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Games Mahjong Dice Games
A game of Chinese origin, played with tiles, or p'ais, similar in physical description to those used in dominoes but engraved with Chinese symbols and characters and divided into suits and honours. A fad in England, the United States, and Australia in the mid-1920s, the game was revived in the United States after 1935 but never regained its initial popularity. In the United States, the official body is the National Mah-Jongg League, founded in 1937.

The game is probably of 19th-century origin. Before World War I each Chinese province had its own style of play and dialect name for it. Signifying "sparrow," the name has been variously transliterated as ma tsiang, ma chiang, ma cheuk, and ma ch'iau. The sparrow or a mythical "bird of 100 intelligences" appears on one of the tiles. The name mah-jongg was coined and copyrighted by Joseph P. Babcock, an American resident of Shanghai, who is credited with introducing mah-jongg to the West after World War I. In order to promote the game in the West, he wrote a modified set of rules, gave English titles to the tiles, and added index letters and numerals familiar to card players.

  • American Uses 152 tiles (8 jokers added). Many (about 50) special hands. Only the winner is paid.
  • Chinese Classical Uses 144 tiles. Not many special / limit hands. All players score points and not just the winner.
  • Hong Kong (Old Style) Uses 136 or 144 tiles. Not many special hands (tile combinations). Score by counting doubles, then convert to points. Only the winner is paid.
  • Japanese Classical Uses 136 tiles. Flowers come with the tile sets, but are not used in play. Several special hands (tile combinations). Only the winner is paid.
  • Japanese Modern - Riichi / Dora Uses 136 tiles. Flowers come with the tile sets, but are not used in play. Hold 13 tiles in the hand, go out on 14 tiles. Many special hands (tile combinations). Score most easily by memorizing chart. Base points times fan. Only the winner is paid.
  • Korean 104 tiles are used ( Characters, Dots, Winds, Dragons and 4 flowers) There is no melded chow. Only secret chow!! That means you can't use a discarded tile to make chow. 3 as well as 4 people can play mahjong. You can't use a tile to win, if the tile is discarded by you before!! Every player must discard their tiles in front of themselves inside the wall. That's how they know which discarded tile they can't take. You must make at least basic 2 fans unless you finish totally secret hand. Korean mahjong one game is composed of 8 rounds( East, South, West and North X 2 ). Hence, One game should be at least 32 games !!! This is a traditional rule.
  • Malaysian / Singaporean The tile set is made up of 148 tiles. These 148 tiles are broken into suits that contain 136 total playable tiles, flower suit tiles that contain 8 tiles, and animal suit tiles that contain 4 tiles. Rules.
  • Taiwanese Uses 144 tiles. Hold 16 tiles in the hand, go out on 17 tiles. Several special hands (tile combinations). Score by counting doubles, then convert to points. Only the winner is paid. Rules.
  • Western (Classical or "Vanilla") Uses 144 or more tiles (jokers are optional and may vary in number). Many special hands (tile combinations) which vary slightly from book to book. All players earn points (not only the winner). "Goulash" may be played (BMJA) which replaces 2 Bamboos with jokers, and then a "Charleston" is played.

Modern mahjong sets are usually made of plastic instead of bone or ivory. A full set contains 136 or 144 tiles, depending on whether the flowers or seasons are used. Some sets include 20 flowers.

A tile set is made up of the following:
  • Special Honours: Four Seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter) and four Flowers (Plum, Orchid, Chrysantheum and Bamboo).
  • The Honours: Four Winds (East, South, West and North) and three Dragons (Red, Green and White).
  • Circles: Numbered from one to nine.
  • Bamboos: Numbered from one to nine.
  • Characters: Numbered from one to nine.

The Object of the Game
Each player has a hand consisting of 13 tiles. In their turn they will pick up one tile and discard either it or another from their hand. The aim is to assemble a hand of 14 tiles, consisting of four sets of three pieces, each set made up of either three identical tiles (known as a Pung) or a run of three tiles with consecutive numbers in the same suit (known as a Chow), and a pair of identical tiles. When a player gets a tile completing such a hand, they call out 'Mahjong!' and the hand is over. There are two other hands that allow a player to declare Mahjong. One of these is the hand of 'Thirteen Odd Majors', consisting of a one and a nine from each suit, one of each Wind, one of each Dragon and a tile that makes a pair with any of those 13 tiles. The other is the 'Calling Nine Tile Hand', which consists of three ones, three nines, a run from two to eight in the same suit and any other tile belonging to that suit. Scores are calculated for each player after the hand. Play then proceeds to a new hand.

