How To Play Mahjong and All You Want To Know About Its Basic Rules

How To Play Mahjong and All You Want To Know About Its Basic Rules

You might have seen tiles in almost everyone’s home and even at some tourist places. All you have done with tiles are either walking on them or praising them for their beauty on walls. What if I tell you that you can even play with tiles? No, I am not talking about stapoo at all. Instead, I am talking about one of the most popular Chinese games, mahjong. Now you must be wondering about the process of playing this game or in short how to play mahjong?

How to Play Mahjong? 

Well, when we talk about mahjong, the game is quite interesting and full of fun. It not only improves the operating speed of our mind but also helps us in finding the solutions in the most difficult situations. The following article consists of answers to your various questions, such as what is mahjong? What are the mahjong rules? And so on.

Number Of Players

The game consists of 4 players, sitting on each side of the board. However, there is also a three-player variant in the market. 

Components of the Game

The game consists of 136 tiles, which includes 36 circles, 36 characters, and 36 bamboos. All of these suits are then divided into four sets of numbers 1 to 9 in every suit. There are 12 dragon tiles and 16 wind tiles too. Moreover, there are also four seasons, four flowers, and eight bonus tiles. All of these are not needed in the basic game. 

A pair of dice is used to make a deal. You have a choice whether you want to use four racks or not. 

The Goal of The Game

The main agenda behind playing mahjong games is to achieve mahjong. It means that you have to get all the 14 tiles into four different sets and a pair. A pair consists of 2 identical tiles. A set means either a “chow” or three same tiles. A run of three consecutive numbers in the same suit is what it all takes to score. However, it is not possible to use a single tile in two sets at a single chance. 

How to Setup Mahjong

Setting up is the first important thing to learn before knowing how to play mahjong? When we talk about the Chinese style of playing mahjong then, four wind tiles are shuffled, and the players are asked to deal. Players are then asked to sit following their tile. The order should be clockwise, i.e., north, west, south, and east. However, in this present era players roll the dice to know the dealer. 

Bunch of tiles are shuffled together. After this, the players have to make a wall with 34 down tiles in front of themselves. The size of the wall should be 17 tiles high and 17 tiles longer. The tiles should be in the centre of the table, with a large square wall.

The dealer has to roll the dice and then starting from the right edge of the wall he/she counts the tiles. The dealer has to separate the wall at the same time, to start the deal of tile. It is carried out from the left of the spot. Every player playing the game has 14 tiles in hand and has to deal for the14th tile with the dealer. 

Players soon arrange the tiles so that they can at least see the order and find the missing ones. They place the tiles on racks, and the dealer discards one of the tiles, and the game begins.

How To Play Mahjong

Before beginning with your turn, you have to give other players some time for claiming the recently discarded tile. The very first priority of the one who claims the correct discarded tile is completing the mahjong. The one who does so, claims the tile too, and at last, discloses the winning of 14 tiles. 

Every player has the chance to claim the title which has already been discarded. The most interesting event occurs when every player has to say “pung” as soon as they pung. After speaking pung, they also have to reveal both the matching tiles which have a match to that discarded tile. However, left-right centre game rules and mahjong rules cannot be excused while playing it.

For better understanding, let us take an example that the one which was discarded was 5 of bamboo. Now if a player has two more 5 of bamboos, he/she has to say “pung”. Speaking pung means that the set of 3 bamboos is completed. After this, a player who had a pung has to discard another tile, and then the chance passes to the other one. 

If none of the players has the match for the discarded tile and it has completed a chow for you. Then, you can also claim the title by saying “chow”. The following process is exactly similar to the one I explained above with pung. If discarding doesn’t complete a set for you, then when it’s your turn, you have to draw the tile next to it on the wall. There you know now how to play mahjong?

What is Kong?

Some players used to play it with a kong too. In which there occurs an extended pung when the match should be of 4. The other rules using a kong are exactly similar to that explained above. 


Every player has an equal opportunity to make a hand. The hand ends when any of the players declare mahjong and discloses a hand of four sets with 14 tiles and a pair. However, if none of the players disclose mahjong, then the game is declared a draw. 


If the scoring is simple, then one point is awarded to the one who has achieved the mahjong. However, scoring varies from region to region. The one who takes a discard is awarded one bonus point. When we talk about the exponential scoring, it scores a pung at every two points. It gets doubled if any pung is not disclosed. If the pung was a kong, then the points doubled twice. 

Once you know how to play mahjong? Soon you will get to know the importance of scoring too.


Players either decide a pointing target or keep the quitting criteria. The one who achieves the target first is declared the winner. It is one of the best board games for kids and elders both.

Final Words

Mahjong is a Chinese tile game of patience, intelligence and spontaneity. Playing mahjong also improves mental health and reduces the risk of depression.(source) The game consists of 4 players, sitting on each side of the board. However, there is also a three-player variant in the market. The dealer discards one of the tiles and the one who pung and scores most is declared as the winner. 

I hope you like this article. For more switch articles stay connected to us and don’t forget to drop your review in the comment section. 


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