Mahjong (the name literally means “sparrow”) is a tile game of Chinese origin, invented there in the mid-1800 century but has its roots in older games. In its most well-known form it is played with 144 tiles named Dragons, Winds, Characters, Bamboo and so on. Briefly put, each of the four players at the table receives a number of these tiles at the start, randomly drawn, and during the game tries to selectively exchange some of them so as to eventually arrange all the tiles in his or her hand into certain combinations. Whoever can accomplish this goal first “goes out” (declares a mahjong), and is rewarded by collecting points from the others.
Mahjong is a game of judgment and skill, much like poker, backgammon and bridge, repaying concentration, an ability to figure out odds and memorizing which tiles have already been discarded out of play. The game also offers the challenge of balancing your play between aiming to go out quickly but with not very valuable tiles in hand and shooting for more high-paying but harder-to-achieve combinations. It can also be played both in single-table and in tournament format.
Having wrestled with a reputation for being a hard-core gambling game during most of the 20th century, Mahjong has today established itself as a bonafide accepted international classic. In 1998 it was officially named China’s 255th sport and in 2002 the first World Mahjong Championship was held in Tokyo. In 2007 the World Championship took place in 2007 Chengdu China. There are even two museums devoted to the game: one in Chiba, Japan, and the other in Ningbo, China. Mahjong also figures prominently in a number of films, such as “Joy Luck Club” (1993, after the novel by Amy Tan) and “God of Gamblers” (1989)
Due to its development as a true “folk game”, Mahjong is played in about two dozen versions around the world. These versions all share the same basic game play but differ as to which tile combinations are acceptable and in the point scoring systems. Our Mahjong game sports the “classic” version, which in the 1920′s swept the world as the games craze of the times and still is widely played, with micro-variations, not least throughout Europe. The International version, as played in the World Championship and increasingly in large tournaments and the Japanese Riichi version. We are also working on the Hong Kong and Taiwanese versions.
The intrinsic visual beauty of Mahjong has been captured here with pleasing high-quality graphics, adding to the enjoyment of the game. Naturally, you may play Mahjong for free, or for actual money at various limits; all the available games are to be found in the Lobby in our Mahjong game.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Mahjong!