Getting Started
Each player rolls the dice. Whoever rolls the highest total becomes 'East Wind' and the other players take the winds corresponding to their seats. The player to the right of 'East Wind' becomes 'South Wind', the player opposite becomes 'West Wind' and the player to the left of 'West Wind' is 'North Wind'.

All the tiles except the Special Honours are now placed on the playing area, face downward, and shuffled thoroughly. Each player then takes 34 tiles and arranges them in a wall 17 tiles long and two tiles high. The four walls are then pushed together to form a hollow square which is meant to represent a Chinese city wall.

East Wind now throws the dice to determine which section of the wall is to be breached. Treating the section in front of East Wind as one count to the right, East Wind counts in a circle around the four walls until the value of the throw is reached. The player whose section of the wall is to be breached now rolls the dice to determine where this will occur. Adding the number they have thrown to the number East Wind threw, they now count this total along the wall from the right-hand end, breaching the wall by removing the tile arrived at and the one beneath it. The latter tile is then placed on the wall to the right of the breach and the former is placed on the tile next but one to the right. These two tiles are known as 'Loose Tiles'.

East Wind now takes the first four tiles to the left of the breach in the wall, South Wind the next four, West Wind the next four, and North Wind the next four, the process being repeated until each player has 12 tiles. East Wind then takes the uppermost tiles of the next heap and the next heap but one, South Wind takes the bottom tile of the end heap, West Wind the top tile of the next heap, and North Wind the lower tile of the same heap.

Each player should now have 13 tiles — except East Wind, who should have 14. They should be arranged standing upright, faces towards the player, sorted into the various suits and honours in whatever way the player finds helpful.

Playing the Game
East Wind now commences by discarding one of their tiles and calling out the tile's name: 'East Wind', 'Seven Characters', etc. The play passes to the right, the next player having the option to either pick up the tile just discarded, if they can use it, to make a 'Chow' or to take the next tile from the wall.

The 'Pung'
If any player has two tiles that are identical to a just-discarded tile they may take it, calling out 'Pung'. They must then lay down the three identical tiles face up in front of them. The player who Punged must then discard a tile. Play continues to their right.

The 'Chow'
If the player whose turn is next can combine a discarded tile with two tiles in their hand to make a 'run' of three consecutive numbers in the same suit, they may take the discarded tile, call out 'Chow', and lay down the three tiles face up in front of them. They then discard a tile and play continues to their right, as above.

The 'Kong'
In the event of a player having three tiles identical to one that another player discards, they may take the discarded tile, calling out 'Kong' and laying the four identical tiles face up in front of them. Before play continues, the player who Konged takes the Loose Tile closest to the breach in the wall. This is an exception to the rule about the hand normally containing 13 tiles. If both the Loose Tiles are drawn, the pair of tiles next to the breach in the wall are placed on the wall in the same way as the original Loose Tiles. Once this is done, they discard a tile and play continues to their right.

Concealed Pungs and Chows
If a player has a Pung or Chow in their original hand or draws a piece from the wall that allows them to complete a Pung or Chow, this is kept in their hand and counts as a concealed Pung or Chow.

Turning a Pung into a Kong
If a player has an exposed Pung and draws the fourth identical tile from the wall, this may be added to the other three to make an exposed Kong. The player must draw a Loose Tile and discard a tile as usual. It is not permissable to take a discarded tile to turn an exposed Pung into a Kong.

In the event that a player is initially dealt a Kong or draws a piece from the wall that turns a concealed Pung into a Kong, it becomes a concealed Kong. It is up to the player when they place their concealed Kong on the table, but they cannot declare Mahjong until they have done so. The Kong will only score the same as a Pung if someone else declares Mahjong before they have done so. The player may place the Kong on the table whenever it is their turn and draw a Loose Tile. It should be marked as a concealed Kong by only turning over the first and fourth tiles.

If two players want the same discarded tile, one for a Pung or Kong, the other for a Chow, the player calling Pung or Kong has precedence and may take the tile.

