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Archive for March, 2007

Mahjong Tile Sets

Monday, March 26th, 2007

A description of the types of tile sets used in different versions of Mahjong and Mahjong Solitaire.    


Mahjong tiles originate in China and are used to play the games of Mahjong, Mahjong solitaire, and also a variety of other tile-based games.

The exact number of tiles varies depending on what version of Mahjong is being played, but there are usually at least 136 tiles – and most commonly 144. Sets originating from America or Japan have more tiles.

Mahjong tiles have been made from various materials historically. Traditionally they were made from bone, often backed with bamboo. Bone tiles are still available but most modern sets are made from various plastics such as bakelite, celluloid, and more recently nylon. A few sets have been made from ivory, but these are extremely rare: most sets sold as ivory are in fact made from bone.

The tiles each have special symbols engraved or pressed into them. The choice of symbols varies depending on what version of the game is being played.

Mahjong tiles are organized into several categories: suited tiles, honor tiles and flower tiles.


Suited Tiles

There are three money-based ‘suits’ of tiles; the Circle Suit, the Bamboo Suit and the Character Suit.

Each has tiles ranked from one to nine.

There are four tiles of each rank and suit combination, thus 36 tiles in a suit, and 108 suited tiles in total.

To refer to a suited tile, the rank is named, followed by the suit, for instance "1 Bamboo".

The ones and nines of each suit are collectively referred to as the "terminal tiles".


The Circle Suit

Tiles in the circle suit show from 1 to 9 red and/or green circles, arranged rather like the dots on dice.


The Bamboo Suit:

With the exception of the 1 Bamboo, the Bamboo tiles show regular arrangements of green and/or red bamboo sticks. The even numbered Bamboo tiles show all green sticks. The odd numbered tiles include some red sticks.  Some sets may also include blue sticks on certain tiles.

The 1 Bamboo, which is represented by a bird, is often referred to as the ‘Sparrow’.


The Character Suit  

The character suit is represented by Chinese characters.

Although some sets use simplified Chinese characters, many use traditional Chinese characters as they are more complex and considered more aesthetically pleasing.

The rank of the tile is represented at the top, in blue, with Chinese numerals, while the character below is in red.

Some sets may also have a black Arabic numeral in a top corner, for the benefit of players who are not familiar with Chinese numerals.


Honor Tiles

Honor Tiles do not have a rank or suit. They are divided into two categories, Wind tiles and Dragon tiles.


Wind tiles 

The Wind tiles have four types of symbol corresponding to the points of the compass – North, East, South and West – written in blue traditional Chinese characters. There are 4 of each type, so 16 Wind tiles in total.


Dragon Tiles 

There are three types of Dragon tiles:

  • Red – a tile with a red traditional Chinese character or a red dragon.
  • Green – a tile with a green traditional Chinese character or gree dragon. Because of its meaning (which translates as "to strike it rich" in English), a giant Green Dragon tile serves as a good luck charm in many Chinese households. 
  • White – a tile which can be without any markings, although most modern sets, except Japanese, employ tiles with a blue border. Some sets may also have a black letter P in the center of the tile.

There are 4 of each type, so 12 Wind tiles in total.


Flower tiles

Flower tiles usually show artistic pictures of flowers in many colors, but some sets use other non-floral themes (although they are still known generically as ‘Flower’ tiles). 

Depending on the version of Mahjong there will be at least 2 groups of flower tiles. Each group contains four unique tiles, differentiated by the numbers 1 to 4, or by some other means. 

The symbols used vary depending on the game version: 

  • Common Chinese mahjong sets have two sets of flower pictures, one with blue Arabic numerals, and one with red Chinese numerals.
  • In Mahjong Solitaire, there is a set of 4 flower pictures (plum, orchid, chrysanthemum and bamboo) and a set of 4 ‘Season’ tiles (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.)
  • Singapore mahjong sets have three groups; 4 red flowers, 4 black flowers, and 4 animal pictures.
  • American sets have eight ‘Joker’ tiles – tiles that simply say "Joker" in a diagonal pattern on them.
  • Four Joker tiles are used in Shanghai style Mahjong.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material adapted from the Wikipedia article "Mahjong Tiles".

[tags] mahjong, mahjongg, mah jong, mah jongg, mahjong tiles, mahjong solitaire, mahjong tile sets, china [/tags] 


Chinese Mahjong

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Mahjong is a big part of common culture in China. It is one of the most common social activities and pervades many aspects of social and family life.

