Japanese 3 Player Riichi Mahjong Rule (Sanma)
Three-player Mahjong is a fast-paced Japanese variation on the classic Japanese version of Mahjong.
As the name suggests, it is a game for three players whereas the standard game is played by four-players. There are fewer tiles in the three player game, but the basic procedure is similar to that of the standard four-player game. The middle tiles of the Characters suit are removed, and some four-player Yaku (special hands) are discarded. All the permissible Yaku for the three-player game can be found in the Yaku Chart elsewhere on this site.
There is no “Chi” in the three-player game. In other words a player cannot complete a run of three tiles by claiming a tile from the person to his left as is the case in the four-player game.
A standard (four player) Mahjong set consists of 144 tiles. There are 35 different types of tile, each type occurring four times (4 x 35 = 140 tiles). However, in the standard Japanese three-player game only 108 of these tiles are used.
There are three suits, Circles (Pinzu), Bamboo (Souzu), and Characters (Manzu). Each suit runs from 1 to 9, with four tiles for each number, making a total of 36 tiles per suit. In the Japanese three-player game the tiles 2 to 8 of the Characters suit are removed. Only the 1 and 9 tiles of this suit are used.
Note how the Characters suit has been emasculated. All the tiles from 2-Characters to 8-Characters have been removed. Only the 1s and 9s remain.
The tiles inside the red boxes are essential. The Flower tiles and the three Red-Fives are optional extras. They may be used as extra dora (bonus, or joker) tiles. The number of Red-Five tiles varies from set to set. (If you play with Red-Fives make sure you remove the equivalent number of standard Five-Bamboo and Five-Circles tiles so that only four tiles of each suit and number are used.)
The red East Wind tessera indicates the prevailing table wind and where that round of play begins.
The three tesserae nicely illustrated with a skewered sparrow (between chopped leek) are the infamous Yakitori indicators. Each player has one and only removes it from his corner of the table when he completes a hand.
1.2 Winds (Kazepai)
There are four winds: East (Ton), South (Nan), West (Sha), North (Pei). There are four tiles for each wind making a total of sixteen wind tiles altogether. All these tiles are used in the three-player game.
1.3 Dragons (Sangenpai)
There are three Dragons: White (Haku), Green (Hatsu), and Red (Chun). There are four tiles for each Dragon, making twelve Dragon tiles in all. All these tiles are used in the three-player game.
1.4 Flowers and Seasons
These tiles are used as Bonus tiles in three-player Mahjong.
2.1 Tiles for the Three-Player Game
The tiles that are used in the three player game are:
- 1-9 of Circles (Pinzu) = 9 x 4 tiles = 36 tiles.
- 1-9 of Bamboos (Souzu) = 9 x 4 tiles = 36 tiles.
- 1 & 9 only of Characters (Manzu) = 2 x 4 tiles = 8 tiles.
- 4 Winds (Ton, Nan, Sha, Pei) = 4 x 4 tiles = 16 tiles.
- 3 Dragons (Haku, Hatsu, Chun) = 3 x 4 tiles = 12 tiles.
- Total = 108 tiles
2.2 Dice (Saikoro)
Mahjong sets usually include three or four dice. However, in Three Player mahjong only one die is used.
2.3 Scoring Tallies (Tenbo)
There are four denominations of scoring tally:
- 10,000 points
- 5,000 points
- 1,000 points
- 100 points
2.4 Allocation of Seats
Take one of each of the wind tiles East, South and West, place them face down on the table and shuffle them. Each player takes a tile. The person who drew the East tile chooses a seat and sits down. His seat is the temporary-East seat. The person who drew the South tile sits to his right, and the person who drew the West tile sits opposite him.
In addition to wind designations, three terms are used to designate other players relative to oneself. They are shimocha (下家) or player to the right, toimen (対面) or player across, and kamicha (上家) or player to the left. These designations do not necessarily take into account of wind position, which changes in relation to each other. As the wind designations change, the relative position to player does not.
2.5 Building the Walls
To build the wall, turn all 108 tiles face down and shuffle them well. Then each player should build a wall consisting of two layers of tiles, 18 tiles long.
The players then push their walls a few inches towards the centre of the table so that they meet to form three sides of a square.
After the walls have been built the Oya is chosen.
3 The Winds and the Oya
3.1 Table Wind
A game of mahjong is divided into rounds. One Wind is predominant for each round of play and is called the Table Wind. The round continues until each player has had a turn as the Oya or “Parent” player. When every player has completed a turn as Oya a new round of play commences and another Wind is allocated “Table Wind”. The choice of Table Wind is not random but follows in sequence:
3.2 Establishing the Oya
During the course of a round of Mahjong each player has a turn as the Oya, or Parent Player. The role of Oya (Senior Player, a.k.a. Parent, Eldest Player, Table Boss, Teacher according to your whim) is important because the Oya always starts the round and opens play. Moreover, the Oya wins a 50% Bonus each time he completes a hand.
