SiameseThe very wonderful Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg Tournaments, has created a website devoted to the rules of Siamese Mah Jongg. Although I have posted her rules on this blog before, many of you have asked for an explanation again and so, here is the definitive way to play, with much thanks to Gladys (these are her words, taken from her website). Be sure to visit her Siamese Mah Jongg website

There is absolutely no reason to have to play a drawn-out or less thought-provoking game of Mah Jongg with only two players.  You will LOVE this simple yet very challenging method of playing the game.  It can be fast, stimulating, and fun, fun, fun.

1. TWO PLAYERS/TWO RACKS EACH.  Two players face each other; and place 2 racks in front of each player.
2. WALLS.  Build two (2) full walls of tiles, 19 stacks long, parallel to each other. (EASY OPTION:  You can build one wall against each rack.  When the tiles from the outside rack have been used, just move that rack behind the other rack.)
3. OPTIONAL:  EAST THROWS THE DICE TO BREAK THE WALL.  East throws the dice to break the first wall arbitrarily, and retains the amount of tiles corresponding to the dice throw (as with the standard 4-handed version of MJ).  It is an OPTION to use the dice to arbitrarily break the wall.  Dealing/picking will commence from East’s walls.
4. 28 TILES FOR EAST, 27 TILES FOR THE OPPOSITE PLAYER: Each player deals themselves four (4) tiles from one of the two (2) walls in front of East, until East has taken their last four (4) tiles which would give East 28 tiles. Player opposite then takes three (3) tiles, which gives him/her 27 tiles.
5. ARRANGING THE TILES.  Players may arrange their tiles on both their racks…as many as desired; and may exchange tiles back and forth between their own racks. It does not matter how many tiles are on each rack at any one time. (See Item 9).
6. CHARLESTON.  There is NO Charleston. (NOTE:  You have plenty of tiles and a multitude of tile combinations over which you have control.)
7. THE GAME BEGINS.  East discards the 28th tile to begin the game; then the opposite player picks their first tile from the wall; then discards a tile; and so on.  Picking and discarding proceeds.
8.  JOKERS.  You may exchange your own Jokers from your own exposures, or from your opponent’s exposures; but you can NOT   exchange a Joker from any existing EXPOSED Mah Jongg hand.  Jokers may be exchanged from exposures in a “dead” hand, IF that exposure did not cause the hand to be declared “dead.”
9. MAH JONGG.  Once a Mah Jongg is declared by a player, and that player has discarded a tile to complete their turn, that rack with the Mah Jongg exposed must hold only 14 tiles.  STRATEGY NOTE:  The disadvantage of not exposing your own MJ is that the game might finish before you have declared your own Mah Jongg; and you must have a Mah Jongg exposed in order to be paid.  You won’t be paid for a MJ that is still IN your rack, not ON your rack.  However, once your first Mah Jongg has been declared and exposed, you MAY NOT exchange for those exposed Jokers.    The longer you delay declaring a Mah Jongg and exposing those tiles, the longer you are able to use your own Jokers interchangeably.  Remember, once the Mah Jongg hand has been exposed and declared, the Jokers in the exposure can NOT be exchanged.
10. YOU ARE PLAYING BOTH RACKS INTERCHANGEABLY. Even though the TILES ARE INTERCHANGEABLE on the racks, players must be cautious to NOT put their exposures on the WRONG Rack. A player’s hand should be declared “dead” if the exposures do not match a hand on the NMJL card.  Remember, the tiles are interchangeable IN the racks, not ON the racks.  However, the player may continue playing to try to build a 2nd Mah Jongg on their 2nd rack.
11. IF PLAYER IS DECLARED “DEAD” FOR 2  HANDS, THE GAME CEASES, and “dead” player pays opponent 4 times the value of opponent’s existing Mah Jongg, or 4 times the lowest value on the card – whichever is relevant.
12.  PLAYER HAS 1 MAH JONGG AND 1 DEAD HAND, the game continues by the opponent only – until opponent makes a second Mah Jongg, or all the tiles have been picked.  (NOTE: In a 4-handed version, the “dead” player has to cease playing, while everyone else continues.  Think of the player’s 2 racks in the 2-handed version as 2 individual players. If one hand is “dead,” there are still 3 players alive.)
13.  GAME CEASES  when 1 player has declared 2 MAH JONGGS, -or- when the tiles from the walls have been used, and the last discard has been made.
14.  If a player has a rack that is declared “dead,” player may continue to exchange tiles between the two racks, but may NOT USE the tiles from the exposures that MADE the HAND “dead” – in order to build another hand.  However, Jokers may be exchanged from exposures in the “dead” hand, only if that exposure did not cause the hand to be declared “dead.”
16.  SCORING AND PAYOUTS: Payments are made at the END of the game. For easy payouts, KEEP SCORE.  At the end of the game, the lesser score will pay the winner the difference between the two (2) scores,
A. The 1st Mah Jongg by a player receives the value on the NMJL card, regardless if it is self
picked, but if it is   JOKERLESS, the value is doubled.
B.  Sometimes, if both players have the same score for their 1st Mah Jonggs, e.g., a 25 point
hand – then the payment will be a “wash.”
C.   If a player declares and wins with two (2) Mah Jonggs, the payout for the 2nd Mah Jongg is doubled, regardless if it is self-picked.  Payout is doubled again if the 2nd Mah Jongg is JOKERLESS (excluding singles and pairs).

©Copyright Mah Jongg Madness 2015 Gladys Grad

All rights reserved. 2015 Gladys Grad


  1. Loretta

    For Siamese Mah Jongg, I would think that East would have 27 tiles at the end of the selection (one rack with 14 and the other with 13) and the second player would have 26 tiles (13 for each rack). Then at the beginning of play, East discards one tile and play continues with each player picking and discarding one tile. If each player has 27 tiles throughout the game, then each player would have an extra tile at the end. To achieve the 27 and 26 counts, after each player picks 4 tiles six times, then East would select 3 tiles and the other play would select 2 tiles. This is how we play Siamese Mah Jongg.


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