Mahjong Rules

If you want to get a detailed guide on how to play mahjong, you arrived at the right place. This guide covers the mahjong solitaire rules from start to finish. Let's get started!


Mahjong is played with special mahjong tiles. There are 144 tiles in a mahjong set. Each tile appears 4 times in the set, except the tiles in the Flower or Season group.

For more info about mahjong tiles, have a look here.


The goal in mahjong is to remove all tiles from the board. You can only remove matching open tiles.


The setup of mahjong is quick and easy. The 144 mahjong tiles are shuffled and placed face up on the table in a certain configuration, called a layout. The standard layout is called the Turtle, but many other layouts exist.


Playing mahjong is fairly simple, because the only move you can do is matching two identical open tiles.

A tile is open when there is no tile to the left or to the right of it, and no tile above it.

Find and select two identical tiles from the bamboos, coins, numbers, winds and dragons to remove them from the layout. Any two tiles from the same group can be removed within the flowers and seasons.

When you are stuck, you can ask for a hint in most games and sometimes also shuffle the board.

End of the game

Remove all tiles to complete the game. In some cases, there is a time limit. When you exceed this time limit, the game ends as well.


Every mahjong game has a different way to score the game. Some games don't even have a scoring system, because the main challenge of the game is to remove all tiles from the board.

Existing scoring systems are based on playing fast, giving a score for a match depending on how long it took to find the match. Some games give bonuses for making runs of matches, i.e. making consecutive matches without selecting and deselecting another tile. Sometimes you also get a bonus for making two similar pairs in a row, so removing the 2 pairs of identical tiles (4 tiles) right after eachother.

Mahjong solitaire with real tiles

Playing mahjong solitaire with real tiles can be a fun and relaxing activity. Make sure you have a complete set (144 tiles) at hand, shuffle them, and place them in the layout of your choice. The most common layout is the Turtle.