QIONGLAI - Jing Daiju, a 33-year-old woman from the city of Qionglai in the Chinese Sichuan province, was crowned champion of the 2012 Sichuan Mahjong Competition, which ended on Aug 18. Jing won 200,000 yuan ($31,700, €25,100). The runner-up, Wang Chao, a 24-year-old woman from Sichuan's Santai county, won 50,000 yuan ($7,800, €6,200).
Organized by the Chengdu Chess and Card Association, the competition — the first of its kind organized by a guild in Sichuan — lasted for three months and drew more than 300,000 participants from different parts of the province, according to Shi Tefan, director of the association.
“Mahjong is the symbol of the laid-back lifestyle of Chengdu,” he said. The people of Sichuan are well-known for their love of mahjong.In fact, a common joke says that airline passengers bound for Chengdu can usually sleep throughout the flight, but are woken up before landing by the sound of clicking mahjong tiles.
Despite its population of more than 10 million, Chengdu is no hustling, bustling city. Its defining feature is, in fact, how relaxed it feels.Take a stroll around the city, and you are bound to find locals playing mahjong in outdoor teahouses or in parks.
Chengdu‘s mahjong is better known than its other attractions such as the giant panda, the Temple of Marquis Wu, Sichuan Opera and Sichuan cuisine, according to an online survey by www.sohu.com in 2000.The idea behind the survey was to find the one thing that best represented Chengdu and seal the name in a jar for the residents of Chengdu to open 1,000 years later. Mahjong came here in the 1930s and got popular in the early 1990’s.
Any occasion is right for mahjong, be it a wedding banquet of a condolence gathering. “After they give a red envelope filled with gift money to newlyweds to congratulate them for the union of hearts, or to the family members of the deceased to express their condolences, Chengdu people would take seats by the table arranged by the host to play mahjong. They only stop when they are served meals,” said Liu Xiaorong, an official in Chengdu's Jinniu District.