Play Real Mahjong

About Real Mahjong

Play as a multi-player game with one to three of your Real Mahjong friends and contacts, or just play solo. The number is automatically made up to four with ‘virtual’ players, so it’s always a four-player game whatever the number of real players!

Check your contacts list to see who’s available and invite them to join you in a game.

Play virtually anywhere, any time, 24/7. All you need is a PC running Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) and a broadband connection!

If you have four real players you can play a complete multi-hand game with Goulash, player rotation and prevailing wind rotation, and with points accumulated throughout the game.


Traditionally, anyone claiming or discarding a tile, or calling Mahjong, is supposed to do so by saying ‘Pung’, ‘Three Circles’, or whatever. Real Mahjong does this for you automatically, and even reminds you if your attention wanders and you forget to take a turn! You can turn sounds off to avoid annoying people if you’re in a quiet area.

Set your own Rules

Real Mahjong is based on British Rules, which include almost all the Chinese rules. You can vary them to suit your preferences by selecting the special hands you want to allow, whether to allow Chows, whether to allow Flowers and Seasons, and whether to play a Goulash hand after a washout. I plan to add other major rule-sets (American, Hong Kong, etc.) later.

Real Mahjong is an online game based on the attractive but not very ancient Chinese game of Mahjong. I used to play Mahjong, not very seriously, many, many years ago — I still have the Mahjong set! A friend asked me a while ago if it would be possible to write a Mahjong program. ‘Probably,’ I think I said.

Much midnight oil has been burnt since then, and Real Mahjong is the result.

The physical Mahjong game is for four players, using ’tiles’ instead of cards. At the end of each hand the tiles a player has collected determine his or her score for that hand.

Real Mahjong models the physical game closely. It can be played either by four ‘real’ players on four separate computers, as a practice game by a single player, or by two or three players (on separate computers) with Real Mahjong itself taking the place of the additional players. All games require an internet connection.

Playing the game is essentially very simple. You take it in turns to pick up tiles and either keep or discard them, aiming to increase your score. In practice it’s not quite as simple as that, of course, and if you’ve never played Mahjong before it’s a good idea to join a Mahjong group to learn the basics. I have summarised the rules here, and Real Mahjong also has a built-in tutorial to help you get started.

What Real Mahjong is, and isn’t

Real Mahjong is for people who like playing Mahjong (the game with four players sitting round a table, doing strange things with little tiles about the size of dominoes but with nicer pictures) but don’t always have access to other people to play with. If that’s you, why not give it a try!

Real Mahjong is not a portal to a casino site, and it’s not a pattern-matching solitaire game. It makes no provision for gambling and is not related in any way to any gambling site. If that’s what you’re looking for there’s no point in installing Real Mahjong!

Real Mahjong was offline from 10 December 2013 to 27 February 2014. Apologies for any frustration this caused but I’ve not been monitoring it for some time (pressure of other work) and have only just noticed that is wasn’t working. Anyway we’re now back to normal…

How to play

Solo Games

You can play Real Mahjong either with other people or ‘solo’. In a solo game Real Mahjong automatically supplies three ‘virtual players’ so in most ways it’s just like playing with three other people.

To start a solo game just click the ‘Solo’ button at the bottom of the Control Centre. The game then starts automatically. At the end of each hand there’s a short delay to give you time to take a look at the scorecard and the other players’ tiles, and then the next hand starts automatically, rotating winds as necessary. If you do not want to play another hand just select ‘Leave game’ from the ‘Game’ menu.

If a solo hand is wahed out it is simply replayed, but Goulash rules are not applied, as they would be in a full game. This may change in a future version.

Multi-player games

Adding Contacts

Before you can start a multi-player game you must have a contact or two in your contacts list. If you click the button marked ‘Contacts’ (at the bottom of the Control Centre) you will see that the list is empty, so the first thing we need to do is add some contacts.

We’ll discuss some ways of finding contacts in a moment, but for now let’s assume you know that three friends of yours also have Real Mahjong, and that their usernames are Cirrus, Nimbus and London. We’ll start by adding Cirrus to the contact list.

In the light blue box at the bottom, type ‘Cirrus’, and click the Add button.

Cirrus appears in the contact list. Do the same for ‘Nimbus’. You will see that Cirrus has a grey icon, because he is offline, while Nimbus has a pink icon because she is ‘busy’. She may be playing Mahjong, or she may just not want to be disturbed. Either way she is unavailable.

As both Cirrus and Nimbus are unavailable let’s try our other contact, London. Enter ‘London’ into the box at the bottom and click Add. This time we’re in luck — London’s icon is green, which indicates that he is both online and available, and you can invite him to a game.

Starting a game

Click ‘London’ and then click Play. While you are waiting for a response from London the message on the right is displayed.

Meanwhile, London’s computer plays a ring tone and displays a message telling him that you’ve invited him to play Real Mahjong. If he accepts the invitation Real Mahjong will add two ‘virtual’ players to bring the number up to four, and the game then starts automatically. If he declines the invitation, or just ignores it, the game won’t start but the message on your computer changes so you know what’s going on.

Getting contacts

This is all fine as far as it goes, but it assumes you know the usernames of a few Real Mahjong players to add to your contact list. If your friends play Real Mahjong you can just ask them to tell you their usernames — simple!

Please bear in mind, however, that not everyone in the list is an active Real Mahjong player. To remove a player from your list, just select the entry and click Remove.

Your contacts list is also automatically updated to include everyone you play with. If you don’t want this to happen you can turn it off on the Setup page of the Control Centre.

Changing your Status

To change your status you use the ‘status’ button at the bottom of the Control Centre. Initially it indicates that you are ‘available’, and anyone who has your username in their list will see a green icon next to it.

When you click the button your status changes to ‘busy’, and your icon changes to pink, preventing anyone from inviting you to a game. Click it again and your status changes back to ‘available’.

It’s a good idea to keep your status up to date, both so you won’t be bothered by people inviting you to play Real Mahjong when you’re in the middle of something important, and also so they won’t have the frustration of inviting you to play when you’re nowhere near your computer!