The history of mahjong can be traced back to the Qing Dynasty in China. Though the game originated in China, it has since spread to all corners of the world and is enjoyed by millions of people. Since the time the game was invented, it has undergone many transformations and changes. However, all these changes have been positive changes which have made the game more exciting, entertaining and enterprising. In this article, we are going to take the time in exploring all there is to know about Mahjong. First, however, we are going to explore in detail the history of mahjong looking particularly at the game’s transformation into what we know today as the game of Mahjong.
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The History of Mahjong
While there is a consensus that Mahjong originated during the Qing Dynasty, there are various theories as to who exactly invented the game. Some theories attribute the great Chinese philosopher Confucius as the inventor of the game. Some even believe that the game’s origins can be traced back to biblical times during Noah’s time! The more believable theory of the game however is that it’s an offspring of the popular Ya Pei game which was enjoyed by folks during the Sung Dynasty. Though it’s not yet clear who invented the game, the mere fact that Mahjong is with us in our midst is something to celebrate and behold.
Mahjong Game Rules
Mahjong is a table-based game. This simply emanates from the fact that the game is played on the table. Well, this applies to Mahjong played in retail outlets. Nowadays, most players play Mahjong online using their desktop or mobile devices. Though playing online, the game plays out on a virtual table where all the tiles are laid out.
The first thing that players need to note about Mahjong is that it has different variants. This, therefore, means that some rules differ from one Mahjong variant to another. However, though this is the case, there are basic rules which guide Mahjong. It’s these rules which we are going to highlight in this article.
On the game participants’ front, players ought to note that the dominant variants of Mahjong can only be played by four players. However, there are some variants which are playable with only three players.
A game of Mahjong regardless of the variant is played with 136 tiles. The tiles are divided into three suits. The first suit has 36-character tiles. The second suit has 36 bamboo tiles. The third suit has 36 circle tiles. The three suits are further divided into numbers ranging from 1 to 9. In addition, there are 12 dragon tiles as well as 16 wind tiles.
The modern variants of Mahjong for higher profitability do feature bonus tiles. The bonus tiles come in the form of four-season tiles as well as four flower tiles. It’s important to note that these are just bonus tiles and they do not affect the general Mahjong gameplay.
The Objective of the Game
Once players start playing Mahjong, their aim and objective during gameplay is to arrange 14 tiles in four sets and one pair. The game starts with rows of 17 tiles 2 rows up. At the start of the game, participating players should roll the dice or pick a tile of the highest value to determine the player who assumes the role of dealer. The dealer starts by rolling the dice after which s/he picks the tiles distributing them to participating players until all have 13 tiles each.
Once players receive their 13 tiles, they arrange them in a row based on each tile value. Players should arrange the tiles secretly so that competing players do not see the tile order. Once all players finish arranging their tiles, the dealer discards one tile. Once that happens, the game starts. The gaming round plays out in the following format:
- After the dealer, priority is given to the player who can complete a Mahjong hand in one go
- If there is no player with a complete Mahjong hand, priority is then given to the player who can complete a pair
- If there is no player with a pair, priority is given to a player who can complete a set
- If no player can complete a set, then priority is given to the player on the immediate left side of the dealer.
- The game thereafter plays out from the left to the right-hand side until one of the participating players complete a Mahjong hand.
Players need to note that they should quickly shout out if they have a pair or set during the game session. However, players should yell out when the time for the pair or the set comes. It’s against Mahjong etiquette to shout as soon as the game starts as some players may have a complete Mahjong hand. The purpose of yelling out a pair or a set during the game session is to avoid missing out on a starting berth which is highly advantageous. Players with a pair must yell out ‘PUNG’ and players with a set must yell out ‘CHOW’. A pair are two identical tiles while a set are three identical tiles.
Types of Mahjong Games
Mahjong just like many other games has found its way to online casinos. Most Singapore online casinos do offer Mahjong. There are two broad types of online Mahjong that players can enjoy online. Namely, these are:
- RNG Mahjong: RNG Mahjong is a computerised version of Mahjong. When playing the game, players compete against three different computer bots. This type of game eliminates the need of looking for human opponents to play with as players can instantly start a gaming session at any time. The results of the game are dependent upon the random number generator (RNG).
- Live Mahjong: Online casinos with live dealer sections offer live Mahjong. Live Mahjong is played in real-time. This, therefore, makes the game a great replica of Mahjong played in land-based casinos. When playing Live Mahjong, players compete against fellow human opponents be it friends or random gamers. As the game is played amongst human opponents, the results and outcome of the game is dependent upon skill and chance.
Mahjong is quite a popular game worldwide but more so in the Eastern hemisphere where it’s enjoyed by millions every single day. To cater to the needs of Mahjong lovers, online casinos in Singapore offer different variants of Mahjong including both RNG Mahjong and Live Mahjong.