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Created 2010-12-18 20:48:00
Updated 2017-02-02 13:17:32
Posted by Ms. ISHIHARA, 香姐

Mah Jong Rules - 麻雀牌 - 麻将牌玩法



The game of Mah Jong has become ever so popular for hundreds of years but no one can tell as to its exact origin. The Mah Jong at the very beginning was said to be made of card-boards and by gradual improvement they have become now to be made of bamboo and bone jointly engraved and filled with colors, somewhat like the dominoes.

Mah Jong excels other amusement in that it tends to develop one’s thinking power and intelligence and is quite different from other harmful gambling, such as “poker” and “twenty-one” because, when playing, the stake is limited and interesting for its fascinating varieties or formations. There is no other better way to spend your leisure hours at home or with your friends than to play Mah Jong.

Centuries have elapsed since the game was originated but it is still enjoying increasing popularity. So we have the pleasure to recommend this most interesting game to our foreign friends and draw out all the existing rules and directions for guidance.


  1. The Mah Jong Set……………………………………………………………………..
  2. Arrangements To Play………………………………………………………………
  3. Procedure To Open Gate………………………………………………………….
  4. The Game Proper & Completing of Hands………………………………..
  5. To “Chow” to “Poong” and to “Kong”……………………………………….
  6. Arrangement for Payment after Completing Hand…………………..
  7. The Score Table…………………………………………………………………………
  8. Special Basal Score……………………………………………………………………
  9. Double Honor Score………………………………………………………………….
  10. To Play with Flower Cards added……………………………………………..
  11. General Informations………………………………………………………………
  12. Examples of Scores…………………………………………………………………..


The tiles: MAH JONG is played with set of 136 pieces of bone or ivory with bamboo back, the faces are engraved with designs in color. These pieces are referred to as “Tiles” there are thirty-four kinds of tiles and four of each kind make up the set.

Mahjong bamboo suit
Fig. 1

The thirty-four different kind of tiles are as follows: First, there are three suits designated by “bamboo”, “circles’ and “characters” (see fig.1, 2 and 3), each of these three suits runs from one to nine. Thus, the various tiles are referred to as one bamboo, four circles, seven characters, etc. in the tree suits therefore, there are twenty-seven different kinds of tiles, four alike of each kind, making a total of 108.

mahjong tiles circles
Fig. 2

In addition there are the “Honor Tiles” consisting of the four winds, the East, South, West and North Winds (see Fig.4), and also the tiles called the “Red Dragon”, “Green Dragon” and the “White Dragon”, or more simply Red, Green and White (see Fig.5). the Winds and Dragon total 28 tiles.

Mahjong char suit
Fig. 3

The beginner should study the tiles and be able to classify correctly all the tiles in the set before proceeding with the play. The design of the one bamboo (a bird) and the one circle (a wheel) should be noted carefully so that no confusion occurs in assigning these tiles to their proper suits.

Mahjong winds
Fig. 4
Mahjong dragons
Fig. 5

Besides the 136 pieces there maybe added one or two sets of “Flower Cards”; each set consists of four cards respectively. Their nominations sometimes, are “Spring”, “Summer”, “Autumn” and “Winter” or “Plum”, “Orchid”, “Chrysanthemum” and “Bamboo”, to play with these cards added, however, has not been popular. If the players like to add these cards, refer to section 10. The following are the Illustrations of Flower Card.

Mahjong flowers seasons
Fig. 6

Four Extra white tiles are included with each set for use in case a tile should be lost or damaged. Care should be taken to set aside these extra white tiles before beginning the game; only four white tiles should be used in playing (if you lose a tile, send an extra white the of your set to us stating which tile is lost, and the design will be engraven upon the White Tile you send and returned to you without charge).

The Counters: Improved Standard Counters of Chinese styles are furnished white each set to be used for scoring. At the close of each hand the winner receives counter from the three losers who then receive from each other the difference between their scores, as explained in the rules.

The counters furnished with the set have four values (see Fig.7). Before play starts, each of the four players receives:

Mahjong counters
Fig. 7 - Mahjong counters

36 counters with 1 dot, each player 9 counters
8 counters with 5 dot, each player 2 counters
4 counters with 9 dot, each player 1 counter
40 counters with 8 dot, each player 10 counters

The Dice: Two dice only are required in playing the game. An extra pair is supplied with each set to replace any that may be lost.

The Mingg and Wind Discs: A small cylindrical box know as the “Mingg” is usually included with each set. This Mingg contains four Wind Discs

Weast 4 winds

Fig. 8 - Mahjong Mingg, Four Wind discs.

