LINDSBORG — The pink, sparkly tiles were quickly grabbed and discarded as needed as a group of four friends played a game of mahjong in Lindsborg.
Robin Droegemeier learned the games by taking classes provided by Parks and Recreation in Wichita.
"I met every Saturday morning with a group in Wichita and when I moved here, I missed it," Droegemeier said. "I've been trying to meet people and have somebody to play the game with."
Droegemeier posted on Facebook, asking other Lindsborg residents if they played mahjong or would like to learn.
Now, a group has formed that meets weekly to learn the game and socialize with other players.
"We're still somewhat learning," said Krista Harris.
Droegemeier is quick to explain rules and strategies.
"She has to put up with all of us asking her questions," said Angela Oestmann.
Droegemeier noted mahjong is very different from the matching solitaire game many have played on the computer.
"It's kind of like the game of rummy," Droegemeier said.
The 144 tiles have numbers, suits and special symbols which players must use to build specific patterns of runs or groups.
"There's a national mahjong league and they put out a card every year with the hands that are allowed to be used. Every year, they change the hands," Droegemeier said. "Once you learn what all the pieces are and what they do, you can start trying to figure it out."
After selecting tiles, players pass unwanted tiles to neighboring players in a series of moves called a "Charleston."
"The Charleston is supposed to help your hand come to you. Then you start playing by discarding and drawing and calling to see who gets their hand first," Droegemeier explained. "When someone lays down a tile, you can call it and use it if you have the right stuff in your rack."
The game can take as little as 10 minutes or last up to an hour per hand.
"When you complete a hand and everything's exposed, you get to say 'mahjong' and you've won," Droegemeier said.
Mahjong is popular on the East Coast, where games often include betting, though the Lindsborg group's game does not.
The game of mahjong can be played with two, three or four participants.
"If we have a new person come, we usually share a spot to help them learn as we go and then step out so they can play a hand," said Erica Kruckenberg."Hopefully, eventually we'll get enough to have two tables going."
Having fun while playing is the goal of the group.
"We like to chit chat and make it social, that's what my benefit out of it is," Droegemeier noted.
To learn more about mahjong in Lindsborg, search for the group "Lindsborg Mahjongg Friends" on Facebook.
"We'll take all learners," Kruckenberg said.
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