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Online Mahjong

A great deal has been written regarding the origins of Mahjong, much of this is actually not true. There have been people who say that it was a game invented by Confucius, and western trades people selling this game have claimed that the game has a mystical history dating back to thousands of yeas ago. These stories are really all just embellishments to make the sales appeal of the game more exciting, however it is very unlikely that Mahjong even existed in China before the 1880’s.


No records can be found to substantiate this, and therefore we conclude that this Chinese game was invented round about that time. However there is evidence which suggests that Mahjong originated near Shanghai in the provinces of Chekiang, Kiangsu and Anhwei, as there are no records available to suggest that Mahjong was played in any other province of China prior to 1900.


Even as late as 1905 Mahjong was relatively unknown outside of the original areas it was played in. But over the next fifteen years this scenario changed quite dramatically. Mahjong spread across the most of China, and took over in the popularity stakes from Chess which was then the most popular game played in the country. Gradually Chinese pundits of this game removed some of the more inelegant elements of playing and incorporated rituals into playing Mahjong. These methods of play have now become cast in stone and one of these very quaint rituals is the shuffling of the Mahjong tiles before playing a game. This is know by the Chinese as the “twittering of the sparrows” and as Mahjong means “Sparrow Tiles” or the “Game of the Sparrows”, this naming of the shuffling is particularly apt.

The history of Mahjong, sees the Chinese playing this game exclusively up until about the early 1920’s. After the game was discovered by other nations by a process of enculturation, it soon became popular and is now incorporated into many countries games popular culture. Mahjong aficionados regard the 1020’s version of playing Mahjong to be the “perfect” form of the game. They even look upon later modifications to the game with distain.



After the West discovered Mahjong the Americas, UK and Japanese took the game in their own direction. However the Japanese received Mahjong earlier than the West, around 1907, and managed to change the rules without totally changing the nature of the game.

Mahjong was brought to America, not by Chinese immigrants, but by a gentleman named Joseph P. Babcock, who imported sets of Mahjong in bulk to the US. In order to ensure that Mahjong became a popular success in the States he simplified the rules and took away many of the intricacies of play. The result of these new rules created confusion and Mahjong did not achieve the popularity which Mr. Babcock expected until it was released again with newly published rules in 1935. In the UK Mahjong peaked in popularity around the same time as the US.

Advantages of Playing Mahjong Online

Mahjong Solitaire is also known as Shanghai Solitaire, this is a single player form of the game and has reached astounding heights in the popularity stakes. It was a popular game before the advent of the PC, but after the PC was developed and became more technologically advanced, this game became almost a popular as card Solitaire. The internet is another technological advancement and there are virtually thousands of sites where people are able to play Mahjong, for free, or even in tournaments to win prizes.

The advantages of playing Mahjong online are many, it allows a competitive spirit to enter the game when people play in online tournaments, and they can practice to hone their skills as much as they like, without it costing them anything. Mahjong does not need to be downloaded, it can be played instantly through your browser. It is both a relaxing and challenging game and many millions of online players enjoy Mahjong.

About Online Mahjong

Single player Mahjong is a matching game, there are 144 tiles used, making a total of 72 pairs of tiles, these are arranged in specific layouts, face upwards. The layouts may be changed to alter the challenges and keep the game interesting. A tile may be moved left or right without disturbing other tiles and these are matched and removed while at the same time uncovering the tiles which lay beneath. The aim of the game is to pair and expose all tiles, the game is over when there are not more exposed pairs left or the layout is emptied completely. Generally in online Mahjong you are allowed to reshuffle the tiles when there are no matching pairs to be removed. This is only allowed five times per game. The tiles all contain standard suites, much like a pack of playing cards. These include:

* Characters (4 each
* Bamboos (4 each)
* Circles (4 each)
* Dragons (4 each)
* Winds (4 each)
* Seasons (one each)
* Flowers (one each)

When matching pairs of tiles the Flowers and Seasons are the only suits which are not required to match, each Season and Flower combination will count as a pair. This is because there is one of each of these tiles. In a game when you have no more pairs and no more shuffles left, the game is over, if you clear the Mahjong board however, you will move onto the next level. In online Mahjong the next level will have a different tile layout.


Each tile layout in Mahjong requires a very unique approach, but the general strategy to take is to keep removing as many pairs of tiles as possible in order to open up more opportunities to make pairs. Every pair eliminated should open up new tiles, playing by always removing the obvious pairs, will generally lose the game. It is key to play with the intention of avoiding the obvious, and uncovering lower layers in the Mahjong layout. Mahjong is a game of concentration, memory and skill, which requires a fast reaction times and decision making skills. Being able to see your moves steps ahead in this game will tune in your visual memory and help you remember where you last saw that piece you are looking for.

Check out our information about other skill games including Gin Rummy.



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