• By: Allen Brown

What is the secret to winning Mahjong solitaire? Our complete guide

Play Mahjong solitaire: our complete guide to the secrets and tips for winning the game.

When you play Mahjong solitaire on BestMahjong, no doubt it’s mostly something you do for fun as a way to relax. But at the same time, we all want to win the game and given the game’s simple nature, many of us expect that winning the game will typically be quite easy. It is harder, though, than we often expect, and so we end up looking for secrets and tips to help us win the game. 

Our complete guide to winning the game will help you play Mahjong solitaire to the best of your ability—let’s get started. 

Play Mahjong solitaire: the basics 

To start off with, the most important trick to winning Mahjong solitaire is that you are completely clued up on the rules of how the game works and what are and are not legal moves in the game. Let’s cover the basics of how the game is played. 

  1. Online/physical set 

The first question is one you might not have considered but is important: whether to play online or with a physical set. There are, of course, benefits and advantages of playing with a physical set, but ultimately it is a lot more time consuming than playing online—play Mahjong solitaire online is a good way to quickly improve your skill with lots of games. 

  1. Formation 

There are many ways to play Mahjong solitaire in terms of the way the tiles are laid out. The most commonly used formation is known as the turtle, and different formations have differing levels of difficulty. The turtle formation is ideal for learning the game. 

  1. Playing tiles 

Now you can actually start making moves. The gameplay involves playing tiles by matching them with their identical pair somewhere on the board. Crucially, you can only play Mahjong solitaire tiles if they are exposed on the right or the left and don’t have a tile directly on top of them. 

  1. Getting stuck: shuffling 

Rules may differ depending on where you play, especially for one key move: shuffling. In classic rules, when you are stuck, that’s it, the game is lost. Some online forms of the game, though, allow you to shuffle the board to keep playing. This is again useful for learning the game rather than cutting games short.

  1. Series tiles 

Finally, you must also be aware of the series tiles or bonus tiles. There are four flower and four season tiles, and each can be matched with another member of its own series. 

Now, let’s turn to how to play Mahjong solitaire with strategy. 

Strategy for Mahjong solitaire: the secret to winning 

While to play Mahjong solitaire might overall seem like quite a simple game, if you want to win, you have to play with strategy or you will lose every time. It’s a complex, layered game that requires forward thinking, patience, and above all attention to detail. Let’s look at some key tips to play Mahjong solitaire: 

  1. Play with strategy 

Firstly, overall the most important secret for winning when you play Mahjong solitaire is to play with strategy. Because it is, on its face, quite a simple game, many assume you can simply go ahead and make any pairs you see. This, though, will not work for very long. You must have a strategy in mind for how you will tackle any given layout. While this strategy itself will be multifaceted, it’s always important to have a reason for every move that fits into your strategy. Remember, there’s an element of luck in the game, but it is far from entirely luck based. 

  1. Think multiple steps ahead 

A more specific aspect of that strategy is thinking multiple steps ahead on any given move. Before you match a pair of tiles, think about what you will reveal by doing so, and whether you will make any new moves available by matching a given pair. If a match does not make any new pairs available, or at least available within one or two moves, then its best avoided. 

  1. Hone your memory 

Above all, Mahjong solitaire is a game of memory. The secret for winning when you play Mahjong solitaire is to focus on improving your memory skills. If you make a conscious effort at it, the more games you play, the better your memory will be and the greater picture you can keep in your mind of the state of the board. 

  1. High stacks and long rows 

Finally, one very specific thing you should seek to do in your games is to target the high stacks and the long rows. You want as many moves available to you as possible at any given moment, and by exposing tiles hidden under these stacks and rows, you’ll have more tiles to work with. 

Now let’s turn to a couple of common mistakes players make in the game. 

Common mistakes to avoid

Some common mistakes people make while when they play Mahjong solitaire include: 

  1. Matching any pairs 

Firstly, a common mistake made in Mahjong solitaire is simply matching any pair as soon as it becomes available. This will quickly get you stuck if you are playing without any strategy.  

  1. Playing quickly

While Mahjong solitaire often displays a timer, this doesn’t mean you have to play as quickly as possible—at least at first. If you play more slowly, you’re more likely to make the right moves, and as you play more and more games, you’ll find it easier to play more quickly.  


There are, then, more than a few secrets to how to play Mahjong solitaire and how to win.  In general, it’s about going in with a clear strategy in mind and not simply playing any old pair you can see. While there are certainly important tips and secrets to playing Mahjong solitaire, ultimately there is no substitute for experience: armed with these tips, as you play more and more games, you will get better and better at Mahjong solitaire until winning becomes more or less trivial. 

Image Credit: Pexels