Facts about mahjong

Mahjong is a tile-based game that dates back to the Qing dynasty, and gained popularity in the early 20th century.

This tactical is a game of skill and strategy, but also relies on a degree of chance, making it fun and exciting, too.

The game is played by each player receiving a set of 13 tiles, then players take turns to draw and return tiles until they have a complete hand.

Though traditionally played in person, it’s also popular online – you can play for free with our community here.

In the meantime, here’s some interesting facts about mahjong…


  • A classic game of mahjong uses a total of 144 tiles, with symbols including bamboo and circles, the numbers 1-9, and special tiles for seasons, wind, dragons and flowers


  • The exact origins of mahjong are unknown; Confucius is believed to have developed the game around 500BC, though it’s more likely the game was invented by the Chinese military in the 1800s.


  • Tiles were originally made out of bone or ivory – today tiles are most often made from plastic


  • Mahjong was banned by the government in China between 1945 and 1985 – it was later reinstated, but without any gambling element


  • There are many regional variations of Mahjong played all over Asia, where the rules can differ slightly


  • The first World Mahjong Championships were held in Japan in 2002


  • Mahjong sets were sold in the United States for the first time in 1920 by the company Abercrombie & Fitch


  • In the mid-1920s, Mahjong was a huge fad in Australia, the United States and England


  • The rules and objectives of Mahjong are similar to that of the card game rummy


  • To win a game, a player bust be both offensive and defensive – the aim is to complete the best hand as quickly as possible, while also not discarding tiles that will be of advantage to other players


Do you like to play Mahjong? Share your experiences in the comments below! 

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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor

Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Assistant Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

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31st Jul 2020
Thanks for voting!
I learnt how to play Mahjong in Cairo where my husband worked & we lived for 7 years - I then went on to teach it in Cyprus where we lived for 26 years - -we didn't do scoring though!
31st Jul 2020
Thanks for voting!
I like to play the game, which I first played acquaintances in USA

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