A note from Jenn:
Let me introduce Gemma.
She is going to yell at me for using this picture (I am on the right, Gemma is on the left) because she likes to look precocious.
I asked her to write this Journal because when I taught her how to play Reach Mahjong this year (yes, she is my very first student! and I am very protective, so be careful!), I realized that it is tough to teach someone mahjong once it becomes routine for you. It is much easier if someone who is learning themselves explains it, because they know the exact questions that you will be asking as well. So, Gemma is responsible for telling you things that she has noticed, learned and is worried about.
Here is a brief background so you don’t feel like strangers. She is from Tavistock, Devon, United Kingdom (don’t worry, I never heard of it either). She already has 2 degrees: a BA in Japanese studies at the University of Sheffield and an MS in Chinese Language/Business and International Relations. That means she is way smarter than me (and probably Garthe too). She is very well-traveled, well-read and enjoys languages. One of her most favorite things to eat is Natto (just kidding, she apparently can’t stand it). She likes Pearl Tea, is a wine drinker and likes mochi. When she isnt playing mahjong, she said she likes to “wind up my brother” and kill cockroaches, which she hates.
Well my first time playing Mahjong and it doesn’t seem so difficult – well at least not as difficult as Amy Tan made it out to be! Reminds me mostly of Rummi, having to make sets or runs to create a hand, just with lots of pieces of plastic rather than fifty two cards!
So far I’ve learnt that to create a hand you have to make a hand that consists of four groups or runs, plus one pair. (Groups are three of a kind; runs are three tiles of sequential numbers of the same suits.)
Maybe to make my point clearer it would be best to use some examples:
That would be a hand of all runs and one pair.
That would be a hand of all groups and one pair.
That’s a hand with a mix of runs and groups.
However, I have been warned that not all these hands are necessarily worth hand points and therefore won’t win you a game! This is just the basic rule you need to follow to create a hand. All of us are beginners so we haven’t been worrying too much about hand points this time, but Jenn threatens next week to start teaching us the hands. I’m suspecting that this initial feeling of understanding is going to be quickly undermined with hands to learn and scoring systems. (I have an absolutely terrible memory!)
Apart from that building the wall is also not half as bad as I anticipated (blame Amy Tan again!) although I do keep knocking down parts of the wall as I pull tiles for my go, so if nothing else at least this game might improve my hand-eye coordination!
It was really enjoyable though and I’m looking forward to next week even if mixed with a little apprehension that my brain won’t be able to cope!
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