In Washington, a local group of hobbyists has been gathering every Tuesday to learn how to play an ancient game that pits players together in a dual of chance and wits.
The Washington Mahjong Club meets every first, second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at the Washington Library from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and at the Washington Coffee Shop on the third Tuesday of the month.
Mahjong is a tile-based game that can be played with two to four players. It originated during the Qing Dynasty in China.
Judy Smith, Berger, instructs the class every Tuesday. She said she’s been playing for nearly six years. She first learned about the game from one of her neighbors when she lived in Eureka.
Smith said she enjoys the game because it’s challenging in multiple ways and invokes strategic thinking.
“It’s an offensive and defensive game. You’re trying to win but also stopping them from winning,” Smith said. “Every time you get new tiles you look forward to it.”
She said since she moved to Washington she hasn’t had many people to play with, so she decided to make competition for herself by teaching the game to others.
“I wanted people to play with and the way to get people to play with was to teach new people how to play,” Smith said. “Usually when you say Mahjong, people say ‘What’s that?’ ”
Smith said there has been a lot of interest in the game. She said anyone who enjoys games, especially card games, might enjoy Mahjong and said anyone is welcome to join.
“They’re coming along just fine and it’s only been a couple of weeks,” Smith said. “Its fun to get see people get into it because at first it’s mind-boggling, but after a while they get into it.”
The game uses a set of 144 tiles. Each players receives 13 tiles to start with and can win the game with a certain hand or through earning four “melds.”
Jane Dolan, a member of the club, said she is addicted to the game and enjoys the play-style of it.
“I love it. It’s both relaxing and exciting,” Dolan said. “You really have to think about it. There is a lot of strategy involved in it but it’s also relaxing and addicting.”
Smith said once players understand the game, they’ll want to play more and more.
“If you like games, any kind of games, you’d like this,” Smith said. “We think it’s kind of addictive.”