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© 1997 – 2002 Patrick Hassel Zein

This page was last updated 12.05.2002

Red Dragon Green Dragon


(also called "Mahjong", "Mah-jongg" or, in Mandarin Chinese, "Ma Jiang")

The regular European rules for Mah-jong are widely known, and you may find them around the Net. On this page I will present the somewhat simpler rules from Hong Kong and China, that will give a quicker and different game.

I've also made a little "cheat-card".

White Dragon

Hong Kong Rules

General Modifications of the Rules

Forget all about "sitting on a rock". You don't need to tell the other players when you are waiting for the final tile to complete a Mah-jong hand. You simply declare your Mah-jong when you get it.

The Hong Kong rules are basically identical to the regular rules, but the counting of scores is made according to a different and more simple model. When you don't need to spend as much time in calculating the scores, the game becomes different, quicker and, in my eyes, more fun.

Emperor = Flower #1

Counting the scores

Only the person that gets a Mah-jong calculate scores and cash markers. Payments to and from the wind of the round are not doubled. If no one gets a Mah-jong in one hand, a "dead game" is declared and no score is calculated. The winds are shifted after each hand no matter if the wind of the round won or lost. However, the winds are to remain the same after a "dead game". An entire game will always consist of exactly 4 rounds consisting of 4 hands. Please note that it's important to see the difference between scores and amounts payed!

Below is a list that is divided into eight sections. Scores are only given to one of the specifications under each section. A realy good hand can in the best cases give a score consisting of eight points.

a)Mah-jong in itself 0 p
b)The winning tile was taken from the wall 1 p
The winning tile was taken from the ruin 2 p
c)The hand consists only of chow:s 1 p
The hand consists only of pung:s and kung:s 3 p
d)One pung or kung of dragons 1 p
Two pung:s or kung:s of dragons 2 p
Two pung:s or kung:s of dragons and a pair of the third dragon 4 p
Pung:s or kung:s of all three dragons 6 p
e)Pung:s or kung:s of your own wind or the wind of the round 1 p
Pung:s or kung:s of your own wind and the wind of the round (when these do not coincide) 2 p
f)No flowers or seasons 1 p
Your own flower or season 1 p
Both your own flower and season 2 p
g)All flowers or all winds 1 p
All flowers and all winds 2 p
h)Half pure hand consisting of tiles from one suite + winds and/or dragons 3 p
Pure hand consisting of tiles from one suite only 6 p
Hand of honours consisting of only winds and dragons 7 p

Flowerpot = Flower #2

One Special Hand

Seven pairs – a special hand consisting of seven pairs will entitle you a Mah-jong-bid worth 4 scores. In addition to this, you are also entitled scores according to sections b, f, g and h in the rules above.

Only Five Hands With Maximum scores

Cat = Flower #3

1)One:s and Nine:s / Thirteen Miracles; handen a hand consisting of tiles 1 and 9 from each suite, one of each dragon and wind + one more of the mentioned tiles.
2)Gates of Heaven / Sitting on Nine Rocks; a hand consisting of three 1:s, three 9:s, tiles number 2 to 8 from one and the same suit + one more of the mentioned tiles.
3)Pearl Dragon; only pung:s/kung:s of circles + white dragon.
4)Jade Dragon; only pung:s/kung:s of bamboos + green dragon.
5)Ruby Dragon; only pung:s/kung:s of characters + red dragon.

(The hands named Heavenly Blessing, Earthly Blessing, Heads & Tails and the Hidden Treasure regularly give maximum score, but are not included in these rules.)

Mouse = Flower #4


Sum up the points (the theoretical maximum is 23, but it's usually difficult even to get ten). Translate the score to an amount (the number of markers that each player is to pay the winner) with this simple table:

Level Total score Payment
Chicken hand 0 1
One 1 2
Two 2 4
Three 3 8
Full house 4, 5, 6 16
Double house 7, 8, 9 32
Tripple house 10 and above 64
Maximum score Any hand with maximum score 128

The person throwing the tile that gave the winner a Mah-jong, must always pay the double amount. If the winning tile was taken from the wall or the ruin, all players must pay the double amount of markers. These doublings are not valid for hands that give maximum score.



If a player has laid down visible combinations of nine tiles from one and the same suite, it's to be regarded as a warning - you can suspect that the player is waiting for a final tile from the same suite, which means it'll be a valuable hand. If you at such a time throw a tile from the same suide and the player actually does get a pure and valuable hand, you will be punished to pay the debts for all three loosers when the score has been calculated for the winner (if you count on this, you'll see that the cost will be at least 64 markers).

If a warning has been noted for one player, you throw a tile from the same suite, and that other player picks up your tile to produce 12 visible tiles from one suite, you must remember this. That other player is now waiting for the last tile to complete his/her hand. If the missing tile is picked from the wall or the ruin, and the pair is in the same suite as the other tiles in the hand, (againg a pure hand), you must pay double amounts for all three loosers to the winner (and this will get even more expensive - a total of at least 192 markers!). Your only saving would be if an other player throws the winning tile and thereby gets the punishment instead of you.

The punishments are there to force you to play defensively! In the same spirit, punishments should also be given if you allow a player to get a hand of honours or a hand with maximum score that could be foreseen in a similar way.


Free Additions

Forbid players from winning with chicken hands. You may decide a minimum score of 1, 2 or 3 points for Mah-jong bids before a game (higher demands would be too difficult).

A maximum punishment may be given for an incorrect declaration of Mah-jong or a hand with too low value. The hand is then cancelled and the person that made the mistake will pay 128 markers to each other player.

An experienced Mah-jong player knows that it isn't always most important to win, but also to prevent the other players from wining. Therefor there is a possibility to ad a ”Five tiles punishment”; if, at the end of one hand, there are five or fewer tiles left before the ruin is reached, and you throw a tile that has not been thrown or shown in the current hand (a tile that it's very likely that someone is waiting for) and someone makes a Mah-jong with that tile, you must pay the debts for all three loosers.



For those that find it difficult to remember the Chinese characters (which is particularly handy to know, if you don't have European text on all tiles) and what hands will give you maximum score (without revealing yourself by asking the other players), I've put together this little "cheat-card":


Modern Chinese Rules

How Mah-jong is Played in Contemporary China!

Before starting to play, you distribute the cards from a regular deck of cards evenly among the players.

Don't bother about the winds - it doesn't matter who is playing which wind!

Forget all about "sitting on a rock". You do not need to inform the other players that you are waiting for the last stone that will complete your Mah-jong. You simply present your Mah-jong when it has become a fact.

When a player wins a hand, you don't need to count any scores. The other players simply give the winner one card each. You simply play without putting any efforts for high scores or nice hands. This will make the game even quicker than with the Hong Kong rules.

I SUSPECT that the Chinese will cash their cards for a given amount of money after a finished game, but I've never dared asking - and if I dared ask, the Chinese would probably not dare answer anything else than "But nooo!"...

Bamboo #1

Interested in some more Chinese games?

See also my description of the Chinese card-game Strike Big Brother!