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Shisen-Sho Mahjong

 

There are not many games in the world that can claim to have the longevity of Mahjong. It has been around since the around 1880 and is as popular today as it has ever been. Having been originally been a table based tile game for four people, the rise of the personal computer required Mahjong to adapt to a new form of gameplay. This resulted in a new version of the game suited to a computer audience, many of whom were looking for a one-player version. Solitaire Mahjong was originally made successful thanks to a game called Shanghai, requiring players to master the art of concentration and strategic thinking in order to remove all the tiles from the board. The popularity of Shanghai led to numerous sequels, imitations and alternative versions, in fact; today there are more variations of Mahjong than there is of poker.

One of the Mahjong variations is Shisen-Sho, like many other versions of the game, the principles of Shisen-Sho Mahjong do not stray too far away from the original game but the layout and way the game is played do. Also, like many other variations of Mahjong, Shisen-Sho comes in a number of different names, which may be used depending on where you are in the world and who you talk to, names include, Four Rivers, Shisen and Nikakudori. The original creator of Shisen-Sho is unknown, but whoever the person is, they certainly deserve a lot of credit for coming up with such an addictive game. The name Shisen-Sho is the Japanese translation for the Chinese province Szechuan, leading many people to suggest that the game was created in Japan.

Shisen-Sho objective

The aim of Shisen-Sho is very similar to other versions of Mahjong Solitaire; if you are unfamiliar with the overall objective then it is very simple to understand: clear the layout of tiles by selecting matching pairs of tiles, resulting in a clear board.

The Rules

Shisen-Sho uses the same tile designs as other Mahjong games but may not use all 144, instead just using the three sets of 36 character, bamboo and dot tiles. The layout of the game is different from Mahjong solitaire and all tiles are set across one single layer, usually in a rectangle, although other layouts are also common. The clear-layout makes the game appear easier than the structured and multi-layered turtle and dragon layouts of Shanghai, but completing the game takes a lot of thought and strategy.

Only two tiles can be removed from the board at a time, these tiles must be identically matching. The next part is what makes the game difficult – tiles can only be removed if they connected by a maximum of three lines. Tiles joined by horizontal and vertical lines but not diagonal and lines may cross over an empty border. Every move can affect a future one so it is important to think ahead when selecting your pairs.

The game is over when tiles are left on the board but further moves are not possible.