Sunday, January 18, 2009

When was the first game of Mah Jongg?

Mah Jongg is probably of 19th Century Origin. It is a Western version of a Chinese game and is played with 136 to 144 pieces or tiles, similar to dominoes. These are engraved with Chinese symbols and characters and divided into suits and honors. The object of the four players is to complete combinations or sets of these tiles.

The name Mah Jongg was coined and copyrighted by Joseph P. Babcock, a United States resident of Shanghai, who is credited with introducing the game to the West after the First World War. He wrote a modified set of rules, gave English titles to the tiles and added index letters and numerals familiar to Western card players.

His game became a craze in the United States, Britain and Australia in the mid 1920s. It was revived in 1935 bu did not regain its earlier popularity. The words Mah Jongg signify a mythical bird which appears on one of the tiles.

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