"The longer one plays mah jong, the greater grows one's admiration for the quality of mind that developed this exercise of one hundred intelligences" - L.L. Harr (1923).
A set of 144 Mah Jong tiles consists of 36 tiles in the Bamboo suit, 36 in the Circle suit, 36 in the Character suit, 16 Wind tiles, 12 Dragon tiles and 8 bonus tiles (4 Flowers and 4 Seasons).
Legends of Mahjong
Hung Hsiu-ch'üan (1814-1864) was a Chinese religious leader and founder of the Taiping sect. His beliefs led to the Taiping Rebellion. Theorists speculate that Mah Jong first originated in his Court which was infamous for entertainment. Mah Jong was thus created in China and based on the popular Cantonese card game Ma-Tiao.
In 1922 Babcock began importing Mah Jong sets to the USA and introduced the game to the West. Babcock wrote a simplified version of the rules called "Rules of Mah Jong" in an attempt to attract more buyers. This slimmed down version of the game was later rejected. Mr. Babcock is also credited with putting English numerals on the tiles.
Hong Kong expert Kwan attempted to create a set of common international competition rule for Mah Jong. His Zung Jung Mahjong Scoring System was adopted by the World Series of Mahjong, a tournament held each year in Macau.
In September 2008 Alex Ho won the World Series of Mahjong. Ho managed to beat over 300 competitors from 15 counties. After three days and 12 hours of four elimination rounds, the world champion was crowned and took the $500,000 prize back to Hong Kong.
In October 2002 Miss Hai Hatsume won the inaugral World Championship of Mah Jong hosted at the Tokyo Grand Palace Hotel.
Mah Jong Tactics
Don't be a hoarder
Holding onto tiles just because they are pretty or have status is a bad idea and happens to all of us. The winning player is ruthless and discards tiles immediately if they do not add value to their Mah Jong.
Be first to break wind
Isolated wind tiles will not help you later in the game. Discard these winds as early in the game as possible to reduce the risk of other players performing a "pung" and using the wind tile for their own needs.
If you can play rummy, you can play Mah Jong
If you can play rummy, you are already 80% of the way to being a Mah Jong player. The principles are the same, but tiles are used instead of cards. The points scoring and special Mah Jong outs make it a little more complex, but you can play and enjoy Mah Jong right now.
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