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Joseph Park Babcock (1893 – 1949), American popularizer of Mahjong, was born in Lafayette, Indiana. After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in Civil Engineering, he worked for the Standard Oil Company. In 1912 he was sent to Soochow, China, as a representative of Standard Oil. There he and his wife enjoyed playing the Chinese tile game. He created a simplified version of Mahjong with a goal of introducing the game to America. He trade marked the spelling "Mah-Jongg" which he apparently coined. His Rules of Mah-Jongg, or the red book, (1920) was used as a rule book for English language players.

The game quickly became popular, but several versions were played. In 1924, the Standardization Committee of the American Official Laws of Mah-Jongg was formed. Babcock was an integral member, and the committee published a standardized rule set. Many game sets were then produced in the United States by several companies.


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