Literature on Mah Jong

The following list of books on Mah Jong in English language may be useful in deepening your skills and learning the variations of the game.

Li, David H.: The Happy Game of Mah-jong. Premier Publishing, 1994. ISBN 0-9637852-3-0. 136 pages. An American-Chinese view of Mah Jong. The rules are basically Chinese “Old Style”, but the terminology and approach of the author are a bit unconventional.

Lo, Amy: The Book of Mahjong. An illustrated guide. Tuttle Publishing, Boston/Rutland, Vermont/Tokyo. 112 pages. ISBN 0-8048-3302-8. Reviews both Chinese Old Style and New Style Mah Jong, and also gives a brief description of Chinese 12-tile and Taiwanese 16-tile Mah Jong. 

Millington, A.D.: The Complete Book of Mah Jong. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987. 200 pages. ISBN 0-297-81340-4. Generally considered as one of the most authoritative and detailed books in English on Classical Chinese Mah Jong. Besides introducing the rules, includes an excellent historical overview (including short descriptions on rival forms), explains symbolism of Mah Jong, and has a short chapter on strategic aspects of the game, as well. The author does not discuss the modern variations at all, but if you are interested in the classical game (as presented in Four Winds by Chinese Classical  and European Classical) or want to know more about the “authentic” form of Mah Jong, as it was played in China in 1920’s, this book is highly recommended.

Perlmen, Samuel K. – Kai-Chi Chan, Mark: The Chinese Game of Mahjong, 1979, Book Marketing Ltd, Hong Kong. 124 pages. ISBN 962 211 0169. Presents Chinese “Old Style” (e.g. Hong Kong Mah Jong in Four Winds) and “New Style” Mah Jong. Describes well the basics of the game and lists several patterns for “New Style”. The book also contains brief descriptions on strategy and psychology of the game, but these short chapters are more interesting in the cultural than intellectual point-of-view. If you are new to modern Chinese versions of the game, this is an excellent choice for getting familiar with them.

Robertson, Max: The Game of Mah Jong, 1981. Whitcoulls Publishers, Christchurch, New Zealand. 52 pages. ISBN 0-7233-0306-1. Describes the game of Mah Jong as it is played in Australia and New Zealand. Four Winds Australian rule preset is based on rules described in this book.

Strause, Kitty and Evans, Lucille: Mah Jong, Anyone? Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1964. 59 pages. ISBN 0-8048-0390-0. Gives a reasonably good description of the modern American rules, where the focus is on collecting special hands (the book lists about 50). The rules, scoring and payment scheme presented in this book are still based on classical Chinese Mah Jong. Note that this book does not describe the rules of National Mah-Jongg League (NMJL) or Wright-Patterson Mah-Jongg Group.

Whitney, Eleanor Noss: A Mah Jong Handbook, 1964. Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc. of Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan. 176 pages. ISBN 0-8048-0392-7. A classic concentrating on Japanese Mah Jong, but lists also some variations (mainly classical American, which is seldom played in the United States today). Though the book does not cover modern versions of the game, it still serves as an excellent introduction to the game, including the fundamentals of its strategy and basic variations in scoring. Contrary to what is often believed, the official Japanese rules (as laid out by Japanese Mah Jong Association) presented in this book, are by no means “outdated”: the association is still active and has nearly 20,000 members. Four Winds Japanese Classical rule preset is based on these rules.

For further information, you might want to check Tom Sloper’s bibliographical listing.