Game of crones: Gowanus shuffleboard club to launch mahjong league

Game of crones: Gowanus shuffleboard club to launch mahjong league
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

This isn’t your grandmother’s game night — or is it?

Starting March 31, the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Gowanus is adding the Chinese tile game mahjong to its roster of typically old-timey activities — but first, the owners have to figure out how to play.

“It’ll be like, ‘Okay, can somebody read the directions off the box?’” said club co-owner Ashley Albert. “It’s this mysterious game that we all watched our grandmothers play in Florida.”

Albert recently posted an announcement on the shuffleboard club’s Facebook page about the possibility of starting a Monday night mahjong league and fielded about 90 enthusiastic responses. Her Floridian grandmother used to play the game — in which three or four players try to get the highest combination of tiles — four times a week, but Albert never learned herself.

“I remember just playing with the tiles and just not knowing what I was doing,” she said.

The club, which will charge $10 per player, has put an advertisement on Craigslist for a mahjong teacher — without much luck so far. But Albert is confident that she can coach the masses if need be, even if she has to rely on YouTube tutorial videos to school herself first.

The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, which has been open since late January, seems to specialize in games that are popular with the elderly — in addition to the eponymous cruise-ship amusement, it recent added a weekly bingo night on Wednesdays.

With these kinds of events, the massive playhouse is becoming the go-to watering hole in Gowanus that the owners hoped it would be, Albert gushed.

“It’s so fun to see people who grew up in the neighborhood, so it’s not just new residents,” she said. “We’re adding something to the neighborhood.”

Mahjong at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club [514 Union St. between Nevins Street and Third Avenue in Gowanus, (347) 223–4410, www.royalpalmsshuffle.com]. Monday nights starting March 31.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.