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Online Tournaments > Mahjong > Different Types

Different Types of Online Mahjong Games

As far as anyone knows, Mahjong, in the form we know it today, originated in the late 1800's in China. Of course, it is said that playing cards were derived from Mahjong tiles, which would obviously put the game's genesis back much further. Indeed, the ancestral roots of this great pastime go back more than 1200 years.

Shortly after the turn of the century, it was introduced to the west, and has found pockets of tremendous popularity in North America, Europe, and other parts of the Far East.

There are over twenty different variations of the game as it is played somewhere in the world:

  • Alan's Zung Jung
  • American Classical
  • American Modern
  • Australian
  • British Official
  • Canada Mahjong
  • Chinese Classical
  • Chinese New Style
  • Chinese Official
  • Chinese Transitional
  • Dutch League Rules
  • European Classical (same as European Contemporary in 4 winds 1.0)
  • French
  • German
  • Hong Kong
  • Internet Mahjong Server
  • Italian Official
  • Japanese Classical
  • Japanese Transitional
  • Japanese Modern
  • Korean Style
  • Mahjong Masters Million
  • Taiwanese 16-Tile Mah Jong
  • Wilmington Advanced 12-Tile
  • WMPA Rules
  • Novice

The differences in rules among these variations is generally very subtle. The objective of the game is still pretty much the same.

The most significant and important versions of Mahjong are Chinese Official and Hong Kong. The Chinese Official version is based on an international rulebook issued by the Sports Committee of the People's Republic of China in January of 1998. It sets forth standards for all international competitions, in the interest of having it recognized and taken more seriously as a "sport." Because of this standardization - which mostly deals with scoring methods - Chinese Official Mahjong is gaining more and more in popularity.

Hong Kong Mahjong (also known as "Cantonese Mahjong") is the most popular version for much of the Chinese population. It is played at a fast pace, and is well-suited to gambling. There are differences between Hong Kong Mahjong and the Chinese Classical version; namely, that only the doubles of the winner are counted after a game. There are more scoring opportunities in the Hong Kong version.

There are plenty of other variations of Mahjong that carry a good deal of popularity. There is American Mahjong, perhaps the most severe variation, with jokers and melds of five or more tiles. American Mahjong is used by the popular American Mahjong League. In Taiwanese Mahjong, like some others, the player has 16 tiles; Japanese Mahjong is the kind most commonly found in video games.

The game has always had a powerful place in Chinese culture - in fact, in pop culture - as there are even Mahjong movies, highlighting play that is exceptional, albeit not athletic.

The Chinese Official rules have produced a common denominator that has allowed world-class competitions to happen more credibly. The first Mahjong World championship was held in 2002 in Ningbo, China - reportedly where the modern version of the game originated.

Or should we say the modern version of the 'sport"?

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