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THE HISTORY OF MAH-JONGG (AND RELATED GAMES)
FAQ 11. HISTORY OF MAHJONG
Part VIII (FAQ 11h).
PART ONE -- HISTORY OF GAMES LEADING UP TO MAH-JONGG
- 2000 BC [Egypt] Recent excavations have unearthed game boards "identical in structure to the much later Roman ludus duodecim scriptorum boards." Possibly "the earliest forerunner of backgammon." Source: Anne-Elizabeth Dunn-Vaturi & Ulrich Schädler, Nouvelles perspectives sur les jeux à la lumière des plateaux de Kerman, in: Iranica Antiqua vol. 41, 2006, p. 1-30 (downloadable PDF file at
http://poj.peeters-leuven.be/content.php?url=article.php&id=2004758&journal_code=IA). (Thanks to Ulrich Schädler.)
- 1355 BC [Egypt] King Tutankhamen had games and game pieces. Ulrich Schädler says these were senet [an early Egyptian game with play similarities to backgammon] "and 20-squares boxes with dice, astragals, stick-dice etc." They were entombed with him and today are on display in King Tutankhamen's Museum, in Cairo.
- Circa 600 BC [China] Confucius (Kung Fu-Tse) lived. What this has to do with mah-jongg is anybody's guess. (Hint: absolutely nothing! Dominoes existed at this time but playing cards did not. Mah-Jongg wouldn't be invented for another 2,400 years or so. However, there is considerable evidence that the game of Go did exist at this time -- see next China listing.)
- 424-479 BC [China] First (unproven?) references to game of Go are either the "Zuo Zhuan" (Zuo's Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals, 424 BC) or the Analects of Confucius (compiled by disciples of Confucius after his death in 479 BC). See http://www.cwi.nl/people/jansteen/go/history/gac_4.html.
- 100 BC? [Rome] Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, the game of the twelve points. Precursor game to Backgammon. Note on the name (sometimes cited as "twelve lines," which is incorrect) from Ulrich Schädler: "The Roman lexicographer Nonius ... writes 'scripta, i.e. puncta tesserarum' (scripta, that is points on the dice). This is the reason why in later Roman times the game has been called 'alea' (dice) according to Isidore of Seville, since by that time the game was played with 3 dice as described by Isidore, so they couldn't call it '12 points' any longer (which corresponds to the highest possible throw of 2 dice). Moreover, '12 points' is practically identical to the Chinese name of the game 'shuan liu' = twice 6 and also to the Japanes name sugoroku. Source: Ulrich Schädler, XII scripta, alea, tabula -- new evidence for the Roman history of 'Backgammon', in: Alexander J. de Voogt, New Approaches to Board Games Research, IIAS Working Papers Series III, Leiden 1995." (Thanks much to Ulrich Schädler.)
- First Century AD? [China] Xiang Qi, also called "Chinese Chess." Note: author David H. Li says that this game originated in 203 BCE.
- The Three Kingdoms Period (200-280 AD) [China] Sometime during this period, according to research by John Low, cubical 6-sided dice first came into being. Chinese history ascribes this to Cao Zhi, a son of Cao Cao, one of the kings reigning during this period.
- Wei Dynasty (220-265 AD) [China] Nard (either the alternate name for Backgammon, or the name of a precursor game to Backgammon) arrived in China from Western India, where it had been invented, and became known as T'shu-P'u. Game's height of popularity in China was 479-1000 AD. Source:
- Before 600 AD [Northern India or Afghanistan] The oldest written references to the game of Chess date from this time.
- 5th/6th century AD [Roman Empire] The two-row backgammon board comes into use in the Roman empire. Agathias of Myrine ( ca. 536 - 582 AD) writes an epigram (Greek Anthology IX 482) about a (fictitious?) game played by the Byzantine emperor Zeno (emperor 474/75 and 476-491 AD) on a standard backgammon board. However, the three-row-game Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum/Alea is still played (game tables from the 5th/6th century at Aphrodisias/Turkey) and even found in 8th century Tadjikistan (wall-painting from Pjandzhikent: source Grigori L. Semenow, Studien zur sogdischen Kultur an der Seidenstrasse, Wiesbaden 1996, p. 18-19, p. 131 fig. 4. no. 3). [Schädler]
- Middle Ages (~500-~1400) [Europe] A number of backgammon-type games were in vogue, known by the generic term "Tables." Ulrich Schädler notes: "The closest forerunner of [backgammon] seems to be nard, in the middle ages it was called 'todas tablas' by king Alfonso X, 'tavola reale' in Italy etc. In the middle ages at least 25 different games of the type were known, among them 'Emperador', '6, 2 and Ace', 'Testa', 'Baraille', 'Puff', and many more. Even in the 18th century several variants were played, as for example 'Trictrac', 'Jacquet', 'La Dame rabattue' etc. Backgammon became the most popular only in the 19th century. Tables is a generic term for games of this type. Still today people in Greece play 'plakoto' or 'tavli', the Turks 'tavla', and in North Africa and the Near east they play 'Shish Bish' (Six Five), all different from Backgammon, but belonging to the same family of games using the same material."
- 7th Century AD [India] Chaturanga, believed to be the oldest known form of Chess.
- 7th Century AD [Rome] Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum now played with 3 dice and called 'Alea'.
Sources: Tradgames, Schädler
- Reign of Empress Jito (690 - 697AD) [Japan] Nard (nearest precursor game to Backgammon, per Schädler) was known as Sugoroko by the Japanese, and was declared illegal. (Sources: Tradgames and Schädler)
- Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) [China] According to John Low, one of the kings of this dynasty instituted a special dice combination to win big - rolling 6 cubical dice, exactly two of them needed to come up showing 4. Thus it became the practice to color the 4 pips red, and this practice continues today. Oddly, the number 4 is considered bad luck in both China and Japan because the pronunciation (shi) is very similar to the word for "death."
- Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) [China] According to John Low, shi pai ("Poetry Slats") was a popular game during this period.
- 740 AD? [Japan] Game of Go introduced by Kibi no Makibi.
- Latter half of the 9th century [China] Yeh-Tzu game -- played with six dice. (Source: MJM)
More added in Nov. 2005 by John Low: Ye zi ("leaves") was a gambling game played with 6 dice. The "leaves" were paper scoring sheets, but the name may have stuck, eventually coming to refer to playing cards.
- After 902 AD [Italy or Spain] Nard (either the alternate name for Backgammon or the name of a precursor game to Backgammon) was introduced into Europe following the Arab occupation of Sicily. (Source: Tradgames)
- Latter half of the 10th century [China] Yeh-Tzu Ge Hsi. (Source: MJM)
- 1025 [England] First mention of Nard (either the alternate name for Backgammon or the name of a precursor game to Backgammon) in print (The Codex Exoniensis): "These two shall sit at Tables...". Tables was the English name for Nard; the game is thought to have been brought to England by men returning from the Crusades. (Source: Tradgames)
- Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) [China] The game of shi pai evolved into dominoes, known as xuan he pai, in the 2nd year of King Hui Zong's reign. Poetry was no longer part of the game, and the 32 dominoes' 227 pips were intended to represent constellations. A trick-taking game, dou tian jiu (Heaven's Nine), is still played today. Today the dominoes are known as tian jiu pai. Rules for this game can be read at
http://www.pagat.com/multitrk/tiengow.html. Source: John Low, in a Nov. 2005 newsgroup post, and backed by the MJM, who states these facts a bit differently...
