Interview: Mona Remedios Stickley and the Mahjong Party

Mahjong Party

A few days ago, we posted about Mahjong Party, a project currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Today, we’re very lucky to get the opportunity to sit down with the creator of Mahjong Party, Mona Remedios Stickley. While I shed some light on the project, Mona will be able to give us the full details of her project!


That’s Entertainment: Mona, thank you very much for taking time out of your day to sit down and chat about your project Mahjong Party.

Mona Remedios Stickley: Thank you! I am super excited to be here and really thankful for the opportunity.

TE: You’ve been playing Mahjong since a very early age (three!) and have stuck with it. Was this a game you enjoyed from the start or did it take some time to really enjoy it on the level you do now?

MRS: I definitely always loved it but my understanding of it and passion for the game grew as I got older. I think I should explain a little bit about Mahjong in comparison to other games. I grew up playing all the classics, Risk, Monopoly, Life, Trouble, so many more… but Mahjong is very different than those games. Let’s take Risk for example – awesome game! It doesn’t take years to master it though, same with all the other games. Mahjong, on the other hand, can take decades to master. Sure, you can get all the basics down quickly and then you play and realize there is more to it. Then you get to an intermediate level and realize there is even more to it.

When I started playing at age 3, I was fascinated by the Mahjong tiles which are the main playing pieces of the game. They are fascinating to look at and then when you push them together they make clinking sounds when they hit. Plus, the playing surface of the table helps them slide across the table so you can slide them into other tiles. When you are 3, this is the most exciting thing on the planet! Kids love the game for those reasons. As I grew up, I started to understand the game more and really appreciated its complexity. It is a very deep, complex game so you can spend decades playing it and never get bored. There are some hands in Mahjong that you may never get in your entire life even if you play every week!

TE: If I can show my ignorance for a moment, I grew up with these games too; however, Mahjong was always on a computer! While I can say that I definitely knew that there was a physical version of the game in the back of my mind; as a kid, it was just a time killer akin to Minesweeper. As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the physical aspect of tabletop games (especially roleplaying games—there’s nothing like holding books, dice, etc. in your hands). Are all tiles the same or are there different sets with different designs like tarot cards? If there are different sets, do you have one that you like more than others?

MRS: Great game Minesweeper, I used to play it for hours!

I like the details you got into with this question as there is such a difference between playing a game in person with other people versus playing on a computer against other players or bots.

The mahjong tiles can vary quite greatly! It has gotten to be a massive market. I am super excited to talk about this. Let’s go through some of the ways they vary.

First, they can vary in size. There are smaller tiles that are more suited to people with smaller hands, or those with kids. Then there are larger tiles that are more suited to people with larger hands. As well, the larger tiles may not fit well on your mahjong table depending on how large or small your table is.

The back of the tiles, so that would be the side that does not show circles, bamboos, or dragons. It would be the same as the backside of a playing card for instance. The back of the tiles used to vary a little bit, some sets you get in green, others are in pink, others are in yellow or they may have a Chinese symbol on the back. Now there are custom sets you can have made with different logos on the back, or characters, some people get them with Ironman, Disney characters, or Pokemon. Pretty fascinating!

The front of the tiles, that varies set by set, it might be slight variations like the bamboo may be smaller or a different shade of green. The flower tiles may have only Chinese numerals versus having Roman numerals on them. There are a ton of slight variations between sets.

The tiles also vary depending on what country you buy them from, what decade they were made in, and what style of mahjong you are going to play. For instance, an American mahjong set looks very different than an Asian mahjong set. The American mahjong set contains blank tiles which are called Jokers. The tiles contain translations on them so for instance, there are 4 wind tiles, East, South, West, and then North. In the American set, you will find the letters E, S, W, and N on their corresponding tile. On the Chinese character tiles, you will find the corresponding Roman numeral for each Chinese numeral. The Asian set does not contain any of these translations. Often when you are teaching someone that is not familiar with Chinese numerals, they will spend half the game with their cheat sheet trying to understand what it is they have in their hand. In my course, I eliminate this issue by teaching people how to quickly identify and remember each of the tiles without requiring any translation.