The Mingg and the four Wind Discs will be found useful the position of each Wind during the play and used in drawing for seats and keeping track of the number of round played.


The game is played by four persons who sit on each side of a square table. Before sitting down one of you shuffles the four Position Indicator and put them one upon the other. Temporarily each of you, four players, represent a side and the very same man picks up the dice and throw once so as to see who is going to represent the temporary east and so on. If the number of points are 3, 7, 11 the man opposite the East, the West, if, 2, 6, 10 the man on the right or the South, if, 4, 8, 12 the man on the left, the North, and if 5 or 9 the East himself starts drawing the topmost Position Indicator, the second, third and fourth by the South, West and North in their respective order and turn (counterclockwise). In turning over the Indicator each one of you will find where you are to be seated. By this simple process the allotment of seat is determined. After the seats of players have been chosen, the players should have all the cards thoroughly mixed and shuffled, placing face downward on the table. Then each player takes 34 pieces of cards and arranged them in 17 stacks of two, one card pile upon another all facing downward, which are to be pushed forward to form a square like a city wall see Fig. 9.

N. (4. 8. 12) Mahjong setup wall
W (3. 7. 11)
E. (5. 9)S. (2. 6. 10)

Fig. 9 - Mahjong Setup Wall

If two set of Flower Cards are to be added, each player should take 36 pieces of cards and make 18 stacks, and if only one set is to be added then only the Chief (or dealer) and the player opposite the Chief make 18 stacks, and the rest 17.


At the beginning of the game the Chief (or dealer) is decided by throwing the dice once more. The method used corresponds with the Allotment of Seats, taking the thrower as 1, the man on his right as 2, opposite as 3, and left as 4, and so on until the final number you arrive is to become the East from whom the game starts. The Chief is always considered as East, and the player opposite the Chief is West, to Chief’s right is South, and to Chief’s left is North. Then the Chief will cast the 2 dice for opening the gate. The total number of spots on both dice determines on witch side of the square the opening is to be made, commencing from the Chief as one spot. Then the dice will be again cast by the one who is indicated by the first cast. For example, if the total number of spots is 5 or 9 it is for Chief to throw again; 2, 6, or 10 for South; 3, 7, 11 for West; and 4, 8, 12 North.

The grand total number of spots from 1st and 2nd throws determines the exact position where the opening is to be made. If the first cast is nine (see Fig. 9) it is for Chief to throw again. The second cast is four.The grand total number is 13 then the chief takes off 13th stack counting from right to left. The Chief then starts drawing 2 stacks (4 pieces) on the left of the 13th stack and succeeding followed by South, West and North, each of them draws 3 times (2 stacks) in their order until each player has 6 stacks (12 pieces) in front of him facing inside. Then again by turn each player takes one piece more forming 13 pieces in each one’s hand. Now the 13 pieces are the standard number of cards for each player (except 4 of a kind in his possession which will be explained later). The last 2 cards of the end where the opening was made should be laid upon the stacks, the upper one placed farthest from the opening as “Loose Cards” as A & B which are used for the purpose of “Kongs” .


Now the Chief (East) is going to start the game by drawing one card more than the rest in order to discard one, and then by turn the same procedure followed by the South, West and North and so on until one of the four players completes his hand and wins the game. The discarded piece is always facing upward in the middle of the table.

The purpose of drawing and discarding the cards is to form four sets of threes, i.e, each set either can be formed by three of a kind or by a sequence which means a straight number of 3 cards of the same group except Dragon and Wind groups, see Examples of Score Fig.12. In Addition to the 4 sets, there must be an extra pair making the total number in hand 14 cards, this is “The completed hand” which wins the game.


1.”To Chow” _ When a player discards one piece, only the one who sits on the right of him has the chance to chow. The one who takes in the discarded piece to form a sequence lays those three pieces on the table facing upward (except the same piece is required at the same time by either one of the other 2 players “Poong” or to “Kong”), and then discards one piece maintaining always 13 cards in his hand. The next draw from the wall will come in turn to the player sitting on the right of the one who “Poonged” or “Chowed”.

2.”To Poong” –If a player possesses a pair he can poong the same piece which corresponds the one just discarded (by the any one of the 3 players) and places this said pair with the discarded piece of same kind in front of him facing upward and discards one as the game goes on. But if the other players require this same piece to complete his hand then the privilege of poong or chow is totally deprived. Suppose a player who sits nearest to the player who discards it (counting counterclockwise in order) has the right to take it.

