China has a very long and curious history with a very vast culture. That is why China always has drawn curiosity from the people. When it comes to Chinese culture, many people will talk about the historical feudal periods, whereas, some people are attracted to the entertainment. There are loads of games that we are playing today have first been originated from China. In this article, we are going to talk about the Chinese game called Mahjong. Let’s start from the inception point.
A brief history of Mahjong: the truly Chinese game
Mahjong was originated from China, but you cannot name someone as the inventor of the game. There are plenty of theories and beliefs about the inventor of Mahjong. The most amusing myth about the game is that the game was first developed by Confucius, who was a great Chinese philosopher. This belief, according to some historians, was developed from the three dragon tiles of the game coincided with Confucius’ idea. According to Confucius, these three dragons were filial piety, humaneness and sincerity. Well, if this theory is correct, this might be the oldest game in Asia.
- How did it come to the US? You may think that a Chinese man imported the game, but it was not the case. The first mahjong board in the US was sold in the US in 1920. The seller was Abercrombie & Fitch. It started when a woman came to the shop, and she wanted the game that she has seen in China. After the incident, the company has sold more than 12000 mahjong sets in the US.
- Joseph Park Babcock wrote a book in almost the same time in 1920 when the Abercrombie and Fitch were selling their mahjong sets. The book of Joseph was about the rules of the game. This book is most commonly referred to as the Red Book. Joseph learned the game in China; he came back with the rules and made it a little simpler so that Americans who are going to play this game can easily understand the rules of the game.
- A version of the game is much less complicated, and it worked as a booster to the popularity of the game in the US. Many people in the United States have loved the game, and they started to play. After this boost to the popularity of the game, a lot of mahjong rules from the red book was discarded. From then, people began to follow the original rules.
- The game started to get involved in different other appellations. The wordy “Game of a Thousand Intelligence” and “Pung Chow” was related to this game. The game has also found its way in the popular culture with Eddie Cantor’s “Since Ma is playing Mah Jong” song.
- 1937, the game Mahjong became even more famous with the National Mahjong League also known as the NMJL. This league first devises an American rule book namely “Maajh: The American Version of the Ancient Chinese Game”.
Now you know about the history of the game, here are some lesser-known facts about Mahjong that you will surprise to know.
- The longest mahjong game lasted 33 hours: This record was set on 16th December 2012 by four players namely Oleg Pretov, Anton Khantimirov, Nickolay Demyanov and Mark Efremov. The exact runtime of the game was 33 hours 3 minutes and 45.8 seconds. All these people were Russian. These guys dedicated 33 hours of their lives to the game to create a world record! Phew!
- The prolonged playing of Mahjong can induce epileptic seizure: A study in 2007 has published the report that says spending a long time playing mahjong can cause an epileptic seizure. There are 23 reports attached with the survey that second the fact that Mahjong can induce an epileptic seizure. This seizure can cause both playing and watching the game. It is one of the rare conditions. However, you may want to play it on the safe side, especially if you have a history of an epileptic seizure. Think you want to break the world record by the Russians? Well, think again.
- It used to ban in China: It is funny how a game originated from China has become banned in the country. When the People’s Republic of China took control of the government, they have banned all the gambling games in the country. Mahjong, unfortunately, was included in that list. After a 36 years long wait, the game came back, and people could enjoy it legally. Now, there are a lot of online game developers have added the game in the subcategory of puzzle games. A couple of online mahjong games were mahjong time, and coffee mahjong that worth a try.
What is the main goal of the Mahjong game?
There will be four-player, 136 tiles, all of them facing down and two dices. There are 36 bamboos and 36 circle tiles divided evenly between the players. Also, 16 wind and 12 dragon tiles in the game divided evenly too.
The goal of the Mahjong is to get all 14 tiles of one player into four sets and one pair. A pair is two identical tiles. A set will be made either with three identical tiles. We call it “Pung”, or three consecutive numbers of the same suit called “Chow”. Players cannot use a single tile in two sets at once.
How to play Mahjong
Priority will always be the player who will claim Mahjong. Failing that, any player can claim discarded tile to call it a pung, revealing the tiles that match the discarded.
If nobody claims the discarded, but you, you can start your turn by calling it a chow. Then you will discard a different tile you don’t need, and the game will continue. However, if the discarded tile does not match your set too, you can draw the next tile from the wall. If that tile gives you Mahjong, you should discard a tile face-up.
The game is simple and lasting. Enjoy it with your friends today.