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HONGKOU - The township of Hongkou in southwestern China's Sichuan province set a Guinness World Record on Thursday for the greatest number of people playing mahjong at the same time, according to the newspaper Want Daily. At 2pm on Thursday, 2,380 people simultaneously began drawing tiles under at 595 tables each with its own beach umbrella.

Each participant was a serious player, having been selected from over 70,000 people who applied to take part in a preliminary qualification round organized by the township government and the sport bureau of Dujiangyan city, which oversees Hongkou, in which 10,000 people took part. Of these contestants, only 2,000 who survived an online elimination process were allowed to take part in Thursday's event — though tourists who visited the township on the day of the event were permitted to sign up on the spot.

An official from Guinness World Records was on hand to oversee the contest and certified Hongkou's record after the game.

The record-setting game was followed by an elite mahjong competition in which 120 top players who survived the online elimination played each other on 30 tables. The top three winners took home prizes of 50,000 yuan (US$8,100), 30,000 yuan (US$4,900) and 10,000 yuan (US$1,600) respectively.

The traditional Chinese tile game, played in groups of four, is highly popular in Sichuan, which has its own uniquely competitive rules. The number of winning hands is fewer than in other styles. Also, after a player wins a round, the remaining three players continue until only one player remains without completing a finishing hand. Sichuan mahjong also has a points system under which a round terminates if one of the players loses all of their points.

(WantChinaTimes)

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