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Do you think these games have enough in common to start a serious, competitive club focusing around them? There's definitely enough between Go and Chess, but what about MahJong? I know there is plenty of strategy behind MahJong, having played it, but is it too far removed from the other two?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

I feel there are two major differences:

  • Go and chess are strictly strategic, whereas mahjong involves chance,
  • In go and chess, everyone has complete knowledge of the game at all times; in mahjong you don't know what your opponents have.

Mahjong is kinda of like poker or gin rummy in these ways; they more strongly depend on reading your opponent. So, in terms of core properties, I think mahjong is a different category of game to go and chess. Additionally, mahjong is more rules-heavy compared to the rules-light, strategy-rich go and chess.

That said, there's no reason not to play it in a club, as long as there are people who want to play it. Probably the best way to find out if it's suitable for your club is to try making the club, and offering mahjong as an option. If people don't want to play it or don't take it as seriously, then you can move your focus to the other games.

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Shogi is an excellent suggestion, being similar to Chess yet having the Asian origins that Go has. If you want to go for the more western games, Draughts or Checkers are closer to Chess than Mah Jong.

The 5 in a row "Go moku" is also a fun, if simple game. It can be played with a standard Go set.

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I've actually played quite a bit of gomoku, and it is far from simple. I also play many forms of Chess, including Shogi and Xiangqi. Also, Chess technically has "asian" origins, as it is believed that all variants of chess stem from the Indian game Chataranga. Thanks for the help and suggestions, though! – Teofrostus Nov 17 '11 at 4:29
You are of course, correct on all counts. I should probably be more accurate in my thoughts. I meant Gomaku has incredibly simple rules, that lead to interesting emergent strategies. Both great features. I knew that Chess originated in India, and when I wrote 'origins' I was thinking more of the last few hundred years when both games were developing into their modern forms. – Bennett Nov 17 '11 at 7:18

I don't see these as a natural blend with one another, but whether they fit may not really matter. As noted earlier, Mahjong (or dominoes for that matter) is much more luck oriented as opposed to the strategy involved in Chess or Go.

If you're considering starting a club, as with any other group or ahem forum, you need a critical mass of interested participants.

If you're thinking of a club for serious play then your club's focus can be about tournament level play first and the specific game second, in which case you can fit in any game you feel will help you attract participants.

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Go and Mahjong can "go" together insofar as they might both attract Asian players. The best place to start such a club is in a physical "Asiatown" in a place like New York City, or perhaps one on line. If you wanted to add "chess" to the mix, I would suggest Chinese chess and/or Japanese shogi in this context.

Otherwise, go and chess are strategic games that both attract "geeks," who probably aren't turned on by the "chanciness" of Mah Jong.

In either case, starting a club is about knowing your audience.

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