Challenge 10: FAILED!

Posted by Adrian on August 20, 2010 under Challenges | 5 Comments to Read

Map updated!

Challenge 10: Win three games of Mahjong in a row.

“My father has lost a lot of money because of it. More than 1000 yuan RMB (100 pounds or 150 dollars) a night is common.”

“My brother’s wife was addicted to it and it caused the end of their marriage.”


The above stories were told to us by people we’ve met on our trip. What was the cause of their problems?

(a) drugs
(b) alcohol
(c) Mahjong


Well, as you may have guessed from the title of our challenge, it’s Mahjong. While these are of course extreme cases, there is no denying that the popular Chinese game is a national obsession, especially with older women. We took a 3-day cruise through the Yangtze River’s three gorges with the aim of finding out why.

We spent the evening of the first day learning how to play from our cabin-mates – 3 medical students from China’s top university in Beijing. We then took what we’d learnt out onto the streets at one of the small towns we stopped at along the river and challenged some old ladies. They continued our education with a ruthless lesson in how to lose every game.

By the time the final night came, we were as ready as we’d ever be to enter the ship’s on-board gambling room and take on some serious players. We agreed the stake (very low!) and amid a smokey atmosphere, which was so bad we resorted to wearing face masks, we played the Chinese at their own game.

And actually we made a dream start, somehow winning both of the warm up games! We were on a roll, our luck was in and surely nothing could stop us. But once we started playing for money everything changed. Out of the 22 games we played, we won only once!

We eventually left the room still wondering just why so many people are obsessed with Mahjong and having predictably failed the second challenge of the trip!

Photos (click on them to see the full image)

(To see captions for each picture, please visit the website)


(To see videos, please visit the website)

5 Comments on “Challenge 10: FAILED!”

  • Louise said,

    The masks you are wearing help you keep a good “poker face.”
    The shuffling table deals the tiles too! That is amazing! How does the table know how to turn all the tiles face down?

    Aug 20, 2010

  • Cheney said,

    Wow,Judging from the video u had taken,the atmosphere in the room sucked~~~well,Mahjong is pretty popular in China,but I didn’t know how to master it well.

    Aug 21, 2010

  • Jason said,

    Sorry you failed this challenge, but still, you guys are doing great! 🙂 Keep it up!

    Aug 21, 2010

  • 24 said,

    Oops!Mahjong…don’t even know how to play. you’d accomplish if you play with me!

    Aug 21, 2010

  • Yi said,

    It’s nice to see your videos here!

    Oct 3, 2010

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