Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mah Jongg Class

The library will offer an “Introduction to Mah Jongg” class in February, taught by trustee Eleanor Ingbretson. The class will meet at the library on the four Saturdays in February from noon to 2:00 PM (February 6, 13, 20, and 27).

Participation is limited to eight people and the registration fee of $40 per person will benefit the library.

Mah Jongg is a game for four people played with tiles. Similar to rummy, it is played by drawing and discarding tiles to form hands. Mah Jongg originated in China, where it probably evolved from a card game in the nineteenth century, and traveled to the United State in the 1920s, where it enjoyed an initial fad and has remained popular ever since. This class will teach the American version of the game.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Mah Jongg is the use of tiles, most commonly one hundred forty-four. These are often colorful and are organized into “simples,” “honor,” and “bonus” groups. The simples are numbered tiles in three suits (Bamboos, Circles, Characters); the honor tiles are the Winds and Dragons; the bonus tiles are the Flowers and Seasons. American sets also include Joker tiles.

A match consists of four rounds, each of which represents a “prevailing wind,” beginning in the East. The dealer is always East, and each player takes a turn as dealer. Points are scored according to the hands that players construct by drawing and discarding tiles.

Mah Jongg is a game of skill, strategy, and calculation that also involves a degree of chance. In China, the game is deeply ingrained in the culture; many restaurants keep Mah Jongg sets available for customers, and it is often referenced in popular culture such as songs and movies. The game is also popular throughout East Asia, often with regional variations; it has been said to be the most popular table game in Japan. In the United States, two different governing bodies, the National Mah Jongg League and the American Mah-Jongg Association, sponsor tournaments and other events.

To register for the class, call the library at 603-989-557.

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