FAQ 15. How Can I Find Mah-Jongg Players or Mah-Jongg Teachers?
Updated September, 2018. Please report dead links to webmaster at sloperama dot com.
There are two methods you can use, and I recommend using them both (in a two-pronged attack on the problem of finding players). One method is the internet, and the other is the old-fashioned way. These principles work for finding players AND teachers -- folks to teach you how to play mah-jongg. If you are seeking a mah-jongg teacher, see FAQ 4a, where we have several teachers listed. AND read the following!
THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY
Check at senior centers and recreation centers in your area. Ask around. Read bulletin boards. Put your own note up on the bulletin board.
Here are a few more ideas (you can take these as a starting point and modify as needed to suit your area and your chosen kind of mah-jongg).
For instance, if you play Japanese mah-jongg, try posting fliers at the Japanese supermarkets, bookstores, and other places in your area where Japanese players may see them. See if there's a Japanese community newsletter or Chamber of Commerce. Here in Los Angeles, there is a Japanese Yellow Pages (phone book), and I used it to locate the local mah-jongg parlor.
For Chinese mah-jongg, look for Chinese community organizations or supermarkets - if there's a Chinatown in your area, go there and ask around. But there's a hitch! There are at least seven (7!) different Chinese varieties of the game! See FAQ 14 for how to deal with different rules at the different tables you may join, and see FAQ 9 for some etiquette tips (you're bound to encounter odd situations, and you need to be at your diplomatic best).
If you play American mah-jongg, you need to find women to play with. Many players of American mah-jongg are "empty nesters" and/or Jewish. Post fliers at the supermarkets, senior citizen centers, recreation centers, and Jewish community centers, see if there's a Jewish community newsletter or civic organization. Or just find someplace that women congregate, since not all American players are Jewish. See if there's a local Women's Center or newsletter where you can announce that you're seeking players. See if there are any local tournaments (contact the NMJL and AMJA and see if they can help). Here in the Los Angeles area, you can get a schedule of tournaments at http://mahjonggfunla.com.
THE NEWFANGLED WAY - THE INTERNET
There are several sites on the internet specifically designed to help people locate people to play mah-jongg with. You go to these sites, read what's there to see if there is someone in your area, then if you don't find anyone, you post your own message so someone can find you. These are the sites:
* http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/findplayer.htm (this bulletin board is right here on this website!) This is a dual-purpose BB.
* FAQ 4a is also right here on this website -- there's a big up-to-date list of mah jongg teachers, right at the top of the page.
* I Love Mahj is a new site (2018) where you can find other players near you and organize home games in a snap.
* boardgamegeek.com is a free site about all kinds of board games and table games. You sign up for free, then you can go into their "Gamer Database," it might be at the bottom of the left pane. When that page is up, click on "Find Individual Gamers". That'll take you to a place where you can enter a zip code and a mileage range. That'll bring up a list of boardgamegeek members within your chosen radius, along with what types of games they like to play. Then you can contact them through boardgamegeek's member contact service. I imagine most people who sign up on boardgamegeek play role-playing games and newer "designer" games.
*Meetup.com is a popular site where folks find people of similar interests, in their own hometown. Look for mah-jongg players (people may use different spellings, like "mah jongg" without the hyphen, and "mahjong" which is a popular international spelling).
* Interested in playing or learning Japanese riichi/dora majan and live in Southern California? The Pacific Mahjong League meets frequently in Torrance. https://www.meetup.com/Pacific-Mahjong-League-SoCal/
* Interested in playing or learning Japanese riichi/dora majan and live in Northern California? The Pacific Mahjong League meets frequently in Danville. https://www.meetup.com/pacificml/
* There's a Player Directory at https://www.reddit.com/r/Mahjong/wiki/index where you can find players and even add yourself. The vast majority of Reddit players play Japanese riichi/dora majan. Distant second and third are Hong Kong style and Majiang Competition Rules.
* http://mahjong.meetup.com/ is a site where you can meet fellow mah jongg players online, from all around the world. Not certain how up-to-date it is.
* CraigsList is a popular site where folks post announcements about all sorts of things. You could give it a try, if they have a section for your area.
Before you post anything on one of those sites, read the posts to see if you can find players in your area, and if you don't find anyone, then write your own post. Also check to see how recent the posts are - if a board hasn't had a new post in a long time or has only a few "seeking player" posts, then it might not be all that useful for your purposes. It's ALWAYS a good idea to read the posts on a bulletin board or newsgroup before you post yourself. It's not only good netiquette, it's good sense.
Also, you will have to reveal your contact information in order for folks who read your post to contact you. When revealing your email address online, be aware that there are "bots" that scour the web looking for email addresses so you can be added to junkmail lists. You might be able to write your email address with a "disguised" @ symbol, like BOBBIE AT EMAIL DOT COM. That would probably attract fewer spambot emails than BOBBIE@EMAIL.COM.
