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The Tiles

Three Suits


4x sets numbering 1-9

#1 looks like a bird


4x sets numbering 1-9


4x sets numbering 1-9

Minor Tiles

Numbers 2-8 of any suit. They are the least valuable of the tiles.

Major Tiles

Number 1 and 9 of any suit.

A set of Major tiles scores twice the points of an equivalent set of Minor tiles.

Two Honours


4x Red, 4x Green, 4x White. White Dragons are often blank. A set of Dragons always doubles the score.

Chung, Fa, Bai


4x East, 4x South, 4x West, 4x North. A set of a players Personal Wind tiles double a score.

Dōng, Nán, Xī, Běi

Two Bonuses


Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter

Chun, Xia, Qiu, Ddng


Plum, Orchid, Chrysanthemum and Bamboo.

Mei, Lan, Ju, Zhu

Give bonus points as well as doubling a score when it is associated with the players own Personal Wind.

A complete set of Flowers or Seasons (known as a Bouquet) also doubles a score.

Player's Own Tiles

Sets of Tiles

A player collects sets of tiles called Chows, Pongs and Kongs throughout the play. The combination of these is a Mahjong.


  • A run of three tiles in the same suit.
  • Can only be Balls, Bamboo or Numbers.
  • Scores no points, but may help you end the game.


  • A set of three identical tiles.
  • Can be Balls, Bamboo, Numbers, Winds and Dragons.
  • Scores a few points.


  • A set of 4 identical tiles.
  • Can be Balls, Bamboo, Numbers, Winds and Dragons.
  • Scores lots of points.


  • Four sets and a pair of identical tiles.
  • Ends the game and scores lots of bonus points.
  • Only the player who ends the game scores points.
  • This 14 doesn't include any additional Seasons and Flowers collected.


  1. Shuffle the Tiles

    Seasons and Flowers are optional, so take them out now if you don't want to use them. Some Mahjong sets have blank spare tiles in them, so take those out, but check first that they are not the White Dragon tile as these are sometimes blank tiles.

    Place the tiles face down on the table and shuffle them.

  2. Set Up The Wall

    Make a square Wall which is two tiles high and 18 tiles long, overlapping each corner. If you're not using the Seasons and Flowers, it will be two tiles high and 17 tiles long.

  3. Choose the players personal wind

    Roll a dice, the highest scoring player is 'East'. The other players take directions relative to the East player, so the player to the right of the East player is South, then to the right again West and finally North.

    Each player should note their Personal Wind and the Flowers and Seasons that correspond to it as these will give them additional bonuses.

  4. Decide the Prevailing Wind

    In addition to the players having a Personal Wind, every game has a Prevailing Wind, which determines points and score multipliers at the end. The first four games are played with the Prevailing Wind being East. It may change after that, see "Ending the Game" for more details.

    Some Mahjong sets have a dice marked with the Winds which can be displayed somewhere visible to all players to show which Wind is prevailing during each game.

  5. Choose the Dealer

    The East player rolls a dice to determine the starting position on the Wall. Count the number shown on the dice from right to left and starting with their Wall. The person whose side it lands on becomes the dealer.

    That person stays the dealer until they lose a game, at which point the winner becomes the dealer.

  6. Create the Kong Box

    The dealer rolls two dice. Count the number of heaps (piles two tiles high) shown on the dice from the right-hand edge of the dealers Wall. Take the next heap and remove it, putting them on top of the counted tiles.

    Separate this set if you want to create the Kong Box. This is used to give extra tiles to players who create a Kong or to replace a bonus Season or Flower tile.

  7. Distribute Tallies

    If betting or using the tally counting sticks, at the beginning of the session give each player 2,000 points in tallies. If tallies are not available then a score sheet can be used which each player starts with 2,000 points credit.

Game Play

1. Deal the Tiles

The dealer gives themselves the first two heaps (piles two tiles high) from the Wall next to where the Kong Box was created. The dealer then gives the next two heaps to the player to their right, the next two heaps to the next player and so on until all players have 6 heaps.