3. 4, of a King (or Kong) – If a player has three of a king in his hand he can declare “Kong” in case there is a 4th piece discarded by other (except when the same piece is required by another player to complete hand). A “Kong” formed by a card discarded by other is called ‘Open Kong” and that formed by a card drawn by himself is called “Close Kong”. Again, when a player has already poonged a set on the table and draws one more of the same kind from the wall by himself, it is also treated as an Open Kong ; but no one is allowed to kong the 4th of a kind which is discarded by other players when he has poonged that kind already (except drawn by himself). For Open Kongs, the player should lay the 4 pieces on the table all facing upward in front of him, while for Close Kongs one only lays 2 of them upwards and 2 downwards on the table showing the distinction. In the case of Close Kong, even if the same piece is required by other players to complete hand, the drawer only has the right to keep it (Open Kong is just on the contrary). Any player who has Kong (either Open or Close) must draw one card more from the “Loose Cards” at the end of the wall to recover the correct number (13 pieces of cards) in hand (4 of a kind is to be treated as a set of threes).


1.After a player has completed his hand, each of the other has to lay down his own cards upward and scores his points (refer to the Score Table). Now the winner (completing hand) receives the whole, score from each of the three losers disregarding their scores, and among these three losers, each settles with the other two by paying the difference between their score from each other. As usual the payment is settled by means of counters which represent a certain amount of money according to their different sizes or colors used. The Chief (East) always receives or pays double the amount of the other 3 players but among South, West and North each simply receives or pays the ordinary rate.

2.When The chief wins (completing hand) he can remain to be Chief for the next game until he fails to win. Then the Chief (East) will be passed on, and the next one who sits on his right is entitled to be chief and so on. In case there is no completion of hand among the players until. There are only 7 stacks left( 14 pieces of cards) including the "Loose Cards" at the end of the wall, the game is treated as Draw and hence no score whatever will be counted, An addition of each stack will be made to the "Loose Cards" for each Kong, whether Open or Close.

3.According to usual custom the highest score for each hand is limited to 300 points. The points beyond that limitation are not counted. At the completion of each hand, the winner is entitled to add the Basal points (10 Points) to his total points for combinations of 3 or 4 of a kind, and a pair, both in hand or exposed. The Basal points are not given to the other 3 losers. See Score Table.

4.If a Winning Hand possesses of all the kinds of Dragon or all the Winds either in 3 or 4 of a kind it is usually considered as full score (300 points).


A.- Combination of sets on table:(Except sequence which has no score) These are formed by poongs and Kongs, and can apply to all hands as follows: -

ParticularsNo. of Points
Three of a kind (of 2,3,4,5,6, 7, or8)2 points
Three "Ones" or "Nines"4 points
Three of a kind of any Wind Group4 points
Three of a kind of any Dragon Group4 points
Four of a kind bf 2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7, or8)8 points
Four of a kind of any of "Ones" or "Nines"16 points
Four of a kind of any Wind Group16 points
Four of a kind of any Dragon Group16 points
A pair of Dragon Group or of player's own
Wind (as Chief's own Wind is East, etc.) 2 points

B- Combination of sets in hands: I (Except sequence which has no score) The following are formed by drawing from wall him self as follows:

Three of a kind (of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7, or8)4 points
Three "Ones" or "Nines"8 points
Three of a kind of any Wind Group8 points
Three of a kind of any Dragon Group8 points
Four of a kind (of2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7, or8)16 points
Four of a kind of any of "Ones" or "Nines"32 points
Four of a kind of any Wind Group32 points
Four of a kind of any Dragon Group32 points
A pair of Dragon Group or of player's own Wind2 points


The basal score (10 points generally) is only entitled to the winning hand. It is to be added to the winner's total scoring points, but sometimes the special Basal Score maybe 20, 30, or more as the players may agree upon before the game starts.


A.- The following are applied to all hands:

B.- The Following are applied to winning hands only:

Concerning winning hands, we take for instance a player who possesses more than one Double Honor set either on table or in hand, he can double the total score according to the scores table for each Honor set. For example, his scores is 36, and he has 4 of a kind of Dragon Group and 3 of his own Wind and the rest is of the same Group (Circle Bamboo' Character) them the total score (36) doubles three times which arrives ,at the final score of 288 Points.


The procedure of playing with flower cards is the same as playing without them. The idea is only to mark the score higher and afford the players with more interest. When a player draws one flower he should lay it on the table facing upward, and before he discards he should draw one more from "Loose Cards" at the end of the wall in order to reconver the correct number of cards in hand.

