Monday, July 11, 2011

Fun Mental Sport, Mahjong Anyone? - OurCommunity.Sg

Trainer Edwin Phua showing beginners how to score

Mahjong is predominantly regarded as a gambling activity or a game associated with old retirees with too much time on their hands. It was banned from being played in public places in Singapore. Imagine my excitement when I saw this mahjong practice session listed as one of the courses in the newly launched mobile portal

To promote mental wellness, the People's Association has launched workshops on brain-stimulating games such as Mahjong.

Without hesitation, I signed up. 20 participants ranging from a young undergraduate to retirees signed up for a mahjong session on a Sunday afternoon. We quickly introduced ourselves and formed tables of four according to our skill levels. I was placed with the beginners.

My almost completed tiles at the end of the practice session, a mahjong kaki counting my 'tai'
I think I played well for a beginner :P 

Before long, I was playing with certainty and confidence and enjoying this game of skill and luck after some coaching from the trainer, Edwin Phua. I am excited at the thought of matching my skills against good players. :)

Edwin was one of the 200 plus contestants from all over the world who participated in World Mahjong Championship 2010, where contestants battle in skill and endurance during three days of playing mahjong at the highest level in the Netherlands.

Mahjong tiles for non-Chinese players

Edwin shows that mahjong is a game of skill played across an entire spectrum from students to expatriates and can be played with the same enthusiasm and competitive spirit as any other games.

His mahjong workshops were started in January 2010 and to date, more than 200 people have attend them. His patience and passion for the game has earned him followers who regularly join him at various community centres located all over Singapore.

Playing the local variant (Singapore Style), participants get to meet fellow mahjong enthusiasts and make some new friends in the process. Edwin hopes to see serious participation in mahjong as a mental sport and eventually organize mahjong tournaments in Singapore.

Participants enjoying this game of skill and luck

Recent studies in Hong Kong show mahjong helps improve the memory, judgment and reasoning of people with mild to moderate dementia. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, which gradually destroys brain cells and leads to progressive decline in mental function.

It is important to have things to do and look forward to as old age approaches. Playing mahjong is a great way of socialising and, at the same time, giving the brain a workout.

Warning: you may become hooked!:P

I proudly declare, “I play mahjong.”

Toa Payoh Central Community Club
93 Toa Payoh Central
Singapore 319194
Phone : 6252 1249
Fax : 6354 4950

Mahjong courses by Edwin Phua

A game easy to learn, but difficult to master, mahjong is mentally demanding, involving quick strategising and decision-making.

Fun Mental Sport - Mahjong (Beginner)
S$12(Member) S$16(Non-member)
This workshop will introduce beginners to the basics of playing mahjong, acquainting you with the game equipment, flow of the game, etiquette, and playing tips.

Fun Mental Sport - Mahjong (Practice)
S$5(Member) S$10(Non-member)
This workshop allows participants to revise and practise mahjong after having learnt the basics in previous mahjong courses. Participants will play with each other, with guidance from the instructor. Where appropriate, strategies for better offensive and defensive play will be taught.

Destress With Mahjong- Singapore Style (Intermediate)
S$18(M) S$24 (NM)
Although mahjong originated in China, it has spread all over the world, and many local variants have developed. Singapore is no exception and boasts its own unique version of mahjong! This workshop will introduce beginners to the generally accepted core rules and scoring system of the Singapore variant of mahjong, and some basic strategies and playing tips specific for this variant would be taught.

Check out for Edwin's courses.


  1. I still don't know how to play mahjong at my age...what a shame. :p

  2. Can I learn to play mahjong from you, ECL? ^^

  3. wenn,
    You can learn.... there are online videos on how to play too.

  4. Tekkaus,
    What shame!? Don't know how to play mahjong is not a shame, ok!

    It's just another game, but one which is brain stimulating. :)

  5. Lina,
    I am still learning to play the basics, not qualified to teach. We can play together lah. Your place or mine? :D

  6. I played a few times, but I am too slow and the experts do not want to play with me and take my money. ;)

  7. AVCr8teur,
    ME!!! Me!!!
    I will play with you and take your money!! Take your time to make a move, I don't mind you being slow as long as I can win.