After the walls have been built the player in the temporary-East seat rolls a die and, starting with himself, he counts round anticlockwise from player to player. The selected player rolls the die again and repeats the procedure. This time, the selected player becomes the Oya.
3.3 Allocating the Winds
The Oya is always allocated the East Wind.
The player to the right of the Oya is allocated the South Wind, and the third player is allocated the West Wind. These players continue to play under the Winds that were allotted to them until the Oya changes.
3.4 Double Winds
In any given round of play one player will be allotted the same Wind as the current Table Wind. In that case he is referred to as “Double East” or “Double South” (or “Double West”) and if he collects a set of this particular Wind it is counted twice in the scoring.
3.5 Changing the Oya
When a Ko, or Junior Player (i.e. one of the players who is not the Oya), completes a hand the role of Oya passes to the right.
In hands with no winner during the East round, the current Oya may retain his role of Oya only if he is Tenpai – waiting for one more tile to go out – or if no player is Tenpai. Otherwise the role of Oya passes to the right.
However, in the South round of play the procedure is slightly different. The role of Oya only passes to the next player when a Ko player completes a hand. In other words, when nobody is able to complete a hand the current Oya retains his role as Oya even if his hand was No-Tenpai.1 The same applies if a West round is played. In other words, the East round is always stricter on the Oya than the other rounds.
3.6 Changing the Allocated Winds
When there is a change of Oya the Winds change accordingly:
- South changes to East and becomes the Oya
- West changes to South
- East changes to West
3.7 The Tachioya (Starting Boss) and the East/South Tessera
The first player to become Oya is referred to more correctly as “Tachioya”, or “Starting Boss”, because he opens the first round of play which continues until all the players have received and lost the title of Oya.
The Tachioya takes the plastic tessera with East on one side and South on the other and places it to his right in the corner of the table with East upwards. This indicates that the Table Wind is East.
The tessera also serves to indicate who the Tachioya is and where play started. It remains in that same corner of the table for the duration of the game (i.e. for all three rounds). This is because the Tachioya of the East Round will also be the first Oya for the South and the West rounds of the game.
At the beginning of the South round the Oya turns over the East/South tessera so that the South side is uppermost.
At the beginning of the West round the Oya turns over the East/South tessera so that the East side is uppermost. It is to be hoped that the players will remember that they have already played the East and the South round and that therefore they are in the West round.
3.8 Breaking the Wall
The Oya rolls the die to determine which wall is to be broken and where in the wall the break is to be made. Beginning with himself, the Oya counts round each player anticlockwise according to the number on the die to arrive at the player whose wall is to be broken. That player then breaks his wall by counting from the right-hand end of his wall leftwards, tile by tile according to the number shown on the die which the Oya threw to the to arrive at the point where the break is to be made and makes a break in the wall by separating the counted tiles from the ones further to the left that were not counted. (Point “C” in the photo below.)
Breaking the Wall and turning the Mekuri Pai
In the photo above, the Oya has thrown a 4 (A). Beginning with himself he counts round, anticlockwise four places, East-South-West-East. As the count came back around to the Oya (the East player), he breaks the East wall (the one in front of him, i.e. the one that he built).
As he threw a 4 (A), the Oya now counts four tiles (B) in from the right hand end of the East Wall (the East/South corner) and makes a small gap in the wall so as to separate the fourth from the fifth tile.
(C) Finally, the Oya counts back five anti-clockwise from the gap he has made in the wall and turns over the fifth tile – i.e. the end tile on the South wall in this example – so that it is face up in the wall.
The tile that the Oya turns over is the Mekuri-pai. It indicates which tile will be the extra Bonus tile (Dora) for the game. In the Three-Player game the Mekuri-Pai is always the fifth tile back from the break in the wall. It indicates which tile is to be the Bonus tile.
4 Bonus Tiles – Dora
Mekuri-Pai refers to the tile that is turned over 5 tiles back from the far end of the wall during the set-up stage of the game. It indicates which tile is a Dora or Bonus tile. When a player completes his hand he scores extra points for each Dora that is in his hand.
The Dora is the next tile in sequence to the tile that is turned over in the wall (the Mekuri-Pai). Thus, if the Mekuri-Pai were the 3-Bamboo then the 4-Bamboo would be the Dora or Bonus tile. The player who completes his hand would be awarded a bonus point for each 4-Bamboo that his hand contains. Likewise, if the Mekuri-Pai were the 6-Circles, the Dora would be 7-Circles.
- If the Mekuri-Pai were 9-Bamboo, then the Dora would be 1-Bamboo and likewise for the Circles and Characters.
- If the Mekuri-Pai happened to be 1-Characters, the Dora would be the 9-Characters.
- If the Mekuri-Pai were a Wind then the Dora would be the next wind in sequence: Ton-Nan-Sha-Pei-Ton.
