Mahjong and Solitaire?

What is the relationship between Mahjong and Solitaire?

Parle asked:
could you please tell me how solitaire is an “incarnation” of Mah Jong? If you know the answer….Thank you soo much!!

The relationship between Mahjong and Solitaire

The relationship between Mahjong and Solitaire is not one of direct lineage, but rather a connection through the adaptation of traditional Mahjong gameplay into a single-player game that shares similarities with other solitaire games. In this context, Mahjong Solitaire can be seen as an “incarnation” of Mahjong in the sense that it derives its core mechanics from the original game, while adapting them to fit the solitaire format.


Mahjong, a traditional Chinese tile-based game, is typically played by four players who draw and discard tiles to form complete hands of specific combinations, such as sequences, triplets, or quads. The game is deeply rooted in strategy, memory, and calculation, as players must make the best possible decisions to optimize their hand, while also considering the actions of their opponents.


Solitaire, on the other hand, is a term used to describe a category of single-player card games, with the most well-known variant being Klondike Solitaire. In solitaire games, the objective is often to arrange a deck of cards in a particular order or pattern, following specific rules for moving and placing cards. Solitaire games can be played with standard playing cards or other types of cards, such as tiles or dominoes. These games generally require strategic thinking and planning, as well as an element of luck.

Mahjong Solitaire, Shanghai Solitaire or simply Mahjongg

Mahjong Solitaire, also known as Shanghai Solitaire or simply Mahjongg, is a single-player, tile-matching game that emerged in the early 1980s, most likely in Japan. The game uses the same set of 144 Mahjong tiles, featuring the same suits and symbols, but the gameplay is fundamentally different from traditional Mahjong.

In Mahjong Solitaire, the tiles are arranged in a specific pattern, usually forming a multi-layered structure that resembles a pyramid or tower. The objective of the game is to remove all the tiles from the board by finding and matching pairs of identical, “free” tiles. A tile is considered free if it has no other tiles on top of it and has at least one side (left or right) unblocked by other tiles.

This gameplay mechanic, which involves matching pairs of elements to clear the board, is what connects Mahjong Solitaire to other solitaire games. While the specific rules and objectives differ, Mahjong Solitaire shares the strategic thinking and planning aspects of solitaire games. Players must carefully analyze the board, plan their moves, and adapt their strategy as the game progresses to successfully clear the board.

Furthermore, Mahjong Solitaire is often played on a computer or other digital devices, which has contributed to its widespread popularity and accessibility. This digital format allows for features such as undoing moves, hints, and different layouts, which can enhance the gameplay experience and offer varying levels of challenge to players.

In conclusion, the relationship between Mahjong and Solitaire is not a direct one, but rather a connection through the adaptation of Mahjong’s tile-based mechanics into a single-player, tile-matching game that shares similarities with solitaire games. Mahjong Solitaire is an incarnation of Mahjong in the sense that it takes inspiration from the original game’s elements and repurposes them to create a unique, strategic solitaire experience. Both games have their own merits and challenges, catering to different preferences and playstyles, but their connection through Mahjong Solitaire demonstrates the versatility and enduring appeal of these classic games.