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Lifestyle
Mahjong

Mahjong is a game that originated in China, commonly played by four players. It is a game of skill, strategy and calculation and involves a certain degree of chance.

The game is played with a set of 136 tiles based on Chinese characters and symbols, although some regional variations use a different number of tiles. In most variations, each player begins by receiving thirteen tiles. In turn players draw and discard tiles until they complete a legal hand using the fourteenth drawn tile to form four groups (melds) and a pair (head). There are fairly standard rules about how a piece is drawn, stolen from another player and thus melded, the use of simples (numbered tiles) and honours (winds and dragons), the kinds of melds, and the order of dealing and play. However there are many regional variations in the rules; in addition, the scoring system and the minimum hand necessary to win varies significantly based on the local rules being used.

Mahjong culture is still deeply ingrained in the Chinese community. Hong Kong famous singer Sam Hui wrote Cantopop songs using mahjong as their themes, and Hong Kong movies have often included scenes of mahjong games. Many gambling movies have been filmed in Hong Kong, and a recent sub-genre is the mahjong movie.

Prolonged playing of mahjong may trigger epileptic seizures according to a 2007 study. Studies by doctors have also shown in Hong Kong that the game is beneficial for individuals suffering from dementia or cognitive memory difficulties, leading to the development of mahjong therapy.

 

EquipmentMain article: Mahjong tiles

A mahjong set Hong Kong Mahjong is played with a set of mahjong tiles (though cards may be used). Sets often include counters (to keep score), dice (to decide how to deal) and a marker to show who is dealer and which round is being played. Some sets include racks to hold tiles (if they are shaped small or differently).

A set of mahjong tiles usually has at least 136 tiles . Mahjong tiles are split into these categories: suits, honor, and flowers.

There are three different suits numbered 1 to 9, which are called simple tiles. They are bamboo, characters (or myriads), and circles (or dots).
There are two different honor suits: the winds and the dragons. The winds are east, south, west and north, and the dragons are Red, Green and White. They have no numerical sequence and there are four tiles of each honor (e.g. four Red Dragon tiles).
There are only eight bonus tiles: four flowers and four seasons.