Types of Mahjong Games

Mahjong is an old game with a long history, and throughout the years with the advent of personal computers, many different types of Mahjong have appeared. This has caused a lot of confusion as to what version came first and how they differ. If you wonder what’s the difference between Mahjong and Mahjong Solitaire, read ahead!

Original Mahjong

Mahjong or mah-jongg is a tile-based game for 4 players played with mahjong stones. Each stone is a rectangular tile with an engraved image on one of the sides. Mahjong originated in China in the 19th century and to these days popular in many Asian and Western countries.

The game starts with shuffling tiles and deciding the player to play first by throwing a dice. Then, each player draws 13 tiles from the pool. Players take turns drawing and discarding tiles. In order to win, a player needs to get 4 suits and a pair. Here is a good youtube video to learn how to play mahjong.

There are many computerized versions of mahjong available online like Mahjong Time or Online Chinese Mahjong.

Elderly people playing classic mahjong.

Mahjong Solitaire

Mahjong Solitaire is a computer puzzle game that uses Mahjong tiles, but is totally different from the original mahjong game and is played solo, thus the name “Solitaire”.

In Mahjong Solitaire, 144 tiles are laid out on the game board and stacked on top of each other with their faces upwards, forming a layout. The goal is to match tiles with identical faces. Each time match is made, tiles are removed from the board unblocking more tiles under them. The game ends when all tiles are removed from the board.

Play the classic version of Mahjong Solitaire on our homepage.

Classic Mahjong Solitaire layout "The Turtle."


Shisen-Sho is a Japanese tile-matching game that also uses mahjong tiles. It’s similar to Mahjong Solitaire but follows a different set of rules.

Unlike Mahjong Solitaire, in Shisen-Sho tiles are laid out flat on the game board in the shape of a rectangle and don’t overlap with each other. The player has to choose two tiles with identical faces to remove them, and the connection path must not exceed two 90 degrees turns. The game is over when all tiles are removed, or when there are no possible moves left.

Some versions of Shisen-Sho come with a time limit, as well as a hint and undo buttons.

Mahjong Connect

Mahjong Connect is a modern-day successor to Shisen-Sho and follows the same set of rules. There are, however, some gameplay differences.

In Mahjong Connect you have a set number of levels you have to complete in a given amount of time. Each time tiles are removed, other tiles on the board are shifted to fill the space of removed tiles. You also earn a score for each successful tile removal. You can think of Mahjong Connect as a more challenging and competitive version of Shisen-Sho.

Mahjong Connect video game