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Mah Jongg!

A little bit of strategy, a little bit of luck, and a lot of fun, this 150-year-old game is gaining popularity in Vero Beach

The National Mah Jongg League keeps the game fresh and challenging by creating new official “hands” each year for determining winning combinations. The league sells the rule cards and donates a portion of the proceeds to charity.

The National Mah Jongg League keeps the game fresh and challenging by creating new official “hands” each year for determining winning combinations. The league sells the rule cards and donates a portion of the proceeds to charity.

Mah Jongg. The word itself evokes something exotic. Its playing tiles with their puzzling images, mysterious; the sound the tiles make as they are mixed and clicked, soothing as a bird’s song.  

All this might explain what initially compels people to take a tentative step into the world of Mah Jongg. But what keeps them rooted to the game is that it’s just plain fun!  

And the camaraderie among the four players at the table can become as important as a win. Mah Jongg is for the laid-back player as well as the most competitive tournament player. It’s enjoyed by children and those generations removed. In other words, it’s a game for almost everyone, and in recent years this once esoteric game has soared in popularity. Locally Mah Jongg is played in residential communities, private homes, country clubs and at least one senior center. 

In many aspects, the game resembles gin rummy because players attempt to put together certain combinations — but with tiles instead of cards — and better their chances by passing unwanted tiles to other players. The first to complete a winning combination with the final 14 tiles declares “Mah Jongg.”