- 1120 [China] Bone tiles (Xuan Huo Pai) were presented to Emperor Hui Tsung (reign: 1100 - 1125). (Source: MJM) This is probably the same 32-piece set of dominoes referred to in www.worlddomino.com's history of dominoes.
- 1130 [India] Documented existence of Backgammon (then called Golakakridane). Source: http://perso.wanadoo.fr/bckg/english.htm.
- 1163-1189 [China] Unproven reference to playing-cards in China. According to the "Wulin jiushi" by Zhou Mi (1232-1298), game equipment used at the palace of the emperor Xiaozong (reigned 1163-1189) during the six days before new year included "speckled gold leaves for competing (dou ye)". Andrew Lo (ibid., p403) believes that "dou ye" refers to playing-cards at this period, but cannot offer conclusive proof. (Special thanks to John McLeod of www.pagat.com for this addition to the timeline.)
- Around the 12th century [China] Yeh-Tzu disappeared in the middle of the Sung era (960 - 1279). Only the name remained as a generic name of Chinese playing cards. [Additional information from John McLeod of www.pagat.com: "The "game of leaves" Yezi (or Yeh Tzu in your Romanisation) in the period up to the 12th century was a dice game, as you say. The leaves were almost certainly not playing-cards but pages of a reference book in which the results of the various possible dice throws were set out. The term Yezi was applied to playing-cards only later (Ming Dynasty)."]
And per John Low: Ye zi jiu pai was a later development, a gambling game with playing cards in which a loser had to take a drink of wine or beer. Whoever was less drunk at the end was declared the winner.
- 12th Century AD [Japan] Preliminary forms of Shogi were played in Japan before the 12th century, possibly as early as the 8th century.
- 1294 [China] First definite reference to playing-cards in China. On 17 July 1294 Yan Sengzhu and Zheng Zhugou were caught gambling in Enzhou (in modern Shangdong province) and punished. Nine paper cards and 36 taels of paper currency were seized. Source: "Da Yuan shengdong guochao dianzhang" (Dynastic code of the sacred administration of the Yuan Dynasy) (1320), reported by Andrew Lo in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol 63, part 3 (2000), pp 403-404 (special thanks to John McLeod of www.pagat.com for this addition to the timeline).
- 1370s [Europe] Playing cards came to Europe from Islam, probably via Muslim Spain. They appeared quite suddenly in many different European cities between 1375 and 1378. European playing cards were an adaptation of the Islamic Mamluk cards. These early cards had suits of cups, swords, coins, and polo sticks (seen by Europeans as staves), and courts consisting of a king and two male underlings. (source: http://www.crosswinds.net/~hermit/infosheet.htm.)
- 1377 [Germany] Playing cards became more popular than dice games. Playing cards were handmade at this time.
- Fifteenth century [Europe, England] Chess overtook Nard (Backgammon?) as the more popular game. (Source: Tradgames)
- 1420 [Germany and Switzerland] Playing cards are mass-produced with a variety of imaginative suit and court card designs.
- 1420-1440 [Northern Italy] Tarot cards first appear on the scene. The tarot adds [to the playing card deck described in the 1370s entry above] the Fool, the Major Arcana, and a set of queens to this system. Some time before 1480, the French introduced cards with the now-familiar suits of hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds. The earlier suits are still preserved in the tarot and in Italian and Spanish playing cards. (source: http://www.crosswinds.net/~hermit/infosheet.htm.)
- 14th-15th centuries [Japan] Game of Go changed from its previous practice of using "cross-hoshi fuseki" -- now, instead, starting with an empty board as is done today (regarded the most significant advance in the development of Go since the establishment of the 19x19 board).
- Latter half of the 15th century [China] Dou Yeh-Tzu (played with a deck of 38 cards).
- Middle of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) [China] Matiao -- four suits, 40 cards, a trick-taking game.
- Late sixteenth century [England] "Tables," like many games played for money, became unpopular with the authorities in England and, until the reign of Elizabeth I, laws prohibited the playing of Tables in licensed establishments. (Source: Tradgames)
- Ming era / Wan-li Years (1572 - 1620) [China] "Shu Qian Yeh-Pu" by Wang Daokun, described a 48-card game derived from Matiao.
- Around 1610 [China] "Yeh-tzu Pu," document about Matiao and "Xu Yeh-tzu Pu," by Pan Zhiheng; described a 30-card game using three-suited money cards. Feng Menglung wrote about Matiao in "Matiao Pai Jing" and " Matiao Jiao Li." (Source: MJM)
- Early seventeenth century [England] Tables (Backgammon?) underwent rule modifications, staged a popularity comeback, and swept across Europe under a variety of different names which have mostly stayed the same until today. (Source: Tradgames)
- 1691 [China] Emperor Kangxi banned the manufacturing and sale of cards. (Source: Wikipedia, citing Irving L. Finkel, Colin MacKenzie (2004). Asian games: the art of contest. Asia Society. p. 227. ISBN 0878480994.)
- Ching era/ Kang-hsi Years (1661 - 1722) [China] You-hu -- 60-card deck*. (Source: MJM)
- 1742 [England] Edmond Hoyle gained fame as a Whist tutor and author of card game rules (deck of 52 cards).
- 1743 [England] Hoyle followed up on the success of his card game publication with rules for Backgammon. Later he published writings on Chess and other games as well.
- 1783 [China] "Muzhu Xianhua" (Idle Talk of a Swineherd) by Jin Xueshi. This book discusses various games played in China at the time, such as mohu and games played with dominoes (gupai) such as youhu (32 dominoes)*, penghu (105 dominoes), and tianjiu (32 dominoes). Also card games (zhipai) in four moneyed suits such as madiao and penghu. Note that penghu is a name used for two different games (one played with dominoes and one played with money-suited cards) - this will come into play again in the early 1900s. (Source: Thierry Depaulis, mahjong newsgroup, January 2007.)
* (Discrepancy noted between the two purple notations above; perhaps there was a transcription error from Depaulis' newsgroup post.)
- 1791 [Japan] Matiao cards came ashore in Boso (Chiba Pref). This being the earliest mahjong-related event in Japan, the Mahjong Museum was later built here. See video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EDuvLgGS4Q, posted on the mahjong newsgroup by John Low in December 2006.
- Ching era; Chian-lung Years (1735 - 95) [China]; You-Hu was now more popular than Matiao, and Peng He Pai expanded the number of cards to 120 or 150. (Source: MJM -
Here is a scan of the text from the Mahjong Museum's "Big Encyclopedia," in both Japanese and English. Click it to see it full-size.)
John Low says that the Peng He Pai playing cards were also known as zhi pai, and that this game was rummylike.
PART TWO -- MAH-JONGG APPEARS; THE DEVELOPMENT OF SELECTED OTHER GAMES; SELECTED HISTORICAL EVENTS
- 1831-1861 [Ningbo, China] "During the reign of Emperor Xianfeng of the Qing Dynasty, Madiao paper cards were modified by Mr. Chen Yumen of Ningbo to become the basic cards or tiles of Mahjong. Mr. Chen Yumen (1817-1878) was also called Zhengyao and Yanglou [also Chin Zheng Yue, Chen Yu-mun]." Sources: (1) HISTORY AND CULTURE OF MAH-JONGG, from the Display Hall of the Birthplace of Mahjong (DH/BP/MJ), 74 MaYa Road, Ningbo 315010, China, (0574) 8729-3526; (2)
"Mah Chang: The Game and Its History" by J.B. Powell,
China Weekly Review, June 30, 1923, http://www.mahjongmuseum.com/lage0923.htm.