You will also need to specify which kind of mah-jongg you play. Perhaps you play American-style mah-jongg? FAQ 2 (Part II) can help you tell the difference between different kinds of mah-jongg. The FAQs can be accessed in the Site Links list, always found at the left side of every page on this website when viewing the page with navigation frames enabled (mobile users can disable the frames by tapping the mobile icon when available)
A WORD ABOUT "CLUBS"
Most folks who play in the U.S. play in the home, rather than in a "clubhouse" setting.
Dedicated meeting grounds where there are mah-jongg tables, mah-jongg rulebooks, and refreshments available - are not the norm among players of American mah-jongg. There are places where Japanese and Chinese forms are played, for example, but if you don't belong to the local ethnic group and don't know how to play, you should't expect to be welcomed with open arms there.
Most of the time when you hear somebody refer to their mah-jongg group as a "club," it may just mean a group of folks who get together (usually at someone's home) to play. When mah-jongg games take place at senior centers, country clubs, recreation centers, or even food courts, you need to be aware that gambling is not smiled upon in that sort of public place. And no mah-jongg "club" (if such exist) has a printed rulebook. You're supposed to just know the rules, even though most players don't. (Sorry: I'm done ranting now.)
There are some places that host board games, Magic The Gathering, and role-playing games, but those are hard to find. Try finding them with a Google search. But know that, at least in the United States, mah-jongg is rarely played at such places.
Some players of American mah-jongg gather and play at senior centers, recreation centers, or country clubs (golf clubs, tennis clubs). The former are open to anyone; the latter require membership.
A really good way to find players is to show up at a tournament being played in your area. During the intervals between rounds, you can chat up players and collect contact information. Note, however, that tournament organizers don't put in all the work involved in hosting a tournament to allow that sort of thing. You must not look over shoulders at ongoing games. You must not kibbitz. You must not partake of refreshments. You may be asked to leave! Best to approach the organizers and ask if you can help out. Being a volunteer (maybe even a drop-in volunteer) is a good way to not get kicked out.
To return briefly to the topic of novices - It is an unfortunate truth that experienced players often don't have a lot of patience with beginners. If you are a beginner, don't try to bluff it out - be forthright and honest about your skill level, and inquire about opportunities to join, or to play with other beginners or with patient players. And when you are invited to play, just try to keep up. Don't slow things down for everybody else by trying too hard to win. The winning will come, when you are ready. You have to pay "tuition" until you can graduate.
It's another unfortunate truth that most groups use table rules, and act as if their table rules are the true rules, the correct way to play. And some groups play out of an imperfect understanding of the actual rules. When you learn from a group rather than from a teacher, you have to be prepared to adapt when joining a different group. Read FAQ 14 to learn about table rules. FAQ 19 answers the most frequently asked questions about American mah-jongg rules. FAQ 20 answers the most frequently asked questions about Asian mahjong rules. FAQ 3 lists books. FAQ 4a lists teachers. Going in already knowing the rules is the best preparation.
Good luck! And have fun!
Got a question or comment about this topic? Email it to the webmaster, and it'll be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board. Like the following: ...
How do we find players, part 3
>From: Belinda -
>Sent: Saturday, September 26, 2015 2:08 PM
>Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
>My mah-jongg question or comment is:
>For Jackie and Joanne. They should join the Mah Jongg, That's It! facebook group and ask there. Also that group has instructions by Gladys Grad for Siamese Mah Jongg, played with two players, two racks each, playing two mah jonggs at a time. It is challenging and fun!
Good suggestion, Belinda. I should add that to FAQ 15! - Tom
Date: 01 Jun 2003
For players looking for other players as well as people looking for teachers, I would suggest contacting the local Newcomers Club. Almost any city has such a club, and most clubs have an "amnesty period" every year where residents who have lived there over 3 years can still join. That's how I learned MJ in the Chicago area and where I found several groups to play with here in Las Vegas. We have a lovely lady of 80 years old who plays with us who just learned MJ through our Newcomer lessons last year. Maybe Joel's mother could find a group that way! We also teach any new members to play as soon as we get 4 interested in learning. That way we have an ever-increasing pool of new groups and therefore, new "subs". Just call the local Chamber of Commerce for the Newcomers Club in your area. In doing research for a talk at a Newcomers Coffee on the history of MJ, I came across THIS wonderful website. And from that talk, we got another group interested and taught and now they are on their own. Now I keep reading your strategy columns to stay one step ahead of the "Newbies"!!! Thanks, Tom, for my favorite website--(nothing else gets me up at 5:30 am on a Sunday).
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