How did American Mah Jongg come about?
The Chinese game of mahjong was introduced to the US in the early 1920s by Joseph Babcock. Babcock was a representative of the Standard Oil Company in Shanghai, where he regularly watched the game being played by locals and recognized the potential for its popularity in the US market. He began importing sets in large quantities and published simplified rules that became the basis of the American version of the game. Mah Jongg did indeed become extremely popular, but the simplified rules led to variations forming across the country followed by a fair amount of confusion and a decline in the popularity of the game. In 1937, The National Mah Jongg League was founded in New York City, with the goal of standardizing the American version of the game. A more robust set of rules was established, along with a Standard Hands and Rules card that is published on an annual basis. The popularity of American Mah Jongg was re-ignited and has been played and enjoyed by many ever since.