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Written by: Robert Moore | Last updated: 10 August 2023 | Fact check by : Elizabeth Miller

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With 30 years of experience, Robert Moore is an accomplished authority on Solitaire and Mahjong, having delved deep into the rules and advanced strategies of these classic games. About Robert Moore

Mahjong Solitaire is a tile-matching game that is inspired by the classic Chinese game of Mahjong. It will take you less than two minutes to understand the basics of playing this single-player game, where the goal is to clear all tiles by matching them.

The surprising part is that this game doesn’t use any playing cards, and yet, it is considered a variant of Solitaire. The reason for that is that this is a single-player game like Solitaire that uses tiles instead of cards. Throw yourself into endless rounds of Mahjong Solitaire, available for free on Solitairea.com - Our free card game and app offer you the following in-game enhancements in Mahjong Solitaire:

  • Unlimited Mahjong Solitaire Gameplay

  • Winnable Games Only Option

  • Undo and Redo Moves

  • Tile Reshuffling

What is a Mahjong Solitaire

Image showing what Mahjong Solitaire setup looks like.

Image showing what Mahjong Solitaire setup looks like.

Mahjong Solitaire is a really captivating one-player strategy and puzzle game that is relaxing like regular Solitaire patience games. It is available to play both online and with physical tiles. Although sharing its name with the classic four-player game "Mahjong," the two games have distinctly different formats and rules.

Mahjong is a multiplayer game where players use tiles, and it is quite similar to rummy. At its core, Mahjong Solitaire is a matching game. You just have to find two matching tiles and match them to make progress in this unique game. To make it exciting, you will have limited time to clear all the tiles, or the game will be lost.

How to Play Mahjong Solitaire

Here we see the beautiful tiles in the game.

Here we see the beautiful tiles in the game.

As a player in the standard Mahjong Solitaire games, the objective is to clear the playing area by pairing up identical tiles. Focus on matching the visible tiles on top and sides first, as only these can be paired. To match two tiles, you have to select one tile and select another matching tile to remove both of them from the play area.

Mahjong tiles that can be paired must be open from the left or right and not covered by other tiles. If no more moves are available, you can reshuffle the tiles up to 5 times in some game versions.

The tiles have suits similar to playing cards, and they are as follows:

  • Character

  • Circle

  • Bamboo

  • Season

  • Dragon

  • Wind

  • Flower

While playing, the Flowers and Seasons are the only suit tiles that don't require an exact match. Any combination of these tiles is accepted as a pair since only one exists. You can think of them as classic card game Jokers.

The tile game is also known as Mahjongg Solitaire and Mahjong Game.

The Rules Explained

Only some tiles can be selected and matched

Only some tiles can be selected and matched

As explained then, Mahjong Solitaire requires you to match and remove pairs of tiles from a multi-layered layout. However, several distinct rules to playing this game make the game uniquely engaging and demanding:

  • The initial setup must comprise four layers, increasing the game's difficulty by concealing and entrapping tiles, limiting how far ahead players can strategize.

  • Only 'free' tiles can be matched, meaning they cannot have a tile directly to their left or right or stacked on top.

  • Matchable tiles must be identical in number and suit, except for the 'seasons' and 'flowers' tiles, which can be paired without restriction.

  • You can also shuffle the tiles if you are having a hard time spotting moves. Solitairea allows you to do unlimited shuffles so that you never run out of options.

Mahjong Solitaire image showing a typical selection of tiles.

Mahjong Solitaire image showing a typical selection of tiles.

How to Win

To win a game of Mahjong Solitaire, you as a player must clear the playing field by matching and eliminating all 144 tiles. But the key to success lies in devising a thoughtful strategy, not merely matching visible pairs.

