You’ll recall if you read my last blog My Mah Jongg experience continues that I’ve taken an interest in Mah Jongg and am in pursuit of getting better at playing it. I’ve put in many hours of practice on my own and I finally see it paying off.
I have been playing with several ladies at our local senior center. When only one lady showed up last week, I decided to try another local center. They advertised that they have open games only for experienced players. I was a little apprehensive referring to myself as an experienced player, but I figured that I was much more than a novice player now, so I decided to drop in.
Those new ladies couldn’t have been nicer welcoming me to play with them, they wiped out all of my apprehensions about showing up not knowing how I would be received. All of my practice has payed off, the game is becoming more and more easy for me to maneuver through. Some of these new ladies remarked how well that I was doing when they learned that I had just started playing a few weeks ago. I am more aware of what tiles other players need to complete their hands, and I hang onto those tiles at all cost. This resulted in several “wall” games, those are games that no one completes any of the combinations on the maj jongg card. That is when you know everyone at the table is playing very well, just knowing what to hold in your hand to stop others is a skill in itself.
I returned the next week to play with the same new group of women. This time there were more to play, we actually had three tables. I am happy to say that I won two games this time, quite an accomplishment. I think that I surprised some of them, I know that I was very pleased.
I went to the old senior center today to play with the ladies, our first four games resulted in wall games, we are very fierce competitors now! With this group we anty up a quarter each initially, then 10 cents for each wall game. So, by our standards, that last pot was quite a big one, lol!
I just started reading another book by Elaine Sandberg who is the best-selling author of “A Beginner’s Guide to American Mah Jongg”. In her newest book, “Winning American Mah Jongg Strategies, A guide for the novice player”. Ms. Sandberg is actually a Maj Jongg instructor. Her mission in her newest publication states that it “offers novice players the advice they need to strategize, excel and win”.
I am so glad that I acquired this book, it really has helped me! The chapter entitled “Decisions, Decisions” was particularly helpful, letting me gain a better insight on how to choose what hand I would attempt to complete. The next time I played Maj Jongg I put what I had learned into play and became more comfortable about my prospects of completing the hand and winning. I’ve really started honing my strategy skills.
Although I didn’t win on that next session, I did manage to win 3 of 6 games on the next, with two of those games being wall games, where no one won. I am becoming a better offensive and defensive player, knowing what to save, and what to hold, to prevent others from being able to complete their hand and win. As you can probably tell, I am very much enjoying my time playing the game with others, I am now playing it three times a week, I enjoy it so much!
I’ve only had a couple minor issues while playing, one recently where someone wanted a tile after I had already racked my drawn tile. By the rules, once a player has racked their tile, another player cannot call for the most recently discarded tile. That person immediately lamented that I hadn’t been racking earlier tiles, and now that I had, it had cost her the tile that she wanted. She made a couple more remarks, and I ignored her. If she had continued, I would have asked her why she hadn’t mentioned my misstep earlier in the game since she obviously had noticed it. Apparently she didn’t feel the need to say anything until it impacted her hand. I was very sure to rack, loudly, from then on. I really wasn’t aware that I wasn’t doing so earlier, and wish that someone had mentioned it so that it wouldn’t have become an issue.
I’ve also had some good comments that have come my way, a lady today told me that she told her other group of maj jongg players how good a player that I’ve become in such a little time! I really hope that some of you will try to learn it and be able to enjoy playing it with others soon.