- 1850-1864 [China: Taiping Rebellion (aka Tai Ping Teen Kuok, Heavenly Kingdom Of Peace)]
- 1850 [Ningbo, China] "All in all I agree with most experts that the 'event' [the creation of mahjong] must have happened in around 1850." - Thierry Depaulis (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.games.mahjong/7f7La6tBpbc)
- December 9, 1861 [Ningbo, China] The Taiping stormed Ningbo (where Chen Zhengyue / Chen Yumen lived) with a force of 60,000.
- May, 1862 [Ningbo, China] The city of Ningbo was retaken from the Taiping, aided by Chen Zhengyue, "a bagongsheng and member of the wealthiest household in Ying County, [who] developed a plan to retake Ningbo. He convinced the Qing
troops to attempt to retake Ningbo, collaborated with foreign armies to organize an allied action, and provided funding for the expedition." Source, cited on Wikipedia: Xiaowei Zheng, Loyalty, Anxiety, and Opportunism: Local Elite Activism during the Taiping Rebellion in Eastern Zhejiang, 1851–1864, Late Imperial China, Volume 30, Number 2, December 2009, pp. 39-83, at 39-40. Thanks to Ola Sassersson for sharing the link. Note: "Bagongsheng" seems to mean "Graduate for Preeminence."
- 1864 [Ningbo, China] Chen Yumen "first introduced bamboo tiles and added more contents to the playing tiles than cards. The game, Mahjong, was then created." Source: http://www.whatsonningbo.com/ningbo-info-158.html
Note the different dates here. Powell doesn't specify dates, but his account together with others suggests that Chen Yumen created mahjong while an army officer during the Tai Ping Rebellion (1850-1864), DH/BP/MJ says he did it during Xianfeng's reign (1831-1861, which encompassed the rebellion), Thierry Depaulis believes mahjong existed in some form as early as 1850 (possibly before Chen Yumen made some improvements of his own), and whatsonningbo.com says Chen Yumen invented mahjong in 1864 (after the death of Xianfeng). In China, inventions were often ascribed to a notable under whose reign the invention was made - so whether Chen Yumen did the deed himself, or it was invented by someone under his authority, is not clear. Whichever date one accepts, and whether or not one accepts that Chen Yumen was the individual who added wind tiles to a quadrupled three-suited deck of cards, putting the designs on tiles (thus creating a set recognizeable as mah-jongg), it does appear that the game that eventually came to be known as mah-jongg or did originate around Ningbo, in the 1850s or 1860s.
Since nothing is known about how the game was played at this time (the tile set breakdown being a bit different from today's), that original game may be referred to as "proto-mah-jongg."
Mid-nineteenth century [Mexico] Conquian, a 40-card game which evolved into the present-day Rummy family of card games, seem to have appeared on the scene at about the same time as proto-mah-jongg. It is not yet known which came first.
- 1868-1876 [China] Carl Himly lived in Shanghai, and obtained at least one set of bamboo proto-mah-jongg tiles. Source: Michael Stanwick, Mahjong(g) Before Mahjong(g) - The Playing-Card, vol. 32 no. 4, Jan. 2004.
- 1872-1873 [China] George B. Glover was stationed in Fuzhou, and collected at least two sets of bone and bamboo proto-mahjong tiles (containing some tiles not in use in later mahjong sets, and missing some tiles later in use in mahjong sets). Source: Michael Stanwick, Mahjong(g) Before Mahjong(g) - The Playing-Card, vol. 32 no. 4, Jan. 2004.
- 1875 [China?] George B. Glover wrote a description of his proto-mahjong tiles. The terms "proto-mahjong" and "mahjong" not being in use yet, Glover did not use these terms. This 1875 description is the first written documentation in any language describing a set of tiles recognizeable as mahjong tiles. (Source: Michael Stanwick writing in The Playing Card, Vol. 34 No. 4, April-June 2006.)
- 1880 [China] Shenbao (a Shanghai newspaper) reported on the trial of four men accused of cheating victim Zhu Zezhou at the game of "penghu" (碰和). Note that in any one game, victim Zhu played against three of the men. Thierry Depaulis notes that the game "penghu" must be the game of 麻雀, and not the 18th-century card game of peng hu. Source: Andrew Lo revealed this information in the 2004 book, "Asian Games: The Art of Contest." Tidbit reported on the mahjong newsgroup in January 2007 by Thierry Depaulis.
- 1882 [China] Shenbao (Shanghai newspaper) reported on another trial over cheating at the game of "penghu" (碰和). Source: Andrew Lo revealed this information in the 2004 book, "Asian Games: The Art of Contest." Tidbit reported on the mahjong newsgroup in January 2007 by Thierry Depaulis.
- 1884 or 1892 [China] The tile set of Sheng Xuanhuai may have been the earliest documented set in which the suit of wan (10,000 - "characters" or "craks") was replaced instead by a suit of pin (rank or grade). It may also be the earliest documented set in which, rather than chung and fa (center and fortune) dragon tiles, the alternative lóng and fèng (dragon and phoenix) dragon tiles are used. This set also did not include the usual four winds/direction tiles (E-S-W-N) but instead four "Confucian cardinal virtues of integrity, propriety, righteousness and modesty." And it also included four "king" tiles (one for each suit, and a "Supreme King")[, perhaps presaging the special joker tiles later adopted in Vietnamese mahjong]. The king tiles in this set are in keeping with the tiles in the Himly set. The description of this set first appeared in 1934 in Gu shui jiu wen (Old hearings from the Gu River) by Dai Yu'an. (Source: Michael Stanwick, The Playing Card, September 2006. Section in italics and square brackets added by Sloper.)
- 1891 [England] "W. H. Wilkinson induced the British cardmaking firm of Charles Goodall to issue a special pack of cards to play the game of Khanhoo, adapted from a Chinese draw-and-discard game played with the three-suited money pack with an accompanying booklet of rules." Source: Michael Dummett, GAME OF TAROT (George Duckworth & Co., London, 1980).
See http://members.aol.com/crlancastr/blgupc/khanhoo/deck.htm (site nonexistent in 2018; you could try the Internet Archive Wayback Machine).
- 1892 [China] "Haishang Hua Liezhuan" (A Biography of Flowers of Shanghai) by Han Bangqing. This may be the earliest novel to discuss scenes of the game 麻雀, referring to the game as "penghu" (碰和). Interestingly, the term "ma que pai" (麻雀牌) is used in reference to the set of pieces used to play the game. Thierry Depaulis notes that there is an English translation of this book: "The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai," translated by Ailing (Eileen) Zhang and Eva Hung. Columbia University Press, NY, 2005. Sources: "ithinc" and Thierry Depaulis, January 2007.
- 1893 [Chicago, IL, USA] W. H. Wilkinson's set of Chinese game tiles was displayed at the Columbian Exhibition. Afterwards, it was given to the museum at the University of Pennsylvania. Source: The Game Makers, Orbanes (see FAQ 3).
- 1893 [USA) Anthropologist/ethnologist Stewart Culin wrote papers introducing Chinese game tiles to the English-speaking world (earliest known written description of the gameplay anywhere, in any language, per MJM). The University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, provides the text of some of Culin's work at
- 1893 [Lafayette, IN, USA] Birth of Joseph Park Babcock. Source: The Game Makers, Orbanes (see FAQ 3).
