Vinnie Emilianowicz, a business analyst from West Chester, spends most of his free time with the Philadelphia Riichi Mahjong Club to help popularize the game in the region, writes Bethany Ao for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Mahjong is a tile-based game that was developed in China during the Qing dynasty and has spread throughout the world since the early 20th century.
Emilianowicz learned to play Hong Kong-style mahjong as a child. He used to travel to New York regularly to play with other mahjong lovers. When he learned that Taylor Heffernan, a board-game aficionado, was starting a mahjong club in Philadelphia, he was ecstatic to join.
“I was wowed by how many people started to show up,” said Emilianowicz.
In March, the club had its first showing at a tournament. While it did not go too well for most of the members, the group left the event encouraged and eager to improve.
Emilianowicz is focused on teaching newbies the basics in hopes of expanding the game’s popularity.
“It’s like a puzzle,” he said. “The more players we get in the U.S., the more the game can gain a footing, and the U.S. can have a real presence in the world’s market for mahjong.”
Read more about mahjong in The Philadelphia Inquirer here.