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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Gentle reality belies gambling stereotypes (2)

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09:31, November 28, 2011

The three-day game consisting of eight sessions ended with a retired bookkeeper claiming the individual championship and four Beijing college students taking the team prize.

No money was awarded. Instead, the winners got seals and bronze cups bearing auspicious Chinese characters.

The losers congratulated the winners and they all took pictures together.
A Japanese participant told me how social the game is.

"Three Europeans met me on check-in day saying they had three people and needed one more to play. Though we don't speak the same language, we played happily around a table for a pre-match," said Kimito Kugimiya.
What really inspired me was the players' and organizers' drive to reverse the negative image of mahjong as a gambling tool and promote the underlying culture.

The game has been evolving since the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), said Rui Quanbao, the president of the Mahjong Association of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

"The symbols engraved on the tiles contain the Chinese understanding of the universe and humans' relations with nature. The rules, terminology and craftsmanship have cultural and traditional values to explore."

The organizing committee of the game is also a member of the World Mahjong Organization, which is preparing to apply for the inclusion of mahjong on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's intangible cultural heritage list.

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