DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
HORSESHOE BAY — An ancient Chinese tile game offers people a chance to help out some modern Highland Lakes canines.
The Highland Lakes Monday Mah Jongg Group is hosting a mah jongg tournament Oct. 14 at the Horseshoe Bay Yacht Club. The event features both tournament and social play. Registration is $45 per person, and the sign-up deadline is Oct. 7.
“This is the third year we’ve held this tournament,” said Carol Parker of the Monday group. “In the past, the proceeds went to the Upper Highland Lakes Nature Center, but this year it’s benefitting the Highland Lakes SPCA.”
The Highland Lakes Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals serves several area counties and relies predominantly on volunteers and donations. The SPCA is a no-kill organization, which means it doesn’t euthanize animals in its care unless it’s the “only humane course of treatment for an ailing animal.”
Susan Stacy, a member of the Highland Lakes Monday Mah Jongg Group, started playing the game a few years ago after another woman invited her to give it a try.
“One of the gals I go to church with learned to play it, and she asked several ladies from her yoga group and church if we wanted to play it,” Stacy said. As the women learned, they began meeting every Monday afternoon to play mah jongg.
“It’s a wonderful, open group of ladies,” Parker said. “It started with maybe eight women, but now we usually have 12 to 16 show up.”
Though mah jongg traces its roots back several hundreds of years in China (maybe more), it came to the United States probably in the 1920s. In 1937, fans of the game created the National Mah Jongg League. Parker said the national league annually publishes a card featuring the year’s standard hands for the game.
“It’s a very addictive game,” she added. “It’s very challenging. I like to say mah jongg is 60 percent luck because of the tiles you get and 40 percent skill of knowing how to best play them.”
While the Monday group is sponsoring the tournament, Parker and Stacy quickly point out it’s not the only group in the area.
“You can probably go just about anywhere in the Highland Lakes on any day and you can find a group playing mah jongg,” she said.
But on Oct. 14, organizers hope mah jongg enthusiasts of all skill levels join this particular tournament. Along with supporting a different nonprofit this year, players can chose between a competitive tournament, in which they compete for cash prizes, or a social tournament.
Stacy said the social tournament was created for people who might be new to mah jongg or just don’t have the desire to play in the more competitive event.
“We wanted everybody to feel like they could come and have a good time whatever their level and help out a good cause,” she added.
Thanks to several donors and supporters, with the exception of the four cash prizes, all the proceeds will go to the Highland Lakes SPCA.
To register, send a $45 check made out to the HLSPCA to tournament registrar Carol Parker, 102 Kimble Court, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657. Contact Parker at (830) 598-6762 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.