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    How to Play Mahjong With 2 Players

    Mahjong is an ancient game of strategy and chance that has since spread around the globe. You can enjoy Mahjong with two players as well as four.

    For playing mahjong with only two players, courtesy pass is used. This allows each player to exchange up to three tiles without taking a look at them first.


    Mahjong is an ancient Chinese game of strategy, developed centuries ago. The game features beautifully decorated tiles which must be combined into winning hands to form winning combinations. While its rules vary slightly by region, its basic principles remain constant – providing both luck and skill with equal playability as a fun pastime!

    Players sit around a table arranged to best meet the needs of their group, ideally using a 136-tile set, but some people also play with 99 tiles. The first player to construct a mahjong hand wins; they are known as the “pungs”, while their counterpart who comes in second is known as a “chows”.

    Begin Mahjong by rolling a die and choosing who goes first. The winner of this roll will deal out the first tiles; other players take turns drawing tiles from the wall and adding them to their racks. When all players have 13 tiles each, East will take two additional ones and pass them off right-handed. This process continues until every player has amassed enough tiles to create their own rack.

    When discarding, tiles may only be called by another player if they complete an exposed hand’s pung, kong, quint or sextet combination; but may not be called as part of a pair. Jokers are allowed, but must only serve to substitute for specific tiles within these combinations and not simply act as additional wildcards.

    Mahjong may seem complicated at first, but once you grasp its core rules it becomes much simpler to learn. There is no definitive set of rules; adjustments will need to be made depending on who is playing with you and any particular group preferences for how many walls/methods of keeping track of deals are also an option.

    An average mahjong game typically lasts 10 minutes. To win, players must collect four pungs or kongs and a double. Furthermore, they must also collect at least one special hand such as Flower or Season; unlike Chinese variants which only allow for one special hand per hand, Western variants permit more special hands per hand.


    Players sit four per side around a table with one player sitting in the East seat acting as dealer. There are two ways of dealing: using either a standard mahjong set with 13 tiles or playing triangular mahjong with three players; triangular game offers more freedom but may prove confusing for beginners.

    Beginning the game is simple. Each player shuffles and piles tiles before tossing three dice to determine who wins a deal. They select their tiles from among those available to form walls around themselves before any unused tiles are drawn and put into an available draw pile.

    When one player discards a tile that another player can use to form a Mah Jong game, the nearest person who discards that tile should call “Mah Jong”, collect it, and play out with it. If multiple claims for one tile (such as for a pung or chow), those seeking it for its intended use ( such as for making a pung) take precedence over those seeking it for other purposes (such as an opponent wanting it for making a Mah Jong).

    Mahjong players aim to arrange 14 tiles into four sets and one pair. A set can either consist of identical tiles arranged into a grouping called a “pung,” or three consecutive numbers in the same suit matched together to form an “arcade.” Players also earn bonus points by stealing tiles from other players by calling out “pong!” when one that belongs to your set is being discarded – an effective strategy when competing against multiple opponents!

    Players can use dummy tiles to complete a mahjong hand, however these tiles must remain concealed; exposed ones earn 4 points; concealed ones receive 16 if containing 1s or 9s, dragons or winds – for newcomers it may be wiser to play with one until their confidence increases and they feel ready to try playing without it.

    A dummy may serve either the North Wind or South Wind roles, though not both at once. When first starting mahjong, beginners should begin using the North Wind as their dummy; its more versatile nature makes for easier gameplay than being stuck using only one wind direction.


    Mahjong originated centuries ago in China and requires a combination of luck, strategy and skill to play successfully. Now enjoyed around the world in various variations – though rules may differ depending on where it’s played – mahjong remains an ancient Chinese game involving 136 tiles that must be placed strategically to form winning hands and score points for victory.

    The dealer establishes who plays first by rolling two dice, with the highest roll becoming East and initiating the deal. Next, using a pusher, they build two stacks (4 tiles) on the table using pushers. When this wall has been constructed they roll dice to count how many will remain (starting from right). When completed they break it by sliding left past where last tile counted was located before curtsying out any leftover tiles that remain.

    Once the wall has been broken down, players begin picking up tiles one at a time from it. Starting from right of dealer, each player takes two stacks (four tiles). When dealer takes his turn again, all players take another four from wall for a total of thirteen tiles in front of them.

    Mahjong success depends on both strategy and luck, yet knowing your opponent’s behavior can give an edge in winning hands. Your decisions regarding discarding tiles for greater chances at forming melds will ultimately impact how your hand scores and reveal more information about who your opponents are during the game, helping you tailor strategies accordingly.

    Claim an unclaimed tile only if it completes an exposed pung, kong, sextet or quint. Once claimed, when claimed it must reveal their entire meld before any other player can choose whether to call mahjong and pick up their tiles; any player calling mahjong before disclosing their full meld is considered cheating and is treated accordingly.


    There are various scoring systems used for mahjong, from Chinese-inspired prevailing wind systems to American versions with bingo-like scoring cards. Most tables will utilize similar rules; players will keep a score card handy to help build their hand; the aim being achieving either a Mahjong (M) hand or one that includes three identical tiles or four identical tiles in any matched pair – or use a pusher when needed to ensure all tiles can easily be brought forward to be played upon.

    Before beginning the game, each player will create a wall consisting of 36 tiles in stacks of 2, then push their walls together into a square formation. At that point, players can take turns drawing one tile from their Wall and placing it into their rack; whether that means making a pung, kong or chow. They may pause play and pick up more tiles if there’s a valid reason – such as creating mahjong tiles!

    The first player to declare Mahjong wins the game. A non-dealer player may claim victory as long as their winning hand includes one or more of pung, kong or mahjong (plus at least one discard), as per rule 8.1(g). Players not serving as dealers may only pause and pick up tiles from the Wall once every turn.

    Once a hand has been declared mahjong, players may begin trading tiles between racks – known as Charlestoning – to improve their hands by passing unwanted tiles to those sitting across from them. Each player can pass up to three tiles at any one time without exception (jokers are not accepted). Furthermore, players can agree to exchange three tiles with their opponent on the right by agreeing a courtesy pass agreement; these exchanges could include up to three exchanges.

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