As examples of the popularity of Mahjong;

  • Most people have a Mahjong set at home
  • Most Chinese restaurants also offer Mahjong playing set for their customers.
  • During Chinese weddings, guests will often play Mahjong while waiting for events to progress.  
  • A count-down Mahjong before the Chinese New Year or the New Year is a typical practice for many Hong Kong families.
  • The elderly are encouraged to play Mahjong as brain exercise.
  • It is said that to invite a person to a Mahjong game, is to befriend the person!

But the popularity of mahjong can also bring problems…

Officially, casinos are illegal in Hong Kong. However, there are legal Mahjong schools, where gamblers can play Mahjong. As a result, addiction to Mahjong is a common type of problem gambling in China.

Mahjong is has also been used as a favourite medium for bribery – the person giving the bribe will intentionally lose large sums of money to the person being bribed.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material adapted from the Wikipedia article "Mahjong Culture ".

[tags] mahjong, chinese mahjong, mahjong gambling, china [/tags]

The Four Main Mahjong Variations

Monday, March 26th, 2007

This article describes the four main variations of mahjong  rules – Chinese Classical Mahjong, Cantonese Mah Jong, Japanese Mah Jong and Western Classical Mah Jong.


 Mah Jong Games – Issues Concerning the Varieties

by Robert Thatcher

Though variants of mah jong games are being introduced time and again, there are only four variations that are widely accepted among players:

Chinese Classical Mah Jong is known to be the oldest version of the game. This was the first mah jong game version introduced in America and became the model for many forms that were created since then.

Cantonese Mah Jong also goes by the name of Hong Kong Mah Jong game. It is the most common variety and only posses slight differences as compared with the classical version.

Japanese Mah Jong is the most commonly used form of mah jong game among Japanese. This includes rules and scoring guidelines that have been standardized and used in video games. The riichi and dora mark the highlights of the game.

Western Classical Mah Jong is the version that was revised from the Chinese classical and was introduced in America. Bobcock made the changes in this American version in 1920s. And his version was adopted and recreated by players in the later years.

Other major versions include Taiwanese mah jong, Filipino mah jong, Fujian mah jong, and Vietnamese mah jong game.

Because of the diversity that was created from the original mah jong game, a set of international standard rules was created to regulate range of versions. These are highly pattern-based and were fashioned after the modern Chinese variants and the classical version.

However, there are rules that were adopted from Japanese mah jong game like that of the minimum score of 8 points before going out. Also, the additional scores earned from the flower tiles. Each flower tile corresponds to 1 point. Yet, unless the player scores at least 8 points, his flower tiles will not be given due credit. Another rule that was adopted was the retention of the score earned through the winning hand of the player who discarded the winning tile plus 8 points each from each losing player. If for instance the win is zimo or self drawn win, the value of his winning hand will be the score basis plus 8 basic additional points from the losing players.

This new standard of rules was first employed in 2002 when the first World Mah Jong Championship was organized. This was through the efforts of the Mah Jong Museum, the city council of Ningbo, China (believed to be the place of origin of the game) and the Japan Mah Jong Organizing Committee. Player from China, Europe, Japan and America participated in the event and Miss Mai Hatsune was the very first World Mah Jong Champion. This event was followed by the Annual Mah Jong World Championships in Hainan, Hong Kong and Beijing respectively.

The western version of World Mah Jong Tournament was held in Netherlands in 2005. More than 100 players participated in the event that was called Open European Mahjong Championship where Masato Chiba of Japan claimed the 1st prize.

The standardization of the game gained little popularity in comparison to what has been existing prior to the revision of the classical game. Mah Jong game purists comment that the new set of rules is much more complicated than the already complex rules used in the varieties of the game. But the advocates of the present day rules say that the aim of the new rules is only to set a specific standard for which willing-to-adopt and new players may follow.

Robert Thatcher is a freelance publisher based in Cupertino, California. He publishes articles and reports in various ezines and provides mah jong game resources on

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Free Mahjong Tiles Games

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

There are now some amazing varieties of Mahjong Tile games out there. We’ve had fun testing loads out and have set up a showcase of our favourites.


Here are our favourite Mahjong Tiles games. Click on any of them to try them out for Free.

Mahjong Solitaire Games

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

We’ve partnered with Big Fish Games to bring you a fantastic selection of Mahjong solitaire games. Give them a go!! 

Bookmark this page and come back often – new games added as soon as they become available. 


Top Mahjong Picks for Wednesday, September 18, 2019


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