Did you know there is actually a difference between Mahjong (also spelled mahjongg, mah-jong, or mah-jongg) and Mahjong Solitaire? Mahjong is actually a 4 player game involving skill, strategy, calculation, and luck; while Mahjong solitaire is a tile matching, single player game.
‘Mah-jong’ can be translated from Chinese as ‘clattering sparrow’, ‘flax sparrow’ or possibly as ‘hemp bird’. The tiles when shuffled make a melodious noise reminiscent of the noise of numerous sparrows squabbling over scattered food crumbs.
Since many of us are addicted to this little game, I thought I’d put it up here in case we are ever away from our computer but have access to an Internet connection that way we can hustle on over here and get a fix! (Get to it already!)
How to Play
The goal is to clear the board by removing all the tiles from the layout. Layouts can differ in pattern, size and height. There exist hundreds of different layouts. You must remove the tiles in pairs. A pair consists of two tiles which both are a) “free” and b) identical (or of the same type).
A tile is “free” when:
- no other tile is lying above or is partially covering it
- no other tile is lying to the left or to the right of it
Two tiles are identical if they look exactly the same (of course…). An exception to this are the Flowers and Seasons tiles. They are non-identical matching tiles and belong to the same type. All the Flowers tiles match one another and all the Season tiles match one another. You should study them before starting a game.
Each tile appears four times in a standard solitaire mahjongg game. Again an exception for the Flowers and Seasons tiles who appear only once each during a game.
It’s not as easy as it sounds; you can end up with having matched the “wrong” pairs and you may find yourself stuck, with unmatchable tiles blocking other key tiles so you can’t clear the layout. You must be careful before removing a pair, you should look for where the remaining pair is in the layout and plan ahead. If all four of an identical tile are free, remove them to ‘unclutter’ the field. It’s not only a game of pure luck, you have to play strategic.
- Remember that there are four of each tile. When removing a pair, an identical pair exists in the layout. Is it trapped by your removal of the first pair?
- Concentrate your efforts on long rows and tall stacks.
- Plan ahead as many moves as you can.
- If all four of a tile are available, remove them all to unclutter the field.
- Identify as many matching pairs as possible. Check for tiles that need to be unblocked.
- Beware of triples (three matching free tiles); choose carefully which pair you remove. Leave the one that’s blocking the least important tiles.
- Concentrate on removing pairs that will unblock the most tiles.
And don’t forget… I’ve got over 30 more games for your amusement!
For more information head over to the mother of all Mahjong sites.