The 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be held in China, and the country is working on turning some mental sports, such as Mahjong, into performance games at the grand event.
The game of mahjong is an ancient Chinese invention. It remains a great way for senior citizens to socialize and stay active. And being a mental game,it helps to keep people sharp.
CGTN’s He Weiwei reports.
It’s 2pm at a community in Guangzhou, and time for a group of elderly people to gather around the table, just as they’ve been doing for the past 20 years. It’s time for mahjong.
Zheng Benheng used to be a chemistry teacher at South China Normal University. He learnt to play the game soon after retirement. Three hours a day, seven days a week. Playing mahjong is a regular part of his daily schedule.
“Mahjong is a very good activity for older people like me,” said Zheng. “It keeps my hands moving and my mind thinking, to prevent me from getting Alzheimer’s disease.”
Zheng and his fellows are all members of a mahjong association founded by the university. These mahjong lovers are playing the game here not just for fun, but also to practice for a tournament play.
They’ve been participating in mahjong competitions held in the city and and the province, and have won several awards. In China, mahjong is sometimes associated with gambling, which is illegal. But these seniors want to change the stereotype.
“Some use mahjong for gambling, but that’s not what we do,” said mahjong player Xu Yaoyun. “Actually, we are playing it as a sport and we strictly follow competition rules issued by the national sports authorities.”
In Australia, mahjong games are held regularly in communities. In China, mahjong is generally more popular in southern areas than in the north.
But wherever it’s played, it’s helping people stay sharp, while maintaining a healthy social life, as well.
To find out more about the benefit, and the appeal, of mahjong, CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Gregg Swain. She’s written the book, “Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game: A Collector’s Guide to Mah Jongg Tiles and Sets.” Swain also writes a blog on the game. We began by asking her why mahjong is so popular.
Author Gregg Swain talks about the popularity of mahjong
To find out more about the benefit, and the appeal, of Mah Jongg, CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Gregg Swain. She’s written the book, ” Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game: A Collector’s Guide to Mah Jongg Tiles and Sets.” Swain also writes a blog on the game. We began by asking her why mahjong is so popular.