Mahjong Rouge founders Stephanie Politz (left) and Mauree Brooksher at LWT Studios (Photo by Sean Gasser)

Mahjong Rouge is putting a Southern spin on a traditional Chinese game

While Mauree Brooksher was searching the internet for design inspiration for her home renovation, she was drawn to an image on an interior designer’s account showing a mahjong table set up in a formal living room.

“She described the set up as an alternative to a puzzle, cards or dominoes,” Brooksher says. “I quickly became intrigued and gathered friends to learn the game with me.”

One of those friends was Stephanie Politz, a fellow mom and game-lover.

“When Mauree suggested we all get together to learn, I was excited to add a new game to my repertoire,” Politz notes. “The fact that playing would be a way to bring our friends together more regularly made learning even more attractive.”

This desire to get together with friends without the need for an elaborate dinner or occasion is driving many Southern women to learn the traditionally Chinese game. Connecting Baton Rouge to that network of women spanning from Texas to North Carolina is Brooksher and Politz’s goal with their new venture, Mahjong Rouge, which aims to teach locals game.

“Mahjong is a social game in that it brings friends together,” Politz says. “However, the reality is that playing requires a certain level of focus and attention. Therefore, we invite players to gather 30 minutes ahead of time to mingle with new friends or catch up with old friends while enjoying special themed refreshments designed to reinforce game concepts.”


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Once conversation dies down, the pair take to teaching. With many of their students having never played mahjong before, the classes often start with the basics like vocabulary, rules and game flow. Crucially, they also teach players how to read the annual National Mah Jongg League, Inc. card, which outlines this year’s valid hands.

For Brooksher and Politz, though, the game itself is just part of the draw of hosting, teaching and proliferating mahjong throughout the Capital City. The real significance lies in the connections that are made at the game table.

“We are living in an age where the entire world is effortlessly available on our screens, all without the perceived necessity of real human connection,” Politz says, noting that they hope to one day offer open play, allowing for players to forge new friendships. “It is not lost on us that with mahjong, old, new and future and friends come together, and with these get-togethers, they become a community. We feel called to share mahjong because we know this game can strengthen relationships and create a reinvigorated sense of community around Baton Rouge.”