The 34 basic mahjong tiles are presented here. A full set of mahjong tiles contains 4 identical tiles of each of the tiles below.
1.1 The three suits
There are three suits, each has tiles numbered from one to nine:
The one of bamboo is sometimes decorated with a single bird, the design of which often varies between mahjong sets. The ones and nines are called terminal tiles.
In addition to the suit tiles, there are seven different honour tiles: four winds and three dragons. The winds are shown in the order: east-south-west-north. The dragons are shown in the order: red-white-green. The design of the white dragon varies between mahjong sets; usually it is either a blank tile or a blue frame is depicted.
1.3 Additional tiles
With four of each of the above tiles, a mahjong set consists of 136 tiles. Sometimes mahjong sets contain extra tiles: Flower, Season or Joker tiles, which are not used in riichi mahjong. Japanese tile sets often include red fives. The red fives are sometimes used to replace normal fives, so that each suit has one red five and three normal fives. The red fives would than add an additional han to the hand value. Red fives are no longer used in Riichi competition rules.
2.1 Seat wind
Mahjong is played by 4 players, each of which is associated with a wind, indicating the player's seat. East is the starting player. South sits at East's right, West sits across from East, and North is at East's left. Note that the counter-clockwise order East-South-West-North does not correspond to the compass directions. During a full game, each player plays as East at least two times. Between hands the seat winds will change, see 3.4.11.
2.2 Prevailing wind
When the game begins, East is the Prevailing wind. When the player who started the game as East, becomes East again after all other players have played at least 1 hand as East, the South round begins, and South becomes the Prevailing wind. A wind marker should be placed permanently by the player who begins as East, and when this player becomes East again after the first (East) round of the game, the marker is flipped to indicate the new Prevailing wind: South.
2.3 Seating at the table
The players. positions at the table are determined by drawing lots if they are not predefined by a tournament schedule. For drawing lots one of each wind tile is used. The four tiles are shuf.ed face down and each player picks one of the tiles; the player who shuf.ed the tiles is the last to pick a tile. The player who picked the East tile will begin the game as East. The player who picked the South tile will begin the game as South. The player who picked the West tile will begin the game as West. The player who picked the North tile will begin the game as North.
2.4 Building the wall
The tiles are thoroughly shuffled. Players should take care to shuffle the tiles face down. Each player builds in front of himself a wall of face-down tiles, 17 tiles long and 2 tiers high. The four walls are pushed together to form a square.
2.5 Breaking the wall
East rolls two dice and counts that number of players counter-clockwise, starting with himself. The player thus determined breaks the wall in front of him, by counting from the right the same number of stacks as indicated by the dice. After the last counted stac,k the wall is broken by pushing the two wall sections apart. If East's dice roll was 12, North breaks the wall as shown:
2.6 The dead wall
The seven tile stacks to the right of the break make up the dead wall. The dead wall continues around the corner to the next wall, if the end of the wall is reached. After the seventh tile stack, the two sections of the wall are pushed a bit apart to set the dead wall apart from the end of the wall. The tiles in the dead wall are not used in the play, except for the providing of replacement tiles for kongs.
It is recommended for the player who has the dead wall in front of him to place the first replacement tile to the immediate left of the dead wall, so that the wall has first two single tiles and then six tile stacks. This is in order to decrease the risk of knocking down and revealing the first replacement tile.
2.7 The dora indicator
Count three tile stacks into the dead wall from the original break in the wall, and turn the top tile over to determine the dora indicator. This tile indicates which tile is dora. If the dora indicator is a suit tile, the dora is the next tile in the same suit, e.g. seven bamboo is dora if six bamboo is the dora indicator. If the indicator is a nine, the dora is the one in the same suit.
