Imagine that your favorite board game made you sick. I mean, convulsing on the floor, eyes rolling back, foaming at the mouth sick! That’s what recently happened to a 52 year old Chinese man while playing Mahjong. Still, who would have imagined a tabletop game causing seizures. But after a second incident mid-game, doctors with the Zhejiang University School of Medicine diagnosed Mahjong epilepsy.

Mahjong epilepsy is a rare reflex epilepsy syndrome, a type of condition in which seizures can be brought on by certain stimuli, such as flashing lights. Mahjong epilepsy most closely resembles a cognition epilepsy subtype, in which seizures are induced by decision-making, spacial tasks, and other thought processes. There have been cases of seizures induced by writing, drawing, and performing mathematical calculations.

In a 2007 study of 23 cases, doctors in Hong Kong, however, found Mahjong epilepsy sufficiently distinctive, noted that both playing and just watching Mahjong could lead to seizures, and ruled out stress or sleep deprivation as the cause. In the recent Chinese case, the man’s doctor hypothesized that a possible trigger could have been the patterns of circles and dots found on Mahjong tiles.

Other cases of game-induced seizures have been confirmed by medical professionals. A 1965 article in the Chinese Medical Journal documented four patients with repeated epileptic seizures playing and watching games of Chess and cards. Among these cases, the sufferers would find themselves uncontrollably gesturing with their arms, standing and spinning, and losing consciousness.

Case studies in the journal Epilepsia report on an Italian man who over a period of years suffered “arrests of thought” when playing cards or Draughts, three Asian patients for whom cards and Draughts induced tonic-clonic seizures, and an American woman who experienced generalized seizures when playing Checkers.

See also the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry for a report on a patient who’s jerking motions and loss of consciousness were evoked by attempts to solve a Rubik’s CubeNeurology for a study of 25 cases involving “activation of seizures by calculation, card, and board games“; and the Journal of Clinical Neurology (Korea) for information on 13 patients who experienced seizures while playing the card game Go-Stop and four patients who’s seizures were triggered by playing Baduk (Go).

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A group of four was caught in the act of attempting to hack an automatic Mahjong table used for high stakes games at a parlor in Hong Kong. One of the group was a cleaner at the parlor, another a regular customer. The owner was alerted to unusual overnight activity by his security system and called police.

The group was apprehended with a laptop computer, electronic components, tools, a remote control device, and two sets of Mahjong tiles embedded with microchips. Police believe the setup would have allowed the cheaters to control the table’s shuffle of tiles and give their players a significant advantage.

[via HKEJ and South China Morning Post]

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Score Board - Boardgame tournaments, competitions and championships results and scoresNeil Scallon of the U.K. claims a world-record collection 2,500 copies of Monopoly but also says he hasn’t played a board game in 20 years.

Sota Fujii, a 14 year-old middle school student from Aichi Prefecture, Japan, has achieved 4th dan status, breaking the record for youngest professional Shogi player ever.

Brett Smitheram of the U.K. took home the trophy, a €7,000 grand prize, and a kiss to the feet at the World Scrabble Championship in Lille, France. His win was secured with 176 points from the play of “braconid” (a species of wasp) for a bingo on a triple word score.

Londoners commemorated the Great Fire of London with the toppling of 23,000 dominoes strung through 4 miles of city streets, markets, pubs, gardens, and a church.

With a win at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis (and its $75,000 prize), Wesley So of the United States is nearly assured of also taking the top prize for the entire Grand Chess Tour. That is, unless maybe Magnus Carlsen decides to step back in for the London Chess Classic in December after finishing the World Chess Championship.

The winner of the 40th World Chess Solving Championship (a tournament of solving Chess puzzles) held in Belgrade, Serbia was Zaur Mammadov of Azerbaijan. The second place winner was also from Azerbaijan.

Draughts also finished a World Championship of Problems recently, with Alexander Moiseyev of the United States in first place.

The winner of the 2016 Magic: The Gathering World Championship, Brian Braun-Duin of Virginia, was described by WOTC as having taken the “everyman’s journey to the top.” “Grinding” through tournament tours, he had set himself a goal of Grand Prix Master for this season but managed to trump that, going home with the big trophy.

At the 2016 World Championship Domino Tournament hosted by the Andalusia (Alabama) Rotary Club, the winner, Jerry Baker, was from nearby Ozark, Alabama. In fact, all the winners were from the Southeast United States.

A world record for the largest circle field of dominoes (76,017 toppled) was set in Westland, Michigan, along with the U.S. record for total dominoes toppled (242,518). A team of 18 spent 10 days setting up the feat.

Three retirees from China finishing on top of the 11th Austrian Mahjong Open was seen as something of a comeback after an embarrassing showing at the Open Mahjong Championship 2 years ago in France, where the highest placed competitor from China came in 30th.

