Here's an overview of what the typical game screen looks like during play:

  • As you can see, each tile you have in your hand has a letter associated with it. That letter, of course, is the letter on the keyboard. Select tiles by pressing the keyboard letter beneath it.
  • Note that in the Dead Pile, 4 tiles on top are unrevealed. Each time someone declares a Kong, a new tile on top is revealed as a Dora Indicator. Since there is only 4 tiles on top that can be revealed, it means also that only 4 Kongs can be made per round. Generally, only 4 Kongs can be declared per round in mahjong. Kongs can no longer be made once the limit is reached. The Dora Indicator is explained in more detail in the "Special Rules" section.
  • A Reach Stick is place on the table whenever someone declares Reach. The Reach Stick is explained in more detail in the "Scoring" section
  • There is a prevailing wind for each round. At the start of the match, the wind of the dealer is the prevailing wind. However, it will change as the match progress in later rounds. It generally changes after dealership has switched between you and the opponent two times.
  • Each player places their discards in their own separate discard pile in front of them. Discards are faced up so that the other player can see them and determine whether or not they can make use of it themselves.
  • Discards are place from left to right in a row. Usually a new row of discards form below or on top the initial row if there is no space left on the table.
  • Each player has a score. When someone wins, their hand is scored and their score is increased by that amount while the other players score is deducted by that amount. Scores may also increase or decrease in other situations, like when Reaching or in Tenpai/No-ten situations. When a player's score is zero or less, that player loses the match.

Here's another screen:

  • Dealer's Counter and Reach Counter are explained in the "Scoring" section.
  • Note in the dead pile that there are 2 stacks of unrevealed tiles to the left and 4 stacks of unrevealed tiles to the right of the Dora Indicator. The fourth stack of tiles to the right is not currently displayed on the screen. Only tiles on top to the right can be revealed as Dora Indicators when a Kong is declared. The 2 stacks to the left are loose tiles. They are the tiles taken whenever a Kong is made. Similarly, since there are only 4 loose tiles that can be taken, only 4 Kongs can be made per round.
  • Loose tiles are, often times, not displayed on the screen as can be shown from the first screenshot.

Another screen:

  • Some games position the dead pile the other way around. In this case the 2 stacks of tiles to the right are the loose tiles, while the 4 tiles on top to the left can be made into Dora Indicators whenever a Kong is made.