The dealer then gives themselves an additional two tiles and everyone else an additional one. The dealer should have 14 and everyone else 13. Players can organize their tiles so their faces are hidden from the other players.

2. Display Season or Flower Tiles

The Season and Flower Bonus tiles don't count towards a player's main hand of tiles and must be displayed face-up in front of their concealed hand.

If a player picks a Flower or Season tile from the Wall during the game, they must reveal it immediately and place it with their melded tiles. The player must then pick a replacement tile from the Kong Box to bring their hand up to the required 13 tiles.

3. Dealer Discards

The game begins when the dealer discards any one of their 14 tiles into the space in the centre of the Wall. Players must always utter the name of a tile when it's discarded, e.g. "One of Bamboo" or "Red Dragon".

4. Players take turns from right to left

The play goes from right to left around the Wall, starting with the dealer. This routine is only interrupted when a player claims a discarded tile for a Chow, Pong, Kong or by achieving Mahjong. Each player in turn must pick up one tile and discard one tile, always keeping 13 tiles in their hand, not including Seasons or Flowers.

5. Creating a Winning Hand

Each player's objective is to arrange the tiles in their hand into four sets and an identical pair, allowing them to declare Mahjong and end the game. An example of a Mahjong hand is shown on page 4.

As a player only ever has 13 tiles in their hand, they can only end the game by picking up a tile, either from the Wall, Kong Box or discard pile. Once Mahjong is declared the game ends immediately without a discard having to be made. It is important to remember how the last tile was acquired for points scoring purposes.

The most common sets in Mahjong are Chows and Pongs, which each have three constituent tiles. Kongs are unusual in that they contain four tiles but still only constitute one set.

This means that when a player uses a tile to create a Kong, they need an extra tile to allow them enough tiles in the rest of their hand to make up the other required sets. These extra tiles are drawn from the Kong Box.

6. Picking Up And Discarding Tiles

There are two ways that a player can pick up a tile; from the wall or by picking up the last tile discarded by another player.

  1. Taking a tile from the Wall (most common)

    The player picks up the next available tile from the Wall.

    • The player keeps the tile if it is useful, and discards a less useful one into the space in the middle of the wall, uttering its name e.g. "West Wind".
    • The player can discard the tile immediately if it is not useful, uttering its name as it is put in the middle e.g. "Red Dragon".
    • After a turn a player must have 13 tiles.

    Any sets resulting from a tile drawn from the Wall can be concealed in the players hand rather than being melded and displayed. Concealed sets score more than melded ones.

  2. Picking up a discarded tile

    Instead of picking up a tile from the wall a player may pick up the last tile discarded. This may only be done if the player needs that tile to complete a set or declare Mahjong, and only the last tile to be discarded can be picked up.

    • If the player is using the tile to create a Chow, it must have been discarded from a player ahead of them in the normal order of play. This means that a player can only pick up a discard to complete a Chow when it is their turn.

    • If the player is using the tile to create a Pong or Kong, or to declare Mahjong, they may interrupt play and take the tile they need as soon as it is discarded by any player. Any players between the discarding player and the player picking up their discard will miss their turn.

    • If multiple players claim the same tile the order of precedence is Mahjong, Kong and finally Pong.

    Having picked up a discarded tile, the player must demonstrate to the other players that the pickup was legal. To do this the entire set which the picked-up tile completes must be taken out of the player concealed hand and displayed face-up in front of the player. The set is then said to be Melded, as opposed to a set Concealed in their hand.

    Having picked up the tile and displayed the melded set as appropriate, the player must now discard a tile from their hand as usual. The play then passes to the player's right.

    After a turn a player must have 13 tiles.

7. Note About the Kong

  • Kongs consist of four (identical) tiles, but still only count as one set.

  • This means that when a player picks up the fourth tile needed to turn a Pong into a Kong, the rest of their hand will be one tile short. The player will need to pick up an extra tile to make up the rest of their hand, as the tile they just picked up has effectively disappeared into an already-full set.

  • These extra tiles are taken from the Kong Box, not the Wall.

  • A player who has a Pong concealed in their hand may pick up the fourth tile of that type to create a Kong if it is discarded by any other player, even if another player wants the same tile to create a Pong.

