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mah jongg, we hardly knew ye

Filed under: General — 19day @ 22:51:55

I was taught how to play a game I thought I already knew, but of course, it originally being Chinese, I had played a bastardized version.

The short version is you shuffle the tiles, make 4 rows of 2 high stacked 18 tiles. There are some dice involved and you roll to decide where you start taking tiles (this bit gets fuzzy for me, from memory) and you take your tiles. One end of the remaining gap in the rows is the beginning, the other is the end. You take turns, taking a new tile from the beginning, and discarding another one. You can pick up the tile in the discard area only if it is the last one discarded, unless you can win from picking the last tile discarded by either player, in which case you can do that, but only if it causes you to win. Also, you can only pick up if it completes a ‘pattern’, and you must then set the pattern down for all to see, and continue with a discard.

If you have any flower tiles at the start, you must show them, and pick as many tiles from the end of the rows, and if you pick one up in the course of the game, you immediately set it down and take a new tile from the end.

To win (ignoring the complicated scoring system), you need a pair of something, and then the rest must be ‘patterns’. Patterns are either ’straights’, made up of the same kind of number tiles (chinese numbers, bams (sticks), or circles), which are in sequences of 3, no more, no less… or they can be 3 of a kind, or 4 of a kind, or something. If you pick up a discarded tile (following the rules of whos you can pick up) to complete a set, you must say something, I prefer ‘Yangzi’, which is like a Chinese Yatzee or something. Or yell ‘bingo’, or ‘you sank my scrabbleship’.

This game was bloody confusing, especially for one I thought was matching two tiles and taking them off the table, gah.

Here are the fun tiles:
These are the sticks, or bams, they are numeric, and fairly easy to understand, except the bird for number 1, which is baffling.

These are wheels, or circles, they are also numeric, colours are meaningless. At least this is easy to count.

These are the chinese numbers, and the hardest bit for me. 1, 2 and 3 are easy, like roman numerals on their side, 4 is easy enough. 5 is just a jumble of crap, which is how I remembered it. 6 looks like a little hut to me. 7 looks like an upsidedown 7. 8 is a lamda, and 9 is like a cursive r. Lovely, it’s great trying to work out if you have a straight if you can’t understand the numbers :P


These are the cardinal directions of the wind, and the seasons, just match them up, lest headaches set in.


These are, apparently, dragons. When I played, I thought the first was a dagger thing, the middle one was just “the ugly”, and the last one was, cleverly enough, “rectangle”


These are so easy that they are like a blind spot, see a flower, lay it down.

They tried to explain scoring, but I threatened to kill myself, so they stopped.

I’ll go play the tile matching game now.

1 Comment »

  1. Nonsense! You picked up the basics of the game pretty quickly and became a master in no time flat.

    Comment by Curtis — 2005-01-08 @ 03:40:24

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