news on to Ginny. This photo is of a group playing in Mayfield Village, Ohio. Is that anywhere near you, Ginny? The photo is from the Columbus newspaper so maybe this is a good lead for you. And it looks like this is a fun group (note the Margarita glasses!). Here’s the article that came with this photo from The Columbus Dispatch :
After Ron Riedel’s children graduated from high school, he and his wife seemed to socialize less.
They weren’t meeting friends at soccer games, school plays and other kid-related events.
So Riedel formed a baby-boomer group that hosts regular game nights — everything from lawn games to Connect Four — and weekly dinners.
“It has nothing to do with the games,” said Riedel, 55, a furniture-maker in Auburn, Calif.
“It’s really just a social event.”
As baby boomers age, many of the traditional ways to make friends disappear, said Lynda J. Sperazza, an associate professor at the State University of New York at Brockport who studies how the generation spends its free time.
“Recreation and leisure are still of utmost importance,” she said. “It is critical to their self-concept and sense of well-being.
“Game nights and boomer clubs are a means to be active, which is in sync to their values.”
In Sun City Center, Fla., the Baby Boomer Club organizes parties, dances and game nights, President Linda Moore said.
“It’s strictly a social club,” said Moore, who, at 70, is technically not a boomer. “Not everybody in the club is a baby boomer. It’s people who want to go out and socialize.”
The U.S. Census Bureau defines baby boomers as people born between 1946 and 1964.
The definition encompasses Debbie Schwartz, 52, of Mayfield Village, Ohio, who looks forward to her monthly mah-jongg game with friends.
“It’s a real thinking game,” Schwartz said of the Chinese game. “It’s great for keeping your mind sharp.”
Games do help people stay mentally sharp, said Dr. Martha Stearn, executive director of the St. John’s Institute for Cognitive Health in Jackson, Wyo.
Each fall, the institute holds a Brain Game Challenge with trivia contests, word games, singalongs and other activities.
But Stearn said the social benefits of games are even more vital for brain health than the mental challenges.
“We are programmed to be social,” she said. “Isolation is one of the worst things for the brain.”
Schwartz, who started the mah-jongg group 15 years ago, said its six members play for fun.
“We use it to talk and catch up,” she said. “We’ve been friends for a long time.”
Fellow player Judy Palladino, 57, said she and her husband, Vince, like the excuse to get together with friends.
“We’re all older. We’re tired. It’s nice to come home and do nothing,” she said.
“It’s also important to stay active and connected with old friends.”