Fun, Social…and it might just ward off Dementia

craks, dots, bams, flowers, winds…MAJ!

What, you wonder, am I talking about?  Some Chinese play it all day long, it’s been shown to fight dementia, it’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s social…IT’S MAHJONGG!


Conflicting stories say it was invented by Confucius decades ago and others say it’s only 150 yrs old. Either way, it’s a fun game played by the Chinese and other Asian populations …and in the U.S., interestingly enough, by predominantly Jewish women. I actually learned about the game from my sister, Mariellen, who’s been playing it for over 20 years. She taught me the basics and then I took a few lessons from some ladies at my temple and I was hooked! We both taught our daughters and we try to play when the four of us are together.


I went to a mahjongg tournament at my temple soon after learning to play and some of the women were way too serious for me and I wanted a more social gathering.


…so I taught my neighbors how to play and we continue playing every Wednesday evening at my house. Sometimes we have one table, sometimes two, sometimes it’s at someone’s else’s home, but it’s always fun and full of laughs. We basically solve world problems in the 90 minutes to 2 hours that we play….LOL! We play for quarters, but with a good hand, a good roll of the dice, and some luck, you can win a whopping $1.00! When I lived at the beach we didn’t play weekly, but they made the trek down and we played on the sand in beach chairs. It was fun seeing the reaction of the people on the Balboa Island boardwalk…especially a group of Asian women that were so excited to see us playing.

we’ve even played at restaurants
even neighbors that move away come back to play…great to see Donna (right next to me)

maj-taylorIt’s probably not the same game that some of you play on your computer or smart phone. Every year the National Mah Jongg League issues a new card with all sorts of new combinations for the tiles. It keeps the game fresh and it’s fun to see what complicated hands the women at the NMJL come up with.maj-cards


A testament to how great this neighborhood is….Kendra was walking home from another neighbor’s house, heard us and came in to say “HI!” …in her bathrobe! Love this neighborhood!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails! 


  1. In my next life, I’m going to live in a neighborhood where you have neighbors and you can play once a week! Such a joyful time together. So glad we, and our girls, know how to play now. Let’s make a plan for the holidays!

  2. I really want to learn how to play. The last time you tried the girls had a little too much to drink and couldn’t think!! Lol

    1. So true Gina! The first rule when I taught the neighbors was “no drinking until everyone knows the rules & how to play!” LOL! It’s a bit complicated, but there’s still time to teach you! Miss you sister!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.