Mahjong!

 

A Winng Hand

A Winng Hand

Two things that I decieded I would learn in Hong Kong is speaking Cantonese and learning to play mahjong. The Cantonese is not really going very well. But, I have become hooked on mahjong and can play fairly well.

The hand above is basically a “hole-in-one” for mahjong. I will probably never see this hand again in the rest of my life playing mahjong. It is called The Thirteen Orphans hand and one of the higheset scoring hands in the game. It consists of all for winds, a one and a nine of each common suit and one of each honor tile.

About 60% of the hand was drawn from the beginning. Because it was so odd to me, meaning there were no pairs and no strings of common suits, I consulted a book to see what I could do to make sense of the hand. I saw the Thirteen Orphans and decided to try. About six moves later I got the mahjong.

I sent this photo to Steve in the Shenzhen office and asked if he would check with some of the staff that play mahjong to help me score the hand. They said it was a great and of high scoring value, but it did not come out until a week or two later that they actually undrestood that I had won with the hand. A few jaws dropped in amazment. Victor said, ” I have been playing mahjong my whole life and have never seen that hand.”

After that win, all other hands seem mundane.Now, I am spoiled.

A winning hand

A winning hand

Did you feel the earth move a bit last week?

 

Mahjong Tiles

Mahjong Tiles

Last week in an international mahjong competition held in Toulouse France, the Chinese were given a “French Lesson” according to the South China Morning Post. French players won gold, silver and bronze prizes. Fourth, fifth and sixth place were taken by two Italians and a Dutch player. The closest Chinese player ranked seventh out of 108 players. Thirteen of them were Chinese. This is like an all-Chinese team from Beijing winning the World Series of Baseball.

I guess the Chinese did not see it coming. On Sina Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter), the news went viral. Most were in disbelief. There was even a comment that stated “we cannot let foreign devils beat us!” That comment surprised me. Although I could not beat many at mahjong, I guess I am a “foreign devil!”

Hundreds of years old, Mahjong is a game of tiles and is mostly a gambling game. To me, it reminds me a bit of rummy and dominos. It is addictive and after taking a class, I enjoy a game which can go on for hours.

Steve shared the news of the Chinese defeat at the office and they were in disbelief. Several people in the office are mahjong players, and one is reported to be very good. Excuses were made that the rules must be odd and allowances given. However the most interesting question/observation came when Steve was asked if he read this in “an expat newspaper.”

I’ll take the word of an “expat newspaper” any day while we are living here.

That is a whole other topic for a post.