- Early 1900s [USA] Dr. Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith (Order of the Golden Dawn) collaborated to create the Rider Tarot deck (one of today's most popular Tarot decks).
- 1903 [Shanghai, China] Several mentions of "ma que" being played by Chinese officials in serialized novel "Officialdom Unmasked" ("Guanchang xianxing ji"), written by Li Boyuan [aka Li Baojai] in the magazine "Xiuxiang Xiaoshuo" ("Illustrated Stories"). Thanks to Thierry Depaulis who revealed this tidbit in a newsgroup post on Nov. 30, 2006. For a comparative analysis of this and other early known forms of mahjong, see http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/analysis.html.
- 1903-04 [China] "Fubao Xiantan" (aka Fupu Xiantan) by Ouyang Juyuan (collaborator and successor to author Li Boyuan). This novel contains the first known reference to the term "fa feng" (發風), "fortune wind," referring to the tile we know today as "green dragon." Sources: "ithinc" and Thierry Depaulis, January 2007.
- 1903 or 1898 [China] "Haishang Fanhua Meng" (A Dream of Splendor in Shanghai) by Sun Jiazhen. This novel may contain the earliest reference to the term "zhong feng" (中風), "center wind," for the tile we call "red dragon" today. Note, though, that contributors "ithinc" and Thierry Depaulis give different dates (ithinc: 1898 - Depaulis: 1903) for this work. The author lived from 1863 to 1939. Sources: "ithinc" and Thierry Depaulis, January 2007.
- 1904 [Virginia, USA] "The Landlord's Game" created and patented by Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Magie, a Quaker, who wanted to promote the notion of taxation relative to land ownership.
- 1906-1910 [China] "Jiu Wei Gui" (The Turtle With Nine Tails) by Zhang Chunfan (aka Zhang Shifan). This novel refers to the game of 麻雀 by the name "penghu" (碰和), and also uses the term "fa feng" (發風), "fortune wind," for green dragon. The author lived from 1872 to 1923 or 1935. This novel was the subject of a French doctoral thesis in 1975. Sources: "ithinc" and Thierry Depaulis, January 2007.
- 1908 [China] "Jiu Wei Hu" (The Fox With Nine Tails) by Menghua Quangzhu. This novel refers to the game as 麻雀 (ma que), and also mentions "penghu" (碰和), the old domino game played with 105 tiles. Source: Thierry Depaulis, newsgroup post of January 2007.
- 1909 [Japan] A teacher, Hikosaku Nakawa, brought back sets of tiles from China. Soseki Natsume stated that he saw Chinese people playing in his article "Some Places in Manchuria and Korea" published in the Asahi Shimbun.
- 1911 [China] Manchu Dynasty (AKA Ch'ing Dynasty, Qing Dynasty) fell; Sun Yat-Sen elected President of China Republic. Kuomintang Party in power. Calendar reformed. Pigtails abolished. started to be widely played.
- 1911 [China] "Shi Wei Gui" (The Ten-Tailed Turtle) by Dr. Lu Shi'e. This novel is "an amusing spoof of the more famous Jiuwei Gui by Zhang Chunfan, but written in vernacular Chinese." Refers to the green dragon tile by the name "fa cai" (發財) rather than "fa feng." Sources: "ithinc" and Thierry Depaulis, January 2007.
- 1911 [USA] Babcock graduated from Purdue University.
- 1912 [USA - China] Babcock hired as a civil engineer by the Standard Oil Company. Sent to Soochow, China. Source: The Game Makers, Orbanes (see FAQ 3).
- Early 1900s [Shanghai, China] According to Jim May, two brothers named White introduced to the English clubs of Shanghai, where it quickly gained popularity among the foreign residents. Orbanes says it was Babcock and friends of his (perhaps the Whites?) who popularized the game among the expatriates in the Shanghai area. Millington says an English engineer named Walker was the first to put Western indices on the tiles for the enjoyment of those unable to read Chinese.
- May 22, 1912 - Robert Dillon Mansfield trademarked the name "mâ-chiang," which he said means "sparrow." From the trademark notice: "341,127. A game. Robert Dillon Mansfield, c/o Chinese Maritime Customs, Canton, China; Customs officer. - 14th March 1912...".
Source: Michael Stanwick, mahjong newsgroup posts Oct. 1, 2006 and Oct. 3, 2006, citing a trademark record found by Thierry Depaulis.
- 1914 [China] Earliest known Chinese book dedicated solely to : "Hui Tu Ma Qiao Pai Pu" (Sketch of a Manual of Tiles), by Shen Yifan, Shanghai, 58 p. (on double leaves) : ill. ; 19 cm.
- 1915 [Paris, France] George E. Mauger, "Quelques considérations sur les jeux en Chine et leur développement synchronique avec celui de l'empire chinois", in Bulletins et Mémoires de la société d'Anthropologie de Paris. Mauger described the game, which he called "Ma-Tchio-Pai." For a comparative analysis of Mauger's description and other early known forms of mahjong, see http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/analysis.html. (Thanks to Thierry Depaulis.) Mauger's description may mark the first known use of the term "bamboo" for the suit heretofore referred to as "strings of cash." Mauger described both chung-and-fa (center and fortune) dragon tiles AND lóng-and-fèng (dragon and phoenix) dragon tiles, as well as both E-S-W-N (winds or directions) and Duke-Marquis-General-Minister (nobility) honor tiles (different configurations of tile sets - no set contains both chung/fa and lóng/fèng tiles or both wind and nobility tiles). Stanwick notes that the alternate nobility honors are in keeping with the alternate pin (rank) suit (also described by Mauger). (Source: Michael Stanwick, The Playing Card, Sept. 2006.)
- 1916 [China] Second-earliest known Chinese book dedicated solely to the game: "Maqiao da guan" Source: Thierry Depaulis, mahjong newsgroup post Oct. 9, 2006.
- 1917 [China] "Qing Bai Lei Chao" (Classified Anecdotes of the Qing Dynasty) by Xu Ke. This book, an encyclopedia on daily life, includes a discussion on the origins of 麻雀, referring to the game by that name (ma que). The author says that the game was popular during two periods: the Guangxu (1874-1908) and the Xuantong (1908-1911). There is even a mention of the bao rule. Depaulis opines that Xu Ke is not that reliable because he used other written sources, unfortunately without citing them. Stanwick opines that Xu Ke's contemporary observations, however, are not unreliable.
Sources: "ithinc," Thierry Depaulis, Cofa Tsui, Michael Stanwick. Mahjong newsgroup, January 2007.
- 1917 [China] Thousands of Jews fled the Russian revolution and found refuge in China.
(This is mentioned because it may be a factor in the popularity of mah-jongg and Chinese food among Jews in America.)
- 1917 [Japan] Shou Kan Seki wrote "Detailed Description of " in Shanghai. This is the oldest Japanese manual of rules confirmed so far.
- 1918 End of WWI.
- 1919 [Shanghai, China] Babcock tried to convince a friend to export but was turned down because of a lack of rules in English, and the fact that Westerners can't read the Chinese characters (craks, winds, dragons, flowers).
