If you read the Introduction to this series you are aware of the origins and basics of Mahjong so the next step is learning how to play the game.
Cantonese Style Recap: There are few restrictions with HKOS so it’s the easiest to learn and the most flexible way to play. If you are new to mahjong, this is the best place to start – most people can play independently after an hour or so. If you learn this style first, you should be able to quickly learn how to play other Asian styles with a fairly short learning curve. Because this style is so simple, players tend to tire of it and move on to more complex styles after a playing for a couple of years.
Japanese Style Recap: This style has surprise and strategic elements that make it exciting and more complex than Cantonese style and it’s quickly gaining worldwide and long-term popularity. If you learn this style first, you can quickly learn most Asian variants with a minimal learning curve with scoring.
American Style Recap: This style is probably the most common way to play in the United States especially amongst Senior Citizens and the Jewish Community. In my opinion, it is one of the hardest styles to learn but is well worth the effort. Unlike Asian versions, players have to pick a hand on the card so they have less flexibility to change their hand when their tiles are discarded or used in exposures. Next to picking the right hand in the first place, critical skills are knowing when to change a hand and picking the next hand to play in time to win. If it’s not possible to change the hand, defensive play is the only saving grace… but this whole topic will have to be in another post.
Are you still not sure which style to learn? Here’s what I recommend…
- If there is a Mahjong group in your vicinity, learn the style they play.
- If you have a connection to a particular style through your nationality, heritage or country of interest, learn that style.
- If neither of these situations apply to you, I recommend that you start with Cantonese style.
If you want a second opinion, take the questionnaire Part A Which Mah-Jongg rules should I learn?.
Which style did you choose?