The score for each of the flower card is four points. In doubling the score of the flowers they are treated just like the winds; i. e., if the East (or Chief) gets Spring of Plum he can double his total score once besides the four points he is entitled to, and if the East gets both Spring and Plum, he can double his total score twice. Again if the South gets Summer or Orchid, the West gets Autumn or Chrysanthemum, and the North gets Winter or Bamboo, they also can double their total score in the same manner as the East. But if the East or other players get no flower of their own (such as the East gets Summer, Autumn or Winter, etc. ) they are entitled to four points only and can not double their score. Any of the players gets the four pieces ( complete set as Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter or Plum, Orchid Chrysanthemum and, Bamboo) at one time he can double the total score two times. If eight pieces (2. complete sets) he can double the total score four times.


A.- Extra Scores:- (For winning hand only).

Under the following circumstances, Extra Scores either to add 10 points to the total score after completing hand of any player, or double the total score as the players like to but may be agreed to before the game starts'

  1. No straight in hand or on table.
  2. Winning card drawn from the "Loose Cards" after Kongs.
  3. Entirely no points after completing hand ( Basal points, excluded).
  4. If the player wins by drawing the last piece from which the game is to be declared as draw'
  5. To complete hand by utilizing the 4th piece which is going to form an "OPEN KONG" drawn by the other player who has poonged the same already'

B.- Other Additional Scores:- (For winning hand only)'

  1. Winning piece drawn by winner himself 2 points'
  2. Winning piece to match the only piece such as forming a pair, filling in the middle to form a straight or fitting on only one side to make a straight.


Fig. 11

The above hand scores as follows:-

 If on tableIf in hand
For 3 one Circle48
For 3 two Bamboos24
For pair Red Dragons2(always in hand) 2
For Winning Hand, or Basal Score1010
(Refer to Section VII). Total18 Points24 points

18 is the smallest possible score If final piece to complete hand is drawn from wall, add 2 to the Score (Refer to Section XIB. No 1). If final piece to complete hand is filled in the only place: add 2 to the score (Refer to Section XIB. No.2).

Fig. 12

The above hand scores as follows: -

For Winning Hand10points
For Entirely no Points10 points
Total 20 Points

Fig. 13

The above hand scores as follows: -

If on tableIf in hand
For 3 one Circle48
For winning Hand1010
Total14 points18 points

Doubling once for one

group (Circles) (Refer to Section IX B. No. .1)28 Points36 points

If winner is "West Wind" add 2 to score for a pair of own wind before doubling, making final score 32 if on table and 40 if in hand.

Fig. 14

The above hand score as follows :-

If on tableIf in hand
For 3 Green Dragons48
For pain White Dragons22
For Winning hand1010
Total16 Points20 Points
Doubling once for 3 Green
Dragons32 Points40 Points
Doubling again for one
Group (Character)64 Points80 Points

Fig. 15

The above hand scores as follow:

If on tableIf in hand
For 3 Three Bamboos24
For 3 Nine Bamboos48
For Winning Hand1010
Total16 Points22 Points

Double 3 times for all of Purely one group makes

the total score of128 Points176 Points

Fig. 16

The above hand scores as follows:-

If on tableIf in hand
For 4 White Dragons48
For 3 Green Dragons48
For Winning Hand1010
Total16 points26 points
Doubling once for 3 White Dragons36 points52 points
Double again for 3 Green Dragons72 points104 points
Double again for Group (character)144 points208 points

If winner is "North Wind" add 2 to score for pair of own wind before doubling, making final score 160 if on table, and 224 if in hand.

Fig. 17

The above hand is considered as full score (300 points) regardless of score. Refer to section VI. Paragraph.4. If it is, not limited, the above hand scores as follows

If on tableIf in hand
For 4 White Dragons (Kong)632
For 3 Red Dragons48
For 3 Green Dragons48
For 3 East Winds48
For Winning Hand1010
For not straight (Sec section XI paragraph A No. I)1010
48 points76 points
For 4 White Dragons double the total96”152”
For 3 Red Dragons double again192”304”
Double again for 3 Green Dragons384”608”
Double again for one Group (character)768”1216”
If winner is “East Wind” double again1536”2432”



The Mah Jong game is played by rounds instead of by time. Each player is entitled to be chief once in a round (the chief keeps on to be chief if the other player do not win the game which will deprive him of the privilege). After four round, the seats of players should be changed again by means of dice, just as when you first started. Generally people play only eight rounds, but this may be renewed as many rounds as the players desire.





This document is a first draft version of which French/Chinese manual version is not yet available. Though those links point to an automatical translation by Google.

You can download this document in PDF here. Please contact us for more information.

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