The History of Mahjong

Mahjong originated in China as a board game. Played by two to four players, it’s is much like rummy. Players begin with 13 cards and the game has a total of 144 cards. The first mahjong set was imported into the U.S in the 1920’s and its popularity shot through the roof. Abercrombie and Fitch, the company which had imported and sold the first mahjong sets, went on to sell a further 12 000 in the U.S.

Through the 1920’s many variations of the game appeared in America. By the 1930’s, the rules had been revised a number of times and substantially watered down from the original Chinese and first American set of rules written by Joseph park Babcock. Babcock was the author of “Rules of Mahjong” (which later become known as the red book) His version was the earliest American adaptation of the Chinese rules and were a lot more stringent than the offshoots that started popping up in later years. Yet, his rules made it simple for Americans to understand how to play the game.


Mahjong became favored by Jewish women with plenty of time on their hands. The origin of the game even became confused with many believing that it was derived from a Jewish game.

Now, since the dawning of the computer age, the game has become even more popular in the west as a single player computer game. The computer games offer an easy-to-use interface, no hassles of carrying the board game around or having to find more than 2 players. The online version of Mahjong Solitaire appeals to countless online game players.