- On or about Oct. 26, 1920 [USA] J.P. Babcock started exporting Mah-Jongg sets (bone tiles with Western indices). Babcock wrote a manual, "RULES FOR MAH-JONGG," (usually called "the Red Book") and included it in the sets, which were imported into the U.S. by W.A. Hammond, a lumber merchant. See also My Grandfather was the Partner of Mr. Babcock, a 2009 article on Jelte Rep's website.
- May, 1920 [China] Third known Chinese book dedicated to : "Keys to Winning at and Poker," by Haishang Laoyouke (a pen name, or if you prefer, a pun name), Shanghai Shijie Shuju.
- Early 1920s [USA] A Mr. Dyas (on behalf of Babcock) pitched mah-jongg to Parker Brothers. Parker, cautious from some not-long-before setbacks, tried a focus test and declined. Hammond, meanwhile, created the Mah-Jongg Sales Company of America, and began what we might now call a "viral" marketing campaign, which succeeded. Source: Orbanes.
- Oct. 24, 1921 [Washington, DC, USA] Filing of trademark for ("ma qiao," meaning "sparrow," in the particular brush style used on the cover of Babcock's little red book). Filed by Albert R. Hager, Salt Lake City, Utah (a partner of Babcock in the Mah-Jongg Sales Company of America). Particular description of goods.- "A Game played with pieces somewhat similar to dominoes." Claims use "since on or about the 26th day of October, 1920." Trademark granted Feb. 14, 1922. Ser. No. 154,510. Source: US Patent Office, Official Gazette, Feb. 14, 1922 (thanks to Thierry Depaulis for finding and posting the information).
- 1921-22 [China] "A Q Zhengzhuan" by Lu Xun. In this novel, the game is referred to as "cha majiang" (叉麻酱). Possibly the first use of "majiang" in China? Contributor "ithinc" notes that "Lu Xun was a Shaoxinger, under the Hangzhou fu" (which might explain the dialect difference). Source: "ithinc," January 2007.
- 1922 [China] "Zuijin Guanchang Mimi Shi" (The Officials' Latest Secret History) by Unknown. Briefly discusses scoring of 麻雀. Contributor "ithinc" notes that all Chinese novels up to this date say that the set of tiles is 136 tiles (flower tiles are not included). Sources: "ithinc," Thierry Depaulis, January 2007.
- May 25, 1922 [Washington, DC, USA] Filing of patent for an elegant mah-jongg cabinet (No. 1,477,056, pub. Dec. 11, 1923) by Albert R. Hager of Mah-Jongg Sales Co. of America (thanks to Thierry Depaulis). At time of filing, Hager resided in Shanghai. Mah-Jongg Company consisted of J.P. Babcock, Albert R. Hager, and Anton N. Lethin.
- Sept. 25, 1922 [Washington, DC, USA] Filing of patent for mah-jongg scoring sticks (No. 1,450,852, pub. May 3, 1923) by Albert R. Hager of Mah-Jongg Sales Co. of America (thanks to Thierry Depaulis). At time of filing, Hager lived in Manila (Philippines) - Mah-Jongg Company not mentioned in this patent application.
- Nov. 4, 1922 [China and Washington, DC, USA] Joseph P. Babcock patent application (presumably on gameplay of mah-jongg) was filed. (Note: Babcock was living in Tsinan, China [Jinan, capital of Shandong province].)
- Jan. 19, 1923 [Washington, DC] Filing of trademark for "Dragon Racks" by John T. Gaffey, doing business as Mah-Juck Mfg. Company, San Pedro, Calif. Ser. No. 171,043. Source: US Patent Office, Official Gazette, May 15, 1923 (thanks to Thierry Depaulis).
- Feb. 23, 1923 [Washington, DC, USA] Filing of trademark for "Mah-Jongg" as a particular description of goods: games played with pieces somewhat similar to dominoes. Filed by or on behalf of The Mah-Jongg Sales Company of America, San Francisco, Calif. Claims use since on or about Oct. 26, 1920. Trademark serial no. 176,488 (Class 22. Games, Toys, and Sporting Goods). Source: US Patent Office, Official Gazette, July 22, 1924 (thanks to Thierry Depaulis).
- 1923 [USA] George Parker of Parker Bros., seeing the popularity of the game, contacted Dyas and Babcock and signed a deal. Parker Bros. began making sets in a variety of materials and price ranges, from cheap wood sets to bakelite to expensive ivory sets. But by now there was a flood. Others were importing and manufacturing sets (without calling them "mah-jongg" so as not to run afoul of trademark laws), and Parker Bros. couldn't stop it. These other sets came with rules that differed from Babcock's as well, and confusion began to spread.
- 1923 [Various countries] Babcock filed trademark registrations for the term "Mah-Jongg" in numerous countries (USA, France, etc.)
- 1923 [U.K.] Chad Valley published a book about mah-jongg. Mah-Jongg popular not only in the UK but also throughout
- December 19, 1923 [Washington, DC, USA] Continuation of Joseph P. Babcock's patent application was filed (an "improvement," mainly in regards to the use of flower tiles). Granted patent #1,554,834 on 9/22/25.
- 1923-1924 [USA] Robert F. Foster serialized his research on mah-jongg in the magazines "Vanity Fair" and "Asia," and compiled the articles (including "The Laws of Mah-Jong To Govern the American Game") in his book Foster On Mah Jong.
- 1924 [Japan] Saburo Hirayama established the first mah-jongg house "Nan-nan Club" in Shiba, Tokyo. (Another, "Nan Zan So," was established in Ginza in 1927.) The first mah-jongg literature in Japan "Chinese Playing Card: Mah-Jongg" by Moko Rin was published.
- April, 1924 [USA] Mah-Jongg imports ranked sixth among all goods imported from China. Life Magazine featured mah-jongg on its cover in recognition of the immense popularity of the game. (Orbanes.)
- 1924 [USA] "The American Official Laws of Mah-Jongg" (also known as The American Code of Laws for Mah-Jongg) established by the "Standardization Committee of the American Official Laws of Mah-Jongg" (M.C. Work, Robert Foster, Joseph P. Babcock, Lee Hartman, and J.H. Smith), under the direction of the Auction Bridge and Mah Jongg Magazine. These laws are included in Work's book Mah-Jongg Up-To-Date and Hartman's Standardized Mah Jong as well as Foster's book referred to above (1923-1924).
- 1924 [USA] The above Laws had been written in an attempt to end the Mah-Jongg Wars raging between casual players and hardcore players, but it was too little too late, and the mah-jongg craze was dying out.
Photo: Milton C. Work
- 1924 [USA] Elizabeth J. Magie pitched her game "The Landlord's Game" to George Parker (of Parker Brothers) but was turned down.
- Sept. 22, 1925 [Washington, DC, USA] Babcock's Mah-Jongg application is granted patent number 1,554,834 (applied for on Nov. 2, 1922).
- Nov. 3, 1925 [USA] Stanley Cowen was granted patent #1,559,678 for his game rack (for holding mah-jongg tiles) which had been applied for on June 11, 1924.
- 1926 [Japan] Hirohito became emperor (Showa era began).
- 1927 [China] Eminent writer Hu Shi regretted that the "national game" of China was the time-wasting game of mahjong. Then he immediately went back to the table to play some more. (Source: "The Game People Played: Mahjong in Modern Chinese Society and Culture," Maggie Greene, Cross-Currents. https://cross-currents.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/e-journal/articles/final_greene.pdf - thanks to Ray Heaton.)
