Shanghai Mahjong




Introduction: Shanghai Mahjong

Mahjong is a Chinese game, which is so much fun, like Texas poker. Americans may know what Mahjong is, but they may not know that Mahjong has many different kinds of playing methods. They vary by different areas in China. Each place has their own rules about Mahjong. For this tutorial, I will be describing the most common rules that we followed in Shanghai. We called it Lajihu, or Shanghai mahjong.

This instruction’s purpose is to teach people a game for a group of four. I will give the explanation on how to play it and how to count the points on many facets.

First, I will explain the cards and suits. Let the new player be able to recognize the suits of the card.( People who may know how to recognize the card and suit can skip this part.)

Second, I will explain the preparation that needs to happen before dealing.

Third, I will talk about how to deal.

Fourth, I will explain what you can do while playing which is eat, crash, gang and win.

Finally, I will talk about how to count scores (win the game money).

Hint: I will, based on my own experience, give some suggestion on how to play. You must finish all the parts above then come to this part, or you can just skip it and play it on your own. Hope you enjoy the game and good luck.

Step 1: Glossary

    • JUMP: Take the first card, skip a set and get another one. Both of them are the one on the top of the sets.
    • EAT: Each main suit ( character, strip and circle) is arranged in an order from 1-9. Eat is the action that you can only do while the player who sit left to you discards the card. And it has to obey the sequence and suit
    • CRASH: To crash, you need to have 2 exactly same cards as the one the player discard to make AAA.
    • GANG:Similar like crash, goes first but you need 3 same cards as the discard one, then you can call gang.

    Step 2: Cards and Suits

    There are 5 kind of suits. For character, strip and circle, each suit has number 1-9 and each number have 4 cards.(Pic 1)

    The direction of the wind. 4 for each also.(Pic 2)

    The rest we called it flower. Which will calculate the point later.(Pic 3)

    Step 3: Preparation

    What you need

    • A square table with a blanket to cover it.
    • Two dice.

    What you do

      1. Mix the all the cards together.
      2. Take two of the card, stack them together to make 1 set.
      3. Each person need 18 sets to make a row then push the row in to the center to make a square.
      Above is the picture for a right example.

      Step 4: Dealing

      • Everyone will need to roll the dice; the biggest number will be the starter. (Then the winner of each game will be the starter of the next game)
      • The starter rolls the dice again. Then count the numbers on the dices. Take the number and count the number, starting with the row in front of you and count each row counterclock-wise. That will be the place for you to start picking cards. (This rule is only if the sum of the two dice is an even number. If the sum of the two dice is an odd number, you always start with the row before the player sitting opposite to you. )
      • After knowing the start row, choose the smaller number of the two dice then count on the starting row. If the two dice are 4 and 6, you will pick 4 and count 4 sets through left to the right on the starting row, then you will pick the cards starting at the fifth set. That other 4 sets will be the tail. The fifth set is the head.
      • Each player grabs 2 sets which is 4 cards each time. Starter goes first and players follow the counter-clockwise order. And the order of taking the cards is clockwise. Each player need to grab 3 times. Then the starter picks the last two cards and he needs to jump for that. He will need to pick the first card, and then jump a set to take another. The rest of the players take one card by following the order. So the total number of the cards the players will have is 4+4+4+1=13. The starter will have 14.

      Step 5: Flower Cards

      Wow, the dealing is complicated right? This step is even more complicated; however, It’s the difficulty of majhong that attracts people. People who play majhong, they are all smart. Each round, you will need to get a card from the head then discard one you don’t need. (Except the first round for the starter, because he did the jump and pick the first card already. The only thing he need to do is discard one).

      When the game start right after the dealing, starter will have 14 cards. Now, he needs to push down the flower cards he has to show to the other. Then get the exactly same number of cards as the number of flower cards you push down from the tail. If you don’t have flower, skip this step, and if you have the flower when you getting the cards at the beginning of your round, do this first.

      Every one have 100 point at the beginning. As soon as one player loses all their points, game is over and the player with the highest points remaining wins the game.

      Step 6: Eat Set

      Eat: Each main suit ( character, strip and circle) is arranged in an
      order from 1-9. Eat is the action that you can only do while the player who sit left to you discards the card. And the action has to obey the sequence and suit. 1 can be eaten by 2,3. 2 can be eaten by 1,3 and 3,4. It has to be a ABC form by the sequence and the same suit. If the left player discard a 3 strip and you have 2,4 strip or 4,5 strip, you can call out eat. Then put down the two of your cards and take the discard one to make a ABC, put them right in front of your other cards. ( You need to show the others these three cards). Then you start the round without taking a card from the head and discard one.

      Step 7: Crash and Gang Set

      • Crash: You can do this action while any player discards the card. If the crash and eat happened together, crash goes first. If the other can crash the card you want to eat, he gets crash. To crash, you need to have 2 exactly same cards as the one the player discard to make AAA. Like if someone discard 9 character, and you have two 9 character, you can call crash and put them down, take the discard one leave them in front of your other cards. Then you start the round by skipping the other people if there is someone before you. If you get the crash, you go first. Without taking a card from the head and discard one also.
      • Gang: Similar like crash, goes first but you need 3 same cards as the discard one, then you can call gang. Additionally, you will also need to take one card from the tail then discard one. During the game, the number of your total cards will always be 13 out of your round and 14 in your round. If you get more or less cards, let other players do a punishment to you then discard the addition one or take the need one from the tail.

      Step 8: Wait to Win

      To win, you can go by the following sequence :

      • AA ABC ABC ABC,
      • AA AAA ABC ABC,
      • AA AAA AAA AAA,
      • AA ABC AAA AAA.
      • ( AAA means 3 same number and same suit, ABC is the sequence number in the same suit) You will always need a double AA which means two same number and suit cards. When your 13 cards have 1 step to get the winning suit. Like the picture following, you will have to call “Hearing the final cards”. There are two ways you can win. You get the card you need to win by yourself in your own round, or some one else discard the one that you need.

      Step 9: Count the Score

      Here come to the counting score part. Each flower counts as 1 point. If you have 5 flower, you will get 5 point. If you didn’t eat, crash and Gang, you will double the score. If you win through getting the card by yourself, the other 3 players all lose point to you, and you get triple point. If some one discard one and let you win, only he lose the point to you.

      For example:

      I : I have AA ABC ABC and 34 in strip suit. My round start, I pick a card which is strip 2 or strip 5. I have 5 flower and didn’t eat, crash or gang. So I got 10 point from all other 3 players.

      II : Based on example I, I didn't get the card by myself but another player discard a strip 2 or strip 5. He will give 10 point to you.

      Step 10: Hint:

      Do not crash when you only have one double suit, unless you have many double suits. Because you will need it to get to win set.

      If your set is good, no need to eat, crash or gang, because the score will get double.

      If you got 34567 to hear the final cards, you can wait for 2 5 8 three cards which gives you more probability to win the game.

      Be patient and think wisely. There are a lot of tricks in this game, open your mind and enjoy the game.

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      2 Discussions


      4 years ago

      This is exactly how I learned to play from my Aunt. Her husband's parents were Chinese. Her mother-in-law never organized her tiles so if you cheated by looking at her hand, you had a hard time figuring out her next move. I learned a lot of tricks to keep things interesting while playing. Thanks for sharing this!