If the indicator is a dragon, the dora is also a dragon, as the following order applies: red points to white, white points to green and green points to red. For winds, likewise, the following order applies: east-south-west-north-east.
is Dora when the indicator is:
is Dora when the indicator is:
is Dora when the indicator is:
is Dora when the indicator is:
2.8 The deal
The player who is East takes the first four tiles in the wall after the original break in the wall. Tiles are taken clockwise, while the players. turns proceed counter-clockwise, South takes the next four tiles, West the next four, North the next four and so on until all players have twelve tiles. East continues by taking two tiles: the top tiles in the first and third stacks in the wall. South, West and North each take one tile in order. (This corresponds to East taking one tile, waiting for the other players to take one tile each, and then East takes his 14-th tile). East now has a starting hand of fourteen tiles, whereas the other players have thirteen tiles each.
Each player arranges his tiles upright in front of himself, so only he can see the faces. The dice are placed at East's right; in this way it is always clear to all players which player is East.
The object of play is to form a complete hand. The ultimate object of the game is to accumulate the most points from the winning hands. It does not matter how many hands each player has won, the accumulated score determines the winner.
3.1 Phases of the game
A player's turn begins when a tile is acquired and ends when a tile is discarded. During a normal set of turns all players have their turn once. A normal set of turns is interrupted if a tile is claimed for kong, pung or chow, or a concealed kong is declared. A hand lasts until a player has completed a hand and won, or a drawn game occurs. During a round all players are East in turn. A complete game consist of two rounds: the east round and the south round.
3.2 Mahjong hand
A complete mahjong hand is composed of four sets and a pair. A set may be either a chow, a pung or a kong. In addition, a complete hand must have at least one yaku (double). A player who is furiten, is not allowed to win on a discard.
A chow is three consecutive tiles of the same suit. Chows cannot be made with dragons or winds. 8-9-1 in the same suit is not a chow. A pung is composed of three identical tiles. A kong is composed of four identical tiles. A pair is composed of two identical tiles.
Two special hands exist in riichi which are not composed of four sets and a pair: Seven Pairs and Thirteen Orphans.
3.3 A player's turn
Players take their turns in order. East begins, and the turn order proceeds counter-clockwise.
A player begins his turn by drawing a tile. However, since East begins with fourteen tiles, East doesn't draw a tile on his first turn. If the player can't or won't declare a win or a kong, the player ends his turn by discarding one of his concealed tiles. East should wait until all players have seen and sorted their tiles before making the first discard.
Players should take care to discard tiles without covering them with the hand. Discards are placed in an orderly fashion, left to right and six tiles to a row, in front of each player and within the wall, so that it is clear who discarded which tiles and in which order.
3.3.1 Precedence and timing when claiming a tile
The most recent discard can be claimed by any player for a pung or kong until the next player draws. The most recent discard can be claimed for a win by any player until the next player discards, except in case of tsumo.
A claimed kong or pung may result in players losing their turn, as play continues from the claiming player, not from the discarding player. If a player claims a tile for winning, any concurrent claim for kong, pung or chow is ignored. It is possible for several players to win on the same discard. The player about to begin his turn can claim the most recent discard for a chow. If the player doesn.t want to claim the discard, he begins his turn by drawing a tile from the wall.
Claiming a tile for winning takes precedence over any other claim. Claiming a tile for kong or pung takes precedence over a claim for chow. A player who has claimed a tile for winning cannot change his claim.
Players are not limited in time to play, but they are expected to play at a reasonable pace. A player drawing tiles too fast for the other players to have time to call, or repeatedly taking an overly long time, can be penalized for obstruction at the referee.s discretion.
If a player is drawing a tile too fast for the other players to have time to call, the call is still valid and the drawn tile is replaced in the wall.
3.3.2 Swap-calling (kuikae)
It is not allowed to claim for pung and discard
It is not allowed to claim for chow and discard or
3.3.3 Melded chow
A tile can only be claimed for a chow from the player on the left. Claiming the last discarded tile for a chow is done by first clearly calling chow or chi. Secondl,y the player reveals the matching tiles from the hand and thirdly discards a tile from the hand and claim the tile called for. For the third step the order of the two actions is not important: the player can take the claimed tile first and then discard, or the other way around.
