Mahjong is an ancient Chinese tile game played by four players. Legend has it that it was the philosopher Confucius himself that invented the game. Perhaps that explains the attraction that countless players have had with the thoughtful and strategy filled game.
Although there are numerous variations of the game, the basics are very easy to learn. In a traditional Chinese mahjong set, there are 144 tiles composed of 5 suits: circles, bamboo, characters, dragon tiles, and direction tiles. The circle, bamboo and character suits range from numbers 1 to 9. The dragon tiles are composed of the of the words "white", "middle", and "fortune" depicted on the face. The directional tiles of East, South, West and North. Each tile is a set of a quartet. Summing it up, the playing tiles total 136 tiles. And while these tiles do not make up a winning hand, an additional 8 Flower and Season tiles complete the mahjong set. These tiles provide bonus points to the winning hand.
The object of mahjong is to create a winning hand made up of four melds of 3 tiles whether it's a sequence from the circle, bamboo or character suit, or a triplet of tiles. In addition to these four melds, a winning hand must also have a pair for "eyes". If you're counting, a winning hand is made of 14 tiles in total. However, when the game first starts, each player is dealt 13 tiles. Players must commence building their winning hand by creating these melds either by drawing from the "mahjong wall" or by picking up discarded tiles from their opponents. Each time a player draws or picks up a tile, he needs to discard one himself. A hand ends when either a player gets a mahjong or when the mahjong wall runs out of tiles to draw on.
By understanding the mahjong game well, you will soon see that this ancient game is a mixture of strategy, skill and luck. You must strategize against your opponents by carefully discarding your tiles and you must have skill in determining how to build your own hand. And finally, luck is the equalizer of all these elements.