Posted by meronpan on May 20, 2009
Finally decided to learn more about mahjong and figure out what the heck was going on in 咲 (saki). Do you know the rules? The Japanese rules? Thought I’d throw together a little summary of my research for those who are curious but haven’t gotten around to it yet :P
How to Play!
Around the world people play mahjong with over 20 different sets of rules… for the sake of Saki I’ll only be going into the Japanese rules ^^;
Simply put… each player starts with 13 tiles. On your turn you draw 1 tile and discard 1 tile. To win you must simply convert your hand into 4 sets of 3 plus one pair. For the sets of 3 they must be 3 of the exact same tile (same number, if applicable, and same suit) or a consecutive run of 3 of the same suit (1-2-3, 6-7-8, etc). The two tiles in your pair must also be same suit. Note that 4×3 + 2 = 14 — the 14th tile is the last tile that you draw.
You can also declare sets of 4 but when that happens you can no longer discard those tiles. If you think about it it’s kind of like losing a tile, so to make up for it you get to draw another tile from the wall (if you think of the tiles as playing cards, the wall is like the remaining deck).
When someone discards, you can claim it if it completes a 3/4 of a kind or run of 3. However, you must reveal those tiles.
There are some exceptions to what I’ve listed above and I could go into a lot more detail, but let’s keep it simple and move on to some verbal queues…
Things to Listen For!
aka “pung”… or bump, phoong, pong, tri, bango … Yelled when you take someone’s discard to complete a 3 of a kind.
aka “kong”… or quong, koong, gang, kung, gong… Yelled when you take someone’s discard to complete a 4 of a kind.
aka “chow”… or sheung, seams, seq, chih…Yelled when you take someone’s discard to complete a run of 3 (can only be done when the person before you discards)
自摸！ (ツモ! (TSUMO!))
Declared when you win by drawing the tile yourself (i.e. not from another player’s discard). After you calculate the value of your hand, the other three players pay the winner an amount based on the hand value.
Declared when you win by taking another player’s discard (unlike the chii, you can take any player’s discard if it allows you to win the round). I think in this case the player that discarded the tile you took must shoulder the entire point burden of your hand so it’s really dangerous to discard a ron tile.
If your hand is closed (you haven’t taken any discards from other players), you can declare riichi when you only need 1 more tile to win. You must put out 1000 points (the stick in saki’s hand) when you declare. Now why the heck would you do that? That brings us to the next section…
Have you ever been confused by a computer version of mahjong that wouldn’t let you win even though your hand looked fine? Hopefully I’m not the only one ^^;;; Finally discovered why – in the Japanese rules, you can’t win a round unless your hand is worth something! Special combinations of tiles, certain conditions like riichi and such give hands values which play into the complicated scoring system.
Declaring riichi adds a value of 1 飜 (han) to your hand – which under most circumstances is sufficient to declare victory in a round. More complicated hands get you more han, and thus more points. han stack so you can get a high value hand by combining different winning conditions.
An example of combining score conditions… Saki’s crazy hand in the 2nd episode:
riichi – saki declared earlier that she was waiting for one tile to win. (or at least, i thought that’s what one of the characters said ^^;;)
四暗刻 (suuankou) – 4 concealed triplets – concealed meaning she completed them without taking any discard tiles. This is actually special type of hand called a 役満 (yakuman). Yakuman are all extremely difficult to pull off and as such are awarded a loooot of points. Other examples of yakuman are getting triplets/quads of all the dragon tiles or triplets/quads of all four winds.
嶺上開花 (rinshan kaihou) – when you complete a kan (4 of a kind), you must draw an extra tile from the wall (that’s why saki got to draw two consecutive tiles). If that tile causes you to win, it’s a rinshan kaihou. I believe that’s worth 1 han.
Well, rather than being a combination special hand and riichi, the much more interesting thing was the suuankou ^^;; With the other 3 players picking up and discarding tiles throughout the round it’s insanely difficult to draw all the necessary tiles from the wall. There’s only 4 of each tile, so as soon as 2 of a tile is discarded, you can no longer complete a triplet.
I was actually playing and got a yakuman by dumb luck.
All winds and/or dragons ^_^ Because yakuman hands are worth so much, you can win an entire session with them (like I did above).
There’s lists of the different hands all over the place if you want to see more. I have a hell of a time remembering them all, especially when some disallow taking discards to complete the hand. (yet another thing that might turn your awesome hand into a worthless unwinnable hand)
A Few more Terms…
聴牌 (tenpai) – When a round ends without a winner, players that were waiting for 1 more tile to go out are tenpai. They get a small amount of points.
ノー聴 (no-ten) – When a round ends without a winner and you’re waiting for more than 1 tile to complete your hand.
furiten – A condition that prevents you from taking a discard tile that would otherwise complete your hand. This is caused by a few things, such as if you require a tile that you previously discarded. i.e. If another player discards a tile that you had discarded previously, you cannot claim that tile for a ron. This is another thing that may be preventing the computer from letting you win in what otherwise looks like a perfectly legal move.
Another furiten condition include passing up a winning tile – say you need a 1 or 2 dot to win. If someone discards a 2, you pass, then the next player discards a 1 – you cannot claim it. (you might be doing something like that to get a higher scoring hand).
Finally, if you declare riichi, after passing up a winning tile, you are no longer eligible to win by discard. From then on you must win by tsumo.
It actually exists!! These things shuffle and stack the tiles and everything. Wish I had one ^^;
From what I read you actually need 2 sets – it delivers the pre-shuffled one then sorts and stacks the other while you’re playing. Think you can actually get one for ~$1000? I’d soooo get one if it wasn’t more than a dslr ^^;
Hopefully that was beneficial rather than confusing people further ^^; If you’d like to give it a try, here’s a free flash game that lets you play against the computer. It even explains the rules and valid hands if you scroll down the page.
For more information, this site I’ve been linking throughout has a wealth of information from rules to determining if your set is made of ivory or bone ^^; Or if you’re specifically looking for an exhaustive explanation of the Japanese rules, check here.
Kinda random post, but I love mahjong ^__^