Mahjong Around the World

Variations may have far more complicated scoring systems, add or remove tiles, and include far more scoring elements and limit hands. Many variations today differ only by scoring:

Chinese classical mahjong is the oldest variety of mahjong and was the version introduced to America in the 1920s under various names. It has a small, loyal following in the West, although few play it in Asia.

Hong Kong mahjong or Cantonese mahjong is possibly the most common form of mahjong, differing in minor scoring details from the Chinese Classical variety. It does not allow multiple players to win from a single discard.

Sichuan mahjong is a growing variety, particularly in southern China, disallowing chi melds, and using only the suited tiles. It can be played very quickly.

Tianjin mahjong using normally 7 jokers, with special scoring such as joker-free, joker-waiting-pair, catch-5, dragon, joker-suited-dragon.

Shenyang mahjong using 13 hands in a game, and Shenyang mahjong has a really fast speed on playing, which is matching the personality of North-east people in China. Also in Shenyang mahjong, the player must to have Bamboos, Characters, Circles and number one or nine in his hand. In addition, the players have to Pong before they Chow, so there is no chance to win even if some players win at the first time they have their hands in hand.

Taiwanese mahjong is the variety prevalent in Taiwan and involves hands of 16 tiles (as opposed to the 13-tile hands in other versions), features bonuses for dealers and recurring dealerships, and allows multiple players to win from a single discard.

Fujian mahjong, with a Dàidì joker 帶弟百搭.

Shanxi mahjong, or Lisi (Raise Four; 太原立四麻将), the players must win with the first four blocks drawn which are placed separately in front of other. These four blocks cannot be touched until the player has a ready hand.

Guobiao Majiang (National Standard Mahjong) a rule of Mahjong founded by All-China Sports Federation in July 1998.

Japanese mahjong is a standardized form of mahjong in Japan and is also found prevalently in video games. In addition to scoring changes, the rules of rīchi (ready hand) and dora (bonus tiles) are unique highlights of this variant. In addition, tile discards are specifically arranged in front of each player by discard order, to take discarded tiles into account during play. Some rules replace some of number 5 tiles with red tiles so that they can eventually get more value.

Western classical mahjong is a descendant of the version of mahjong introduced by Babcock to America in the 1920s. Today, this term largely refers to the “Wright-Patterson” rules, used in the U.S. military, and other similar American-made variants that are closer to the Babcock rules.

American mahjong is a form of mahjong standardized by the National Mah Jongg League and the American Mah-Jongg Association. It uses joker tiles, the Charleston, plus melds of five or more tiles, and eschews the Chow and the notion of a standard hand. Purists claim that this makes American mahjong a separate game. In addition, the NMJL and AMJA variations, which differ by minor scoring differences, are commonly referred to as mahjongg or mah-jongg (with two Gs, often hyphenated).

Singaporean/Malaysian mahjong is a variant similar to the Cantonese mahjong played in Malaysia. Unique elements of Singaporean/Malaysian mahjong are the four animal tiles (cat, mouse, cockerel, and centipede) as well as certain alternatives in the scoring rules, which allow payouts midway through the game if certain conditions (such as a kang) are met.

South African mahjong is a variant of Cantonese mahjong. It is very similar in terms of game play and follows most of the rules and regulations of Cantonese mahjong. However, there are some minor differences in scoring, e.g. the limit on the maximum points a hand can be rewarded is 3 or 4 fan depending on the house rules. A chicken hand (gai wu) is normally considered a value hand. Depending on the house rules flowers may also be used to boost scoring.

Vietnamese mạt chược, with 16 different kinds of jokers for a total of 160 tiles. Modern variant include more jokers for a total of 176 tiles.

Thai mahjong, includes the older Vietnamese tiles with another eight for a total of 168 tiles.

Filipino mahjong, with the Window Joker.

Korean mahjong is unique in many ways and is an excellent version for three players. One suit is omitted completely (usually the Bamboo set or 2-8 of bamboo) as well as the seasons. The scoring is simpler and the play is faster. No melded chows are allowed and concealed hands are common. Riichi (much like its Japanese cousin) is an integral part of the game as well.