Here are some tips to help you win more often:

  • Start by looking at the various tiles that are free and identifying matching pairs that are available to you.
  • Clear the top tiles first to open up most of the tiles stuck at the bottom.
  • Don’t think of just one move but think a few moves ahead. If you have ever played chess, think of this like a game of chess or a puzzle that requires a set of accurate moves before you win.
  • Always try to target the tiles that are blocking the most number of tiles and eliminate them first.
  • Finally, you should enjoy the game and trust the process because you will become an expert sooner or later.
The Mahjong game is won once all tiles are cleared

The Mahjong game is won once all tiles are cleared

Mahjong Solitaire Scoring System

Although a 'win' in Mahjong Solitaire depends on clearing the playing area, many game versions also incorporate scoring systems. These scoring methods allow players to challenge their records or compete against others. Different games may use various scoring criteria with some common factors. Depending on the version of Mahjong that you are playing, the following can be used in determining your score:

  • The time you take to remove all tiles

  • The number of shuffles you do in the game

  • The number of tiles eliminated by you

By mastering these aspects of the game, you'll soon be on your way to becoming a Mahjong Solitaire expert!

Developing Your Mahjong Solitaire Strategy

Image showing how to plan your moves as a way to develop a winning strategy.

Image showing how to plan your moves as a way to develop a winning strategy.

Mahjong Solitaire requires strategic thinking, concentration, and planning. You need to remove matching tiles while opening new possibilities for matches. Here are some things you must remember while playing this game:

  • Avoid focusing solely on top tiles, as it may leave other tiles covered and result in losing the game. Even if you reshuffle, sometimes you will need help to match tiles. 
  • As a beginner, we won’t recommend that you worry about the time. Just focus on making correct moves and improving your understanding of the game. Your speed will automatically improve with time.
  • Recognizing and unlocking "locks" is crucial for success. Some matching tiles will be stacked upon each other, and you'll need to find a way to unlock more tiles by solving these locks. This will give you more moves to make.
  • Sometimes, you may have 3 matching tiles. In that case, you should always match the tiles that will unlock the most possibilities.
  • The tiles on the horizontal lines are the hardest to clear, so make sure that you pay due attention to them.
As you progress, fewer tiles are left to be cleared in Mahjong Solitaire.

As you progress, fewer tiles are left to be cleared in Mahjong Solitaire.

Mahjong Solitaire might seem like an easy game initially, but losing focus can lead to getting stuck quickly. Stay mentally prepared and plan several moves in advance. Some pairs may seem like obvious choices, but they could be deceptive. The goal is to increase the number of available plays, allowing more movement flexibility.

Also, paying attention to the similarity of characters is essential, as it can easily trick you. Developing excellent visual memory will help you distinguish different tiles more efficiently. However, you don’t have to worry about developing your visual memory because playing this game regularly will improve it automatically.

All in all, Mahjong Solitaire is the perfect blend of two iconic games and one of the simplest and most addictive Solitaire games you can play. So don’t wait and start playing Mahjong Solitaire here at Solitairea for free.

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Mahjong Solitaire FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions about Mahjong Solitaire:

What are the Mahjong Solitaire lingo and terms I should know?

There are three types of tiles that you should know about:

  • The first one is the matching tiles that can be matched and eliminated from the game.
  • The second one is the open tiles that don’t have a tile either on the right or left. Also, they shouldn’t have a tile on the top of them.
  • The final one is the blocked tiles that can’t be moved without moving other tiles.
If you know and understand these three properly, you don’t need to learn much else to play well.

What is the difference between Mahjong Solitaire and traditional Mahjong?

Although both games share the same set of decorated tiles, Mahjong Solitaire is a single-player matching game, while traditional Mahjong is a four-player table game where players aim to collect a winning hand of seven tiles by picking and discarding one tile at a time.

How long does a game of Mahjong Solitaire take?

The duration of a Mahjong Solitaire game depends on the player's experience and ability. Experienced players may clear the tableau in about 10 minutes, while beginners might take longer as they learn the ropes, develop strategies, and spot pairs more efficiently.

Is Mahjongg Solitaire different from the regular game?

No, the game has just been rebranded with two G's at the end of the name on some websites to make it sound new and have people relate it to E-sports.