Over two years ago Sue Parker, librarian at Himmel Park Branch Library decided to start up a Senior Games program (age 50 plus) for patrons interested in getting together and socially playing games such as chess, checkers, rummikub, scrabble, etc. I suggested we play Chinese Mahjong, which I play at the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, but which I also learned back in Hawaii decades ago from Japanese-American friends on the Big Island. Sue had never played Mahjong before, but she was willing and enthusiastic to learn.
(This program is also an offshoot of the now defunct Sam Hughes Cares for Seniors program which I founded in 2005, in the Sam Hughes Neighborhood, where the library is located).
Two years later, we have taught numerous Seniors (and some younger friends), and now have 3 regular tables of four players each – patrons, neighbors, visiting “snowbirds”. Some of these Seniors learned American Mahjong style first (utilizing pre-printed cards), which is being played at the Tucson Jewish Community Center and Oro Valley Library, as well as taught at Oasis on River Road.
Know anyone interested in learning Hong Kong Simplified style or other games, please contact librarian Sue Parker at at 520-594-5305, or just show up on Mondays, 12 noon to 3 p.m. at Himmel Lbrary’s large meeting room, 1035 N. Treat Ave. (SW corner of E. 1st St.) No Senior Games when the library is closed for holidays. (Incidentally Himmel is the oldest branch library, built in 1961).
The lead teacher is now MJ Talbot, a Chinese-American immigrant from Hong Kong, assisted by myself, and Sarah Stephenson, who used to live in the People’s Republic of China. We are all members of the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, 1288 W. River Rd., phone 520-292-6900, which promotes Chinese culture and history.
More about Mahjong (sometimes spelled Mah jongg) read wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahjong. The version we play uses 144 tiles, but other versions (such as the Hawaiian style) uses 4 more, including animals – cat, rat, chicken, & worm. It is a game of luck and skill, similar to rummy, where you have to match sets of 4 grouping of three (or sometimes four) tiles, plus a pair of two tiles to attain “mahjong” & win. A Mahjong set (in a case) can cost about $50 or more (pictured below).