There aren’t a lot of games I like playing, but the ones I like, I love. Mahjong is one of them. As it’s the start of the Chinese New Year I thought it good timing to buy myself a Mahjong set and tell you all about it!
Mahjong is a bit like playing Rummy, but has a lot in common with many card games in that you try to get specific combinations of ‘cards’ in ‘suits’. In Mahjong they’re actually tiles with different Chinese characters and symbols on them.
What Mahjong has that card games don’t, is all this lovely cultural detail.
For example, when the tiles a shuffled – after laying them face-down on the table players push them around with their hands – it’s called the twittering of sparrows. The sound the tiles make as they bump into each other does actually sound like birds chattering.
Among the types of tiles there are Winds relating to East/South/West/North, Seasons, Flowers and what we call Dragons in English, but are characters with multiple meanings.
I also love the way that the walls of tiles you build at the beginning of a ‘hand’ are supposed to be built carefully, with no gaps that evil spirits can enter by.
It’s a really simple game to learn. Mind you the scoring system is conversely very complicated, but then I like a game where the person who wins the ‘hand’ doesn’t necessarily get the highest score! Besides, you don’t have to score the traditional way if you don’t want to.
One of the few goals I have for this Year of the Snake, is to find some willing people I can teach Mahjong to and try and have a monthly – bi-monthly Mahjong night.
If that happens, then I can justify buying myself a really nice set to replace the teeny sized set I bought. Though I’m liking the miniature -ness of it.