What is the Mahjong board game?

2023-10-26 Chinese

The history of the Mahjong board game 麻将 [májiàng] is ancient and originates in China, although its exact origin is not well documented. The game is believed to have first been developed in Jiangsu province in the first decade of the 19th century. Later on, during the Qing dynasty, it became popular throughout the whole country.

The game was initially called "Mah-jongg" and it was played with a card deck. Later, the game evolved to be used with ivory and bamboo tokens carved with Chinese characters and other symbols.

During the 1920s, Mahjong became popular in the Western world thanks to travelers and traders who brought the game to Europe and America. At that time, the game became a popular culture sensation and a well-known pastime.

In the 1930s, Mahjong was used as a political and educational tool during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and some considered the game to be linked to the nationalist and anti-Western movement. After the war, Mahjong became a popular pastime not only in China but worldwide.

Today, Mahjong is still a well-known game. It is played with tokens or tiles representing different symbols, Chinese characters, and elements of Chinese culture. The aim of the game is to combine these tiles and earn points according to the game's rules.

Mahjong is played with four players and a set of 144 tiles. The tiles are used to form combinations and earn points. It is a strategic game that requires skill, patience, and concentration to win.

Each player starts with a set of tiles that are arranged in a specific layout on the table. During their turn, each player can draw a tile from the deck to try to combine with one of their tiles. If they fail to make a combination, they must discard a tile so the next player can take their turn.

Mahjong combinations can be of Trios, Runs, and Eyes. Trios are three matching tiles of a kind, Runs is a sequence of tiles of the same suit, and an Eye or Pair is simply two matching tiles. In addition to these basic combinations, there are also particular combinations which award additional points.

The game goes on until one player completes the final combination, which may result in many bonus points. The player with the highest number of points at the end of the game is the winner. Mahjong is a trendy game around the world, and it is played both for fun and in professional competitions.