How To Play Mahjong
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Things You'll Need. Related Articles. Article Summary. Part 1 of Examine the tiles. A Mah Jongg set comes with tiles.
Each tile has either a symbol or a Chinese character on it. Your goal when playing Mah Jongg is to create combinations with these tiles.
Your Mah Jongg set should include:  X Research source 36 Bamboo tiles, 4 sets numbered 36 Chinese Character tiles, 4 sets numbered 36 Circle tiles, 4 sets numbered 12 Dragon tiles, 4 red, 4 green , and 4 white 16 Wind tiles, 4 of each wind direction North, South, East, and West 4 Flower tiles numbered 4 Season tiles, numbered Learn the combinations.
Although there are many different tiles in Mah Jongg, there are just three different kinds of tile combinations that you will be trying to make as you play Mah Jongg.
These combinations include  X Research source Chow: a run of the same type of three tiles, such as three Chinese character tiles numbered 2, 3, and 4 Pong: a set of three tiles, such as three number 2 Bamboo tiles Kong: a set of four tiles, such as four number 5 Circle tiles.
Understand the object of the game. The first player to do so wins the round. Players earn points when they win a round and at the end of 16 rounds, the player with the most points is the winner.
Part 2 of Assign a wind direction to each player. Before the game begins, assign each player a wind direction of either North, South, East, or West.
Basically, the tile needs to be able to slide out without anything blocking it on a side or on top.
In the image below, the dark tile is locked, and cannot be matched yet while the other 5 tiles are free: After matching a pair of tiles, tiles that were "locked" down by that pair will be opened up and become free, allowing you to match new tiles.
The Charleston is a tile exchange which allows players to improve their hand by passing around tiles they do not want to opponents. This can be repeated if need be a second time, pending all players agree.
Reverse the directions of the passing first passing left, then across, then to the right. A player may agree with another to exchange up to 3 tiles.
Jokers cannot be passed at this time. The objective of the game is to be the first player to construct a hand that matches one on the score card.
Players attempt to improve their hands. The next player starts their turn by drawing a tile from the wall. The tile is drawn from the spot where the broken wall was left off.
Start by drawing the top tile, then the bottom tile if the wall is no longer two tiles high. After, players can choose to discard the drawn tile or keep it in hand and discard another tile.
Discarded tiles are announced and put face-up in the center of the table. Kep in mind that when you discard tiles, since all other players are aware of what they are, they can deduce what hand you are trying to make.
Each player draws a total of 13 tiles, and each variant of Classic Mahjong has different draw rules. In general, all players draw 6 tiles each in turn order, and repeat once.
Now all players have 12 tiles, and following turn order, each player draws one tile, giving all players 13 tiles. In Mahjongg, the goal of the game is to build a complete winning hand consisting of 14 tiles, and these hands consist of 4 sets of 3 and a pair.
Since each player starts with 13 tiles, the complete number of 14 is obtained via the draw at the start of each turn. This means each player can only win at the start of their turn.
In the case of the first turn, the dealer, going first, draws one tile from the wall. To end their turn, the player is required to discard one tile of their choosing, placing the discard at the middle of the board face-up.
To claim a tile, a player calls a Pung, Chow or Kong. These calls allow other players to steal the discard to complete a set in their possession, assisting them in the win.
When a claim is successfully made, the turns skip to the player, and the draw stage from the wall is skipped, replaced with the claim.
The claiming player is then required to place the completed set face-up in front of their hand. This set, while still considered part of the hand, cannot be touched for the rest of the game.
If no claims are made, the turn goes to the next Wind in anticlockwise order East, South, West, North. Due to the nature of the game, each player always has 14 tiles at the start of their turn, either by drawing one from the wall or via claiming a discard.
This does mean it is possible for the East Wind to win immediately on their first draw. Claims in Classic Mahjong have remained consistent since the beginnings of the game, and include the following sets:.
A Chow functions similarly to straights in poker, formed using 3 sequential tiles from the same suit. A Chow can only be called if the tile comes from the player to the left of the caller.
An example of a Chow using the Dots suit is shown below:. A Pung functions similarly to the Three-of-a-Kind in Poker, consisting of three of the same tile of the same suit and rank when applicable.
Any player can call a Pung, regardless of the order, being the most common source of turn skips. Some examples of Pung made using both Suited and Honor Tiles are shown:.
A Kong is made up of 4 identical tiles of the same suit and rank. Since a winning hand needs 4 sets and a pair, as a Kong uses 4 tiles, a player making a Kong is required to draw an extra tile from the Wall to make up for the tile deficit.
Claim a tile as it's discarded if it fits one of your melds. If the tile completes a pong, meaning you already have the other 2 tiles in your hand, you can say "pong" and claim the discarded tile.
Similarly, you can claim the tile if it completes a kong or chow in your hand, and you say it aloud when you claim it. Then, you must show the meld and put it on the table to prove it.
You can play a whole game without showing any melds from your hand, which is called "concealed melds," but you can't claim any discarded tiles.
Not showing melds gives you extra points. Melds laid on the table are called "exposed melds. Pick up a tile from the draw pile to play if you don't want a discarded tile.
Once you rack a tile, no one can claim the previously discarded tile. In that case, you need to put the tile you picked up back where it came from.
Continue in the order of players to the right. Once someone claims a discarded tile, play goes to the right of that player, even if they weren't the next player in line to go.
Whenever a discarded tile is claimed, the turn skips to that person, and then play continues from them.
Replace a joker with a tile from your hand on your turn. If someone lays down a meld with a joker and you have the tile that replaces the joker, you can put down the tile.
Then, you can claim the joker to use in your hand. Work on forming melds. Melds are sets of tiles you play together.
You can play 3 of the same tile "pongs" or 4 of the same tile "kongs". These tiles can be suits, honor tiles, or bonus tiles.
You can also play 3 numbers in a row, called a chow. In some versions, you can only have 1 chow in your hand.
Chows do not give you points at the end, but they contribute to forming mahjong. When you lay out melds, place the long ends next to each other and group them in front of you.
The only time you "play" a meld is when you claim a discarded tile, as you have to show your meld then. Otherwise, you wait until you call mahjong to reveal your melds, much like gin rummy.
Make a mahjong with 4 melds and a pair. The mahjong hand uses all the tiles in your hand, which is 13, plus 1 you won't discard. You'll need 4 melds, which can be a combination of pongs, kongs, and chows, plus 1 pair.
Any bonus tiles will also give you points. Part 4 of Say "I'm calling" when you're 1 tile away from mahjong. That lets the other players know they only have a limited time to beat you.
Other players can call on their turn, too, after you've made the call. Show your hand and say "mahjong" when you complete the set.
You need to have all of your melds and your pair in place before you say mahjong. If you don't actually have mahjong, then you are disqualified for the rest of the game.
Score just the winning hand. While there are many variations for how you can calculate scores, the easiest way is to just count the winning hand.
The goal of the game is to get a mahjong, which consists of getting all 14 of your tiles into four sets and one pair. A pair is two identical tiles.
A set can either be a "pung," which is three identical tiles, or a "chow," which is a run of three consecutive numbers in the same suit.
A single tile cannot be used in two sets at once. Determine a starting dealer. In Chinese tradition, the four wind tiles are shuffled face down and dealt to the players.
Players then sit according to their tile and sit clockwise in the order north, west, south, east. East starts as the dealer.