Originally Mahjong was a tile-based game for 3-4 players, created in China during the Qing dynasty and last popularized around the world in the 20th century.
Mahjong solitaire, also known as Shanghai solitaire, is a single-player game where you must match the identical tiles to win. Mahjong Solitaire was designed in 1981 by Brodie Lockard and is less complicated than the original version. This version has 144 tiles, with 72 pairs. They are placed in a 3D puzzle, and it looks like a pyramid.
The game's goal is to remove the tiles from the playing area by matching identical tiles. Only the tiles you can see can be paired, which means that first you need to pair the visible ones on the top and sides. If there are no more moves left, in some versions, you can reshuffle the tiles, often a maximum of 5 times per game. The tiles that you can pair need to be open from the left or right. Also, you shouldn't have any other tile covering them.
In Mahjong, just like with playing cards, the tiles have suits: Character, Dot, Season, Dragon, Wind, and Flower. When you are playing, the only suit tiles that don't need to be matched are the Flowers and Seasons. Any of those combinations will be accepted as a pair because there is only one of each. You can think of them as Joker cards.
This game requires thinking, concentration, and planning. The strategy while playing is to remove matching tiles while opening new possibilities to match. For example, eliminating only the top tiles is not a good idea because the other tiles will remain covered, and you can lose the game. Even if you reshuffle, sometimes you won't be able to match tiles.
That's why it’s of greater importance to recognize the locks. Some of the matching tiles are going to be stacked upon each other. You will have to find a way to solve those locks that will unlock more tiles, giving you more moves to make.
At first, it might look like it's going to be an easy game to play, but if you are not focusing and concentrating enough, you can get stuck in a few moves. To avoid that, prepare your mind to be in the game and only in the game.
While playing try to plan several moves in advance. You may find some obvious pairs which may look like a good move, but they may fool you. At the beginning of the game, you have a handful of available plays, and the goal is to increase the number. Once you start doing that, you will have more breathing room to play the hand you want, not the one you must.
One thing that could easily trick you is the similarity of the characters, so it is crucial to have an excellent visual memory. It will help you distinguish the different tiles.
Mahjong is one of those games that can catch you by surprise. It may seem like a simple memory game, where you link two identical tiles. While that is true, since the tiles are stacked, you will need to have a strategy to avoid getting stuck.