British Rules
A gentle introduction to the game
The Game
Examples of sets and advice about where to buy them
Mah-Jong sites, their content, and an indication of how interesting it is
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Mah-Jong teachers and courses in the UK
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Mah-Jong in Chinese literally means “the game of the sparrows”.

Major tile

A Wind, Dragon or a suit tile numbered 1 or 9.

Minor tile

A suit tile numbered 2 to 8. It scores less than a Major tile.

One for Mah-Jong

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

Original call

A term used to refer to the rare occasion when a player finds after his first discard that he holds a calling hand – one that is one tile away from Mah-Jong. If he does not alter his hand after this time (apart from taking the required tile) he is allowed an extra double.


Called by East Wind to stop the shuffling (or “washing”) of the tiles.

Prevailing wind

The prevailing wind always starts as East Wind and changes to South when every player has had a turn with it. If the game lasts long enough it eventually changes to West then North. Having a pung or kong of the prevailing wind doubles your score.


A set of 3 identical tiles.

Robbing the kong

Where a player takes a tile from the wall and makes a kong from an exposed pung, another player can “Rob the kong” in order to go Mah-Jong.


Bonus tiles each usually with a picture relating to a season, though the depictions vary hugely between sets.

Seat wind

The wind belonging to the player sitting in a given position.


A chow, a pung or a kong. Four sets are required to go Mah-Jong

Special hands

A set of Mah-Jong hands which are unlikely combinations of tiles, some not conforming to the usually 4 sets and a pair. Because they are difficult to get they attract a very high score, usually 500 or 1,000 points.

The British game recognises 19 special hands (more than the traditional Chinese game).


There are 3 suits of tiles: Characters, Bamboos and Circles. Each suit consists of 36 tiles numbered 1 to 9, with 4 tiles for each number.


Special tokens used to keep track of the number of points each player has and exchanged at the end of each session.


The ones and nines of the suits.


144 in a Mah-Jong set and traditionally made from ivory or bone, dove-tailed into bamboo. There are sometimes an additional 4 spare tiles and sometimes 4 joker tiles.

Tong box

Box used to contain wind discs and to indicate prevailing wind. Also called chuang-tzu.


The stack of unused tiles. The wall is built at the beginning of the game and tiles taken from it in a clockwise fashion.


The shuffling of the tiles before the walls are built.


A drawn game  (when all the tiles from the live wall have been taken and no one has gone Mah-Jong).

Wind of the round

Also known as the prevailing wind. A pung or kong of this wind will double your score.


There are 4 sets of winds: East Wind, South Wind, West Wind and North Wind.

Text - Glossary
© 2008   Peter Gregory
© 2008   Peter Gregory
Glossary  M - Z