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Rules of Mahjong

Mahjong is a traditional game originating from China. There are currently different versions of mahjong: the Chinese, the Japanese and the American each with various rules. Mahjong involves skill, intellect, calculation as well as luck. Mahjong, whose literal meaning means "the game of a hundred intelligences" in Chinese, has been commonly used as a betting game. Other names for Mahjong are Ma Chiao, Mo Tsiah and Ma Cheuk.

Different mahjong games range from the very easy to the very complex. These games has individual group of set rules. The rules set-up the measures for seating arrangements, wall building, game play, deciding the winner, rounds, penalties, scoring, exit points and others.

Generally, the game is played by four players although it can have 2, 3 or 5 players. 16 hands of four rounds termed after the four compass points namely east, south, west and north in that order make up a full round. Individual players have specific directions, beginning with East for the first player. Usually, selection of the first player is done by throwing of dice. The player who gets the highest total becomes the first player.

The building of the wall is the next step. The tiles are jumbled well and organized in 18 stacks (two tiles on top of each other) horizontally in front of every player in a square form. The stack is then shattered and disseminated between the players according to a certain format so that every player will have 13 tiles individually. The remaining tiles make up the wall and stays in the center of the table.

Every player commences with the discarding of tiles from the wall. The aim is to produce 4 sets and a pair. A group of tiles may consist of three consecutive suits that are alike (CHOW) or three matching tiles (PUNG) or a group of 4 of a kind (KONG). The game is concluded when a player has completed accumulation of 4 sets and a pair. A draw ensues when no player is able to score a victory when the wall has already been consumed. There are different scoring variations in mahjong. It consists of establishing the points; multiplication of the points based on applicable doubles; and deciding the payout. Penalties are given for not following the rules. Depending on the set, the points are usually deferred: sequences, melded triplets, concealed triplets, melded fours and concealed fours.

In 1998, the China State Sports Commission have established fresh international rules for mahjong for use in international championships and tournaments such as the World Championship. This has boosted the status of mahjong as a gambling game into an international sport. The new rules were initially used in the inaugural World Championships in 2002. It consists of eighty combination patterns and scoring elements according to the original and current variants of the game.