What Will YOU Do For Maj?

What Will YOU Do For Maj?

It’s fascinating that the game of Mah Jongg reveals so much about who were are as people, a fact about which I’ve written in previous blogs. This holds true not only in how we play the game, but the importance we give the game.

It seems to me that we can divide Mah Jongg players into two categories:
1. The serious players
2. The not-so-serious players (those who enjoy the game, but don’t love it as much as the folks in category #1)

If you’re not sure which category best describes you, the examples below should reveal your true commitment to the game:

Cancelling in Favor of a Better Invitation: Are you someone who will cancel a Maj game because something else comes up? I have a friend who was invited to a fancy party where a famous Hollywood director was the guest of honor, however she turned down the event in favor of her weekly Maj game. We don’t have to guess which category she falls into. To her, the Maj game was the better invitation.

Finding a replacement: When someone in your maj group is sick and you’re left with only three players for tomorrow’s game, how hard do you work to get a substitute? Some players might say “let’s just cancel this week’s game.” However, if you go through your entire Maj rolodex to find a replacement (even if you’re not successful), your efforts are worthy of placement in category #1.

Impromptu Game: Most of us don’t do well with last minute plans. We’re much more comfortable when our activities are planned in advance. Therefore, if you’re a person who will call (or text) your Maj buddies on a Friday and say, “hey, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so who wants to play Maj,” I would consider you a serious Maj player.

Several years ago I was at a funeral reception that was winding down. A friend came up to me and said, “can you stay a while and play Maj?” I didn’t even have to think about it. After the rest of the guests went home, four of us (including the woman whose home we were at and whose family member had passed) enjoyed a spontaneous game of Maj. It actually was quite therapeutic for this woman, who chose to wind down a sad and stressful day by playing her favorite game with good friends.

Length of Play: If your weekly Maj game is from 5pm to 7pm with an hour devoted to dinner, you’re not a serious Maj player. I play in a game where we start at about 6 or 6:30pm. While this group loves to eat (and some are gourmet cooks), we prefer to eat while playing, rather than taking a break to dine. We’ve gotten quite adept at holding a plate with one hand, picking our tiles with the other. At 10:30pm, those who need to be up at 5am might yawn a bit, but we usually forge on until about 11pm, when eyes start closing and heads start hitting the table… The category into which we fall is rather obvious.

Number of Maj Games in One Day: In the unusual (or usual) event that you have two Maj games scheduled for one day (one in the morning/afternoon and one in the evening), do you say, “I can’t play Maj twice in one day?” Or, do you say, “I just need to get some exercise in between games, but what time do we start this evening?” No secrets here as to who belongs in which category.

Travel Time: I’ve spoken to Maj players who say to me, “really, you drive 30 minutes to play Maj?”
Their question shocks me. Being that Los Angeles is quite spread out, if you’re not willing to drive 30 minutes, your activities are quite limited. Work, friends, great restaurants, Dodger stadium, the beach – you name it, it’s 30 minutes away. So why on earth wouldn’t I drive 30 minutes to play Maj? Those who stay within a ‘10-minute-Maj-drive’ radius are not serious players.

The examples above are good indicators of basic Maj resolve, however this last example is like the SAT’s, LSAT’s and Bar Exam rolled into one:

It’s the Inclement Weather Test: Last Friday, when Los Angeles was hit with the worst storm in centuries (or so it seemed), a few of us braved the elements to drive “30 minutes” to a hotel to play Maj with a group of ladies. The heavy rain and fog (partially obscuring our view) didn’t stop us. Back spray from trucks and freeway spinouts didn’t stop us. Downed trees and major flooding didn’t stop us. I must say the drive was nerve wracking, but our driver was great – she simply turned her windshield wipers on full blast and we powered through Mother Nature’s ire to arrive at our Maj destination. Once we were back home safe and sound, I questioned the wisdom of venturing out that day. Did I really need to prove to myself that I belonged in the Serious Maj Player category? Probably not, but the lure of Maj was simply too powerful to resist.

I welcome your comments.


  • Sandy Ritter Posted February 20, 2017 3:23 pm

    Thanks Tracey for another great mahj post. Makes one stop and think. Serious or social? How about a bit of both. Love the game, love the company, love the food. Just love having a great day. What could be better than a fun game with a great group of ladies?

  • lori Posted February 20, 2017 3:59 pm

    Too funny! If your not a serious player, why bother?!? It only takes me 10 seconds to say, “I’m In!”
    Am I too serious of a player? NOT!

  • Pat Link Posted February 20, 2017 4:35 pm

    Serious player? Yes, yes! I would much rather play Mah Jongg than go to the Lafayette Mardi Gras parades. That’s pretty serious.

  • Jackie Posted February 20, 2017 5:18 pm

    I agree with Sandy Ritter. I am both…loving the game, the women, the food. Also, if I didn’t have my wonderful maj friends to share events of my life, I’d need to have a therapist.

  • Marlyn Posted February 20, 2017 7:05 pm

    Great post as usual. I love playing Mahj and it is an important part of my life. Mahj comes first unless their is an energency! I have many wonderful friends because of it.

  • Ilyce Posted February 20, 2017 7:11 pm

    Tracey, this was great! Questions and situations that come up often we’re all covered! Loved the read and thank you again for teaching me to play!!! I am forever grateful xo

  • Patte Gilbert Posted February 20, 2017 7:50 pm

    Hah! I get texts that say, “Who’s up for Emergency Maj at 11am (that’s in about 45 mins)…and…voila…we have a game…And just so you know, all those questions and answers that the National Mahjong League sends out in a pamphlet…HALF OF THEM ARE OUR QUESTIONS! One of the girls in our group is on a first name basis with them! So..I would say we are definitely in a 1++++ category…Lol

  • Abbey Clark Posted February 21, 2017 9:20 am

    I’m definitely in Category #1, as every one of my friends and family members will tell you. I’ll go anywhere, any time and fight through any weather conditions for a maj game — it’s a Loving Addiction!! Love your blog Tracey, as usual you are right on!!!!

  • GLADYS GRAD Posted February 21, 2017 10:25 am

    With me, it’s a 24 hour-a-day game. I eat, drink, and dream the game. I thoroughly enjoyed your article.

  • Sherri Posted February 21, 2017 1:08 pm

    Mahjong has been my therapy for 26 years!! I was lucky enough to meet wonderful friends including my BFF. When I do not play I have withdrawal, and Mahjong Fever when I really want to play. Great article!!

  • ALLISON DAVIS Posted February 22, 2017 4:39 am

    GOT MAHJ ?
    I’M THERE !

  • Judi Nachenberg Posted February 22, 2017 5:40 pm

    Last Friday it rained really hard here in LA. Everyone got to my house before it really started raining hard and we played all day. Had a great day playing.

    I turned down a bar mitzvah invitation to play mah jongg at a week end tournament a few years ago.

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