Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, you've probably heard of the craze sweeping the nation (and the Internet): American mahjong! This hugely popular strategic tile game is one of the hottest gaming trends in the United States. Brought over from China almost a century ago, mahjong continues to gain a cult following and little wonder -- it's social, addictive and exciting! What more could you ask for? But before you learn how to play mahjong, it's important to be aware that there are many different variations of this wonderful game.
Originally developed in China more than a century ago, mahjong fever has spread all over the globe and evolved into many different variations along the way. The original version, often called Classical Chinese mahjong is no longer very popular and has been replaced by newer variants. Hong Kong mahjong (sometimes referred to as Cantonese mahjong) is currently the most popular variant even though strangely it is identical to the classical version with the exception of minor scoring details. Japan also has their own variant that features scoring differences from classical mahjong as well as several unique features such as the rules of "riichi" and "dora."
When mahjong was brought over from China back in the 1920s, it was adapted to fit its new American audience, which meant faster game play and higher scores. Western Classical mahjong is a descendent of that variant and is currently based on the Wright-Patterson rules popular in the U.S. military. And then of course there is American mahjong, which features the biggest changes from the classical Chinese version and is a huge hit in the United States. American mahjong features joker tiles, the Charleston rule, melds of five tiles or more and shuns the use of the Chow and standard hands.
If you haven't learned how to play mahjong yet, you should! It's a challenging but exciting game that's extremely addictive, especially when played with friends and family. Don't miss out on this hot gaming trend!