British Rules
A gentle introduction to the game
The Game
Examples of sets and advice about where to buy them
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A suit of tiles showing 1 to 9 bamboos, although the number one tile is often depicted by a picture of a rice-bird or sparrow.

Basic score

The score for one hand which is obtained by adding together the points allocated to each set, pair, bonus tiles and (if applicable) for going Mah-Jong.


British Mah-Jong Association. Founded to halt the proliferation of “home rules” and establish an authoritative yet familiar code of play. This is described in “Mah-Jong  (Know the Game)” by Gwyn Headley and Yvonne Seelly.

Bonus tiles

A collective term for the Flower and Season tiles. Bonus tiles are not used in play, but merely enhance the score.


A full set of Flower or Season tiles. A player who holds such a set in his hand doubles his score twice.


When a player only requires one more tile to finish he must declare “One for Mah-Jong” and said to be “Fishing” or “Calling”.


A suit of tiles showing the Chinese symbol for the number of the tile (1 to 9).


A run of three tiles in the same suit. Chows are not scored.


Box used to contain wind discs and to indicate prevailing wind. Also called tong box.


A suit of tiles showing 1 to 9 circles.

Concealed set

A concealed set is one that has not been placed face-up on the table as a result of someone calling “chow”, “pung” or “kong”. During play it may be held in the hand or placed face-down on the table. A concealed set is worth double its exposed version.

Dead tiles

Tiles which have been discarded and not claimed. They are laid face up and play no further part in the game.

Dead wall

Another name for the Kong box.

Dirty hand

A completed hand which has sets from more than one suit. This is often frowned upon, but “going out dirty” is sometimes the only option.


There are 3 sets of dragon tiles: Red Dragon, Green Dragon and White


An important part of the scoring process. A basic score may be doubled for various reasons (e.g. having a set of dragons).

Exposed set

An exposed set is one that has been placed face-up on the table as a result of someone calling “chow”, “pung” or “kong”. An exposed set is worth less than its concealed version.


When a player only requires one more tile to finish he must declare “One for Mah-Jong” and said to be “Fishing” or “Calling”.


Bonus tiles each with a picture of a flower: Plum, Orchid (Lily), Chrysanthemum and Bamboo. The depiction varies between sets.


A form of play after a drawn game involving the use of “wild” tiles or jokers.

Honour tile

A dragon or a wind. These have a doubling potential.


Tiles introduced to replace the 2 of Bamboos in a special form of the game known as the “goulash”. Jokers are “wild

(i.e. can stand for any tile).


A set of 4 identical tiles.

Kong box

A portion at the end of the wall reserved for replacement tiles for kongs, Flowers and Seasons. Starts out as 14 tiles.

Letting off a canon

A playing mistake, where someone discards a tile which is obviously wanted by someone who is fishing.


The maximum score that can be made by any one player. Usually set to 1,000 points.

Live wall

The part of the wall from which tiles are drawn in the normal course of the game. It comprises the whole wall, minus the kong box (or dead wall).

Loose tiles

The two tiles which are lifted onto the end of the wall and which are taken, in turn, when someone makes a kong or picks up a Flower or Season tile.

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© 2008   Peter Gregory
© 2008   Peter Gregory
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