3.3.4 Melded pung
Claiming the last discarded tile for a pung is done by first clearly calling pung or pon. Second, the player reveals the matching tiles from the hand and, third, discards a tile from the hand and claim the tile called for. For the third step the order of the two actions is not important: the player can take the claimed tile first and then discard, or the other way around.
3.3.5 Melded kong
Claiming the last discarded tile for a melded kong is done by clearly calling kong or kan, placing the tile face-up along with the three matching tiles from the hand. After revealing a new kan dora, the player takes a replacement tile from the dead wall and continues his turn as if he'd drawn a tile from the wall. The dead wall always comprises 14 tiles, so after a kong the last tile of the wall becomes part of the dead wall.
3.3.6 Extending a melded pung to a kong
A melded pung may be extended to a melded kong in a player's turn after the player has taken a tile from the wall or a replacement tile, i.e. not in a turn where a tile was claimed for chow or pung. The player must call kong or kan clearly, place the fourth tile by the rotated tile of the pung and then reveal a kan dora and take a replacement tile. The tile used to extend the pung counts as a discard, and can be claimed for a win. The dead wall always comprises 14 tiles, so after a kong the last tile of the wall becomes part of the dead wall.
3.3.7 Concealed kong
A concealed kong may be declared in a player's turn after the player has taken a tile from the wall or a replacement tile, i.e. not in a turn where a tile was claimed for chow or pung. The player must call kong or kan clearly, reveal the four tiles of the kong, then turn the two middle tiles face-down, reveal a kan dora and take a replacement tile. The dead wall always comprises 14 tiles, so after a kong the last tile of the wall becomes part of the dead wall.
A player still has a concealed hand after declaring a concealed kong, if the player has no open sets.
A concealed kong cannot be robbed, except to win on Thirteen Orphans.
Note that four identical tiles only make up a kong, if a concealed kong is declared.
3.3.8 Displaying sets
Tiles in melded sets can not be rearranged to form other sets, and they cannot be discarded.
After calling a tile, the relevant tiles from the hand are immediately exposed. It is allowed to make the discard before the claimed tile is taken. If the claimed tile is not taken within the next two opponents. turns, i.e. before another two discards has been made, the player has a dead hand.
Melded sets are placed to the right of the player's tiles in clear view for all players. Claimed tiles are rotated to indicate which player made the discard. If the tile was discarded by the player sitting on the left, the claimed tile is put on the left side of the set. If the tile was discarded by the player sitting in front, the claimed tile is put in the middle of the set. If the tile was discarded by the player sitting on the right, the claimed tile is put on the right side of the set. A claimed kong has one rotated tile. A kong made by extending an open pung has two rotated tiles: the extending tile is placed by the previously rotated tile.
3.3.9 Liability: Third melded dragon pung and fourth melded wind pung
A player who feeds the third dragon pung/kong to an opponent with two melded dragon pungs/kongs or the fourth wind pung/kong to an opponent with three melded pungs/kongs of winds must pay the full value of the hand in case Big Three Dragons or Big Four Winds are made on a self-draw (the two remaining opponents pay nothing). In case another opponent feeds the Big Three Dragons or Big Four Winds, he shares the payment equally with the player who fed the third dragon pung/kong or the fourth wind pung/kong, but only the discarder pays for any counters.
3.3.10 Fouth kong
After declaration of a fourth kong the game continues, but no further kongs may be declared during this hand. Under no circumstance can a fifth kong be made.
3.3.11 Mahjong on a discard (ron)
A player who can form a valid mahjong hand with at least one yaku with the last discard, can win by clearly declaring ron or mahjong, unless he is furiten.
