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Mahjong Terminology | Mahjong Rules | Mahjong Tiles

Mahjong Rules



Mahjong is one of the most popular traditional games in China, which according to famous legend had been contrived by Confucius.
However it has various versions today ranging from Japanese to Americans with different rules and conditions, the mahjong game in this site is Japanese Mahjong.
Mahjong is usually compared to the card game rummy because of many similarities they share in common, However mahjong involves intelligence, skills and estimation on a much higher scale than the compared card game.

Today we have countless versions of mahjong games, each of these played with set of predetermined rules and regulations.
These rules are used to determine various criteria such as building the wall (Mahjong's "deck" of tiles), seating, game's order, rounds, penalties, scoring, ways of getting eliminated, draws and so on.
Mahjong is usually meant for four players but it can also accommodate two, three and even five players easily. A normal game is expected to have 16 hands distributed in four rounds (north, south, west and east).
Each player is designated with particular direction or wind starting from east for the first player. The first player is usually selected by throwing the dice. The player with highest score on the dice gets the chance to play first.

Mahjong Game Basics

The basic rules mentioned in this article are pretty much the standard core principles across most form of mahjong games.

The main focus is to be the first player to get a hand composed of four sets and a pair. These sets can either be a Pon, Chii or Kan.
A Pon can be defined as the set of three identical tiles
A Chii can be defined as the set of three tiles of the same suit and consecutive numbers. However it should be noted that a dragon or a wind cannot be used in a Chii set.
A Kan is a set of four consecutive tiles.
You can check few examples in our Mahjong Terminology page.
Each set can be concealed or melded. Concealed sets are made from the tiles you received in the initial hand and from the tiles drawn from the walls.
They are not revealed or shown to other players during the course of game. Melded sets are those used in special moves when a player wants to use the most recently discarded tiles (that the last opponent discarded).

First step is to build a wall - In the game on this site, this is done automatically. In real life, For this, the tiles are shuffled well and arranged in a horizontal manner in 18 stacks, in front of the each player. After this, the players should move their respective walls towards the center to create a square model.
The stack is broken in such a way that each player gets 13 tiles in hand. The rest of the tiles are pushed toward the center and considered as the drawing wall.

Now each player needs to discard one tile and draw a new tile from the wall, one at a time, In each move, the player must give up one tile and draw one new tile.
The game's objective as mentioned before is to get 4 sets of tiles and one pair.
The game ends when one player satisfies the conditions of the sets ahead of other players.
If you are able to draw the last tile you need, then you can declare "Tsumo", sometimes also called "Mahjong", to win by self draw. If the needed tile is discarded by another player, then you can declare "Ron" to win (Don't worry, a button will automatically appear). If you declare Tsumo or Ron your cards are verified by other players.
Typically, after one of the players will win, the points for this round are calculated, this is called Uma

Here is an example of a winning hand:
A winning hand

The hand contains of , from left to right, Pon-Character-6-6-6, Chii-Character-7-8-9, Chii-circle-6-7-8, Pon-Bamboo-3-3-3 and pair of West wind tiles.
A winning hand

Mahjong game takes the format of "draw" if none of the players manage to accumulate the desired sets even after the wall is exhausted.
The scoring depends on several factors such as determining the points, multiplying the points depending on the applicable doubles and other factors.
The points also differ based on sets such as sequences, concealed triplets, melded triplets, concealed fours and melded fours.

With the introduction of Mahjong as an international game by the China sports commission, new hard and fast rules have been created to play the game on competitive level, these rules were used for the first time during the 2002 world championship.


Using discarded tiled

If your opponent discarded a tile that you can use, a button will be displayed automatically under your hand.
If you decide to click it and use the discarded tile, you will then have to reveal the set.
Here is an example for Chii, the opponent discarded the tile Character-2, and your hand already have 1 and 3:
Game's position just before Chii
Remember not to click the tile itself, just click the button in the bottom of the screen.

This is how the board will look like after Chii, note that because a discarded tile was used, the set must be revealed on the bottom right.
Revealed tiles cannot be touched anymore, take that into consideration.
Game's position after Chii


Another example with Pon (Three identical tiles) :
The board before Pon
Again, don't forget to click the button with the text "Pon" and NOT the tile or the yellow arrow.


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