Declaring 'Mahjong'
As explained above, once a player completes their hand they call out 'Mahjong!' and all the players must expose their hands for scoring. When putting down a concealed Pung, the middle tile should be turned over to indicate that it is concealed.

Whenever a player needs only one tile to complete their hand, they are discribed as 'Calling' and may take that tile as soon as it is discarded. They take precedence over anyother player who might want it. A player who is calling may also take a tile that another player has drawn from the wall and has used to convert an exposed Pung into an exposed Kong. This is known as 'snatching a Kong'. A player who is Calling may not take a tile that another player draws and uses to complete a concealed Kong, however. If two players are Calling at the same time and want the same discarded tile, then the player whose turn would come next takes the tile.

The 'Standing Hand'
If a player is Calling after they have drawn and discarded for the first time in that hand, they may declare a 'Standing Hand'. East Wind may declare a Standing Hand if they are Calling after their first discard. Once a player has declared a Standing Hand, they may not change any tiles already in their hand, but must discard each tile they draw from the wall until they draw or take the tile they need to declare Mahjong. A player who has declared a Standing Hand and succeeds in declaring Mahjong receives a bonus to their score at the end of the hand.

Invalid Hands
The last 14 tiles in the wall, including Loose Tiles, may not be used. If no player has declared Mahjong when only these remain, the hand is 'Invalid'. It is not scored and a fresh hand is started. The same player remains East Wind.

If a player should discover that their hand does not contain 13 tiles after discarding or 14 tiles before discarding, their hand is invalid and they may not declare Mahjong. They must continue to draw and discard as normal, paying the other players their scores at the end of the hand. They cannot deduct their own score if they had too many tiles, but should do so if they had too few tiles.

East Wind and the Wind of the Round
If East Wind declares Mahjong they remain East Wind in the following hands, until someone else declares Mahjong. After another player succeeds in declaring, the player who was South Wind becomes East Wind, etc. East Wind is the Wind of the Round until each player has held and lost East Wind. As soon as a player who has previously held and lost East Wind holds East Wind again, South Wind becomes Wind of the Round. Once each player has held and lost East Wind for a second time, West Wind becomes Wind of the Round. Finally North Wind will become Wind of the Round.


A Chow merely serves to complete a hand and has no scoring value.

Pungs (3 of a kind) Exposed Concealed Kongs (3 of a kind) Exposed Concealed
2,3,4,5,6,7 or 8 of any suit 2 4   8 16
1 or 9 of any suit 4 8   16 32
Any Wind or any Dragon 4 8   16 32
For the Pair completing the hand Score Seasons and Flowers Score
Pair of any Dragon 2 For any Season or any Flower 4
Pair of Player's own Wind 2    
Pair of Wind of the Round 2    
No other pairs count anything.      
NOTE : The above scores apply to all hands winner and losers, alike.
Applies to all hands Score Applies to winners hands Score
Pung or Kong in Player's own Wind x2 Snatching a Kong to go Mahjong x2
Pung or Kong in Wind of the Round x2 Hand all one suite except Winds and/or Dragons x2
Pung or Kong in any Dragon x2 Hand of ones and nines with Winds and/or Dragons x2
Player's own Season or Flower x2 Hand entirely of one suit x8
Four Seasons or Four Flower x8 Original Hand x8
    All Winds and Dragons x8
Applies to winners hands only Score
For winning (going Mah-Jongg) 20
Winning piece drawn from the Wall 2
Winning with only possible piece 2
Winning a "Standing Hand" 100
For having no Chows in hand 10
No scoring value in hand 10
Winning with last piece from the Wall 10
Winning with a Loose Tile 10
Where there are doubles in the winning hand the above bonuses (if any) must be added before the score is doubled.
The following ten hands are Limit Hands, and score the limit irrespective of what their value may be:
A Hand of all Winds and Dragons.
B Hand having Pungs or Kongs of three Winds, pair of the other Wind and completed by any Chow, Pung or Kong.
C An original hand.
D Hand winning with East Wind's first discard.
E Hand of all ones and nines.
F Hand having Pungs or Kongs of at least three Dragons.
G Hand of concealed Pungs or Kongs.
H The Thirteen odd Majors hand.
I The Calling Nine Tile hand.
J East Wind's, thirteenth consecutive Mah-Jong.

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