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Mahjong Basic

Introduction to Mahjong


There are three suits to the tiles: Circle, Bamboo, and Characters. Each of the suits has (four each) tiles numbered 1 to 9. (The Bird tile is the One of Bamboo.)

The Circle Suit (Pin)

The Bamboo Suit(Sow)

The Character Suit (Wan)

There are also four tiles of each of the four winds and four tiles of each of the Dragons (Red, Green, and White).

The Winds

The Dragons

Starting the Hand
At the beginning of the game, each of the four players sits at one of the points of the compass (North, South, East, and West). The tiles are placed face down and shuffled around. Each player then draws out 34 tiles and arranges them in 17 stacks of two all pushed together to form a wall. The four walls are pushed together to form a square like the wall of a city.

East is the first dealer and it is his job to throw the dice to determine who breaks the wall. Counting him as '1' and proceeding in a anticlockwise manner, the dealer counts around the players up to the sum of the spots shown on the dice. The selected player throws the dice again and counts the total of the first and second throws along the tiles comprising his section of the tile wall starting from his rightmost to the left. The two stacks following the counted tiles are taken by the dealer, the next two by the player to his right, and so on. After each player takes 3 double stacks (12 tiles total), players take one more tile (for a total of 13) in turn. After each player has 13, the dealer takes one more to give him the first discard to start the game. The last 7 stacks that were counted over from the second dice throw are separated from the rest of the wall. These will not be used within play of the game.

The Play of a Hand

Players take turns (going around anticlockwise) drawing a tile starting from the break and working around to the separated tiles. After a tile is drawn, a tile must be discarded (keeping 13 in your hand) face up in the centre of the walls. It is customary to announce the tile that is being discarded.

Picking up Discards

Tiles that are discarded may be picked up instead of drawing from the wall. To do this, you announce what you intend to use the tile for ("Pong," "Kong," "Chow," or "Mah-Jong"). This retrieved discard must be the tile that completes your set (e.g., you must have a pair of Red Dragons to "Pong" a discarded Red Dragon). Any player may "Pong," "Kong," of "Mah-Jong" from any other player (with "Mah-Jong" taking precedence over "Pong" and "Kong" no matter who called it first). However, you can only "Chow" the person sitting on your left. After the player that picked up the discard has discarded a tile, the player to his right draws and discards next.

When a discard is taken, the set is placed face up next to the player to prove that the tile was drawn correctly. In the case of a "Kong", the player draws another tile from the stack at the end of the wall that is removed from the rest of the wall. Then a discard is made. In the case of drawing an in-hand "Kong" from the wall, the tiles involved are placed face-up, with the middle two face-down to show that this "Kong" is still in-hand (called a closed "Kong"), and a tile is drawn from the end of the wall before discarding a tile. These works will be done automatically by the computer at

Winning the Hand

The object of the game is to get triples ("Pong"), quadruples ("Kong"), or sequences of three in the same suit ("Chow"). When you have 4 of the above and a pair in your hand (14 tiles) you have "Mah-Jong" and have won the hand.


Tiles are drawn until a player achieves "Mah Jongg" (4 sets and a pair) or there are 14 tiles remaining (the separated portion). In the case of a player winning the game, he is awarded 20 points for winning as well as the total points in his hand. Each other player reveals their hands and totals up their points.

A player's "own wind" is defined to be the wind they would be sitting at if the dealer is considered to be East regardless of his position around the table. You can also play that the player's seated wind is his "own wind" as well. If playing North in hand and sitting in the North chair would get your total score double twice (4 times) if you had three or four of the North wind in you hand. Or, if you were playing North in the East chair and had three or four of the North Wind, you would double your score once. A set of three or four from a Dragon Group would double the score again.

Each non-winning player must "pay" the winning player the difference between their score and the winning score (rounded up to the next multiple of ten). Some Mah-Jong sets include sticks (counters) of differing values.

Please bear in mind that there are several other possible doubling rules as well as several penalty rules for the payment to the winner.

Playing a Full Game

After each game is completed, if the dealer won, he remains the dealer for the next game. Otherwise, the deal rotates to the right. A full game is completed after each player has been dealer 4 times (at least 16 hands).

Flower and Season Tiles

These rules are enough for you to get started. Some of the doubling rules happened when you got the Flower and Season. You need to work out the points. If these tiles are included then each player builds a wall of 18 stacks. When a flower tile is drawn, it is placed face up next to the player's hand and another tile is drawn from the end of the wall. Each flower tile counts 2 points at the end of the hand. You can also count the flowers for doubling scores. If East (dealer) gets Spring or Plum Blossom, he gets one double; if he gets both, he gets two doubles. Likewise for each other player; South gets Summer or Orchid; West gets Autumn or Chrysanthemum; North gets Winter or Bamboo. A complete set of four flowers is a Bouquet. There are two Bouquets: floral and seasonal. One Bouquet gets two doubles, both Bouquets gets four doubles.