The flower tiles are grouped under that name but there are 4 flower tiles and 4 season tiles. In some sets, one of those sets may instead be the 4 occupations. The 1 of bamboo is always represented by a bird. In some sets, it may be a sparrow, in other sets it may be a peacock. Lastly, older sets were done in wood, or the rare and expensive sets were done in ivory. Of course, ivory is now illegal but mahjong was around for several centuries with the oldest set dating back to the 1800’s so there were different materials used back then.

That brings me to the most exciting new development in mahjong sets! Before, you could walk into Chinatown and buy a mahjong set for $60-200. However, the global retail industry has realized the high value that the Asian consumer brings to the table. In Canada, the Asian population in 2013 accounted for 5% of all household spending whereas the average household accounts for 2%. If you switch over to the USA, the Asian population accounts for 6% of the population but over 2 decades they increased their buying power by 314%. The same trend occurs in China where there is a lot of buying power in some demographics. As a result, all of the global luxury brands are catering to Asian interests which means they are making luxurious mahjong sets.  If you go to Chinatown, you can purchase a mahjong set for roughly $60, with nicer ones going for up to $200.

The designer brands are seeing this opportunity and are creating mahjong sets with much higher value. Prada sells a mahjong set for just over $4000. Tiffany and Yves Laurent both designed a limited edition mahjong set for thousands of dollars which are no longer available. Ralph Lauren has a set that sells for $4495. Bruno Cucinelli’s set is $9149. Lastly, St. Dupont clocks in with the most luxurious set at $1,053,200 USD!!! The set is inlaid with rubies and gold. It is totally mind-blowing!

We have a board on our Mahjong Party Pinterest account that is dedicated solely to mahjong tiles. It just shows different pins from people all over the world and their mahjong sets. Some are really old and just beautiful to look at. You will be able to see the different ways of drawing the  # 1 of bamboo which is usually a bird, and also the differences in the materials of some tiles. There is one set on there that is beautiful to view which was made out of Mother of Pearl. There are also some of the luxury sets on there and some of the available custom tiles.

Perhaps I should explain our Pinterest account to people so they are not confused when they go on there. If you end up on our website www.themahjongparty.com, there is a Pinterest link on there at the bottom. If you want to go directly to our Pinterest page, you can find it at https://www.pinterest.ca/mahjongparty. We only have a few of our own products on there. It started as a personal page for me because I was trying to build my memory of items and experiences that I recalled from my childhood and the mahjong parties. I was also trying to bring some comfort into my life during the more sad days by saving a lot of pins that were just beautiful to look at or fun to pin. So I began building out these pages of Asian comfort foods, so a lot of dessert soups, and dim sum, the recipes for all those. I added in some dinner recipes there as well. There are a lot of recipes that are on there multiple times the reason being that for myself, with a brain injury, I may struggle to follow one recipe but be able to make another recipe for the same type of food. I find that sometimes you can look at the same hot and sour soup recipe for instance, and find oh that one, that is the recipe that calls out to me but you want to scroll through 5 or 6 to get to that special one. All of the recipes are saved onto boards by category with all of the boards being based on food that you may find at an Asian mahjong party.  There is also a board dedicated to Macanese food. So when I say Macanese that is Macau, with a concentration on the foods I grew up with which is Portuguese influenced. There are some really great recipes from Macau. There are also some boards for learning Cantonese words.

Then there is a board solely for mahjong baking fun – there are a ton of beautiful and fun mahjong cookies and cakes on there. I just love scrolling through Instagram and being inspired by bakers or just a family baking a cake for their grandma. Fun stuff.

Your readers may find it neat to look around if they want to take a peek at what mahjong is, and what some components of a mahjong party would have. There are over 1,000 pins all to do with mahjong or Asian culture and we will be adding a lot more. Mahjong Party is really all about bringing the community together and expressing that joy that comes from sharing ideas and experiences.

TE: Going back to the game of Mahjong itself, I don’t think I ever knew there were “hands” in the game! (Ok, I showed my ignorance for two moments!) Can you briefly describe what a hand in Mahjong is?

