Mah Jongg: Looking for a Few Good Men

September 3, 2013

By Bob Bruch - JCC Mah Jongg Player 

I’m a guy who likes to play Mah Jongg. There, I said it. When I play at the JCC on Monday afternoons, I know I’m the only man in a room filled with 50-70 women. No complaints here. I’ve been made to feel welcome and enjoy the extra attention I receive. But I wonder, ‘where are the other guys?’

When my wife, Bonnie, and I retired three years ago, she wanted me to learn how to play Mah Jongg but I declined because I already played chess and did not think I had time for another hobby. Secretly, I suspected Mah Jongg would not be challenging enough.  Besides, why would I want to learn a “women’s’ game”?

But after seeing how much fun Bonnie was having playing mah jongg at the JCC, I decided to give it a try. I started with a series of 4 classes taught by the highly capable Judy Josephs. When I finished her classes, I was ready to start playing.

I enjoy the many aspects of Mah Jongg. I find it to be aesthetically pleasing, a wonderfully social game, that’s both strategic and fun to play.

I learned that Mah Jongg is an old Chinese game played with 152 colorful, exotic tiles. In bygone days, the tiles were made of ivory but are now made of plastic. My daughter-in-law, who is of Chinese ancestry, tells me that Chinese men love to play Mah Jongg and often do so for big money.

To all the men (and women) who are newly retired, I would highly recommend Mah Jongg. Learning something new is good exercise for the brain and will lead to many enjoyable afternoons... Go out and have a good time. And I’ll be looking, as the US Marines advertisement says, “for a few good men.”  

To learn more about Mah Jongg at the JCC, contact Diane Sobel at or 414-967-8258.