Mah Jongg (or "Maajh", as it is usually called) is a fascinating rummy-like game played with tiles rather than cards. The game originated in China, dating back to the time of Confucius. It was originally played solely by the ruling classes; the Mandarins refused to permit other inhabitants of the country to enjoy the pleasure of this aristocratic pastime. The introduction of Ma Cheuck, the game of the Sparrows, to all classes, was met with instant popularity. To this day, Mah Jongg remains the most popular game in the Orient. Interestingly, the rules in North China differ from those in South China.

There are several versions of Maajh, but each fall under two broad categories: American Mah Jongg and Chinese Mah Jongg. American Maajh differs from International Maajh in several ways:

  • It uses a card of Standard Hands, against which all games are played; these cards are changed annually.

  • It uses more tiles, notably the Joker.

  • The game is started with "Charleston", or the passing of 3 unwanted tiles from one player to another.

  • It uses Jokers to complete quints and sextets in several combinations of hands.

Mah Jongg is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, with millions of dedicated players around the world and a variety of Internet and computer versions. A very small amount of time and effort is required to become familiar with the elementary principles of the game.Your patience in mastering the fine points of Mah Jongg will be repaid many times by the keen enjoyment invariably derived from the game.

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