MRS: Ohhh… helllloooo. My favourite topic lol. I get so excited to talk about this stuff. Okay! This is a complex topic so try and stay with me, super excited!

So hands in mahjong… I am going to first explain what a hand is in the Hong Kong style of mahjong. In Hong Kong style, we play with 13 tiles and win with 14. So I teach this part of the game a little bit differently than others. I created a template outline that shows my students the backbone of any hand. We then fill it in with different components which change the makeup of the hand, and the value of the hand or how much it is worth in Fan and money. The template always stays the same so people can get used to what the foundations of any hand are. So let us discuss those main foundations and let us do it in steps.

The 14 tile winning hand has 5 components, or groups. I like to refer to the components as groups and name each group by a number, so we are going to talk about group 1, group 2, 3, 4, and then group 5.

Groups numbered 1 to 4 consist of 3 tiles each. That means group 1 has 3 tiles, group 2 has 3 tiles, groups 3 and 4 each have 3 tiles. Group number 5, your last group, has 2 tiles. So you have 4 groups of 3 tiles and then your last group of 2 tiles which make up a total of 14 tiles. Now let us drill down a bit farther.

Groups numbered 1 to 4 can only contain one of two options – they can contain a Pong (three of a kind) or a Chow (a sequence of 3 numbers in a row). Group 5, your last group which only contains 2 tiles, must have a matching pair of tiles, and this pair is called an Eye.

On top of all of that, there are stacking elements to consider when creating points. When I say stacking I mean adding, your points in Hong Kong mahjong stack on top of each other. There are elements outside of your hand, such as if you have your flower, which add points to your hand.

So that is the make-up of a hand at the most very basic foundations. From there we talk about how to score with your hand. Three elements make up a scoring hand, all of which stack on top of each other. 1) any stacking elements such as having your flower, 2) any points inside of group # 1-4, such as having a Pong of dragons, and 3) the value of your entire hand when considered as one complete unit as a whole.

Now let’s go back to your question and ask how many hands in mahjong are there? If we look at the 3rd way to score – to look at the value of your entire hand as one entire complete unit – there are over a dozen template hands, if you obtain one of those they can be worth anywhere from 1 Fan to the table limit. When I say a template hand, I mean it is mapped out what it looks like, you just need to obtain the components to create it.

Here is where it gets fun though, if you then look at the 1st and 2nd ways to score, the number of hands you can get in mahjong is astounding. I actually have never crunched the numbers but let’s go over some of the stacking elements that add to your hand: your wind, the table wind, your flower, no flower, pong or kong of dragons, out on a kong, stealing a kong, out on the last tile, out on last discard, a garden of flowers or seasons or both, and self-draw. Any one of those can add to your hand, and you could get just one of those stacking elements or a few of them. To calculate all the hands would be quite the task!

TE: Your parents taught you Hong Kong Mahjong and that specific distinction alludes to the fact that there is more than one way to play the game. How different can the game of Mahjong get? Have you played these other variations as long as you’ve played what your parents taught you?

MRS: It is kind of mind-blowing to think about how many styles there are and how many people play Mahjong. I just want to point out that Mahjong solitaire is not one that we are talking about here, that is a totally different game, completely unrelated. The Mahjong we are talking about involves 4 people sitting at a table to play. The only way you can play Mahjong by yourself is if you use an app or Mahjong PC game and play online using 3 bots which can be really fun.

Let us take a look at some stats before I get into it. There is an estimated 600,000,000 Mahjong players in the world! The game is played in a multitude of languages including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Russian, and more. There are a few international organizations that organize international tournaments. These organizations have representatives in more than 30 countries which include Asian countries but also include Chile, Australia, Ukraine, Brazil, and many others.

When talking about styles, each country has its own style. Aside from the Hong Kong-style I play there are others: Japan plays Riichi, Taiwan plays 16 tiles, China has MCR, Europe and America each have their own style, the list goes on. To get a sense of what I mean by different styles, it would be like comparing the card game Hearts to Spades. Both games use playing cards, they both involve taking tricks, and they each designate a trump suit but the way they go about their gameplay is totally different.