3.3.12 Mahjong on self-draw (tsumo)
A player who can form a valid mahjong hand with at least one yaku with a tile just drawn from the wall or the dead wall, can win by clearly declaring tsumo or mahjong. The player should keep the winning tile apart from the rest of the hand, so that it is clear to all players which was the winning tile. A player who is furiten can still win on self-draw.
A player's hand is tenpai or waiting if the hand needs only one more tile to complete a winning hand. A player is still considered tenpai if all his waiting tiles are visible among the discards and declared sets. A player is not considered tenpai if he is waiting only for a tile of which he already has 4. A player is not considered tenpai if his hand has been declared a dead hand.
A player with a concealed waiting hand can declare riichi by clearly saying riichi, rotating the discarded tile sideways and paying 1000 points to the table by placing a stick by the discards. If an opponent claims the rotated discard for winning, the riichi declaration is invalid and the 1000 points are returned to the riichi declarer. If an opponent claims the rotated tile for a melded set, rotate your next discarded tile.
A player is not allowed to declare riichi if there are less than four tiles left in the wall.
The 1000 points goes back to the riichi declarer if he wins. If another is the winner of the current hand, he collects the 1000 points. In case of multiple winners, the 1000 points are collected by the winner first in order after the discarder. In case of a drawn game the riichi bet says on the table to be claimed by the next player to win a hand.
A player who declared riichi can no longer change his hand. However, he may declare a concealed kong if a tile is drawn that matches a concealed pung, if this does not change the waiting pattern and if the three tiles to be konged can only be interpreted as a pung in the original riichi hand. (In case of three consecutive pungs in the same suit, no kong may be declared, since the tiles can be interpreted as three identical chows).
It is permissible for a player who is furiten to declare riichi. A player who after declaring riichi, chooses not to win on a discard that completes his hand, becomes furiten. A player who is furiten can still win on self-draw.
Riichi is a yaku. A player who wins in the first set of turns after the riichi declaration (including the player's next draw) can claim an additional yaku for ippatsu. The ippatsu chance is lost if the set of turns is broken by claims for kong, pung or chow, including concealed kongs.
A player who wins after declaring riichi, reveals the tiles underneath the dora indicator and any kan dora indicators. These tiles indicate ura dora which can be claimed only by players who declared riichi.
3.4 End of a hand
A hand can end in two ways: by exhaustive draw (no-one declares a win after the discard after the last tile) or by one or more players declaring a win. Chombo results in a redeal and does not count as a hand.
At the end of a hand players should never look at tiles in the wall.
3.4.1 Last tile
The last tile in the wall can only be claimed for a win, not for a kong, pung or chow. In case a kong is declared at the second-to-last tile, the replacement tile becomes the last tile. It is not allowed to declare a concealed kong on the last tile.
3.4.2 Exhaustive draw
An exhaustive draw occurs if no-one declares a win after the discard after the last tile. The 14 tiles of the dead wall are not used. After an exhaustive draw the noten players (players who can't or won't show a tenpai hand) pay a penalty to tenpai (waiting) players (players who show a tenpai (waiting) hand). Players announce whether they are tenpai or noten in order: East declares first, then South, then West and finally North. It is permissible to declare out of turn, but the announcement cannot be changed. Players who have declared riichi are obliged to show their tenpai hands in case of an exhaustive draw.
The total noten penalty amounts to 3000 points. If three players are tenpai, the noten player pays 1000 to each. If two players are tenpai, they each received 1500 points from a noten player. If only one player is tenpai he receives 1000 points from each of the noten players. If none or all players are tenpai no points are exchanged.
After an exhaustive draw, a counter (100 point stick) is placed on the table at East right-hand side. If the dealer rotates, the new East places the current number of sticks; e.g. if there were 2 sticks before the draw the 3 sticks are placed by the new East.
3.4.3 Abortive drawAbortive draws are no longer used in Riichi competition rules.
3.4.4 Handling riichi bets after drawn gamesIn case of a drawn game, any riichi bets stay on the table to be claimed by the next player who declares a win.