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Spotlight on Mahjong

Mahjong

The Mind Sport of Mahjong goes back as far as the Qing dynasty and has accelerated in growth since the early 20th century. Among the criteria stipulated by SportAccord is that a mind sport must be a competition that does not rely on an aspect of luck. It must also not pose a health risk to a participant or any other living creature. It must also not rely on equipment provided by a single supplier. Other examples of mind sports include Go, Bridge, Chess, Draughts and Xiangqi. Majong is mainly played between four players and is similar to the Western card game of rummy. There are some variants of the game and some countries like Japan and South Korea play with three players. Overall, it is very popular in Eastern and South Asia and over the last few decades, has gained a big following also in the Western nations. There is some aspect of chance involved, but generally Mahjong is a game of skill, strategy and calculation.   

Taking a quick look at the rules, a game is played with a set of 144 tiles all based on Chinese characters and symbols. There are other examples that do not display any symbols or have something unique displayed. Players begin with 13 tiles and draw and discard their tiles until 4 sets and a pair are formed with the added 14th drawn tile. There are standard rules on how a piece is drawn or even robbed from another player. Even so, the variations of the game mean there are several types of rules also. As a result of the many variations, the scoring can amount to many differences. For example, in the classical version all players get to score points, while in the Old Hong Kong Majong, only the winner scores points. It is even possible for the loser to score more points than a winner. Because of the large differences between the various formats of the game, the scoring is normally agreed upon by all the players beforehand.   

The Mahjong International League or MIL was set up to govern the game and to grow it internationally, especially in the Western world. As with all Mind Sports and Sports in general, the key objective for MIL is to have Mahjong represented at the Olympic Games. The organisation remains affiliated to the International Olympic Committee and is also recognised as the International Federation for Mahjong. MIL also oversee regional and international competitions. There are currently over thirty membership nations registered with MIL. The headquarters are based in Hong Kong.  

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