Within each style, you then have a multitude of variations of each style. If you are choosing the Hong Kong style of play, you may find that your family plays a variation, your school Mahjong club plays a variation, your community organization will play a variation, and then each Mahjong app or PC game has a totally different variation. These variations are why it is very difficult to play the game. People will try to teach the game to you as to how they play it in their variation and then you go to practice it online with bots or play against people online and all of that is different due to the variations.

As a Mahjong-related example, let’s talk about stacking points to make a 3 Fan hand. You can stack these points: your own flower, concealed hand, and all chows. If you then go play online, PC games don’t consider a concealed hand to be worth a point. You now need to add another method to create your 3 Fan hand. If you are familiar with all the ways to stack points, it is no problem to come up with another method. However, if you are used to only playing one variation of the game, you may struggle to play online. It gets worse if you become used to playing online and then go to play in person. The online apps and games leave out a large portion of the game and game etiquette. It is good to play online for practice but when it comes to playing in person, you will find you are missing quite a lot of habits that are necessary to play at a decent level in person.

Getting back to talking about variations of just one Mahjong style, let us discuss an example for those that don’t play Mahjong. We can talk about variations of a style using Monopoly. In this context, Monopoly would represent the Hong Kong style of play. The different ways to play Monopoly would represent all the different ways you can play the Hong Kong style of Mahjong. When you play Monopoly, you have a ton of choices. You can play the traditional game, you can play where you deal a certain amount of properties to each player before the game begins, you can play where there are no hotels, you can play where landing on parking has a huge payday, the list goes on. When you then go online to play Monopoly, there are even more choices, you can play with a cheese or candy background, or art deco, you can play with super easy bots or ones that are tough to negotiate with. It is all the same game, a variation of the rules, and going online changes the landscape of the game as well as offers different variations. Getting used to bots in Monopoly is similar to playing Mahjong online. Negotiating with a bot in Monopoly does not prepare you for the nuances and complexity of negotiating with a person.

When we start discussing my experience with other styles and variations, I like to play Taiwanese 16 tiles, I learned how to play it online first, and then played it in person just once. I liked using the Taiwanese scoring system to teach beginners at times, then switch to the Hong Kong-style later. It is easy to understand the Taiwanese scoring system when you are building lower-end hands. I also played American NMJL for maybe a year which was a lot of fun.

The range of styles and variations makes Mahjong a game that you can spend your lifetime learning about. If you get bored of one style or variation, you can spice it up by trying another.

TE: This was a great little lesson on Mahjong! I had no clue that there was so much more to that little Mahjong game I’d played on the computer as a kid. Turns out there is nothing little about Mahjong! It’s clear you have a passion for Mahjong—you’ve been playing since you were three years old and have launched a Kickstarter to fund your online course, Mahjong Party, to help others. But it’s much deeper than that; you’ve used the game to help with your disability. Could you explain how Mahjong helped you?

MRS: It is pretty emotional when I think about it. Last year in particular, as that was the 25th anniversary of an accident I had where I almost died. At first, doctors were shocked I lived through it, then they were shocked when I was not paralyzed. That was my biggest brain injury but I had a lot more head injuries both before and after that, plus I have other complex medical stuff all of which ties in together to make me a really complicated gal for doctors to figure out. I could only go for walks outside for 2 blocks then I would have to rest before walking back. I would walk into walls or oncoming traffic if not watched, so I could only go out if I was feeling well enough to make sure I could stay on the sidewalk otherwise I had to wait until my husband or my brain injury helper came to take me out. I had to relearn how to walk, speak, read. I had to start with baby books, then children’s books, work my way up to young adult books. I reread The Mortal Instruments about 5 times as it is both challenging for me and also at a level I can do. I still can’t read adult books. Back then, opening 1 piece of mail would tire me out so much I would have to nap for 2 hours. I lost the ability to sign my name for a few years, that was interesting. We had to do a bunch of workarounds where my husband or my sisters would take over things because I literally could not sign my name. I would get to a point where I would be looking at the signature line at a bank and I would just start to cry, totally lost as to why I couldn’t sign my name. That would snowball into me forgetting how to get home, forgetting my address, it got scary at times. I am lucky that I have a great hubby who comes to get me when I am totally lost. We are both thankful I made it past those years.

