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The History of Mahjong

The origins of mahjong are contested, but most experts agree that the game evolved near Shanghai in the mid- to late-1800s. It quickly grew popular in Shanghai and Beijing as well as among American expatriates. Entrepreneurs and American tourists brought the game to America where it exploded in popularity in the 1920s. Parker Brothers, a game manufacturer, helped popularize mahjong by selling it in American retail outlets. Mahjong has played a key role in many social circles, including among Chinatown residents and in postwar Jewish communities in America. Today, the game is experiencing a bit of a renaissance as new players pick up mahjong for the first time.

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