- If the Mekuri-Pai were a Dragon then the Dora would be the next dragon in sequence: Haku-Hatsu-Chun-Haku.
As play proceeds more tiles may be turned over on the wall next to the original Mekuri-Pai, in an anticlockwise direction. Each new Mekrui-Pai indicates an extra Dora so that as more Mekuri-Pai are turned over, the number of potential Dora that a hand may contain also increases.
Where two similar Mekuri-Pai are turned over, the corresponding Dora tiles are worth two points each. Where three similar Mekuri-Pai are turned over the corresponding Dora tiles are worth three points each. Likewise, if four similar tiles should be turned over the corresponding dora tiles would be worth four points each.
There are two other types of Dora:
4.1 The North Wind, or Pei
Pei – The North Wind
By use of kita 「キタ」, possession of the north tile may be put to the side of the hand, like an open call; and it would be counted as dora. Plus, the player is also awarded an extra draw from the dead wall for that north tile.
If the player wins off of the dead wall draw from calling kita, they are awarded rinshan. A kita call can be ronned, but this does not award chankan.
Some additional information on how kita works:
- Kita calls is counted toward the hand final Yaku counts. So if for example the dora is north. Calling a single kita tile would worth 2 dora yaku (Kita dora – 1 han, normal dora – 1 han).
- Calling Kita does not change the hand state from closed to open. So if for example a player calls a single kita tile, he/she can still declare riichi afterward if he/she reach tenpai state.
- Kita calls is counted toward discard piles for Furiten calculation. For example a player calls a kita tile, and have another north (pei) tiles in his/her hand. After the call if he/she decides to keep the other North in hand, he/she can no longer declare ron of other player if he/she waits on North tile, because that player enter furiten state with that tile.
- Calling a kita when another player has declare riichi would eliminating the possibility of that player to get “Ippatsu” yaku. It is treated under same rule with “Chi”/”Pon” in this case.
- Calling a kita is only possible during your tsumo turn; ie it’s not possible to declare north tile in your hand after you “Pon” of another player.
4.2 Bonus Red Fives Tiles
In most Mahjong sets the designs of two each of the 5-Coin and one of the 5-Bamboo tiles are coloured red. If players agree, these “Red Fives” can be nominated as extra Bonus tiles. They are treated as normal tiles during play, but each “Red-Five” in a completed hand is counted as an extra Bonus.
Each Bonus Red Fives Tiles would than add one additional Dora to the hand value.
When this Bonus Red Five Tiles is available, these four tiles will be as above.
5 Collecting your Starting Hand
The Oya now takes the first four tiles in the wall, and South and then West do likewise, removing them from the wall so that it recedes in a clockwise direction.
This process is repeated twice more, giving each player twelve tiles. The Oya now removes the first and third tiles from the top layer of the wall. South then takes just one tile from the very end of the wall. West finishes the process by removing the tile from the top layer that was left by East, as in the following photo sequence:
- The wall after each player has removed 12 tiles.
2. The Oya now removes the first and third tiles from the top layer of the wall.
3. The wall after the Oya has collected his tiles.
4. South now takes one tile from the end of the wall.
5. The wall after South has collected his 13th tile.
6. West now collects his 13th tile from the top row.
The Oya now has 14 tiles. South and West have 13 tiles each.
5.1 Commencing Play
The Oya commences play by discarding one of the fourteen tiles in his hand. He places it face up inside the perimeter of the wall in front of him, somewhat to the left hand side. This is the beginning of his discard row.
South now takes a tile from the end of the wall adds it to his hand, then discards a tile to form the beginning of his discard row. West, and then East do likewise in their turn (unless somebody completes a hand or goes Pong or Kan).
Play proceeds in this manner, moving from player to player in an anti-clockwise direction, while tiles are removed from the end of the wall in a clockwise direction. Each time a player discards a tile he adds it, face up, to the right hand end of his discard row.
6 Tiles Remain in the Wall
Play continues until a player completes his hand and goes out, or until only fourteen tiles remain in the wall.
7 Building a Hand – The Basics
The aim of Mahjong is to complete a hand before any other player does. The most common method of completing a hand is to collect four sets of three tiles – either “Three-of-a-Kind” or “a Run-of-Three” – and a “Head” of two similar tiles.
A hand can consist of a mixture of sets, so a completed hand of 14 tiles might look like this:
8 Building a Hand with Special Combinations (Yaku)
The ability to build a hand which contains special combinations – or Yaku – is the essence of Mahjong. Yaku bestow privileges on the player who successfully collects them and yield him a higher score if he completes his hand.
Certain special cases are also considered to be Yaku (see the Yaku Table).