TE: Just to interrupt for a moment, I’ve got to say wow. We haven’t even gotten to you getting back into and using Mahjong to help with your injuries and the amount of work you did to get there is amazing. I’m not sure that I would have been able to do it if I’m being honest! I’m so happy that you pushed through, that is something to be very proud of! Please continue about how Mahjong has helped you further with recovery.

MRS: As far as Mahjong goes, the knowledge I had of mahjong before the accident was still there. I could remember how to play the game, I just could not sit at a table to play, I could not speak to people around me, and I could not use an iPad or computer to play. However, it was something to just have something that I remembered, it was something to hold on to and fight for. I would have to build stamina to do it but I knew if I could build the stamina I could do it. So I worked on slowly building up my stamina to sit for just 45 minutes which took a couple of years. Then I had to build up enough memory and focus to be able to hold a conversation or use an iPad. Along the way, I was working with a ton of medical providers, brain injury helpers, brain injury support groups, physiotherapists, did a bunch of healing stuff on my own, and always moved towards that goal of being able to play Mahjong again as there was very little that I knew I could still do aside from that.

When I got to a point where I was ready to test my stamina, I came across a group of ladies that got together to play the NJML/American style. Their games lasted for about 90 minutes with a break in between for tea. This was a great opportunity for me to test my stamina. So I played with these ladies and learned the American style. That helped me regain some functioning and I also had to socialize a bit so that started me off with regaining skills in that area. It was tough at times, to be honest. In American style mahjong, you verbally state the tile you are putting down as you discard it. This was so hard for me! I would literally just look at the tile and try to figure out how to get the name of it out of my mouth. Of course, I am supposed to say the English word for the tile too which creates another memory area that is so hard. I have to think about the tile, what it is, remember what it is in Cantonese, convert that to English, then figure out how to get the English word out of my head into speech and say it. So hard! Interestingly, I speak English fluently, and my Cantonese is really, really bad! My brain just does not always remember the English names for tiles though, it remembers the Cantonese names even though I can’t speak much Cantonese.

I struggled at times, sometimes not able to say the tile name. I remember a few times where I would say jat1 tung4, and the ladies would look at me. I would then realize I did not say it in English and would sit there looking at the tile trying to figure out how to say 1 of circles. Other times, I would put down a tile and say dragon, without saying what type of dragon tile it was. The ladies were so supportive, we would just laugh or someone would say the name of the tile for me, and play would continue. For a long time, I would play the 90 minutes with them and have to go home and sleep for 4 hours. Then I would have to rest for 2 days because my brain would be so exhausted. I didn’t make it to all of their games because I would just be so tired. However, brain injury recovery is all about pushing your limits a little bit at a time, letting yourself have that nap, giving your space-time to heal. So years later, my stamina improved, I could sit in a chair for a bit longer, and I could move up to playing a couple of hours of Hong Kong mahjong with my family. That created another level of brain injury rehab. We would work it so that my mom would share a spot with me. She would let me play when I felt strong, then when I got tired I would go into the bedroom and sleep while they continued to play. It allowed me to be around something I recognized, remembered, and could somewhat function in while building up stamina, memory, and endurance.

It is rather interesting to note that one of the last times I played, I was playing with ladies who were 91, 92, and 93 years old! So heck, if they can do it, I sure as heck am going to find a way to play the game.

TE: What an inspiring story! Thank you so much for sharing that with me and my audience. I know we’re here to talk about your new project, but I do hope that your story helps others who may be struggling with injuries or disabilities. Speaking of your new project, what drove you to create Mahjong Party?

MRS: I created Mahjong Party for both the community aspect and the individual aspect, and of course, my own personal interests and abilities.