It was an Austrian, Wolfgang Leitner, who won the 2016 FISTF World Cup in Belgium, where 500 competitors gathered to play table football (Subbuteo).

In first place at the 41st Backgammon World Championship was Jörgen Granstedt of Sweden.

At the European Rubik’s Cube Championship, Feliks Zemdegs of Australia set seven world records, including one for solving a 7×7 in 2 minutes, 20.66 seconds. At the PSU Open, August 28th in Novopolotsk, Belarus, Roman Strakhov of Russia set a world record by solving a 5×5 Rubik’s Cube, blindfolded in 5 minutes, 1.40 seconds. Just a few days later, however, at the SPB Championship, September 4th in St. Petersburg, Roman bested himself by finishing the 5×5 blindfolded in just 4 minutes, 55.63 seconds.

And the winner of the Pentamind World Championship was Andres Kuusk—his fourth time! The Pentamind is a meta-event, incorporating multiple games of one Chess variant, Scrabble, Go, Poker, and Backgammon.

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World Series of MahjongOne of China’s largest online video companies, Letv, will soon start streaming Mahjong tournaments as part of its sport lineup. Le Sports has signed a deal with World Mahjong Limited that will see the World Series of Mahjong broadcast alongside the World Series of Major League Baseball.


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Score Board - Boardgame tournaments, competitions and championships results and scoresThe Top Chess Engine Championship saw Komodo calculate its way ahead of 23 other digital competitors to claim the title for the second series in a row. In the final round, facing Stockfish, another former champion, Komodo won eight games, Stockfish won two, and 90 were a draw.

Among humans, the Manhattan Applesauce defeated favorite team, the St. Louis Arch Bishops, to claim the 2015 United State Chess League Championship. The crucial win in that contest came on the fourth board when 12 year-old Akira Nakada defeated Nicholas Rosenthal.

Though he didn’t have an easy time of it, World Champion Magnus Carlsen won the London Chess Classic and therefore also the Grand Chess Tour.

A Chess game of a different sort took place in Lake Sartash in Russia. Yes, I do mean “in the lake“, which by the way, was frozen over at the time.

At the River Hill Fall event in Maryland, first Keaton Ellis beat the 3×3 Rubik’s Cube single-solve world record with a 5.09 second performance, then Lucas Etter topped that with a single-solve in 4.90 seconds.

Meanwhile, at the MPEI Open in Moscow, Roman Strakhov solved a 5×5 blindfolded in a world record 5 minutes, 4.81 seconds.

Zhao Jian of China won the World Series of Mahjong in Macau. His prize was HK$406,000 and a 24 karat gold Mahjong neclace.

The winner of the Magic: The Gathering 2015 World Cup was team Italy.

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Celebrate Hanukkah with this menorah made from Mahjong tiles ($69 including shipping via Etsy).

Mahjong Menorah

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Dueling Mahjong Championships

Mahjong tilesThe end of this year will see two major international Mahjong tournaments.

On November 11-15 in Jeju Island, South Korea will take place the Fourth World Mahjong Championship under the auspices of the World Mahjong Organization. Qualifying tournaments are being planned for China, though the specifics have not yet been announced. Member national organizations will also be able to register competitors directly.

Then December 4-6 in Hong Kong somewhere, World Mahjong Limited will hold the World Series of Mahjong with a prize package for the top 32 players of US$575,000. This one also plans qualifying events in multiple countries, as well as an online qualifying series.

CORRECTION: World Mahjong Limited informs me that they have not yet set a venue for the World Series of Mahjong.

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At the tiny little shop that her father opened 53 years ago, Sister May still hand-carves Mahjong tiles as she’s done since the age of 13.

[via Shanghaiist]

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China’s One Mahjong Plan

Mahjong tilesThe government of China has initiated efforts to unify Mahjong players around the world under a standardized set of rules. While Mahjong originated in China in the mid-19th century, it was officially banned in that country for many years (1949-1985) and has spread to large numbers of players in many countries. Among those people, Mahjong is played in numerous variations.

China’s current efforts are focused on forming a Mahjong International League, necessary for holding tournaments under the auspices of the International Mind Sports Association, and on promoting the Mahjong Competition Rules of the World Mahjong Organization as a worldwide standard.

[via Want China Times]

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Mahjong tilesTuesday, the Communist Party of China called on government officials to stop playing Mahjong. A statement made in the People’s Daily condemned the game as an “extravagance” and referred to the practice of wagering on games in order to “add a little stimulation.”

This move follows a ban instituted on Mahjong this past May for officials in Guangzhou and Leishan.

[via: South China Morning Post]

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