Consider the following example hands:
- hand with no Yaku
This hand can be completed with 1-Bamboo or 4-Bamboo. It consists of two runs, two three-of-a-kind sets and a head of Dragon tiles (chun). It will probably be a low-scoring hand because it contains no Yaku
- A two-Yaku hand
In this example, the player has collected four runs of three3, which is a Yaku called Pinfu. Also, there are no 1s and 9s, winds or dragons in the hand and the player is not waiting for a 1 or 9 tile to complete his hand. This is a Yaku called Tanyao. Moreover, the hand can be completed with one of three tiles, the 2-Bamboo, 5-Bamboo or 8-Bamboo, which increases the probability of success.
The second hand is much better than the first. It will most likely yield more points than the first because the Yaku called Pinfu and Tanyao are worth one point each. The more Yaku a hand contains, the more points a player can win.
Furthermore, the value of the hand is augmented by the Red Five, which will earn a bonus point if the player goes out.
9. How to Complete a Hand
A player who needs only one more tile to complete his hand is said to be Tenpai. He may get the tile he needs to complete his hand in one of two ways:
- By going Tsumo; he draws the tile from the wall on his turn.
- By going Ron; he claims the tile as another player discards it.
The player completes his hand himself by drawing the tile he needs from the wall in his turn. He places it face upwards on the table, reveals his hand and says “Tsumo!”
When a player completes his hand by going Tsumo both the other players have to pay him a certain percentage of the total fine. This means that the burden of the cost is shared by both players (see Points and Payments).
A player who is Tenpai may, under certain circumstances, complete his hand by claiming the tile that he needs from another player when that player discards or reveals it.
When he the sees the tile he needs to complete his hand being discarded (or revealed) by another player he claims it by saying “Ron! ” He then shows his hand and his score is calculated.
The player who gave away the winning tile is the only one who has to pay. This means he has to bear the whole burden of the cost on his own.
Note: the most common way the winning tile is given away is when it is discarded by a player at the end of his turn. However, there are some other cases when Ron may occur. These are:
1. The player puts to one side the North Dora, which another player requires to complete a hand such as Kokushi Musou.
2. A player converts an open Pon into an open Kan and another player goes Ron on that tile.
3. A player who is waiting to complete Kokusi Musou can go Ron if the tile he requires is exposed by another player’s making a hidden Kan (ChanKan).
9.3 How to Ron
A player may go Ron if his hand contains at least one completed Yaku.
He may also go Ron if the tile he is waiting for also completes a Yaku (except for winds and dragons), provided no other non-yaku finishing combination exists. E.g:
The player is waiting for just one tile – 3-Bamboo. It completes his hand and creates Iipehkoh. Ron is permitted.
The player is waiting for one of two tiles – 2-Circles$B!!(Jor 5-Circles. 2-Circles makes Iipehkoh, but 5-Circles does not. Since the hand contains no Yaku and can be completed on a choice of tiles, Ron is not permitted.
Special care must be taken with these cases. Remember, if the hand already contains a hidden Yaku the player can go Ron any time. It is only where going Ron will create the only Yaku of the hand that the player must take special care.
9.4 Going Riichi – Buying the Right to Go Ron
If a player is Tenpai but has no Yaku in his hand, he may buy the right to go Ron, that is, he may go ” Riichi”. On his turn he takes a 1,000 score stick (Sentenbo) from his kitty and places it in the centre of the table just in front of his discard pile and says “Riichi! ” This warns the other players that he is ready to complete his hand. He then discards a tile (making sure it is the one he does not need to complete his hand). As he discards it he lays it sideways on against the last tile in his discard row. This also lets the other players know that he is ready to go out, and marks the point in the game where he went Riichi.
Note: A player cannot go Riichi at the very end of the game when there are less than three playable tiles remaining in the wall
9.5 Two Disadvantages of Going Riichi
The first disadvantage of going Riichi is that it removes the element of surprise. Going Riichi acts as a signal to the other players who will then begin to play carefully. They will check the discard row of the player who has gone Riichi and endeavour to throw away tiles that he does not need.
The second disadvantage of going Riichi is that the player commits himself to completing his hand as it is. He may not change his hand under any circumstances. However, he may improve its scoring potential by collecting Bonus tiles (see Bonus Tiles, Dora) and by going Kan on a tile that he takes from the wall.
9.6 The Riichi Privilege – Hidden Treasure
As if to offset the two disadvantages just described, the player who goes Riichi is awarded a privilege.
If you remember, after the wall was broken at the beginning of the game a tile in the wall was turned over (Mekuri-pai). During the course of the game several more tiles may be turned over next to the first Mekuri-pai. They serve as extra Mekuri-pai, each one indicating an additional bonus tile. When a player completes his hand without going Riichi he may claim any Bonus tiles that are in his hand as indicated by each Mekuri-hai.
However, when a player goes Riichi he may also check each of the tiles beneath the Mekuri-pai. He may look at these hidden tiles at any time after going Riichi to see whether his hand contains any extra Dora.
Thus, if there are two Mekuri-pai in the wall, a player who goes Riichi may also check the two tiles beneath them to calculate the number of Dora in his hand. This gives him a chance to improve his final score.
