Mah Jongg – Why Do We Play This Silly Game?

Mah Jongg – Why Do We Play This Silly Game?

My very first blog post, “May the Mah Jongg Gods be with You,” dealt with luck vs. skill in Mah Jongg. Approaching this topic from a different angle, I ask the question: “Are we able to alter the forces of chance when playing Mah Jongg, or must we give in to the fact that the cosmos is really running our Maj game and we have very little to do with it!”

I believe that experienced players always start their Maj day thinking they’re going to win at least a few games. When playing in a tournament, nerves can play a part, but not to the point where they alter the outcome of play. I don’t know of too many players who start a tournament assuming they will end up in last place. In other words, a positive attitude usually accompanies us as we start our play, in both tournaments and in our social games.

It’s only when we start to lose game after game that we begin to wonder, “OY, is this going to end up being one of those days?” “How much money am I going to end up losing?” “Will I have to go into my secondary purse in order to pay others their winnings?”

Then there is the thought: “If we keep playing (so what if it’s approaching midnight?), I’m bound to win eventually.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work, as most of us have experienced. When you’re on a downer, when it will end is anyone’s guess.

Sometimes I’ve thought that no matter what I do, it will be the wrong decision, because the Maj Gods are simply playing a cruel joke on my psyche. My friend once uttered, “I’m a good person, really– why can’t I win a game?” During these down times, Jokers rarely make a difference. If you have a pretty good hand and simply need one or two Jokers to carry you to victory, you won’t get them. However, the next game you might get four or five jokers and still not win, simply because you don’t get the other tiles you need for your hand.

The biggest challenge I face during these bouts of bad luck, is trying to remain positive and keep my complaining to a minimum. We all know that it’s really easy to be in a good mood when we’re winning; however, it’s not so easy to have that smile on our face when we’re losing badly. Being a good sport during challenging times is something I continue to strive for…

I had one of those terrible days earlier this week – I simply couldn’t win a hand. The other players started to feel sorry for me and apologized when they won. One woman even discarded a tile that she figured would give me Maj, yet I still couldn’t win!

But a funny thing happened on the way to my next Maj game. The very next day (in another game I play in regularly), my luck totally changed. I picked virtually everything I needed for the hands I was playing—it was almost eerie. Were the Maj Gods trying to apologize to me for treating me so shabbily the previous day? I even won a singles and pairs hand (picked it myself). Then there were the double-double dice rolls (which I normally don’t like) that helped grow my pile of quarters so that they were spilling off the table. What changed from one day to the next? I have no idea, other than the fact that I had changed my earrings and switched out my ‘lucky’ pennies in my Maj purse. I decided that the cosmic forces of Mah Jongg might be a bit fragile, and any small alteration could have a big impact on my game. So did my new earrings and different pennies really change my luck? Stranger things have happened, my friends…

I welcome your comments.


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