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Mahjong Variations Worldwide

Mahjong, a tile game with a rich history dating back centuries, is popular in China and throughout Asia. It has also gained popularity in other regions, and there are numerous variations that have evolved over time. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most well-known mahjong variations from around the globe.


Singapore/Chinese mahjong:

©KrisShop


Singapore/Chinese mahjong is the most widely played version of the game and is the version that most people are familiar with. It is played with four players, and the objective is to create a winning hand by collecting sets of three tiles (either three of a kind or a run of three consecutive tiles) and a pair. The game is played with a set of tiles that includes suit tiles (character, circle, and bamboo), honor tiles (wind and dragon), and bonus tiles (flowers and jokers). Points are awarded for completing a winning hand and can also be deducted for certain tiles or combinations.


Click here if you are interested to learn how to play Singapore Mahjong



Hong Kong mahjong:

©Stephanie Lorino/HongKongStreetview


Hong Kong mahjong is similar to Chinese mahjong, but there are some key differences in terms of gameplay and scoring. For example, the scoring system is different, and there are additional bonus tiles that can be used to complete a winning hand. In Hong Kong mahjong, there are four "flowers" (season tiles) that represent the four seasons and four "animals" (direction tiles) that represent the four cardinal directions. Players can collect and exchange these tiles to score points.


Japanese mahjong:

©Pixabay


Japanese mahjong, also known as riichi mahjong, is also played with four players and features a unique scoring system. Players can declare riichi, which is a declaration that they are one tile away from completing a winning hand. This is a high-risk, high-reward move that can lead to big points if successful, but also carries the risk of losing points if the player is unable to complete the winning hand. In Japanese mahjong, there are also additional bonus tiles called "dora" and "red dora" that can be used to score extra points.



Korean mahjong:

Korean mahjong is played with three players and has a different scoring system and set of tiles than other versions of the game. It is also played with a shorter wall of tiles and features a "flower" round, in which players can collect and exchange flower tiles to score points. Korean mahjong also has a unique scoring system in which points can be awarded or deducted based on the combination of tiles in a winning hand.


American mahjong:

©Universal History Archive/Getty Images


American mahjong is a version of the game that was popularized in the United States in the early 20th century. It is played with four players and features a different set of tiles and scoring system than other versions of the game. In American mahjong, players aim to create a winning hand by collecting sets of three tiles (either three of a kind or a run of three consecutive tiles) and a pair, as well as special "hands" that consist of specific combinations of tiles. Furthermore, their Mahjong set consists of 166 tiles as compared to the Chinese' Mahjong set which has 144 tiles only. Points are also awarded for completing a winning hand and can also be deducted for certain tiles or combinations.



European mahjong:

©Martin Rep


European mahjong is a version of the game that was developed in the United Kingdom and has since spread to other parts of Europe. European mahjong is a variation of the traditional Chinese game that has been adapted to be more accessible and appealing to Western audiences. It has a simpler scoring system, smaller and more colorful tiles, and more relaxed rules for forming winning hands.


In general, each variation has its own unique features and strategies, making it an exciting and challenging game for players of all skill levels.


P.S. For those who are still new to the game, do read up on the common terminology used in Mahjong to get a better understanding of the game.


If interested, do also check out other Mahjong blogs in this list.

 


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