9.7 Two Players Go Ron on the Same Discarded Tile
Both players are paid by the one who gave away the tile. In this case, if the Oya completed his hand he remains Oya. If only one of the players went Riichi the Riichi – tenbou goes to the player who is next in sequence (anticlockwise) to the Oya.
10. Interrupting Play with Pon and Kan
10.1 Calling with Pong
A player may claim a tile that has just been discarded by one of the other players in order to make a set of three-of-a-kind. The player claims the discarded tile by saying “Pon!” (see note 1). He then takes the tile from his opPongent’s discard pile, places it face up to his right and takes the two similar tiles from his hand and adds them to it to make an “open” set of three. These tiles are considered “open” because everybody can see them.
When the player places the three tiles to his right he turns one of the tiles sideways. If he claimed a tile from the player on his right he turns the right-hand tile sideways. If he claimed a tile from the player on his left he turns the left-hand tile sideways. If he claimed a tile from the player opposite him he turns the middle tile sideways. This informs everybody where the tile came from.
The player who went Pon now completes his turn by discarding a tile from his hand. Play then passes to the player on his right.
The player has made a set of three Chun (Red Dragons) by going “Pong”.
10.2 Calling Kan
A Kan is a set of four tiles of the same kind. Whenever a Kan is declared another tile is turned over in the wall. There are three ways of going Kan.
Concealed Kan (Ankan)
When a player collects four of the same kind of tile he may choose to go Kan.
The player draws a fourth 4-Circles from the wall.
He declares Kan by turning two of the tiles round so that their faces are exposed to the other players following below:
Two tiles are turned around to declare hidden Kan.
The hidden Kan as it appears to the other players.
Another Mekuri-pai is turned over in the wall, next to the first on the side that is farther away from the end of the wall.
The player now takes another tile from the back of the wall and adds it to his hand to replace the tile that was used to make Kan.
Finally, the player discards a tile and play proceeds to the player on his right.
The Mekuri-pai (8-Circles) has been turned over. Next the player takes a tile from the back of the wall
If a player has a three-of-a-kind set of tiles hidden in his hand (i.e. not open) he can claim the fourth tile if another player discards it by going “Kan! “
The player can go Kan and claim the 6C which the player to his right has just discarded.
He takes the tile from the end of the player’s discard row and places it face up on the table to the right of his hand and takes the three similar tiles from his hand and adds them to it. He turns one of the tiles sideways to indicate which player he claimed it from. Now he takes another tile from the other end of the wall and adds it to his hand. He discards a tile, and only AFTER he has done this is the Mekuri-pai turned over.
Hidden Kan Procedure
- Turn two tiles around to declare Kan.
- Turn over a tile in the wall.
- Take a tile from the back of the wall.
- Discard a tile, or declare Tsumo.
Open Kan Procedure
Claim a tile from another player as he discards it.
- Set aside the Kan tiles.
- Take a tile from the back of the wall.
- Discard a tile, or declare Tsumo.
- Turn over a tile in the wall (unless you declared Tsumo).
When to turn over the Dora indicator
In the case of a hidden Kan the Mekuri-pai is turned over before the player who went Kan discards. He goes Kan, then turns over the Mekuri-pai, draws a tile from the back of the wall, and then discards a tile.
In the case of an open Kan, the Mekuri-pai is turned over after the player has discarded a tile.
The reason for this is that a hidden Kan is superior to an open Kan. The player’s reward for making a hidden Kan in a hidden hand is to have a chance to increase his Dora count should he declare Tsumo with the tile he draws from the back of the wall.
If he does not complete his hand he can still enjoy the benefit of being able to check the Mekuri-pai before he discards a tile. Remember, the Mekuri-pai tells the players which tiles are extra Dora (Bonus tiles) for the game, and this may affect the player’s decision as to which tile he will discard.
Warning No. 1: Open Hands Limit a Player’s Options
A player who has opened his hand by going Pong or Kan cannot complete his hand unless it contains either a set of Dragons, a set of active Winds, or a 2 point or higher value Yaku.
Warning No. 2: Open Hands Lower the Score of a Completed Hand
When calculating the score of a partially open hand, 1-Yaku combinations except for Dragons and active Winds (and Bonus Yaku – see Yaku Table) are eliminated from the scoring and cannot be counted. Moreover, most higher value Yaku are reduced by one point. So a 2-point Yaku is counted as just one point, a 3-point Yaku is counted as just two points and so on.
11. Special Cases
Hands with no Winner
Sometimes nobody is able to go out before the supply of available tiles in the wall is exhausted. When only fourteen tiles remain in the wall and nobody has gone out that hand comes to an end.
Tenpai and No-tenpai Players
When play comes to an end without anybody having completed a hand any player who was ready to go out (i.e. who was Tenpai) reveals his hand in order to receive a payment from any player who was not ready to go out (No-Tenpai).
