A couple of weeks ago, I found a teeny tiny mahjong (麻將 ma2 jiang4) set at the fake market. This weekend, I was finally able to recruit a few students to teach me to play. They all seemed to think it was funny that I wanted to learn to play the game, especially with these itty bitty tiles, but they agreed anyway.
It turns out that mahjong is very similar to gin rummy. You collect tiles to make groups of three, matching three like tiles or creating a run of, say, 1-2-3. The first person to match all of his or her tiles wins.
Apparently, no one thinks it's any fun unless you're betting on the game, but of course gambling is illegal in China, so mahjong is starting to fade out of fashion. It's an old folks' game, they say. I guess there's always that crazy dice game to fall back on.