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Mahjong club - Suggestions on starting one
(Initiated message 17 Jan 1999 - Newsgroups: / File [maiarchives002])
(Ref: Mz9117a.StartMJClub / mahjze02a05.html)

From: Geenius at Wrok <>
Subject: Re: Tips for starting a MJ club wanted
Date: 17 Jan 1999 00:00:00 GMT
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.3.96.990117130641.29982V-100000@merlin>
References: <01be417f$f4ebd1e0$10fddfd1@kelson>
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On Sat, 16 Jan 1999, Kelson wrote:

> I will be starting a Mah Jong club in a couple of months and wanted to
> gather any tips I can get as to how best to start/run it.  I am interested
> in attracting new people to the game more than I am of gathering expert
> players and want a fun, friendly, casual atmosphere rather than an overly
> competitive one.

If (and ONLY if!) you can afford it, rent a private space for the club. 
Four tables would probably be enough to start with; you could do it in a
studio apartment or small (around 400-square-foot) office space.  If you
can't afford private space, have your club meet regularly in a
multipurpose room at a community center or library.  This is important to
establish a definite identity and presence and a sense of stability.  It's
a recommendation I'd make to anyone starting ANY kind of club, but more
important in the case of a pursuit such as mah-jongg, because you can't
just walk into a coffeehouse and start clearing off tables to play, for

As nice as informality can be in attracting members, behind the scenes you
should still operate formally.  Get a couple of interested parties
together with you to form a board of directors; choose a president,
secretary and treasurer; and run it as if it were a serious nonprofit
organization.  For one thing, without a formal structure you can't
realistically expect to collect dues, and if you're renting space, either
privately or in a public building, you're going to have to collect dues
from SOMEBODY, sooner or later.  For another, having enrolled members
makes it more likely that people will become regulars and take a vested
interest in your club.  Use the dues to pay for rent, equipment and
refreshments.  Open your club meetings to the public for free, but give
dues-paying members some sort of special privilege.  (Maybe members get
refreshments free, while nonmembers pay?  Maybe members have access to
your space at all times, while nonmembers are only admitted on open house
nights, say two a week?)

Choose one or two standard rule sets for your club and stick with them
(suggestion: either Classical or Hong Kong, plus one variant of same with
more special hands).  If you want to introduce any house rules or change
your working set of special hands, have the board vote on them and
publicize the decisions well.  (Maybe make a large wall chart with scoring
rules clearly written?) 

Make fliers and post them around town where people will see them --
community centers, college campuses, Asian groceries.  Call local
newspapers and get meetings listed in community calendar sections.  Once
you get rolling, pitch your club to the newspapers as a potential feature
story.  (Some papers will be more interested than others; don't feel
slighted by the ones that aren't.)

Stick to your meeting schedule.  If you're not going to hold a meeting on
a day/night when you otherwise would, make that clear -- don't let people
just show up and find the room dark with no explanation.  Consistency is
hugely important; what if someone who's not inclined to try new things
finally gets his courage up, only to find the club inexplicably closed?
He might not come back.

Have occasional tournaments -- one per season, perhaps? -- and open them
to the public.  Charge entry fees and pool them for prize money.  This
will satisfy the jones of competitive players, and for the casual players
it will make a fine spectator event.

> Any tips you have are greatly appreciated!  Also, if you know where to go
> to register the club and take care of any legal necessities, I would like
> to hear about it because this is my first club and I don't want to break
> the law or anything.

Clubs don't have to be registered.  However, if you are renting private
space, you may need zoning approval, because your space will be used as an
"assembly hall."  In a commercial area that shouldn't be a problem, but in
a residential area it might.  BEFORE you apply to your local zoning board,
make friends with your neighbors-to-be and make sure they're cool with
what you're doing.

"I wish EVERY day could be a shearing festival!" -- The 10 Commandments
Keith Ammann is   "I notice you have a cloud of doom.
Live with honor, endure with grace      I must admit it makes you seem * Lun Yu 2:24         dangerous and sexy."
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