Mahjong is such a meaningful game for so many people. It holds such a deep emotional connection to family, friends, resilience, culture, and joy. At a time in the world when there is so much disharmony when Asians are being targeted all the time, when cultures are at odds with each other, I think it is really important to foster community, to bring people together, to share joyful memories, and experiences.

From a community aspect, the company name, Mahjong Party, actually represents just that – a mahjong party, totally old school traditions here. A mahjong party for an Asian household looks like this – days preparing tons of food, making won tons, hand grinding sesame seeds and almonds to make dessert soups, setting out multiple mahjong tables, trays, chips, and dinner plates. On the day of the party, mahjong players come over, they play, they feast, they have tea, they have snacks, there is tons of laughter, joy, harmony. Often mahjong parties go on for 10-12 hours. My parents were still playing mahjong for 10 hours at a time into their 80s. My mom played over 10 hours into her 90’s. So that is what I want to provide for people. Initially, it will be about teaching people how to play the game, how to play the PC and app versions. Beyond that, it will be providing stories from the worldwide mahjong community about how mahjong brought them together, the recipes they use, the food they share. The mahjong community I grew up with; they were all survivors of significant trauma. My parents were children growing up during WWII, seeing such harsh circumstances all around them. That was far from the only trauma they ever lived through. Mahjong brought their friends to them, they moved to Canada and their mahjong friends followed. They moved to another province and some of their mahjong friends followed. They ended up playing with the same couple every single weekend for over 60 years! That is the very meaning of resilience, joy, and community. It is what everyone really needs right now.

TE: I’ve got to say, I love the sound of a mahjong party! This all stems from the ignorance I displayed earlier, but I had no clue there was such a vibrant community for this game. I’m so happy to learn of this and need to find some time to find a local Mahjong community so I can dip my toes in! You mentioned there was also an individual aspect that led to creating Mahjong Party; could you explain?

MRS: On the individual aspect, there are several groups I want to serve. First, mahjong helps memory and cognition. It is why I am promoting it as a brain injury survivor, it is proven to be of use in helping cognition. There is a branch of mahjong called mahjong therapy and mahjong is being offered in senior homes all over the country. I would love to see some seniors or those with brain injuries get some benefit through the game, if my courses help with that, it would so amazing. On the flip side, the younger generations coming up, in particular the Asian generations, are having a very difficult time learning the game. There are several studies in play actually that are addressing this very issue. They are building AI and using scientific research to help find ways to teach mahjong to the generations that did not play the game growing up. This is a big portion as to why I created Mahjong Party the way I did. There is a ton of free content out there for people that want to learn mahjong using YouTube. There are also a lot of books on the subject. You can also learn from family and friends. I am not here to compete with those methods. If you find something that works for you and it is free, by all means, go for it! However, the research coming out is saying that these methods just don’t work for many people. I found something similar happened when I was teaching people in person, ages ago. People could understand some basics around the game, and be able to play at a certain level and speed. However, it was really difficult to get them beyond that level and speed because they were focused on playing the game correctly as opposed to building the skills that would help master the game.

I structured how I teach the game and built my courses knowing there is this deficiency in the teaching methods of mahjong. I want people to be able to learn mahjong skills that they can retain, and be able to learn using methods that they are going to be able to stick with while offering a way to learn where they can learn at their own pace. I feel that my method can help people learn easily, retain their skills, build speed and confidence, and from there be able to play at higher levels than they could before. I wanted to max out on the learning tools offered as well as create a really beautiful learning environment. We also structure the course so you are learning it in the order that makes the most sense to level you up in skills. So although my courses are offered for a fee versus all of the free courses out there, I think this is the best way to give a meaningful, effective, and long-lasting mahjong education. People can always try the free stuff first and if they find they are not making progress they can come to try out my courses. If they want to take a look at what our course platform looks like, they can go to https://mjparty.mylearnworlds.com/ to see the platform. If they scroll down, they will be able to see the lessons that make up our courses with a brief description under each one.

