In 2018 my mom began teaching me how to play “Mah Jongg for two people” but she was unaware that Gladys Grad had actually created a game called Siamese Mah Jongg® with rules and even a card! She was unclear on exactly how to set up play for just 2 players so I looked it up on-line and there it was, this very new game called Siamese Mah Jongg®. Then we were off.
While slowly playing, I asked her, “Isn’t there something I can use to keep track of my hands? This is crazy trying to remember which hands I’m going for.” She replied, “I can give you a piece of paper. Some people use a ruler or a pencil.” I was using my finger, thumb, even the side of my hand to hold the place of my Mah Jongg hands.
I said, “It’s 2018, there has to be something.”
She replied, “If there is, I’ve never seen it.”
I said, “Well if there isn’t, we are going to come up with something.”
So, I went home and began trying different ideas, all to be shot down by mom’s Mah Jongg friends. Sensing a lot of resistance to this new idea but also believing that if I was wanting this others would too, I forged ahead .
Mom lives an hour and a half away, so I decided to learn to play actual Mah Jongg by a regular Mah Jongg instructor. I signed up for a class at the local college that offered enrichment courses.
There were nine women in the class. Our fabulous instructor had played Mah Jongg for close to three decades. But at times I thought she’d forgotten what it was like to see this card for the first time. For me it was a bit overwhelming.
The Charleston. With each cautious pass, we’d attempt to make a hand from the tiles on our racks. Our teacher would come to each of us, quickly switch our tiles around and suggest a hand, by pointing at it on the card. Then she’d switch the tiles around again and suggest going for “this” hand, her finger pointing to another hand that quickly blended in with the others. She’d sometimes do this a third time!
She would repeat this process with all of us. Our heads would sometimes be spinning with confusion as we’d attempt to remember which hands were suggested. Inevitably, each of us would say, “Can you tell me again which hands I’m working on?”
Our instructor was very patient and clearly loved teaching us. So she’d make her way back to each of us and would sometimes joke that we must’ve discarded a tile that she suggested we keep. We’d all laugh because it was true.
We’d sit there after every draw, afraid of what to discard because we were so confused about which hands to work on. Well, some Highlighters would be super helpful about now, I thought.
One day she said, “I could bring in some sticky notes to help you keep track of your hands.” Awesome, I thought to myself. Mah Jongg Highlighters would be a great help to us.
As I was muddling my way through my 6 week Mah Jongg class, I would also drive the hour and a half north to visit my mom. We would play a very slow, steady (she was very patient with me) game of Siamese Mah Jongg®. I just felt too slow to play with her friends yet.
We began playing and we’d play for hours. We both loved it so much. For Siamese Mah Jongg® you have to double Mah Jongg to win, which to me is more challenging and fun!
We would use my roughly designed Mah Jongg Highlighters. These tools were really helping us. Both of us! It took away the frustration of constantly losing site of the hands we were working on.
I thought again, if we loved using these Highlighters, others would too. So, I kept working to perfect the design and created Mah Jongg Highlighters, highlighting tools that help you easily keep track of your hands.
They are perfect for teachers/students, beginners, Siamese Mah Jongg® etc. All made in the USA and are washable and reusable.
So, keep calm and play Mah Jongg, with our awesome Mah Jongg Highlighters.
Read about my first experience playing with the “Big Girls” while using Mah Jongg Highlighters here. It ended pretty sweetly…for me! haha