DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Can you learn anything in 20 hours?

Written by: on May 15, 2014

Naturally I first accessed my bucket list to accomplish something that has eluded me in the past.  I play guitar and have always wanted to learn to play banjo (aka: Cliff Berger method)but after sending out requests via Facebook, I was unable to acquire a borrowed banjo and It would stretch me to buy one at this time continuing therefore to reside on my bucket list.

I considered watch repair because of my obsessive habit of collecting inexpensive automatic watches from China (fake Rolex, fake Cartier, fake Breitling, fake Philippe Patek etc.).  They usually function for about a year……but with some training, perhaps I could coax a longer life from their mechanics.  Again, costly tools and finding a repairman to teach me on short notice pushed me elsewhere.

My wife LeAnn suggested baking bread or pasta making.  She knows my interest in cooking is growing, but in reality, I think this would have been a project that would benefit her love for bread more than my goal of learning something in 20 hours!

Finally I remembered a game I saw played years ago during my first visit to China.  I was so intrigued by the men on the streets playing Mahjong that I bought the game with full intentions to learn and play it.  I’ve since visited the “Middle Kingdom” many times and come back from each visit with a renewed desire but have yet to figure it out.  Now is the time!

My project for The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman is to understand and learn to play Mahjong competently.  Mahjong, a game of skill, strategy and some luck, originated in China and is meant to be played by groups of four people.  136 tiles similar to dominoes, but with Chinese symbols and characters are used – in a way that I’ll discover as I learn this game!

Born in 500 BC, mahjong is one of the oldest games in existence, played by practitioners in China, Japan (where it is the most popular game in that country) and the world over.

I will use the techniques developed by Josh Kaufman in learning the skills needed to become adept at playing the game, initially using the internet as my competitor and partner.  As I progress and I am able to play a match, actually “going mahjong,” my dream is to test my newly found skills in a real-life situation.

In training, I began with deconstructing the game into parts, concentrating on each individually until I was completely familiar with each aspect:  (Hong Kong or Classic Style) I dedicated time each night this week to familiarize myself with the game and my feedback loop was playing the online practice challenge.

1)  Learned terms (Winds, Dragons, Flowers Seasons) and (Meld, Chow, Pong, Kong, Pair, Fan) – definitions – Sunday.

2)  Memorized Chinese characters and reviewed terms – Monday.

2)  Acknowledged Different Games and styles– 4 player and Solitaire (understand the difference) – Tuesday.

3)  Gained an elementary awareness of the rules of both games (Using Hong Kong or Classic style for 4 player game and solitaire) and acquired the necessary strategy to play well and win – Wednesday.

5)  Actual participation – – in an online gaming forum – Thursday.

6)  Congratulated myself (in Chinese of course)! – Friday.

About the Author

Phil Smart

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