A player who is No-tenpai pays 1000 points to any player who is Tenpai. Thus, if only one player is Tenpai he receives 1000 points from the other two players. If two players are Tenpai they both receive 1000 points from the player who is No-Ten. If all three players are either Tenpai or No-tenpai nobody pays.
If a new Oya takes over after nobody has completed a hand, the former Oya informs him how many 100-Tenbo have accumulated on the table. The former Oya then removes his 100-Tenbo and the new Oya takes the same number of 100-Tenbo from his tray and places on the table to his right.
When a player other than the Oya completes his hand the Oya and the winds move round one place anti-clockwise, and the former Oya removes the 100-Tenbo from the table.
Once there are four 100-Tenbo on the table the players need to make hands consisting of two Yaku in order to go out.
Ryanshi and Pon/Open KanRyanshi and Pong/Open Kan
If the player declares Pong or open Kan he must ensure that all his finishing options enable him to complete his hand with 2 Yaku. For example, he cannot wait to go out on a wind that is neither his player-wind nor the current table wind:
By going Pong the player has opened his hand and reduced his Yaku count by one
In this case the player has gone Pong in order to collect three Red Dragons, worth 1 Yaku. He is waiting for either a third Green Dragon or a third South tile in order to complete his hand.
If the table wind, or the player’s wind is South then it is perfectly legal for the player to wait for the South Wind in order to complete his hand, but if neither the table wind nor the player’s wind is South, this hand becomes illegal even if the player completes his hand with Hatsu (Green Dragons), and even if he does this himself by going “Tsumo!” This is because one of his possible finishes is not a Yaku. (Remember, Tsumo “disappears” – i.e. it does not count as a Yaku – if any part of the hand is “open”.)
So great care must be taken in completing hands after having gone Pong or open Kan when Riyanshi is in operation.
In similar hands that are completely hidden this problem does not occur:
This player has collected a set of Chun (Red Dragons), worth 1 Yaku. His hand is completely hidden.
In this case the player has one Yaku, the set of three Red Dragons and his hand is completely hidden. He now has the option of going Riichi, which will give him his second Yaku. He can then complete his hand with either a Green Dragon, or South, irrespective of whether South has been allocated to that player or to the table or not.
If the Oya accumulates eight 100-Tenbo by winning eight hands in a row or by having a Tenpai hand when there is no winner, he earns the right to complete his ninth hand as Oya without having to collect a single Yaku. He may even complete a no-Yaku hand by going Ron without declaring Riichi. If the Oya completes his hand it is automatically counted as Yakuman (see Score Table and Yaku Chart).
The Ko players, however, do not enjoy this privilege. For them Riyanshi still applies and they still need collect two Yaku to complete their hands.
If the Oya succeeds in completing his Paarenchan hand (the ninth hand of his term as Oya, in the tenth and succeeding hands of his tenureship of the Oya Ryanshi will once again apply to him as it does to the two Ko players.
Paarenchan does not occur if at any time during the player’s turn as Oya if…
- There is a Chombo (see next section).
- Some of the 100-Tenbo were inherited from the previous Oya
- A hand ends without any winner and the Oya’s hand is not ready (i.e. if it is No-Tenpai).
12. 3-Player Mahjong Yaku Table
Yaku – 1 han
Yakuhai is a group of 1 han yaku scored for completing a group of certain honor tiles. Along with tanyao and riichi, these yaku are the easiest and most frequently occurring yaku in the game. The yakuhai awarded for wind tiles (Kazehai) are unique in that the eligible tiles change over the course of the game, relative to each player. Dragon tile groups (sangenpai), on the other hand, count throughout the game.
One set of three identical Winds that are active, i.e. the Wind allocated to the table or to the player:
Note: in Three Player Mahjong, Pei (North) is used as a Dora and is never an active Wind.
One set of three identical Dragons, either hidden or open:
Concealed hand with two completely identical runs. Identical means that both shuntsu must be of the same numbers and suit. This yaku also requires the hand to be closed. A single open call invalidates the yaku, even if the pattern exists within the hand. If this pattern is found twice in one hand, an alternative yaku, ryanpeikou, is scored.
Two identical runs of 3 e.g.:
Note 1: This Yaku disappears if the player goes Pong.
Note 2: A player with no other Yaku in his hand can go Ron without going Riichi provided that he is waiting for just one tile to complete this Yaku provided that it is the only tile he is waiting for.
Note 3: If a player makes two identical runs of 3 by going Ron it will not qualify as Iipehkoh if his hand contains the possibility of a non-Iipehkoh finish.
Concealed all chis hand with a valueless pair. I.e. a concealed hand with four runs and a pair that is neither dragons, nor seat wind, nor prevailing wind. The winning tile is required to finish a chi with a two-sided wait. The hand is by definition worth no fu, only the base 30 on a discard or 20 on self-draw.Four runs of 3: Pinfu is made by going Ron when waiting for 2 or more possible completing tiles that belong to either end of a run of three:
If either , or is discarded this player can go out on Ron.