- 1929 [Japan] "Japan Mah-Jongg Federation" established. "Kansai Mah-Jongg Federation" established. "Japan Mah-Jongg Standard Rules" formulated.
- 1929 [USA] The Wall Street stock-market disaster of 1929 brought the "Roaring Twenties" to a crashing halt, and precipitated the Great Depression.
- Early 1930s [Place?] Ephraim Hertzano develops tile game "Rummikub."
- 1930s [New York, NY, USA] Women experimented with ways to make the game fun for women. The chow (a rummy-like run of three tiles) was dropped; flowers became wild. More importantly, the notion of logical or "pretty" tile patterns came into fashion.
- 1934 [China] Gu shui jiu wen (Old hearings from the Gu River) by Dai Yu'an. Revealed description of the circa 1888 tile set of Sheng Xuanhuai. (Source: Michael Stanwick, The Playing Card, September 2006, citing Andrew Lo 2004.)
- 1934 [Germantown, Pennsylvania] Charles Darrow made a game called Monopoly, which was very similar to Magie's "The Landlord's Game." Darrow pitched the game to Parker Brothers but was turned down.
- 1935 [USA] Darrow had managed to sell a number of copies of Monopoly on his own, and Parker Brothers reconsidered. Monopoly made its official debut at Toy Fair in New York, and the rest is table game history. For more on the much-disputed origins of Monopoly, see http://boardgames.about.com/games/boardgames/msub19history.htm and http://www.adena.com/adena/mo/index.htm.
- 1936 [China] "Shi'e Yehua" by Dr. Lu Shi'e. Although this is a book about medicine (the author having been a doctor), the book includes a discussion of the evolution of 麻雀. Sources: "ithinc," Cofa Tsui, January 2007.
- 1936 [USA] Franklin D. Roosevelt re-elected President of the USA by a landslide.
- 1937 [Essex House, New York, NY, USA] Formation of National Mah Jongg League (founders: Viola Cecil (president), Dorothy Meyerson, Herma Jacobs, and Hortense Potter). Viola L. Cecil called the new American mah-jongg "Maajh" in her 1938 book "MAAJH, THE AMERICAN VERSION OF THE ANCIENT CHINESE GAME."
- 1938 [New Zealand?] THE GAME OF MAHJONG by Max Robertson.
- 1939-1941 [Worldwide] Outbreak of WWII. The Holocaust forced many Jews to flee Germany and Europe. Many found refuge in China. (This is mentioned because it may be a factor in the popularity of mah-jongg and Chinese food among Jews in America.) Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_China.
- 1940 [New York] Hortense Potter became NMJL president.
- 1942 [New York] Herma Jacobs became NMJL president. She stayed on for 25 years.
- 1942 [Japan] The name of mah-jongg was changed to "Takugi" due to "wartime restrictions" (?), and traders formed the "Patriotic Association of Takugi Commerce."
- 1945 [USA] FDR died; Harry S. Truman became President of the USA. End of WWII.
- 1947 [Japan] Japanese mah-jongg players adopted a new feature, "Tochu Riichi."
- 1947 [New York] The phrase "No looking ahead" first appeared on the NMJL card. Card required 18 flowers.
- 1948 [Dayton, Ohio, USA] Wright-Patterson Air Force Base came into existence (based upon previous Wright Field and Patterson Field)
- 1948 [Mideast] Formation of the state of Israel.
- 1950 [Haiphong, Vietnam] First known book from Vietnam (in French). Author: Nguyên Xuân Mai. Title: "Le
mah-jong : guide complet. Jeu avec les 8 rois supplémentaires." (A complete guide to mah-jongg: game with 8 extra kings.) Game described is very similar to HKOS. Thanks to Thierry Depaulis for the tip (1/9/2007, news:rec.games.mahjong).
- 1952 [Tokyo and Vermont] MAH JONG FOR BEGINNERS, by Shozo Kanai and Margaret Farrell, based on the rules and regulations of The Mah Jong Association of Japan (JMJA). (Tuttle)
- 1956 [New York] The phrase "No picking or looking ahead" first appeared on the NMJL card. Card requires 22 flowers.
- 1961 [New York] Jokers introduced to the NMJL membership. Card required 14 flowers and 2 "big jokers." Note: see Column #311 for a detailed chart showing the fluctuating number of flowers and jokers in the NMJL card. This information is useful for aging an American-style mah-jongg set.
- 1963 [Dayton, Ohio, USA] The Wright-Patterson rulebook, MAH JONGG; WRIGHT-PATTERSON RULES (Wright-Patterson Mah Jongg Group; No ISBN #), a longtime ongoing labor of love by ladies of the Officers' Wives' Club, was finally officially copyrighted. The first Wright-Patterson book was the work of Slyva Bauer and Helene Morris (date unknown).
- 1964 [Tokyo and Vermont] A MAH JONG HANDBOOK, by Eleanor Noss Whitney, based on the updated rules of the Japan Mah Jong Association (JMJA). (Tuttle)
- 1964 [Tokyo and Vermont] MAH JONG, ANYONE? by Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans, describing Western-style mah-jongg. (Tuttle)
- 1967 [New York] Ruth Unger became NMJL president.
- 1967 China's Cultural Revolution briefly spilled into Hong Kong with street riots. Mah-Jongg was now officially frowned upon in the country of its birth (gambling outlawed).
- Late 1960s [Japan] Daizo Amano embarked on an effort to settle the Japanese rules confusion. He cooperated with the Yomiuri Shinbun and documented rules very similar to those in use in Japan today. He wrote "Reach Mah-Jongg" (10 volumes; published by Nitto Shobo).
- 1971 [New York] NMJL card. Jokers and flowers stabilized at eight each. Tile count now 152.
- 1971 [London] Rock band Pink Floyd, having become enamored of mahjong while touring, records "A Pillow of Winds" -- a mahjong reference. (Ref: Wikipedia, A_Pillow_of_Winds)
- 1977 [UK] THE COMPLETE BOOK OF MAH-JONGG by A. D. Millington.
- 1979 [Hong Kong] THE CHINESE GAME OF MAHJONG by Samuel K. Perlmen and Mark Kai-Chi Chan, Book Marketing Ltd., ISBN 962-211-0169.
- 1983 [USA] Suntex International -- "Mhing," mah-jongg game played with cards instead of tiles.
- 1984 [USA] MAH JONGG MADE EASY by National Mah Jongg League, (No ISBN #). Jokers could no longer be used in singles or pairs.
- 1984 [Hong Kong] HOI TOI (Hoi1 Toi2), by Gaan Ji-Cing (Gaan2 Ji4 Cing1, also Kan Yi-Ching), ISBN 962-17-0088-4. Chinese-language book about mah-jongg collecting, history, and strategy.
- 1986 [California, USA] Activision releases Shanghai for Macintosh computers; game is played with mah-jongg tiles; causes much confusion as to what "mah-jongg" is.
- 1986 [At Sea} The National Mah Jongg League sponsored the 1st International Tournament at Sea with Mah Jongg Madness, aboard the Song of America (with Larry and Dorothy Krams). Possibly the first officially sanctioned tournament by the League. Possible origin of American Modern tournament rules (more strict and structured than at-home play).
- 1989 [United States] Ban on importation of ivory items.
- 1990 [Japan] Nintendo's "Yakuman," handheld mah-jongg game (Japanese 2-player rules; you vs. the machine) for Game Boy.
