International Mahjong Day

6 minute read
International Mahjong Day (1)

We all enjoy playing board games indoors, whether it’s chess, ludo or carrom. But have you heard of the tricky Chinese game called Mahjong? Every year on August 1st, International Mahjong Day is celebrated! But, what is Mahjong and why is there a need to celebrate it? In this blog, we will learn about Mahjong, its origin, the rules of the game, and what International Mahjong Day is all about.

Source: Tenor

What is a Mahjong?

YouTube: South China Morning Post

Mahjong is a popular Chinese game in which players manipulate sets of tiles to solve puzzles. Mahjong has various regional variations, from the Chinese prevailing wind method to American mahjong with unique bingo-like scoring cards, as do many popular games.

What is International Mahjong Day?

On August 1, International National Mahjong Day is observed. In the 1920s, this 19th-century strategy game became popular in the United States. It’s similar to rummy in that we play with tiles. To win points, players combine beautifully designed tiles with Chinese characters and symbols. The day is celebrated to raise awareness about the oldest games developed by the Chinese and to encourage people from all walks of life to play. Mahjong’s is not only the oldest but also the most popular game with its separate variations in countries like Japan, Singapore and America. 

Pongs, kongs, chows, and the great Mahjong are all examples of mashups. Mahjong is a game that challenges individuals from all age groups and has been a great tool for bringing people together. It has reduced communication boundaries, brought communities and neighbourhoods closer together. The game also crosses the generation divide because it is played by individuals of all ages.

Fun Fact: Mahjong is recognised as a sport and the World Mahjong Championship is conducted by the World Mahjong Organization.

History of the International Mahjong Day

International Mahjong Day was founded by Riichi Mahjong Central to raise awareness of Mahjong and how to play it. In Japan, Mahjong in the Japanese style is becoming increasingly popular. This platform is exceptionally well-suited to social interaction. As a result, professional leagues are growing, much like those in the United States. In September of 2018, the Registrar of the National Day Calendar announced August 1st to be International Mahjong Day.

Fun Fact: The first World Mahjong Championship was held in 2002 in Tokyo!

Popularity of Mahjong in Movies & Shows

YouTube: MovieClips

The game has now gained popularity in the West, and it has lately made many cameos in popular culture. The game was included in a key scene in the Hollywood film Crazy Rich Asians, in which two prominent characters meet for a mahjong parlour battle. Mahjong was also included in an episode of the television show Fresh Off the Boat, which follows an Asian-American family. It has been a significant part of popular culture with American TV shows like Brooklyn 99 making references to it!

How to Play Mahjong with Friends & Family?

International Mahjong Day
Source: Pinterest

The rules will concentrate on the most fundamental mahjong rules, which are similar across the board.


Four people play the basic game. Three-player variants are also available. The basic game consists of 136 tiles, which include 36 characters, 36 bamboos, and 36 suits (circles). Each suit is split into four sets of integers ranging from 1 to 9. Additionally, there are 16 wind tiles and 12 dragon tiles. Eight bonus tiles with four flowers and four seasons are included in many sets, but they are not required for the basic game. The deal is decided by a single pair of dice. The addition of four racks is optional.


The objective of the game is to complete mahjong, which entails grouping all 14 of your tiles into four sets and one pair. Two similar tiles make up a pair. A set can be either a “pung” of three identical tiles or a “chow” of three consecutive numbers in the same suit. A single tile cannot be used in two different sets at the same time.


Source: Tenor

Choose a dealer, to begin with. The four wind tiles are jumbled face down and given to the players in Chinese tradition. The players then take their seats in the order of north, west, south, and east, in accordance with their tile. East takes the first turn as the dealer. To choose the dealer, modern players can just throw the dice.

All of the tiles are shuffled together, and the players form a wall of 34 face-down tiles, 17 tiles long and two tiles high, in front of themselves. The end result should be a huge square tile wall in the table’s middle.

The dealer rolls the dice and counts how many tiles are to the right of their wall’s right edge, then splits the wall at that point to start dealing tiles from the left of that position clockwise. Each player is given 13 tiles, with the dealer receiving an additional 14th tile, to begin with.

Each player then places their own tiles in such a way that only they can see them and no one else can. For this, racks are frequently utilized. Play begins to the left of the dealer after the dealer discards one tile.

Fun Fact: The longest mahjong marathon lasted 33 hours!


Some players additionally use a “Kong,” which consists of four identical tiles (like an extended pung). The same rules apply for claiming a discarded tile, except anybody who finishes a kong draws an additional tile before discarding.

Hand End

When someone declares mahjong and displays a full 14-tile hand with four sets and a pair, the hand is over. If no mahjong has been revealed by the time the wall has run out of tiles, the game is declared a tie and the dealer re-deals.

Fun Fact: Chinese- origin Mahjong was banned in China for 36 years


Source: Tenor

Fairly said, whoever completes the mahjong and wins the hand receives one point. There are several more complex scoring patterns that vary greatly by region. If you don’t win by taking a discard, or if you win with the final tile in the game, or if you have a pung of dragons, you get an extra point. If the pung was not revealed, doubled if the pung used ones or nines, and doubled twice more if the pung was a kong, exponential scoring awards each pung 2 points. Players should be careful to agree on scoring rules before a game due to the various scoring variants.

Check out: Famous Google Doodle Games

Game End

Players play until they reach a certain amount of points, or 16 rounds, or until they agree to stop.

Fun Fact: Watching and playing mahjong on hours can induce epileptic seizures

How to Celebrate International Mahjong Day?

Give someone the chance to learn how to play Mahjong. If you don’t know how to play, get together with some buddies and learn! It’s easy after you’ve learned to distinguish the various letters and symbols. Mahjong is perfect for playing all year, both indoors and in a park on a hot day, thanks to the tiles. To share on social media, use the hashtag #InternationalMahjongDay.

Fun Fact: The first mahjong sets sold in the US were from Abercrombie & Fitch

Also Read: International Youth Day

So, this was all about the International Mahjong Day! We hope the information provided was helpful. This International Mahjong Day, play the game with your friends and family and celebrate the game! Stay connected with Leverage Edu for educational content and amazing quizzes.

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