I tested out my approach on someone that had no familiarity at all with mahjong, Chinese characters, Chinese language, or mahjong tiles. There are 9 Chinese character tiles in mahjong which are written using the Chinese numeral system. An Asian mahjong set does not have Roman numeral translations in the corner so people really struggle with identifying what tile corresponds to what number. After watching one of the videos in my course for a few minutes, this lady was able to identify correctly 6 out of the 9 Chinese character tiles. For the remaining 3 tiles, she knew the identifying factors around them but just needed a hint as to what they were, and then she got the remaining 3 tiles. Pretty incredible!

Lastly, on a personal level, I have been disabled for a long time. I wanted to find some way to become productive again and there were so few options for me. I struggle with so many things and have limitations in many areas. The one area I know I can function in is mahjong. I pursued mahjong to recover from disability, and later had conversations where it came up as maybe it could become more than just recovering from a disability. I was granted the opportunity to pursue mahjong as a business through the IDEA project, a government-funded program that helps people with disabilities become self-employed. So here I am, offering my product line and seeing what kind of response I get, hopefully, people will like it. Fingers crossed!

TE: I think people, especially those who have become as fascinated with the mahjong community through this interview as I have, will love to discover your product. There are two lessons Mahjong Party will be offering, the Quickstart Method and the Full Course. Could you explain the difference between the two and how would someone make a decision on which to get?

MRS: The Quickstart Method is aimed at someone familiar with what the game is but doesn’t know how to play it. For instance, they may play another style of mahjong and want to learn the Hong Kong version. Or they may be around an Asian family that plays it but they don’t know what it is and are intimidated to ask how to play. Let’s talk about this for a second. You know those martial arts movies you watch where you need to carry water in buckets up 1000 stairs to even get a hint of what knowledge you may get if you continue to do all these tasks that are just gearing you up to learn martial arts? Well, learning mahjong can be like that at times, depending on where you are coming from and how seriously the people around you take it. It can be tough and intimidating to learn as a beginner. Super strong and fast players may not want to teach you, they may brush you off or look at you with the expectation that you are going to go learn it on your own and come back when you know what you are doing. It took me decades to build my game up to a fast enough pace to play with my parents’ friends for an entire day. I wasn’t fast enough for a long time, even though I was skilled enough at mahjong to play against many people.

The Quickstart Method is for people experiencing that type of environment. They want to learn, have people they can play with, but need to amp up their skills and knowledge about the game before they sit down with their family or friends and actually play the game. This course prepares you to play online in any of the mahjong games or apps. It also prepares you to play in person with others, as long as at least one of those players is skilled in all aspects of the game. It does not teach you all the aspects of the game, you will need to rely on your skilled player to set up some of the game. This gives you the skillset where you can be a participant and start to play the game, get experience, make hands, and see firsthand how the game functions.

The Full Course is the full meal deal. It walks you through the entire game, how to play it, the rules, how to score, the money aspect, and a lot of the higher-level hands.

TE: Thank you so much for chatting with me. I started this interview thinking we’d get some information about both Mahjong and your produce Mahjong Party. We ended up getting some wonderful lessons and an amazing story that I think is incredibly inspiring. Best of luck with Mahjong Party and your continued journey!

MRS: It has been a real pleasure and tons of fun.


Once again, a big thank you to Mona for giving us her time to talk more about Mahjong Party and herself. I truly feel that her story is an inspirational one and I hope you go support her project on Kickstarter. In addition to all the great information she provided in this interview, Mona is offering a free preview of her book The Mahjong Tiles. You can click here to receive your copy.

Many thanks to Mona for her time and best of luck to the Mahjong Party Kickstarter!

Author

  • First and foremost, Kev is a dad to three wonderful children. He's also an uber Kevin Smith fan (all Smith's movies are worth a watch, even 'Yoga Hosers') who has cried during Kermit's monologue in 'The Muppets' and once owned two VHS copies 'Spice World'. He loves all pop culture, particularly the Berlantiverse (because 'Arrow' hasn't been the face of those CW shows for years), the MCU, and Star Wars. The Evil Dead franchise is his favorite horror franchise, though the original 'Scream' is his favorite scary movie. He bleeds Eagle's green in the (suburbs of the) greatest city on Earth, Philadelphia. Go Birds!