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Mahjong Competition Rules (Chinese Official)

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 Mahjong Competition Rules (Chinese Official) or the Official International Rules, which gained recognition as the 25th sport by the State Sports Commission of China in January 1998.

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


The Mahjong set

The basic Mahjong set has 144 pieces, which contains 36 distinct kinds of pieces (4 of each kind). There are three suits, which run from one to nine.

1) Bamboos
Chinese Mahjong Game Rules - Bamboos
2) Characters
Chinese  Mahjong Game Rules - Characters
3) Dots
Chinese Mahjong Game Rules - Dots
Furthermore, there are four directional tiles (Winds or Feng), labeled as East, South, West, and North (4 pieces each)

Chinese Mahjong Game Rules - East - South - West - North
There are also three Cardinal tiles (Dragons or Special Honor Pieces), labeled as Red Dragon, Green Dragon, and White Dragon (4 pieces each).
Chinese Mahjong Game Rules - Cardinal
Lastly, there are eight optional Flowers & Seasons tiles, which consist of two sets of four tiles; each series marked 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Mahjong Game Rules - Flowers - Seasons
Considered as Terminals are the tiles 1 and 9. The tiles numbered from 2 to 8 are called "Simples" and Wind and Dragon Tiles are Honors.


Mahjong Flowers

The flower and season tiles differ in nature from the suit and honor tiles. There are only 4 flowers (1, 2, 3, and 4) and only 4 season tiles (1, 2, 3, and 4). When drawn, they are declared and a substitute tile is drawn. The flower(s) or season(s) corresponding with the winning player's wind may increase the score.

The Flowers are represented by a plum, orchid, chrysanthemum and bamboo, and Seasons by a fisher, woodcutter, farmer and scholar.

Flower Season/Occupation Number Corresponding Wind
Plum Spring/Fisherman 1 East
Lily/Orchid Summer/Woodcutter 2 South
Chrysanthemum Autumn/Farmer 3 West
Bamboo Winter/Scholar 4 North
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