Note 1: The Head must not be an active Wind or Dragon.
Note 2: This Yaku disappears if the player:
- is waiting for just one tile,
- is waiting for just Head tiles,
- finishes with Tsumo,
- Calling Pon.
When a player has a closed tenpai hand, the player may declare riichi. Doing so gains the hand 1 han. To declare riichi, a player announces riichi and discards a tile facing sideways in the discard pile. This is done to indicate when riichi was called. If that tile is claimed by another player for an open meld, then the next discard is turned sideways as a replacement.
Unless the first sideways discard is claimed for a win immediately, the riichi announcer now places a bet of 1,000 points on the table. This bet is collected by the next player to win a hand. Of course, a player must also have 1,000 points to begin with, assuming that a game ends with negative scores. Specific rulesets may handle differently what happens to the bet on a multiple win.
After a riichi declaration, the hand remains locked and unchangeable. In this state, the player is simply waiting for a winning tile to appear, either by draw or discard. However, a notable exception may involve calls for kan.
It is not allowed to declare riichi when less than four tiles remain in the wall.
Kan during riichi is a discretionary play. Players must take note of the hand composition to determine, whether the kan is allowable or not. Disallowable calls either alters the hand’s waiting pattern or alters the hand’s composition, where tile groupings are changed.
Tanyao is a yaku, consisting of tile groups using numbered tiles 2-8 from any of the three main suits. Any tile numbered 2-8 are classed as chunchanhai or simples. Conversely, this yaku must lack the terminal tiles (1 and 9) as well as any honor tiles. Among the yaku, this is one of the more easier to attain; and it is also a cheap yaku. Kuitan is a rule allowing open tanyao.
Menzen Tsumo (Fully Concealed Hand)
Winning on a self-draw on a concealed hand. With this yaku, all closed hands qualify for menzen tsumo, even if it is the only yaku. No open hand may qualify for this yaku. The instant a player calls on a discarded tile, then the player forfeits the right to claim this yaku until the next hand, just like riichi.
Chankan is dependent on the usage of kan, where a player may declare ron while a player calls to upgrade a minkou (triple called via pon) to a shominkan (added kan). In other words, if a player is tenpai for a tile used for that specific added kan, then the player may declare a win on that tile.
In almost all cases, players are not allowed to call ron on an ankan (closed kan). The notable exception involves a kokushi tenpai hand, where the last tile needed for the yakuman is called for an ankan.
Haitei raoyue and houtei raoyui
Haitei raoyue is a yaku, where a player wins with the tsumo on the haiteihai, the last drawable tile from the live wall. As such, this yaku is only accessible via tsumo.
Houtei raoyui is the ron variant to haitei, which is dependent on the last discarded tile of a hand. So, players making the last discard of the hand must take extra care not to play into another player’s hand in this case.
The last tile draw and discard is defined by the dead wall. By rule, the dead wall must retain 14-tiles at all times; and this includes any revealed dora indicators.
Ippatsu is a yaku completely dependent on riichi. By definition, ippatsu requires a riichi declaration to be in effect, for an additional 1 han. Therefore, ippatsu cannot function as a stand-alone yaku.
It is awarded if the player receives a winning tile within an uninterrupted set of opponent tile draws after the riichi declaration. The earliest possible chance to win with ippatsu comes from the shimocha’s discard (player to the right). The latest possible chance to win with ippatsu is with the player’s next drawn tile after the riichi declaration.
Rinshan kaihou is a yaku, where a player wins with the rinshanpai, or the replacement tile after forming a kan. As such, this yaku is only accessible via kan calls. As the player wins with the tile draw from the dead wall, every instance of this yaku is won by self draw (tsumo) and never by discard (ron).
2 Point Yaku
It is a terminal and honor based yaku. For this yaku, every tile group and the pair must contain at least one terminal. A hand must contain at least one honor and one non-terminal tile, otherwise the hand will score junchan, honroutou, or chinroutou instead. This yaku worth 2 han if the winning hand is in concealed state and worth 1 han if it is open.
Each set contains either a 1 or a 9, Winds or Dragons. E.g.:
Note: If a player goes Ron he can only claim Chantai if there was no possibility of a non-Chantai finish. This yaku worth 2 han if the winning hand is in concealed state and worth 1 han if it is open.
This hand consists of seven pairs, where no two pairs may be identical. In other words, every pair must be distinct. This hand is one of the two exceptions of the “four melds and one pair” rule of forming a hand. This hand is closed only.
This is a special case for riichi. In this case, the player’s start hand is already at tenpai from the dealt tiles, or the initial draw produces a tenpai hand. Naturally, a player has the option to declare riichi at this time. No tile call may have interrupted the turn order before the declaration, where applicable. For the dealer, the only possible interruption would be a call for a closed kan. Double riichi is worth 2 han instead of 1 han for a normal riichi, as a bonus for the initial timing.