- 1992 [California, USA] HONG KONG MAHJONG PRO, by J.R. Fitch of Nine Dragons Software, published by Electronic Arts for DOS computers. The first truly good mah-jongg software outside of Japan. See FAQ 5 for website location of this and other computer mah-jongg games.
- 1996 [USA] Thomas Zuwei Feng's Internet Mahjong Server went online.
- 1996 [Finland] Lagarto & Armadillo Graphics released "Four Winds," eclectic mah-jongg software with rules from several countries (user-customizable).
- December 18, 1996 [Hazelwood, Missouri, USA] Jim May went online with the "Mahjong Museum" (also known as the "Mahjong Cyber Museum"). Not only the first mah-jongg museum, but also the first internet mah-jongg museum. See FAQ 4 for the web location of the Cyber Museum.
- 1997 [USA] Establishment of mahjong newsgroup (news:rec.games.mahjong), largely due to the efforts of Thomas Zuwei Feng of Princeton University.
- July 1, 1997 [Hong Kong] Reversion of Hong Kong and Kowloon to China from the UK.
- Aug 21, 1997 [Netherlands] Foundation of Martin Rep's online mah-jongg newspaper site "Mahjong in Nederland" (currently at http://www.mahjongnews.com).
- December 1997 [Los Angeles, California, USA] Activision introduced a new Shanghai, "Shanghai: Dynasty," with true mah-jongg (2 kinds: Chinese, Western).
- 1997-1998 [USA] Yahoo! launched its free online mah-jongg program (see FAQ 5).
- 1998 [USA] Sandy Beach's internet mah-jongg website "The Maj Exchange" went online. Initially the site was aligned with the NMJL but later in the year the NMJL withdrew its involvement in the website.
- 1998 [Japan/USA] Activision's Japanese version of Shanghai: Dynasty added Japanese Modern mah-jongg. Updated version now included 3 kinds of mah-jongg (Chinese, Western, Japanese).
- 1998 [Canada] INTERNATIONAL MAHJONG RULES by Cofa Tsui, ISBN 0968368700
- July, 1998 [San Francisco, CA, USA] Premiere of "Mah-Jongg: The Tiles That Bind" at Jewish Film Festival. Directed by Bari Pearlman and Phyllis Heller.
- 1998 [Germany] MAH-JONGG; BASIC RULES & STRATEGIES by Dieter Kohnen, Sterling Publications; ISBN 0-8069-0752-5.
- 1998 [Beijing, China] CHINESE MAHJONG COMPETITION RULES ("CMCR"). Publisher: People's Sports Publishing House. Distributor: Xin Hua Books Store, Beijing Distribution Office. ISBN 7-5009-1630-2.
- 1999 [USA] "Mah-Jongg: The Tiles That Bind" released on video.
- 1999 [Chiba, Japan] Opening of Mah-Jongg Museum (Majan Hakubutsukan). Jim May, founder of internet "Mah Jong Cyber Museum," attended the opening ceremonies.
- 1999 [Tokyo? Korea?] Formation of World Mahjong Players Association (WMPA).
- April 1999 [Japan] MAJAN HAKUBUTSUKAN DAIZUROKU ("Illustrated Book of the Mah-Jongg Museum," or literally translated "Mah-Jongg Museum Big Encyclopedia"). Edited by the Mah-Jongg Museum ("MJM"; no author name). Publisher: Takeshobo, April. ISBN 4-8124-0473-8.
- August 1999 [Nijmegen, Netherlands] Formation of The World of Mahjong Webring.
- October 1999 [Japan] SEKAI MAJAN 2000 ("World Mah-Jongg 2000"). Edited by the Mah-Jongg Museum (no author name). Publisher: Takeshobo, October. ISBN 4-8124-0551-3. Describes modern official Chinese rules (an attempt seems to be made to standardize world rules based on these).
- October 1999 [Baltimore, Maryland, USA] Formation of the American Mah-Jongg Association (AMJA).
- November 1999 [Los Angeles, California, USA] Computer game Shanghai: Second Dynasty (Activision, in cahoots with the AMJA), included, for the first time, a computer version of American-style mah-jongg, playable online.
- 2000 [USA] The NMJL launched its own website and offered an internet-playable mah-jongg game.
- September 29, 2000 -- The Mahjong Newsgroup FAQs migrated to thegameguru.net.
- December 8, 2000 -- The Mahjong Newsgroup FAQs migrated from thegameguru.net to sloperama.com
- December 14, 2001 -- The Mahjong Newsgroup FAQs were converted from TXT to HTML format.
- 2001 [Tokyo and Vermont] THE BOOK OF MAHJONG, by Amy Lo, describing four Chinese mah-jongg variants. (Tuttle)
- August 31, 2001 [Tokyo, Japan] An explosion ripped through a mah-jongg parlor in Shinjuku's Kabukicho, the entertainment district of Tokyo, killing at least 44 people.
- September 4, 2001 [Tokyo, Japan] The latest rumor from a friend in Japan: "It is said that it is not an accident but someone who lost a lot of money in the mahjongg parlor set fire....."
- 2002 [Tokyo] COMPETITION MAHJONG OFFICIAL INTERNATIONAL RULEBOOK (ISBN 408124-0944-6, Takeshobo)
- October 22-27, 2002 [Tokyo, Japan] The World Championship of Mah-Jongg, The first ever worldwide mah-jongg championship event.
- 2003 [Taiwan] WONDERFUL TAIWAN MAH JONG by Dragon Chang (Printers Co. Ltd., 2003, ISBN 957-41-1174-1).
- 2003 [Japan] ron2.jp is created. An online site for playing riichi/dora majan.
- November 28-29, 2003 [Seogwipo, Korea] A World Mahjong Tournament, organized by the WMPA, did not occur (presumably due to too few signups). Hoping for more facts... (hint, hint).
- December 2003 [Hainan, China] The 2003 China Majiang Open Championship
- November 2004 [Hong Kong, China] The 2004 China Majiang Open Championship
- 2004 [San Diego, California, USA] MahjongTime is created; an online site where several mahjong variants can be played.
- 2004 [USA] "Asian Games: The Art of Contest" by the Asia Society (www.asiasociety.org). Includes excellent scholarly article by Andrew Lo, and articles on numerous other Asian games. Thanks to Michael Stanwick and Thierry Depaulis.
- June 2005 [Nijmegen, Netherlands] The 2005 Open European Mahjong Championship
- October 2005 [Beijing, China] The Third China Majiang Championship & Forum
- October 2006 [Tianjin, China] The Fourth China Majiang Championship & Forum
- November 2006 [Tokyo, Japan] ReachMahjong.com goes online, with columns, news, and goods.
- 2007 [North Clarendon, Vermont, USA] A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO AMERICAN MAH JONGG by Elaine Sandberg (Tuttle Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-0-8048-3878-8; ISBN-10: 0-8048-3878-X).
- June 2007 [New York City, New York, USA] THE RED DRAGON & THE WEST WIND by Tom Sloper (HarperCollins, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-06-123394-4).
- June 21-24, 2007 [Copenhagen, Denmark] - The Open European Mahjong Championship
- August 2007 [Italy] YakitoriOnline.com goes online, with forums for the discussion of Japanese riichi/dora majan.
- November, 2007 [Chengdu, China] the second World Mahjong Championship (the first to be held in China itself).
- June 15, 2008 [Italy] YakitoriOnline goes offline. A once-popular forum is gone.