  8. Lina,
    You're welcome to my home anytime... not only for mahjong. :)

  9. I love playing Mahjong. It takes a great deal of thought and that's a good thing as we age. I'm glad there are opportunities for those that wish to play.

    Have a terrific day. :)

  10. This is my first time hearing about mahjong class in CC!

  11. I love Majong !! It's the only game I play on my notebook when I am sitting in an airplane, or I have to wait for somebody and I played this in real looooooong before I was retired ! lol !

  12. Lovely meeting you on Sunday! All the best for the challenge! :)

  13. my late grandma has tried to teach me twice but i couldn't keep up. i'm a real slow learner ECL.

  14. my granny was a mahjong queen and used to sit down after dinner, every night, trying hard to win $$ from her friends.

  15. My family used to play this on weekends.

    Great capture. Happy RT!

    Mine's here.

  16. How very interesting. I've read about Mahjong in novels from various Chinese environments.I sadly don't know much about the game. Somehow I've got the idea this have got with ancient Chinese wisdom to do. My mother and I play Chinese Checkers about every time we meet. She had a major bran stroke and playing helped her concentrate and get her mental as well as her motoric abilities trained.

    Besides we have lots of fun challenging each other.
    I also have had fun playing cards such as bridge and Scrabble.
    It is so true, metal activity is good for the entire person.
    Thanks for a very informative and interesting post.
    I just might look it up on the internet to at least get a closer knowledge.

  17. I never learned how to play but my daughter-in-law can!

  18. i play mahjong with my aunts every now and then. i grew up with mahjong being played by my grandmother and aunts on weekends. i was their girl-Friday--i got them coffee, bought snacks, light their cigarettes.*LOL*

  19. gosh! I got to start to learn to memorize all those words and design. Never play before, cos Chinese illiterate and never understand the rules. hahaha!

  20. I have always been fascinated by mahjong... it all looks so fun and cool, moving the tiles and then the different pictures on the tiles... what does it all mean and yes, it all looks complicated to me!

  21. But complicated or not, it's still one of those games that just captures my curiosity and very interesting to watch! :)

  22. Oh they have course in mahjong in S'pore, that's interesting. Yup lots of doctors recommend the older retired folks to play mahjong just to stimulate their brains and get them 'functioning' instead of getting rusty.

  23. Presume the course would be conducted in English. Curious to know what do they say 'poong' or 'kong' in English? haha.

  24. ECL, thank you for the kind words about my mahjong class! I hope you had enjoyed it. I wish I could have spent more time at your table to help everyone more.

    Bananazஇ, yes, I do conduct the courses in English (in addition to Mandarin). Actually, mahjong is quite a popular game in the West, with many Americans and Europeans playing mahjong. So, a form of 'standardised' terminology had evolved. In English, we do say "pung", and "kong", and there is also "chow" and "mahjong!!" (or some variation of "I win!").

  25. Since I was a kid, I have always wondered how it's being played. Our neighbors used to play it till dawn and seem to be having fun while doing so ;-)

    BTW, we haven't took a ride to the SG Flyer. VEry limited time but we plan of coming back again soon for a longer stay ;-)

  26. I remembered my elementary school, my neighbor friends will ask me to play mahjong with her. Till i know how to play, but now I don't know how to play.

  27. We actually have a Mahjong set but we've never played. Nice ruby!

  28. I see relatives and other friends play Mahjong but I never got it... I can't play it and doesn't understand how it goes. (I never tried to understand it

  29. In fact mahjong would be a good family bonding game. During weekends when the extended family meets or when the in -laws are together, time usually flies after two round of mahjong.

    Without mahjong imagine sitting there are gossiping and looking at each other, when run out of topics.

    Tan TH

  30. I know how to play mahjong from a young age although strictly amateurish until now. I learned from my Aunties who all played, sometimes all night. It's fun and it really challenges you mentally :)

    The Twerp and I