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Cards and Mah Jongg: Getting Back to the Face-to-Face Game

Abby Slutsky has been playing Mah Jongg for more than 25 years and has been teaching it for 12 years. She has also organized tournaments.

After getting vaccinated, card and Mah Jongg players may be thinking of returning to their in-person weekly game. Photo by mali maeder from Pexels

After getting vaccinated, card and Mah Jongg players may be thinking of returning to their in-person weekly game. Photo by mali maeder from Pexels

Last Sunday my mother was very excited. She is a card and Mah Jongg player, but she has been playing online for almost a year because she needed to social distance. Although she could chat on the phone while she played, the contact and socialization did not feel quite the same as an in-person card or Mah Jongg game.

All of her friends have been vaccinated for more than six weeks, so a group decided that they were comfortable playing cards face-to-face. Below are some of the things they did to ensure their safety.

Bring Your Own Snacks for In-Person Card Game

Even though all the players have gone out to outdoor restaurants, they still decided to bring their own snacks. It was easier for the host, and felt the women felt they were more comfortable snacking from their own individual bags than sticking their fingers in a bowl everyone touched. They still took a break for lunch, but each person had their own brown bag.

Enjoy the Outdoor Air While Playing Cards or Mah Jongg

Rather than set up inside, the host had the game on her screened in porch, so there was plenty of outdoor air flowing around. They were fortunate to get a nice day, but some of the ladies brought jackets because they were going to play on the terrace before they came. Tell your friends where you will be playing, so they bring appropriate outerwear.

Play Cards or Mah Jong on a Larger Table Than a Standard Card Table

The host used a table that was slightly larger than a bridge table. Nevertheless, my mom felt the ladies were less than six-feet apart, but more than four-feet apart. However, it was not practical to sit farther away.

A tablecloth is easy to wash when your fellow card and Mah Jongg players leave. Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

A tablecloth is easy to wash when your fellow card and Mah Jongg players leave. Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

Use a Tablecloth

Many players use a cloth for Mah Jongg to help the tiles slide smoothly when mixing them. However, in this case, my mother’s friend used the cloth, so everyone did not directly touch the table. It was easy to wash when the game was over.

Play Face-to-Face Card Games Wearing Disposable Gloves

One of the woman wore disposable gloves while playing, but some of them did not. The ladies’ comfort levels were different, but the host offered them for those who wanted them. Of course, your friends could bring their own, if desired,

Masks

My mother told me that none of the women wore them because they were all innoculated. Plus, they played outside, and these women have been part of her core group throughout the pandemic. However, some card players may feel more comfortable wearing a mask to play.

Playing Face-to-Face Mah Jongg After Being Vaccinated

My mom has not played Mah Jongg yet, but a game is scheduled. She indicated that she will probably wash her tiles after the game, and asked how I clean mine. I do not have expensive tiles, so when I wash mine I usually put them in a basket in my dishwasher. They can fade, but in my experience, it takes years (although I have never washed them every week that way, just monthly).

It is likely that I may wash them more often after Covid, so I will probably use a mix of dishwasher detergent (the kind I use on my hands or dishes in the sink) and water to wipe them down in-between their monthly dishwasher cycle. It will be an activity while I watch television.

Personally, I have not played in-person card games yet, but I miss the camaraderie of my weekly games and look forward to getting back to Mah Jongg, canasta and bridge with these modifications.


Want a little more social distancing than a card table provides? Invite friends to play with their laptops outside at your home, so everyone can sit farther away. Photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

Want a little more social distancing than a card table provides? Invite friends to play with their laptops outside at your home, so everyone can sit farther away. Photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

Alternative Idea for In-Person Cards or Mah Jongg

Although my mom’s friends actually sat around a table, if you are ready for an in-person card game, but not quite ready to sit around a table less than six feet apart, invite friends to bring tablets or computers to play online. This allows you to play cards and physically see your friends without sitting as close as necessary to reach physical cards or tiles.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Abby Slutsky

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