- November 30, 2008 [Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California, USA] Downtown Los Angeles' only Japanese mahjong parlor shuts its doors.
- 2009 [Tokyo, Japan] ReachMahjong.com launches discussion forums, once again providing an outlet for fans of Japanese riichi/dora majan to talk about their favorite variant. YakitoriOnline is dead; long live ReachMahjong.com!
- August 19, 2009 [Stockholm, Sweden] Mahjong Logic, a web network for playing mahjong for money, is first launched, with play-for-free service until gambling licenses are obtained.
- December 20, 2009 [Hazelwood, Missouri, USA] Jim May announces that his Mah Jong Cyber Museum collection is for sale.
- December 31, 2009 [Isle of Man] Mahjong Logic's e-gaming license is granted.
- January, 2010 [Las Vegas, Nevada, USA] REACH MAHJONG; THE ONLY WAY TO PLAY, by Jenn Barr.
- January 19, 2010 [Isle of Man] Mahjong Logic network launches its play-for-money service.
- February, 2010 [Hazelwood, Missouri, USA] - Jim May's Mah Jong Cyber Museum website the victim of hackers, infected by malicious software. The infection was later cleaned.
- 2010 [At Sea] Mah Jongg Madness celebrated their 25th Silver Anniversary International tournament at Sea Cruise aboard the Liberty of the Seas.
- November, 2010 [Tokyo, Japan] Death of Kyoichiro Noguchi, owner of Takeshobo Publishing and the Mahjong Museum in Chiba, Japan.
- March, 2011 [Chiba, Japan] The Mahjong Museum closed "temporarily" after the great Tohoku Earthquake. (Source: MahjongNews.com)
- March, 2011 [Texas, USA] The Mah Jong Cyber Museum site was acquired by Where The Winds Blow, an online mah-jongg merchandise seller.
- November, 2011 [Nijmegen, The Netherlands] - Mahjongnews expands its online presence to Facebook.
- 2012 [Las Vegas, Nevada, USA] Mah Jongg Master Points for tournament play was instituted for American Modern mah-jongg by Mah Jongg Madness, whereby ranks and points are awarded. Official Mah Jongg Tournament Rules codified and published: www.mahjonggmasterpoints.com
- 2012 [Texas, USA] MAHJONG FROM A TO ZHU, by Scott D. Miller.
- 2012, 2013 [California, USA] Sloperama.com was hacked and infected by malicious software, two times. Both times the infection was soon detected and cleaned.
- 2013 [East Sussex, UK] Renowned mah-jongg scholar/historian Michael Stanwick officially launched his website, themahjongtileset.co.uk.
- 2013 (New York, New York, USA) The National Mah Jongg League quietly revised its official rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy." Comparison with the 1984 version can be found at sloperama.com/mahjongg/column2/column667.htm.
- June, 2013 [Chiba, Japan} The Mahjong Museum was permanently closed and its collection sold.
- February 11, 2014 [United States] Strict ban announced on sale of ivory items across state lines. Sellers of ivory items within a state must acquire a permit proving that the items were imported before the 1989 importation ban.
- July 16-20, 2014 [Paris, France] The first World Riichi Championship was held.
- July 31st, 2014 [Netherlands and United States] The influential online mah-jongg newspaper, MahjongNews, moves from the Netherlands to the United States. Ownership transferred from founder Martin Rep to Texas author Scott Miller (author of Mahjong from A to Zhu).
- March 3, 2015 (Japan) Publication of Benjamin Boas' book (in collaboration with Chika Aoyagi) of 日本のことは、マンガとゲームで学びました。 ("I LEARNED JAPANESE STUFF THROUGH COMICS AND GAMES").
- Spring, 2015 [London, UK] Launch of The Mahjong Collector magazine.
- May 27, 2015 [Tianjin, China] Mr. Sheng Qi passed away. "He was a great [mah-jongg] scholar and writer who was instrumental in establishing the official rules for the Chinese Mahjong Competition Rules in 1998." (Source: Scott D. Miller, mahjongnews.com)
- August 6, 2015 - World Mahjong Ltd. announces the return of the World Series of Mahjong, to take place Dec. 5 & 6 in Macao. (Source: Scott D. Miller, mahjongnews.com)
- October 24-28, 2015 - the World Mahjong Sport Games is held in Sanya, Hainan, China. (Source: Scott D. Miller, per Josephine Lee)
- November 10, 2015 - Ruth Unger, president of the National Mah Jongg League 1967-2015, passed away. Her sons, Larry and David Unger, assume leadership roles in the organization, a non-profit that donates to numerous charities.
- November 11, 2015 - RIICHI MAHJONG: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE JAPANESE GAME TAKING THE WORLD BY STORM, by Scott D. Miller. The second book in English to describe Japanese riichi majan.
- March 6, 2016 [Huai`an, Jiangsu, China] The International Mind Sport Association (IMSA) accepted the Mahjong International League (MIL) as an observer at the association's meeting. The MIL is preparing an application to become a member organization of the IMSA. (Source: MahjongNews.com)
- April 7, 2017 [Aarhus, Denmark] The International Mind Sports Association recognizes mah-jongg as an official mind sport, and welcomes the Mahjong International League (MIL) into its fold. (Source: MahjongNews.com)
- 2017 [Japan] THE RIICHI MAHJONG PRO-SPECTIVE, by Reach Spirits (Jenn Barr and Gemma Collinge Sakamoto).
- August 3, 2017 [Beijing, China] The International Mind Sports Association applied to the International Olympic Committee for six mind sports, including mahjong, as demonstration events at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. (Source: http://mahjong.us.com/forum/)
- October 5-8, 2017 [Las Vegas, NV, USA] The 2nd World Riichi Championship was held.
- February, 2018 [Netherlands] Ownership of MahjongNews passed from Scott D. Miller to Nicole Haasbroek.
- October 21-23, 2018 [Harrah's, Atlantic City, NJ, USA] The first official duplicate mahjong event was held during a Four Seasons Mah-Jongg tournament, using American (NMJL) rules. Sanctioned by the American Duplicate Mahjong Association (ADMA) and observed by the Mahjong International League (MIL).
- November 17-25, 2018 [Taipei] The 2nd World Mahjong Mind Games did not take place.
- Spring, 2019 [Netherlands] MahjongNews.com went offline after months of site inactivity.
- August 29, 2019 [China] News emerges that Microsoft Research Asia's Suphx (Super Phoenix) artificial intelligence system mastered mahjong, achieving the rank of 10th dan on Tenhou (online Japanese majan game with over 300,000 members). Suphx learned by playing more than 5,000 games in four months to achieve the rarified rank (only 180 humans rank 10th dan).
Note that Microsoft Asia still thinks mahjong was "invented in China thousands of years ago." It's the lie that never dies.
Click on desired chapter...
INTRO: DEFINITIONS, SOURCES
ORIGINS: PRECURSOR GAMES
ORIGINS: WHO CREATED MAHJONG
ORIGINS: EARLIEST WRITINGS ON MAHJONG
ORIGINS: EARLIEST MAHJONG SETS
ORIGINS: PROTO-MAHJONG AND CHINESE CLASSICAL
A MINOR (and somewhat silly) CONTROVERSY: THE CC THEORY
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Some of the ideas in this article may have originated with mah-jongg scholar Michael Stanwick. Props to Mr. Stanwick for his excellent research.