Relax and play the original Mahjong game for free using traditional Mahjong tiles! Mahjong is a great way to exercise your brain while also helping to relieve stress! Keep reading to find out how to play Mahjong, a bit about its history, and the meanings of the Mahjong tiles.

What is Mahjong?

Mahjong is a single-player matching game of Chinese origin that uses a set of 144 Mahjong tiles and is most often played on a computer. It is a type of solitaire game or a game you can play by yourself using cards, dominoes, or, as in the case of Mahjong, tiles.

The arrangement used in the original Mahjong game is called the turtle formation. It gets its name from the way the tiles resemble a turtle when viewed from above before any of them have been removed.

The game goes by different names but is most often called simply Mahjong or Mahjong Solitaire. Its other names include:
• Shanghai Solitaire
• Electronic Mahjong
• Computerized Mahjong
• Solitaire Mahjong

These names help to distinguish Mahjong Solitaire from the 19th-century, four-player, tabletop Mahjong game. That version uses the same set of Mahjong tiles but has a completely different gameplay. It is more like the card game rummy and is sometimes called Mahjong Rummy.

Is it Mahjong or Mahjongg?

Mahjong, Mahjongg, and Mah-jongg, are all correct spellings for the same online games. Also, when you say the name of the game, the letter j can either make the 'j' or 'zh' sound.

History of Mahjong Solitaire

American computer programmer Brodie Lockard is credited with creating the computerized version of Mahjong Solitaire back in 1981.

Lockard wrote the game's program while undergoing rehabilitation after a trampoline accident left his limbs paralyzed. He released his original Mahjong Solitaire video game for free under the name Mah-Jongg.

Video game producer Activision released the game in 1986 as Shanghai. Microsoft released its version, Taipei, in 1990. Different versions of the game may have slightly different gameplay. Another game that we recommend to everyone is the exremely popular bubble shooter game.

Traditional Mahjong Tiles

The 144 tiles in the original Mahjong game are divided into five groups. These are circles, bamboo, Chinese characters, honors, and bonus tiles.
Each group of circle, bamboo, and Chinese character tiles is called a suit. Each suit has four copies of nine different tiles, making a total of 36 tiles per suit and 108 tiles in the three suits together.

Circle Tiles

Also called dots, coins, stones, or wheels, these tiles have one to nine circles. The 1 circle is usually much larger and more colorful than the circles on the other tiles.

Bamboo Tiles

Bamboo tiles have one to nine pieces of bamboo that are sometimes called sticks or strings. The 1 bamboo tile may be a bit tricky to spot, though, since it usually has the drawing of a bird on it rather than a piece of bamboo. Keep an eye out for it!

Chinese Character Tiles

These Mahjong tiles are also called myriad, number, or crack tiles. The red characters are identical and represent 10,000 (also called a myriad). The blue characters are the numerals 1 to 9. So, these tiles actually range from 10,000 (1 x 10,000) to 90,000 (9 x 10,000).

The Mahjong Chinese character tiles are also numbered 1 to 9 in the top left corner to make matching easier.

Honor Tiles

The seven different honor tiles in the original Mahjong represent the four winds (east, south, west, and north) and three dragons (red, green, and white).

The four winds can be easily matched using the letters in the top left-hand corner - E, S, W, and N. The red and green dragon tiles use Chinese characters. The white dragon tile is blank with a blue border.

With four copies of each tile, there are 16 wind tiles and 12 dragon tiles for 28 honor tiles in all.

Bonus Tiles

The 32 bonus tiles in Mahjong are in two sets. One set is the four seasons, numbered 1 to 4 in the top left corner for easier matching. These are: 1, spring; 2, summer, 3, autumn; and 4, winter. Their drawings represent the seasons, such as a snowflake for winter. You can try to identify each one as you play!

The other set of bonus tiles is the four flowers. These are also numbered 1 to 4 for easy matching of the pairs. The flowers are 1, plum; 2, orchid; 3, chrysanthemum; and 4, bamboo. They, too, have numbers in the top left corner along with a drawing of each flower. Can you spot them?

How to Play Mahjong

The first Mahjong rule is that the pairs of tiles must match. The second Mahjong rule is that each tile in the matched pair must be free to move.

When is a Mahjong tile free to move?

Mahjong tiles may only be moved if they are open on their left side or right side or both sides. Once this is so, you may select a tile even if it is still blocked at its top end or bottom end or both.

Tiles that are clear at their top end or bottom end but still have tiles blocking them on both their left and right sides cannot be selected. You also can't move a tile that has another tile or tiles resting on top of all or a part of it.

Steps in playing Mahjong

Playing Mahjong online is easy. Here's how:

1. Identify a matching pair of tiles.
2. Decide whether both tiles are free to move, as described above.
3. Touch or click the tiles to select them, then… poof, they vanish and you're off to find another matching pair!

Click the refresh/restart icon whenever you want to end a game and start a new one. You may also use it before the start of a game to shuffle the tiles until you find a tile layout you wish to play.!

Give these games a try: mahjong, match 3, geometry dash.