How to Play Mahjong Solitaire

By Artjom,

Mahjong Solitaire is a classic puzzle game that most of us know and love. This guide is for people unfamiliar with the game and who want to learn more about Mahjong and its rules.

About Mahjong Solitaire

Mahjong Solitaire is a puzzle tile-matching game for one player(thus the name “solitaire”), most often played on the computer.

Its history goes back to 19th century China when the original Mahjong game was developed, later becoming an inspiration for the computer version. Despite the name similarity, the two games have very little in common and differ in their gameplay. The one thing they share is that both games are played with wooden tiles that have engraved images on the front side.

The goal of Mahjong Solitaire is to remove all tiles from the screen by matching tiles with identical images. When all tiles are removed, you win the game.

How to Play Mahjong Solitaire

Mahjong Solitaire is easy to learn with just a few straightforward rules.

At the beginning of the game, all tiles get randomly arranged into some shape, like a square or pyramid, usually stacked on top of each other creating multiple layers of tiles.

The game is played by finding tiles with similar images and removing them from the game board. When a pair of tiles is removed, more previously unplayable tiles are unblocked. You continue to remove pairs of tiles until there is no more left, at which point you win the game.

There are two simple rules the game follows to make it more interesting.

Rule 1. Only Tiles with Identical Images can be Removed

In Mahjong Solitare, each tile is assigned a suit and rank. Two tiles can make a pair and be removed when:

  1. They are of the same suit, except for Flower and Season tiles.
  2. They are of the same rank.

Only tiles with the same image can be made into a pair and removed. Flower and Season tiles act similarly to a Joker card. They don’t have a rank and are matched only by the suit. It means that any flower tile can be matched with any other flower tile and any season tile with other season tiles. But you cannot match flower and season tiles together.

Tiles with the same suit and rank that can be removed

Rule 2. Only Open Tiles can be Removed

In Mahjong Solitaire, a tile is considered open when:

  1. It’s not blocked by other tiles above it.
  2. It’s not blocked by other tiles on at least one of its left or right sides.

Tiles that cannot be removed because they are blocked by tiles above

Tiles that cannot be removed because they are blocked by tiles on the sides

Here, all tiles can slide out to either side, making them possible to remove.

Tiles that are open and can be removed

Mahjong Tiles

The number of tiles used in the game depends on the version of the game you are playing. In our version of Mahjong Solitaire, there are always 144 tiles and 72 pairs, regardless of which puzzle you are playing.

There are seven suits: circle, symbol, bamboo, dragon, wind, season, and flower. In our version, flower tiles are additionally marked with the F letter in the top right corner, and season tiles with the letter S.

The number of ranks depends on the suit. Circle, symbol, and bamboo tiles are ranked from 1 to 9. Dragon tiles have only one rank based on their color. The same goes for the wind tiles. Flower and season tiles don’t have a rank and are matched solely by the suit image.

Learn more about tiles used in Mahjong.

Locked Position

In Mahjong Solitaire, the order in which you remove tiles matters and can impact the game’s progress. It might happen that you will remove the wrong pair of tiles, which will cause the game to fall into a “locked position” further down the road.

A locked position means no more pairs can be removed, and it’s considered that you lost the game.

However, our version of the game allows you to get out of this situation with two helpers, shuffle and undo. Shuffle will mix all the tiles making a new variation of the board. With undo, you can undo your moves one by one.

Easy Mahjong Solitaire Layouts for Beginners

If it’s your first time playing Mahjong Solitaire, it’s a good idea to pick an easy layout for your first game to get a feel and practice the rules. The classic Turtle layout is a good choice for a first game, and some other easy layouts like Square, Infinity, and Pyramid.


I hope you found the guide helpful and that you learned something new!

Now with your newly acquired knowledge, it’s a perfect time to play Mahjong Solitaire or check out our collection of more than a hundred hand-crafted mahjong puzzles.