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American Style Mahjong Rules

Mahjong is a Chinese game of skill, which involves four players. Although the game play in general is similar in all of the versions of mahjong, the game pieces and scoring, however, slightly differ depending on the regional variations.

Almost similar to gin rummy, the object of mahjong is to build sets, as well as get the highest point value. In order to do this, each player selects and discards tiles (the game pieces, bearing different designs) until an entire set of combinations has been made.

For this article, we will cover the American Style of Mahjong, which was standardized din 1937 by the National Mah Jongg League in New York.

So let's start the ball rolling (in this case, the dice), and begin playing mahjong.


The Mahjong set

The basic Mahjong set has 136 pieces, which contains 36 distinct kinds of pieces (4 of each kind). There are three suits, which runs from one to nine.


Group # 1: Suits

There are three suits, which run from one to nine.

1) Bamboos
American Mahjong Game Rules - Bamboos
2) Characters
American Mahjong Game Rules - Characters
3) Dots
American Mahjong Game Rules - Dots

Group # 2: Winds and Dragons

Furthermore, there are four directional tiles (Winds or Feng), labeled as East, South, West, and North (4 pieces each)

American Mahjong Game Rules -East-South-West-North
There are also three Cardinal tiles (Dragons or Special Honor Pieces), labeled as Red Dragon (matches with Character suit), Green Dragon (matches with Bamboos suit), and White Dragon (matches with Dots suit). There are 4 pieces of each Dragon.
American Mahjong Game Rules - Cardinal
Note that The White Dragon can also be used as a zero of any suit.


Group # 3: Flowers

There are eight Flowers tiles, every series marked 1, 2, 3, and 4 - two of each kind.
American Mahjong Game Rules - Flowers - Seasons


Group # 4: Jokers

There are eight Joker tiles, which can be used to replace any tiles in putting together a hand.
American Mahjong Game Rules - Joker
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