Mahjong – A Brief Introduction
The exciting, and slightly addictive, tile-based game of Mahjong has been around for a while in one form or another, and has recently seen quite a resurgence in popularity around the world.
Mahjong is challenging, interesting, easy-to-learn, mentally-stimulating, social glue, and above all else – fun!
You can find people playing the game in private homes, mahjong parlors, hotels & restaurants, pubs, parks, gambling halls, international tournament settings, community centers, retirement homes, online, and just about any other place you can think of (that can tolerate the noise of laughter and tile-shuffling).
Although you may have heard of "Mahjong Solitaire", the solo computer game of matching stacked tiles, we are actually talking about the original game that inspired the solitaire game. And this original predecessor is played with other people.
The fact that Mahjong is played with other people is one of the most intriguing and stimulating aspects; it creates a vibrant, social atmosphere, reminiscent of simpler times.
There does exist online multi-player versions, but there’s something special about physically holding the tiles and playing the game with your opponents in the same room. Much like cards or dominoes – when comparing computer to real life play – well, it’s just not the same.
The game is Chinese in origin, and for a number of reasons, has grown into worldwide proportions, including an impressive variety of styles – differing from each other by a number of variables (scoring, special hands, penalties & rewards, etc.), but all sharing the same root game concepts. Please visit the History section for more details.
There are local, national, international and world tournaments; Mahjong cruises, Mahjong jewelry, books, movies, and lots more; it is a big deal.
It’s a powerful and enjoyable phenomenon. Hop on with us and enjoy the ride!
Mahjong – In Other Words
Chess is stern, Checkers is a bit dotty, and scrabble tends to be wordy. But Mah-Jongg is seductive. From the rich luster of the tiles and the challenging nature of the game itself to its enigmatic history and magical power to bring people together, Mah-Jongg is not just a game. It’s a way of life – and a stylish one at that.
Mah Jong, because of its basic simplicity and adaptability, is eternally appealing to all age groups. Initial curiosity is undoubtedly aroused by its exotic equipment, seemingly ritualistic methods of play, or possibly its ancient and curious origins and history, of which there are many versions.
Mah-Jongg is probably unique in the extreme diversity of the attractions which it offers its devotees. Few who have played the game can deny its fascination: yet it appeals to persons of differing temperaments for a wide variety of reasons. Many are first attracted by the more superficial or outward characteristics of the game: the person for who for the first time observes a game of Mah-Jongg in progress is immediately intrigued by the fascination of something exotic and oriental, by the strange terminology and the seemingly complicated and mystifying ceremonies which surround the play.
So, too, many continue to find enjoyment in the playing of Mah-Jongg primarily or partly of the delight which it affords in the manipulation of the tiles and the due performance of the rituals.
The Mah-Jongg set is in itself a work of art and an object of beauty, which it is a pleasure to handle and admire: so too, the characteristically and the poetic phraseology in which they are conveyed, contribute to the novelty, the mystique and the romantic appeal of Mah-Jongg. At the same time these attributes set it apart from other games, and grant to its initiates an agreeable sense of cliquish exclusivity, in their having gained knowledge of mysteries hidden from the understanding of the mass of mankind.
Mah Jong has a long and puzzling history, largely obscured by uneducated guesses as to its origin, and clouded by legends. It has for centuries been the favorite game of the Chinese, and tradition has it that its name is apropos of the sound made by the tiles clicking together during the game. Mah means flax or hemp plant, and is said to refer to the sound of the plant’s leaves clicking in the wind. Jong means sparrow, and supposedly recalls the chattering of the bird. …The experience of watching one of these varieties of Mah Jong for the first time is bewildering. The terms are incomprehensible and seem innumerable, the play among experts is usually so fast-moving that it seems impossible to follow its progress. No wonder the newcomer to Mah Jong refuses to believe the old hand’s assurance that it is really a very easy game.
Mah Jongg is an exciting game, loads of fun, and many people who play it get addicted to it.
Mahjong can be played in hundreds of ways. In China it is played differently than in America, in Japan differently than in Hong Kong, in Great Britain differently than in France, in one region differently than in another, and in the Johnsons’ house differently than in the Steiners’ house.
You can compare it with playing cards, which can be played in hundreds of ways. It is the same with mahjong – with the same tiles you can play in countless different ways. It doesn’t matter what version you play since mahjong remains a special and exciting game no matter how it is played.
I began to study up on mah-jongg. I bought two books. And right away I was confused. The two books were both about mah-jongg, but the books described games that were different from each other. I soon learned that there were multiple variotions on the game. I bought a computer game, Hong Kong Mahjong, and started practicing the Hong Kong Old Style variant. And that was the beginning of a long love affair. Since then, I’ve played in Hong Kong, Japan, Europe, China, and, of course, here at home in the United States. Through my participation…I have mah-jongg friends all over the planet and I wouldn’t trade them for the number one spot in a tournament.