Mahjong Tiles and Alice in Wonderland

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." 

-Alice in Wonderland

At a mah jongg tournament last year, I witnessed the player opposite me win four games in a row. Impossible? No. Improbable? Yes. I wanted to quit. I felt bad. I doubted myself. I was jealous. I had evil thoughts. But I smiled each time and congratulated her because I knew I'd talk about her at lunch.

“Who is she?” my friends wanted to know, so I pointed her out. “Oh, yeah, her,” someone said, “she’s always so lucky.”  We nodded our heads, each of us trying to recall a former moment of glory, preparing to top whatever historical anecdote came up.

We went round, each sharing the “One time . . .” stories, patiently waiting for our turns. The conversation turned to the mahj droughts we had all lived through, then laments of how jokerless our lives were. I thought, if only we had jokers, our lives would be so merry.

These are the conversations that did occur in the Mahj Nation every day of the week and will in the future. We all admit that it can be a frustrating game and at the same time an exhilarating game. We tally our success in points earned, where we place in the crowd, how much money we win. We admit that each game is a new chance to grab the glory, to outmaneuver, outfox, or out-mahj our opponents. We also obsess over the rules and protocols, leap on errors, and gossip about cheaters. We’re a rowdy tribe.

But, in spite of all that, or precisely because of all that, we never admit that we can’t win. Like Alice before breakfast, we have no problem believing the impossible.

- John Davis (co-publisher of MJ DIVA Magazine)


MJ DIVA Magazine is a free electronic magazine for the discerning mah jongg player.  Created in June, 2019, by John and Judith Euen Davis, the magazine’s goal is to provide fresh, funny, exciting, controversial, and cutting edge stories about the mah jongg community.

Regular features include interviews with mah jongg experts, players, authors, and tournament directors; articles on teaching the game and game strategies; reports on philanthropic events; research-based commentary on historical perspectives; columns on collectors and collecting; stories about mahj cruises; analyses of online gameplay sites, and samples from mah jongg-themed novels, and how-to books.  Contributors to the magazine come from all across the mah jongg community.

Currently in production of its 10th issue, the magazine is published roughly every four to six weeks to 4,000 subscribers worldwide.

To read back issues, or to subscribe visit MJ DIVA  Magazine

Leave a comment below on how you have outmaneuvered, outfoxed, or out-mahjed your opponents? We would love to hear from you. 

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