eed, there is a gambling elem

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" Mahjong is notoriously popular in southwestern China Cheap Nike PG 2 , especially in Sichuan Province and the municipal city of Chongqing. Players from Shaanxi Province are touted as among the best in the world at sport mahjong by master hands of the game. — Photo by Shutterstock
WHEN it comes to mahjong, it might be said that nobody plays the game of tiles better than the Chinese.

Well, they have been at it for millennia. The game, which became popular in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and has since spread around the world, is played by all ages.

At the recent 11th Austrian Mahjong Open in the city of Baden, a 71-year-old woman from Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province, took home top honors.

Tian Ying was one of an eight-member team of senior citizens from Xi’an competing against mahjong players from 10 countries Cheap Nike Air Humara , including Hungary, Germany, France, Belgium, Russia and Italy. Apart from Tian’s championship performance, another player, Cao Lihua, who is a year older than Tian Cheap Nike Air Foamposite One , was the third.

“We played sport mahjong, which is very different from the game everyone knows,” said Tian. “Sport mahjong has eight tiles more than the common game, and it has its own clear set of rules.”

  Tian Ying (center), 71, from Xi’an, took the championship at the recent 11th Austrian Mahjong Open in the city of Baden. Cao Lihua (left) won third place and Wang Guiying placed 10th.

Mahjong originated as a game for the imperial court, but gradually it spread to the masses during the late Qing Dynasty. In fact Cheap Nike Hyperadapt 1.0 , it became so popular that it has sometimes been called the “quintessence of Chinese culture.”

Mahjong is a noisy game of clacking tiles embossed with Chinese characters and symbols. It is notoriously popular in southwestern China, especially in Sichuan Province and the municipal city of Chongqing.

It’s said that in the Sichuan capital Chengdu, survivors of the May 2008 earthquake played mahjong to relieve their post-tragedy stress.

Indeed, the game has spawned common jokes.

Question: “How do travelers know when they have arrived in Chengdu?”

Answer: “When you hear that sound, you’ll know.”

According to many players, however, Shaanxi Province in northwestern China is actually more of a hub of mahjong masters. There, people take the game more seriously than in Sichuan Cheap Nike Air More Money , where it’s just mostly an entertainment pastime.

“We have a sport mahjong club, and we are professionally trained even though we’re not professional players,” said Tian.

“From time to time we go around the country and even abroad to compete.”

Mahjong has its darker side, too. The game, for some, conjures up visions of a smoke-filled room of sweaty men in undershirts or a room of gossiping women, all playing for money stakes.

Indeed, there is a gambling element to the game that goes underground when authorities crack down on large-scale betting.

During the “cultural revolution” (1966-76) Cheap Nike Zoom VaporFly , when gambling was taboo, mahjong players often played with melon seeds to disguise their betting.

Sport mahjong does not carry negative connotations. Competition starts with the sounding of a gong, followed by complete silence. Somewhat like the atmosphere of a chess match.

Players call out game terms when they make certain movies, such as “pong” for a set of three identical tiles, and “hu” for a wining tile. Even foreign players in the competition used the Chinese-language jargon.

“It was a pleasant surprise to see so many European players into the game,” said Tian. “They wore T-shirts featuring tile patterns and one player even had his hair styled in the shape of one of the tiles.”

The recent championship match in Austria was a stunning comeback for China, which had managed only a 37th-place finish at the European Mahjong Championship in 2014.

Netizens called that defeat a “national humiliation,” and the online retributions went on for days.

“For that championship Cheap Nike Odyssey React Mens , China didn’t send its best players, that’s for sure,” said Duan Hao, a member of the Fangzhuang League, one of the high-level international mahjong leagues in China.

Japan, which won the championship, and European countries sent their best players,” Duan said.

“It doesn’t mean that we don’t have the best mahjong players in the world Cheap Nike Odyssey React Womens , but it’s true that the real masters are well-trained players with a high theoretical understanding of the game.”

Duan himself is a good example. As a medical doctor, he is well versed in mathematics and logic, which helps him a lot in sport mahjong.

Tian agreed with Duan. She said in Japan and Europe, mahjong is regarded as a strategy sport, rather than a gambling game, and it tends to be favored by intellectuals.

“Some of our rivals are scientists,” she said. “It was actually a bit surprising. I would like to see more Chinese engaged in sport mahjong. It is good to exercise your brain, especially at my age.”

It is not clearly recorded how mahjong spread to Japan and Europe.

There are stories about how missionaries took mahjong to Portugal in the 17th century.

In 1895 www.odysseyreactshoes.com , British sinologist Sir William Henry Wilkinson (1858-1930) recorded mahjong in his diaries.

In the 1920s, the game was taken to the United States, where it became popular for a while. Some card games, such as rummy, are considered variations of mahjong.

Mahjong remains especially popular in Japan. Nowadays, Japanese mahjong is one of the most significant branches of the game and has its own category of international competition.

  Notes for foreign players to learn mahjong. No matter what the language of origin, players use Chinese parlance in the game.

The earliest record of mahjong in Japan was during the Russo-Japanese war (1904-05), when it is believed that Japanese soldiers saw people from northeastern China playing the game and became intrigued.

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