Mahjong Game

The National Mahjong Day has been celebrated yearly every 30th of April. Mahjong is the tile-based game which has been around ever since its advent in China during the 19th century and it remains its fame from across the world, but particularly in Asian countries. By custom, it is a 4-player game, although there are the 3-player dissimilarities in China, Southeast Asia, Japan, and South Korea. The game is being played with the set of a hundred and 44 tiles initially from Chinese symbols and characters. During the beginning, every player is provided with 13 tiles, and the objective is by drawing and discarding tiles until they completed the legal hand, using a 14th drawn tile in forming 4 sets and the pair (called as the ‘melds’ and the ‘eye’), respectively.


Mahjong is from the famous card games in the 18th & the 19th centuries in China, such as Pènghú and Khanhoo, which are mahjong’s probable ancestors. They have been compared with those western card games, Rummy and Conquian, as they will all involve drawing and discard cards to make the melds. Nobody is really sure when their conversion from cards up to tiles will happen, but it is estimated to take place in the mid of the 19th century. The first surviving tilesets date started from around the year 1870 and was discovered in Ningbo, Fuzhou, and Shangai. These sets were not the same from the ones being used now in several ways — there are some tiles that were missing and there are some that had been placed differently, others have shared the leader’s titles of the Taiping Rebellion and it is thought that they had been taken out after a rebellion ended.

During October 1st of 1949, People’s Republic of China had been founded. One of the current laws was a gambling ban that resulted in the game being declined. The game became illegal altogether during the 1966 Cultural Revolution. The ban was not lifted up to 1985. Nowadays, this game had been China’s favorite pastime.

In the West, their first records of Mahjong came from the British Consul Gen. F.E.B. Harvey papers, from when he worked as the consul in 1860, in Ningbo. He became the acquaintance of the English-fluent officer under the Daoguang Emperor, who then taught him about the game. He described the laws and rules of this game in a sequence of papers.

In year 1920, Mahjong sets start to be traded in the USA, and it became the fashion for all time. It became the core part of the cultural bonding for the Chinese Americans during the year 1920s and 1930s, at Chinatown, Manhattan, and had been part of the community building for the suburban American Jewish ladies in the year 1940s and 1950s. Mahjong nights in the US usually involved decorating and dressing rooms in Chinese mode. The rules of the US variant became standardized together with the formation in 1937, the National Mah-jongg League. In 1986, N.M.J.L. conducted their first ever Mah Jongg Cruise Tournament. While in 1999, the second organization has been formed, the US Mah Jongg Association, that presently hosts tournaments from all over North America.


Why is it has been called mahjong?

In the Chinese community, the name has been translated as ‘sparrow.’ It is said that those tiles clacking resembles the sounds that the birds are making.

Can Mahjong be played alone?

Yes, Mahjong Solitaire is a solo game or it can be played with a partner. It is played with a game tile as the Mahjong Rummy, but the rules are really not the same.

How are you calling ‘riichi?’

To call the ‘Riichi’ right before the discarding of a tile, place the 1,000-point stick-out in front of the hands and turn a discarded tile to sideways to indicate the ‘Riichi’ has been called.


Learning how you will play Mahjong

It does not really matter if you have not played before — you may also celebrate by simply giving this a try. The Destination Mah Jongg is a kind of online community that will connect you with your fellow players in the area, and they are hosting the Learn how to Play MahJongg Clinic on the National Mahjong Day. You may also learn by yourself through free YouTube videos and by playing Mahjong on the browser or the Smartphone.

Join some event

Discover which place close to you is planning on hosting an occasion for the National Mahjong Day, then, join them. It does not have to be one competitive tournament; they possibly have tables for the casual play and that is a great chance to meet other people with the same interests as you.

Teach Mahjong to other people

It is not just about the play —you can offer to coach your family and friends too. Share this amazing game with lots of people! You may also offer to coach those beginners in an event. Just look for the organizers and ask when they are in need of more instructors!


  • There are about 25 recognized variations. Most of these include Competition Mahjong, Pussers bones, and American Mahjong.
  • Tiles were initially made from bone, but now, they are mostly composed of plastic.
  • The first ever world tournament happened in Japan. It is The World Mahjong Championships that was held at Iidabashi, Tokyo, about 3 days in year 2002, and their winner was Mai Hatsune, a Japanese player.
  • The longest Mah Jongg marathon stayed for 33 hours. On 16th of December, 2012, Oleg Petrov, Nickolay Demyanov, Mark Efremov and Anton Khantimirov of Russia played for about 33 hours, 3 minutes, and about 45.8 seconds.
  • There are beliefs that Confucius invented this game. Historians said that the 3 dragon tiles are representing the philosopher’s teachings over the three important virtues: filial piety, humaneness and sincerity.


The game encourages lots of skills. The tactics, observation, adaptive strategies, memory, and pattern recognition are just some of them. Enjoying the game and getting better can help improve these skills that can be very helpful in your daily life.

It is an opportunity to share Mahjong game with others. Let us be honest: If you initially look at those tiles, it appears way more difficult than it has been. But the best teacher may break that barrier. Coaching your family and friends how to enjoy this game is a nice bonding experience, and when they get better, you’ll get your new rivals also!

Mahjong is the way of relating you to Chinese culture. Increasing your leanings and horizons about other cultures had always been the best thing. You do not even need to understand all the history of the Mahjong game. Just look at the tiles and you will be exposed to so many cultures of China like the Chinese flowers, landscapes, symbols, language characters, etc.

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