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By Tom Sloper

March 11, 2007
Column #309

American. Continuing the interview with Elaine Sandberg, author of "A Beginner's Guide To American Mah Jongg; How To Play The Game & Win," to be released in May by Tuttle Publishing.

TS: Elaine, what do you say to the notion that mah jongg is a game for older Jewish women?

ES: The old stereotype of Mah Jongg as "an old lady's game" is gone.  Most of my students range in age from about the 30's, 40's to late 60's, although I have taught a 12 year old with her Mom.  My classes at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles  are jammed and my private teaching schedule is a busy one.  I have had many "couples" groups of men and women.  (For some mysterious reason, lots of men don't think of Mah Jongg as a "guy" thing.  Maybe it's because they haven't tried it!)

TS: I think the American variant is the hardest form of mah jongg to learn. Your reaction?

ES: American Mah Jongg is challenging, make no mistake.  It's not like simple card games "Go Fish" or Gin Rummy. Learning to play takes time, patience and lots of practice.  But the rewards are worth it. Ask anyone who plays the game.  It's great fun and exciting.  And, an added bonus---- it's legal and non-fattening!!!!!  Using my book to learn to play (and win)  American Mah Jongg  can lead you to new friends, fun times and as you yourself have said,  it "keeps the littler grey cells of our brains active, alive and entertained". And that's why I love the game!  Try it.  You'll like it!

TS: A lot of beginners have a bit of a learning curve in reading the card. What do you tell them to get them beyond the initial difficulty?

ES: Here is an excerpt from Chapter 3, Cracking the Code, about how to "read" the card.

TS: Thank you, Elaine.

ES: Thanks for inviting me!!!!


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© 2007 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.