The game mahjong is of Chinese origin, developed during the Qing dynasty. Commonly played by 4 players with a set of 144 tiles, the game is said to have originated from the city of Ningbo in the province of Zheijiang, since that is where the oldest mahjong tiles in existence were found. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that mahjong started to become more popular in the rest of the world. Mahjong then started to have different versions from the classical Chinese mahjong, as certain rules were changed when it was played in different regions and countries. For example, American writer Joseph Babcock simplified the rules when he popularized mahjong in the United States to make it more commercially viable. However, the World Mahjong Championship follows unified Chinese rules that were certified by the General Administration of Sport of China in 1998. The first ever World Mahjong Championship was held at the Hotel Grand Palace in Japan in 2002. The record holders for the longest mahjong marathon only serve to prove the worldwide reach of mahjong, as four Russian natives played mahjong for 33 hours, 3 minutes, and 48 seconds back in 2012. Mysteriously, some medical studies have hypothesized that prolonged exposure to mahjong can cause epileptic seizures because of its high cognitive demands, whether by playing or simply watching the game.
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