by Linda Fisher
While there are still some fortunate players out there who have played for decades, week after week, with the same four or five players, today’s world presents a different picture. Between vacations, cruises, snowbirding and visiting family in different parts of the country, trying to keep a small group together can be a challenge.
Coming to the rescue are mahjongg groups and clubs. Whether you are going to Florida for the winter, visiting your daughter at NYU or taking a road trip to Travers City, you will find a group that welcomes drop-ins. You may even consider starting one yourself. But where to begin, you may ask.
In order to run a successful group you will need:
Constancy – Meeting at the same time and place sets up the expectation that you are there for the duration. Everyone knows where to go and when.
Consistency – Things are done in the same way and this is communicated to all.
Leadership – The group has one or more persons willing to organize, enforce the rules and referee disputes.
Comradery – Everyone gets along and is willing to abide by the group norms.
Applying these principles to mahj is not easy, so before you launch your Meetup or Social, planning ahead will save headaches! Some factors to consider:
The Rules – Adhering to the NMJL standard eliminates misunderstandings. Players should be advised of the rules in advance so everyone is on the same page.
Social or Serious? Some players come to play; some to chat, and never the twain shall meet. When you advertise your group be specific about who you are looking for; e.g., “Experienced players only,” or “Beginners welcome.”
Space limitations – How many tables can you accommodate? Knowing when to cap the list can save people from being turned away. If you have a large playing area, you may be able to accommodate different skill levels. This should be communicated in advance.
Pie – both kinds. Are you providing snacks? Should or could people bring food? And, of course, how much money, if any, will you be playing for? Some groups that play in public areas or in houses of worship may have restrictions on betting. This should be made known.
While it takes some time and effort to put a mahjongg group together, the end results are well worth it. You will not only find a core group of players but drop-ins from unexpected and interesting places. It’s so great to know that the mahjongg community thrives from coast to coast, and is welcoming to all.