What Are the Basic Rules for Playing Mahjong?


Quick Answer

There are many regional rule variants for mahjong, but the general rules are similar to those of rummy. The objective is to create sets of tiles that are worth varying amounts of points.

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Full Answer

According to the rules adopted by the World Series of Mahjong, the game is played by four players. Players attempt to make sets of three or four tiles in the same suit or make identical pairs of tiles. Players take turns drawing and discarding tiles to make these melds.

The winner of each hand takes the points the other players have scored in that hand. A sequence of three successive numbers in the same suit is called a "chow," a set of three identical tiles in the same suit is called a "pung," and a set of four identical tiles in the same suit is called a "kong." A pair can only be made from a discard when declaring mahjong, and only one can be used per hand. The highest score of six points is awarded for four pungs or a pair of dragon pungs in a hand. Two points are awarded for four chows, one dragon pung or kong, or a pung or kong of winds matching the round or seat. One point is awarded for each flower or season tile and for winning by self-draw. A player wins the hand when they have four sets of chow, pung, kong and pairs, and they go out by declaring "mahjong."

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