Mah Jong Solitaire and Winds #MondayBlogs

It’s Mah Jong Monday again, a day I like to spend talking about aspects of the game.

First – Let’s Consider a Pool Party

I love this photo of four women playing Mah Jong in 1924. I found in Elaine Sandberg’s book, Winning American Mah Jong Strategies. Doesn’t it look like fun?



There are many apps and on-line games for solitaire Mah Jong, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about a solitaire-way of playing the game Mah Jong with the classic tiles.

I’ve just started playing it, to practice hands and hopefully improve my strategy (which shouldn’t be hard, as I don’t have any yet – lol).

I twitter (i.e., mix up) the tiles and draw thirteen. I pick up and discard tiles and work towards a hand for Mah Jong.

This game shoud work with all versions of the game, though you might want to add a Charleston by randomly selecting three tiles and passing three seven times, if you are playing the American Version.


Winds are honor tiles. There are four of each: East wind, South wind, West wind and North wind.

I looked up the meaning of the tiles, and while each has symbolism associated with it, it didn’t really enhance the game for me. All I really need to know at this point is that they are honor tiles and honor tiles play an important role in hands.

What’s Next?

Next Monday I’ll look at the three suits in Mah Jong.

If you found this post interesting, check out the rest of my Mah Jong mini-series.


Sandberg Elaine, A Beginner’s Guide to American Mah Jongg How to Play the Game & Win, Tuttle Publishing, North Claredon, 2007

Sandberg Elaine, Winning American Mah Jong Strategies, Tuttle Publishing, NOrth Claredon, 2012


“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~ Confucius

An Introduction to Mah Jong #MondayBlogs

What the heck am I doing?

I’ve fallen in love with Mah Jong, a Chinese game played with tiles that is similar to rummy. I’ll be sharing what I know about the game as I learn it. This mini-series will appear on Mondays, because I like the alteration of Mah Jong Mondays. Today, I’ll introduce the game.

 Mah Jong – The Name

The game was originally called pinyin, which means sparrow. While this name continues to be used in some southern Chinese, Korean and Japanese games, most Mandarin-speaking Chinese now call the game májiàn. The English form of this word is Mah Jong, which is spelled in various ways.

The Origin of Mah Jong

There are a few stories about how the game got started.

Blame it on Confucius (500BC)

Most people consider this story a myth, as it is based on the idea that the philosopher Confucius invented the game over two centuries ago. This, they say, explains the origin of the sparrow name, as Confucius loved birds. They also say the three dragons in the game, represent the three virtues in Confucian philosophy: sincerity, filial piety and benevolence.

It was all in the Cards (1850 – 1875)

It is widely believed the game, as we know it, was developed by a Shanghai nobleman between 1870 and 1875.

Another popular story is that two brothers from Ningpo, renowned for carving ivory,  created the game around 1850.

Mah Jong is based on popular draw-and-discard card games and is considered to have the same root as the game of Rummy.

The earliest known tile set dates to around 1870.

The Spread of Mah Jong

Although the origins continue to be disputed, everyone agrees that Mah Jong was played in China in the mid to late 1800s and came to the United States in the 1920s. It is played around the world in many different ways.

Is it a Game of Chance or a Game of Skill?

That’s the question that fascinates me.

Clearly both chance and skill are involved in the game. How much does one dominate? I have noticed that experienced players tend to win over new players, so even though it appears to be mostly a game of chance, skill is important.

What do you think?


“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” ~ Confucius


Wikipedia –

Photo Credit:

Confucius – Wikipedia

Coming Next Monday:

The 3 Dragons in Mah Jong