NEIGHBORHOOD: Bay Ridge
YOUR NEIGHBOR SINCE: 1989
Ursula Jones is mad for mahjong. The petite redhead has been playing for more than three decades and is just as passionate as the day she learned to play.
Jones fell in love with the game instantly.
“I thought I had died and gone to heaven,” she says.
The Swiss native learned to play mahjong from a relative in 1979. Since then, Jones has never grown tired of the fast-paced game, which is played with a set of 152 tiles based on Chinese symbols and characters.
“It’s fast, fun and cool,” she says, while sitting at her kitchen table with the colorful tiles in front of her.
Jones is originally from Bubendorf, Switzerland. During the ’80s, Jones and her family moved back and forth between Switzerland and the U.S. before settling in 1989 in Sarasota. While overseas, Jones tried organizing mahjong games with friends, however, it never really stuck.
When she moved to Sarasota, Jones began hosting weekly games for her friends.
In 2009, after hosting weekly games for 20 years, Jones inherited a local tournament held once a month. The tournament hosts 10 tables of four, and players from as far as Tampa and Clearwater attend.
Jones, who works in administration and registration for Adult & Community Enrichment at the Sarasota County Technical Institute, hosts the tournaments not for profit but purely for fun.
Although Jones loves to win, she says it’s the company she enjoys the most.
“Mahjong is a game of luck,” she says, “but mostly it’s about being with your friends and having fun.”
Contact Harriet Sokmensuer at [email protected].