    The resultant Kong must be melded in front of the player's hand as with any set completed by picking up a discard. The player then takes an extra card from the Kong Box and play continues as usual.

  • The player who has a Pong concealed in their hand and then draws the fourth tile of that type from the Wall has a problem. Kongs score very heavily when kept concealed, but the player needs access to the Kong Box to balance out the rest of their hand.

  • In order to demonstrate to the other players that they are entitled to take a tile from the Kong Box, a player who draws the fourth tile of a Kong from the Wall must declare their Kong, and meld it in front of their hand as above.

    The player can turn over one of the tiles in the Kong so it is face down to indicate that it was a concealed hand, rather than an actual melded one.

8. Setting Up The Next Game

Whoever won the last game is now the dealer. The Personal Winds given to the players don't change.

The Prevailing Wind of the game stays the same until the first four games are over. Then if the dealer loses 5th game or any thereafter, the Prevailing Wind will change:

  • Next 4x games the Prevailing Wind is South
  • Next 4x games the Prevailing Wind is West
  • Next 4x games the Prevailing Wind is North

Shuffle the tiles face down and set up a new wall and Kong Box. Using the procedure laid out in the "Setting up a Game" instructions.

End of the Game

Calculating Scores:

Only the winning player gets points. A standard bonus of 20 is given for achieving Mahjong, but different types of sets also score points and doubling bonuses. Calculating a score is a two stage process; first the basic score is calculated, and then the doubling bonuses are applied.

Other players will have to pay the winning player a total based on the points scored and certain conditions of game play.

  1. Calculating The Basic Score

    The players can chose to set a limit of the maximum points possible from a game, which is often set at 2,000. The basic score is determined from:

    • The various sets of Pongs and Kongs
    • Pairs of Honor and Terminal tiles
    • Flower and Season tiles
    • Points given for going Mahjong
    • Bonus for different types of hands

    Use the master table below to work out the basic score.

  2. Doubling

    The basic score is then doubled for each doubling condition that can be found to apply to the hand. Use the master table below to work out the doublings that apply to the winner's hand.

  3. Calculating The Final Score

    The basic score is multiplied by the number of bonuses. So, if a player scores 30, and has four different doubling bonuses, their score would be: 30 x2 = 60, 60 x2 = 120, 120 x2 = 240, 240 x2 = 480

  4. Paying Out Points/tallies

    Depending on how the game ended, the other players will have to pay points from their kitty or tally sticks to the winner. This is determined by using the following table:

    How the game endedPlayer payment
    Dealer goes out by drawing from the WallEverybody pays the winning score x2
    Dealer goes out by picking up a player discardDiscarder pays the winning score x2 x2
    Everybody else pays nothing
    Non-dealer goes out by drawing from the WallEverybody pays the winning score
    Dealer pays the winning score x2
    Non-dealer goes out by picking up a player discardDiscarder pays the winning score x2
    Discarder/Dealer pay the winning score x2 x2

Mahjong Bonus

A standard bonus of 20 is given for achieving Mahjong but additional points and doublings apply to certain circumstances:

Type of HandDescriptionPointsDoubling
Mahjong - Kong BoxIf the winning tile is drawn from the Kong Box20
Mahjong - Player DiscardIf the winning tile is from picked up from another players discard20
Mahjong - WallIf the winning tile is drawn from the Wall22
Mahjong - ConcealedAdditional points if the player wins having all of their hand concealed (20+10)10
Last Wall TileWinner goes out by taking the last tile of the Wall201
Last Discarded TileWinner goes out by taking the discard from the last tile in the Wall201
Robbing a KongWinner goes out by taking a tile another player has drawn from the Wall and added to a Melded Pong to create a Melded Kong.Standard 201
Heavenly HandThe dealer automatically achieves Mahjong with the hand they are dealtAutomatically score maximum points
Earthly HandA non-dealer player achieves Mahjong on first turn either by picking up the dealer's first discard or by taking the winning tile from the Wall.Automatically score maximum points

Basic Scoring

Special Hands

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