The purpose of the National Mah Jongg League Inc. is to regulate and promote the traditional Chinese game of Mah Jongg. The game is also referred to as Mahjong, Mah Jong and several other variations. The National Mah Jongg League publishes the American rules for the game, sells merchandise, and matches and replaces missing playing pieces. Additionally, League experts can answer questions about Mah Jongg rules and specific hands to assist with resolving disputed games.
The West discovered Maj Jongg around 1920. American Joseph P. Babcock imported sets of tiles in bulk to the United States throughout the early 1920s, and the game became popular. In 1937, a number of Mah Jongg players met in New York City to standardize the game so that all Mah Jongg players played the same hands and rules. This group also founded the National Mah Jongg League to regulate the rules of the game across the United States. As of 2015, the League changes the hands and rules annually.
A set of 144 Mah Jongg tiles consists of 36 tiles in the Bamboo suit, 36 in the Circle suit, 36 in the Character suit, 16 Wind tiles, 12 Dragon tiles and eight bonus tiles (four Flowers and four Seasons). The aim is to collect sets of tiles according to the number and type shown on the face of each tile. A player takes and discards a tile each turn, and the first player whose hand consists entirely of a legal set or sets says "Mah Jongg." The game is similar to the card game Rummy.