INTRODUCTION TO MAHJONG
Mahjong is a four player game of skill, originating in China. It is similar to Western Gin Rummy in concept.
There are many versions of Mahjong, but the main 4 are
- Hong Kong
This e-book will focus on Chinese Mahjong rules. The Chinese Official rules are also referred to as the Official International Rules and these gained recognition in January 1998 when the State Sports Commission of China recognised Mahjong as the 255th sport!
In China in particular there are many regional variations of the game, but whichever version is being played, game play is broadly similar. However, the game pieces (called tiles), and the scoring system varies slightly between regions.
The overall concept in Mahjong is to build sets of tiles, and get the highest point value.
UNDERSTANDING THE MAHJONG SET
A Mahjong set is rather like a standard deck of cards. The tile set is split into:
- The 3 suits
- The 4 directional tiles
- The 3 cardinal tiles
- The 8 optional Flower and Season tiles.
THE 3 SUITS
Instead of 4 suits in a deck of playing cards, you have 3 suits, running from 1 to 9 rather than 1 to 10. The suits are:
The Mahjong set contains 4 of each of these tiles. Tiles 1 and 9 of each suit are called Terminals. Tiles 2 to 8 are Simples.
BAMBOOS1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
CHARACTERS1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
DOTS1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
THE 4 DIRECTIONAL TILES
There are 4 directional tiles, also referred to as the 4 Winds or Feng. These are East, South, West and North. The Mahjong set also contains 4 of each of these tiles. These are Honor Tiles. Note that the Winds are reversed – they are counted counter-clockwise (ESWN) as this is the way the Chinese traditionally list their compass directions.East South West North
THE 3 CARDINAL TILES
There are also 3 Cardinal tiles, also referred to as the three Dragons or Special Honor Pieces. These are Red Dragon, Green Dragon and White Dragon. The Mahjong set also contains 4 of each of these tiles. These are Honor Tiles.Red Green White
The Mahjong set also contains 8 optional tiles – 4 Flowers and 4 Seasons. There are only one of each of these tiles, not 4 as with all other tiles in the set.Plum Orchid (Lily) Chrysanthemum Bamboo
= The FlowersSpring/Fisher Summer/Woodcutter Autumn/Farmer Winter/Scholar
= The Seasons
There is no need to remember the names of these tiles, as their only purpose is for scoring. If and when a Flower or Season is drawn, they are immediately declared and a substitute tile is drawn. They score additional bonus points, and these points are further increased if they correspond to the player in question's own Wind.