Beijing residents playing Mahjong in public.
Four Filipino women playing Filipino Mahjong.
There are many variations of mahjong. In many places, players observe one version, and are either often unaware of other variations, or claim that other variations are incorrect. Although many variations today differ only by scoring, there are several main variations of Mahjong.
- Chinese Classical Mahjong is the oldest variety of Mahjong, and was the version introduced to America in the 1920s under various names.
- Hong Kong Mahjong or Cantonese Mahjong is the most common form of Mahjong, differing in minor scoring details with the Chinese Classical variety.
- Japanese Mahjong is a standardized form of Mahjong in Japan, found prevalently in video games. In addition to scoring changes, the rules of riichi and dora are unique highlights of Japanese Mahjong.
- Western Classical Mahjong is a descendant of the version of Mahjong introduced by Babcock to America in the 1920s. The evolution of Mahjong in America led to American Mahjong. Today, this term largely refers to the Wright-Patterson rules, used in the U.S. military, and other similar American-made variants that are closer to the Babcock rules.
- American Mahjong is a form of Mahjong standardized by the National Mah Jongg League and the American Mah-Jongg Association that has the greatest divergence from traditional Mahjong, with the introduction of Joker tiles, the Charleston, as well as melds of five or more tiles, and eschewing the Chow and the notion of a standard hand. Because of this divergence, the NMJL and AMJA variations (which differ from each other by minor scoring differences) is commonly referred to as Mahjongg (with two Gs, possibly hyphenated). Purists of Mahjong claim that the divergence from standard Mahjong makes American Mahjong not a “true Mahjong”, and thus should be considered a separate game in and of itself.
Other variants include Fujian Mahjong (with Dadi Joker 帶弟百搭), Taiwanese Mahjong (each player would have 16 tiles), Vietnamese Mahjong (with 16 different kinds of joker), and Filipino Mahjong (with Window Joker).