Mahjong, a game traditionally played in China, uses a set of tiles. These tiles are quite similar to dominoes, that is, one side is plain and the other is printed or embossed. Each set of Mahjong tiles is divided in the following way:
First come 36 character tiles, then 36 circle tiles, and 36 bamboo tiles, this is followed by 12 dragon tiles, 16 wind tiles, 8 season tiles and finally 8 flower tiles.
Although many variations of this game are available now, this game is usually played with 144 tiles and includes 4 players. The main objective of the game is simple; each player must draw the tiles and discard them.
Mahjong Solitaire is another variation of the Mahjong game which involves a single player and a computer. The player can select a layout and the computer generates a game based on this layout. The player has to make pairs of identical tiles and remove them from the board. He cannot select any tile that lies underneath another tile, or is partially covered by another tile. To win the game, the player must clear the board completely. This game involves strategic thinking and players have to concentrate and plan their moves if they want to win.
Mahjong is a very popular game, more in the east when compared to the west. The World Mahjong Organization (WMO) situated in Beijing, China, is responsible for organizing the first tournament for World Championship.
This game GCLUB originated in China but was brought to the west in 1920, although written accounts of the game have been found in as early as 1895 by an American anthropologist named Stewart Culin. Starting in 1920s, the first Mahjong sets were sold in the U.S. by Abercrombie & Fitch. When this became a hit in the city of New York, Ezra Fitch imported more sets of Mahjong and sold a whopping 12,000 sets. In this way this was introduced to the west and a Mahjong fad took over the whole country. Games scholar David Parlett believes that even western card games like Rummy and Conquian have been derived from the game of Mahjong, as these games also involve the concept of drawing and discarding tiles.
As the internet gained popularity, the online version of the game also became a success as it does not require four players and can easily be played by a single person on a computer, where the computer generates a game based on preferred layout.