Syed ArhamSyed Arham06.04.2024

    Mahjong Solitaire Rules and Tips

    Mahjong main

    It took me quite a while to realize Mahjong Solitaire is a lot more than just frantically matching tiles – before that, I was a happy trooper watching my score go up if I found two similar tiles. However, I never quite could get all the tiles to leave. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in my frustrations. I’d been sticking to the book, after all. Click on matching tiles until they’re all gone, right? 

    Apparently, I had it all wrong – one can’t just follow Mahjong Solitaire rules and expect to clear the board. Especially when you’re playing the Mahjong developed by the folks over at TheSoliatire. In fact, there’s a lot more strategy involved in playing Mahjong Solitaire. Frankly, with more than 55 million games of the classic Solitaire played in a day worldwide, a different variation requiring fresh strategies is just what we need. 

    However, you can’t really get into the nitty-gritty of Mahjong without understanding the basics first, so why don’t I take you through a deep dive into this intricately memorable game before we turn into savvy experts?

    Mahjong Solitaire: a Quick Overview

    Before we jump into the elaborate rules and strategies embedded into the rich game, let’s give you a brief overview of the history of the game and how it’s played. Mahjong Solitaire is a versatile tile-based game where you have to match similar tiles, and it dates back to 1981. Owing to the simple nature of the game, you can take many twists on Mahjong, including playing it in pairs and competitively rather than solo. 

    I’ve elaborated on some of the key features and details of Mahjong below:

    Tile Arrangement144 tiles in a four-layer pattern​​
    ObjectiveMatch open pairs of identical tiles​​
    Solvability RateApproximately 3% of games are unsolvable​​
    OriginCreated in 1981 by Brodie Lockard​​
    Play ModesSolo or with a partner, aiming for highest pairs/points​​
    Electronic AdaptationsExtra options like tile shuffling and wildcard tiles​​
    Alternate NamesThe Turtle, Shanghai Solitaire, Taipei, Kyodai​​

    What Are the Rules in Mahjong Solitaire?

    While trial and error might help you get a grasp of general Mahjong rules, no one wants to go through that hassle when there’s a shortcut out there, do we? 

    Well, you should know that there are actually tonnes of Mahjong versions out there, but TheSolitaire loves to cater to folks who are searching for that distinct air of nostalgia from back in the old days. 

    So, in the traditional version, you usually have layers of tiles, each stamped with different characters and signs. While you’d love nothing more than to empty each tile out one by one, you can only get rid of them by clicking on two identical tiles. 

    However, there’s another catch (I know, I wish that it was that simple, as well). You can only click on certain tiles, even if they’re visible. The way it works is that you can only click on tiles that are on the edge of a layer, and they don’t have a tile covering a portion of them.

    Mahjong rules

    To elaborate, that means you can only interact with the top-most tiles of a certain column and the edge-most column of a particular layer. Sounds complicated, but you quickly grab an intuition for it once you’ve played Mahjong solitaire online for long enough.

    The great thing about playing Mahjong Solitaire on TheSolitaire is that they highlight matching tiles for you when you make a false match. Don’t fall under the impression that this means it’s a free win – it’s not. You need to be mindful of the tiles you match and not hurry your moves, especially since you’ll get infinite time to solve the Mahjong puzzle.

    What Should Your Strategy Be While Playing Mahjong Solitaire?

    Mahjong strategy

    Now, we get to the fun part, where our brains start buzzing as they try to find the solution. You might be wondering, if all the possible matches are highlighted for you, what do you need to do as a player? Well, the trick lies in understanding when and where to make your match. While two identical pieces might be begging to be clicked on, you have to pause with every match and ask yourself a couple of questions.

    • By making this match and removing these tiles, am I opening up new matches?
    • Should I make this match, or is it okay to not rush it?
    • Is there a possibility that – by focusing on other matches – I reveal tiles that might be a better match than the one I have?

    The point of asking these questions is to make sure you don’t run out of moves. You see, by clearing out tiles at, let’s say, the bottom layer edges, you might leave yourself in a situation where the only open tiles now are the ones at the top layer. And, if there’s no match there, you’re stuck. Fortunately, you can utilize the undo option, but personally, that makes me feel like I’ve cheated my way out of it. I only really use the undo option once I’ve drained every last bit of brainpower – to each their own, I suppose!

    It should be said that while there’s only one stage of the game, you might find it complex to solve at the beginning, especially since the hints won’t guarantee a perfect solution. However, if you keep at it and follow our Mahjong tips, you should solve the puzzle in no time!

    Mahjong Rules at a Glance

    So, just for a quick recap, here’s what you need to know about the intricate game of Mahjong Solitaire:

    Setup144 tiles arranged in four layers
    ObjectiveMatch open pairs of identical tiles and remove them​​
    Open TilesOnly edge tiles without a covering tile can be selected
    Matching MechanicsTiles must be identical to match and clear
    LimitationsCan’t click on tiles covered by others
    Win ConditionsGame ends when all tiles are cleared, or no more moves are possible
    Special Features at TheSolitaireHighlighting of matching tiles on wrong match, Undo, Reset

    If you ever need to freshen up your Mahjong basics, just refer to the table above, and you’ll be all good to go!


    TheSolitaire’s Mahjong Solitaire has the perfect mix of simplicity and complexity. You can leave yourself to your own devices, but when you find yourself scratching your head in confusion and frustration, you can go ahead and use one of their helpful features! Use the reset option if you can’t find any more matches, or use the hint option when the move isn’t obvious. We all have times when our eyes deceive us, so don’t feel guilty using them!

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