Traditional Mahjong

Traditionally Mahjong was played in ancient China. The rules and levels of the game were set in Hong Kong, Singapore and several other nations.

This is usually played with tiles. Cards are also used at times to play the game. Sets include counters to keep track of the scores. A dice is used to deal. A marker denotes the dealer as to the rounds being played.

Mahjong tile sets vary in places. Commonly it is played with 136 tiles and at times with 144. The tiles are categorized into suits, honor, and flowers.

Simple Tiles

Tiles numbered 1 to 9 form three different suits which are named as simple tiles. The suits are Bamboos, characters and circles numbered 1 to 9. There have been variations made on the tiles.


There are a set of two honor suits – winds and the dragons. Winds are east, west, north and south. Dragons are of red, green and white types. These suits do not follow numbers. Each honor comprises of 4 tiles.

Bonus Tiles

4 flowers and 4 seasons form eight bonus tiles. Flowers are plum, orchid, chrysanthemum and bamboo. Seasons are of spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Table Positions and First Deal

A dice is thrown to decide the dealer. There are several ways in which a dealer can be chosen. At times each wind tile is placed face down. All the players randomly select one of the wind tiles. Accordingly the players take their sitting positions at the table.

The Game

4 rounds make a match. At least 4 hands are played in each round and the rounds are named after the name of the prevailing wind.

Each round prevails with players taking turns as dealers. A dealer takes the position of the east wind. The positions of the prevailing wind and the seat wind are formed differently. The game has four rounds with each round being played by players with all the 4 seat winds.

Traditional Mahjong
Tiles are shuffled and placed face down. All players should take part in shuffling. The aim of the game is to collect a set of 14 tiles grouped in 4 melds having 3 tiles each with a matched pair. Each player has to stack up a row of 18 tiles with two tiles forming a high order, thus forming a total of 36 tiles. Players push each side of their tiles together in order to form a square wall. The dealer throws 3 dice to sum up the total. Dealing is done differently in different forms of the game.


  • Players pick up tiles from the wall and discard by throwing in the centre. He/she may tell what his/her piece is loudly.
  • Until a player gets a legal hand the game continues in the manner as mentioned the upper mentioned point.
  • As soon as a player gets a legal hand he/she has to say mahjong loudly and reveal his/her hand.
  • A winning hand will have 14 tiles. A player having less than 13 tiles in hand will be penalized. The 14 tiles include 13 in hand and 1 taken from the wall or stolen which a player discards to complete a hand. A winning hand has 4 melds comprising of a 3-piece pattern and the eyes which are formed by a pair of 2 identical pieces.

Traditional Mahjong has undergone several variations in the present days. It is played as a gambling game in several parts of Asia.