Ittsuu is a yaku, defined as three distinct tile groups containing 123, 456, 789 of one suit. Collectively, the three groups form a complete single suit straight of 1 through 9. This hand can also be noted as a “straight”, similar to the poker hand of the same name. This hand may be played open or closed. When open, the hand loses value of one han.
This hand contains three runs of 3, all of the same suit, running in sequence from 1 to 9. E.g.:
Note: If the tile that completes this Yaku also completes the hand, the Yaku will only be valid if no other finishing options are available, and only provided that tile cannot also be allocated to any other part of the hand.
Sanankou is a yaku, consisting of three concealed triplets (ankou). The third must not be completed off of another player’s discard, as this would not count as concealed. However, if it is completed with a tsumo, then the yaku is awarded. A concealed kan is also counted as a concealed triplet. The hand this yaku is awarded to may be open or closed, as long as it meets the conditions. This yaku is awarded by 2 han.
This yaku requires kan to be called three times by one player. Per the yaku’s name, kan must be called three times; and as a result, the tenpai hand has at most four tiles remaining as closed. If necessary, the hand can call as far as a single tile remaining.
Three identical runs-of-three, all of the same suit:
The player has collected four sets of 3-of-a-kind, but they are not all hidden; at least one of the sets was claimed off another player by going Pon:
Hand with two dragon pons/kans and a pair of dragons. Additionally it worth at least two more yaku for the individual dragon pons.
Honroutou is a yaku, focusing on just the honors and terminals. To score honroutou, the hand must contain only honors and terminals. If the hand is all honors or all terminals, then tsuuiisou or chinroutou will be scored instead.
3 Point Yaku
Normally translated as a “half flush”, this yaku features a hand composed only of honor tiles and tiles of a single suit. If the hand contains no honors, then the chinitsu yaku is counted instead. This yaku is usually referred to as honitsu or, occasionally, honichi. Has 2 value if the hand state is open.
Junchantaiyaochuu is a terminal based yaku. For this yaku, every tile group and the pair must contain at least one terminal. Additionally, at least one tile group must contain a non-terminal tile, or else chinroutou will be scored instead. Junchan is similar to chantaiyao, but chanta allows honours in addition to terminals. Has 2 value if the hand state is open.
Winning with ryanpeikou does not grant additional Ippeikou yaku.
Two sets of double runs-of-three. I.e. this Yaku is “double Iipehkoh”. E.g:
6 Point Yaku
This yaku is composed of tiles in one suit only. Chinitsu is worth 6 han, but it decreases to 5 han when opened.
Blessing of Earth (Chihou)
Winning on self-draw in the very first un-interrupted set of turns. Concealed kan is not allowed.
All Terminals (Chinroutou)
Unlike Junchantai this hand consists of 1s and 9s ONLY (4 x three-of-a-kind and a Head).
Nine Gates (Chuuren Poutou)
All the tiles are of the same suit, with three 1s and three 9s. In addition, the completed hand contains a tile of every number in that suit. E.g:
Daisangen (Big Three Dragons)
Hand with three pons/kans of dragons. In case of three melded dragon pons/kans, the player feeding the third set of dragons must pay for the entire hand in case of self-draw, and split the payment with the discarder in case of win on a discard.
Four sets of Winds and any other pair as a Head. Or three sets of Winds, and Winds as Head, and any other set of three.
Kokushi Musou (Thirteen Orphans)
1 and 9 of each of the three suits, one of each of the four Winds, one of each of the three Dragons, and any one of these to make a Head. Eg:
The Head = so the player is waiting for only
All Green (Ryuuisou)
This hand consists of green tiles only. These tiles are:
Suuankou (Four Concealed pons)
Concealed hand with four concealed pons/kans. Winning on a discard is allowed only in case of single wait on the pair.
All honors (Tsuuiisou)
Hand composed entirely of honor tiles.
Blessing of Heaven (Tenhou)
East winning on his initial deal. Concealed kan is not allowed.
It is defined by a player declaring ron with a starting hand before the dealer gets a second turn or before any called tile. This premise is similar to the chiihou, except the hand wins by discard (ron). Only non-dealers may invoke renhou, as the first discard always comes from the dealer.
Daisharin is one of three yakuman awarded for a closed hand with the following pattern: 22334455667788. The name daisharin applies to the pinzu. Using the exact same number pattern, daichikurin and daisuurin apply to souzu and manzu respectively. Despite the difficulty of attaining this pattern, they are classed as optional.
Despite the fact that they are technically three different yaku, they are often referred to collectively as daisharin: a ruleset which uses daisharin usually implicitly also uses the other two, and occasionally a daichikurin or daisuurin hand will be incorrectly referred to as daisharin.