The following glossary is by no means a complete listing of terms of Mah Jong, but explains most of the terms used in Four Winds Mah Jong Knowledge Base. The alternative English terms as well as the Chinese and Japanese original terms are mentioned in the parentheses. Where the language is not mentioned explicitly, the same term is used in both Chinese and Japanese. The Chinese transliteration is based on Pin Yin, but there may be inaccuracies. The following abbreviations have been used when necessary: [c] = concealed, [m] = melded, [n] = noun, [v] = verb.
The external links point to Four Winds 2.0 online documentation.
One of the classical Limit hands. The hand consists only of green Bamboo (numbers 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8) and Green Dragon tiles (in regular sets or as seven pairs). Some rules allow White Dragons, as well (as in some tile sets green color appears also in White Dragons).
One of the classical Limit hands. The hand consists of Wind and Dragon tiles only (in regular sets or as seven pairs).
A winning hand consisting solely of suit tiles from 2 to 8. Japanese, Chinese New Style and Chinese Official rules reward a small bonus for this easy-to-collect hand.
One of the classical Limit hands. The hand consists only of terminals, i.e., suit tiles 1 or 9 (in regular sets or as seven pairs).
A hand consisting only of Terminals and Honors (opposite of All Simples). Most rules reward a bonus for this hand.
A method of simulating the classical point count (still used in Western and Japanese Mah Jong) within the Faan-Laak scoring system by rewarding certain patterns (usually Flowers, Seasons, Kongs, and sometimes basic sets) with bonus points, which are converted to faan units using a conversion table. If a minimum point setting is used, the faans from auxiliary points are usually paid only if the hand qualifies as a winning hand without these bonus points.
One of the suits, consisting of 36 tiles numbered from 1 to 9 (four of each) bearing pictures of bamboo sticks (Bamboo 1 is often depicted by a bird). The original Chinese term for Bamboo suit is ‘zhou’, meaning ‘axis’, which in a cosmological context symbolizes Axis of the Earth.
One of the classical Limit hands. Consists of triplets of all four Winds.
Waiting for the winning tile. See ‘ready’.
One of the classical Limit hands. Going out on the last tile of the Wall, tile being 1 of the Dots suit. Note that in some rules the original term refers to going out on any last tile of the Wall (not just 1 of Dots).
One of the suits, consisting of 36 tiles numbered from 1 to 9 (four of each) and bearing kanji letters for the numbers from 1 to 9. The original Chinese term (‘shu’) means ‘numbers’ and symbolizes in a cosmological context the changes of the life of Man. The red kanji on the Character tiles means ‘10,000’, and ‘wan’ – the more common Chinese term used for Characters – means ‘myriads’).
An innovation introduced in modern American Mah Jong, according to which players exchange three tiles with each other at the start of the deal. Sometimes this is extended with additional one-tile exchanges (maximum of three are allowed during the deal) called Ding Dong and initiated by East. Charleston greatly increases a possibility to collect a high-scoring hand, and accordingly some rules (e.g., Australian and British) use it only in special situations like Goulash.
A term used to refer to suit tiles 2, 5 and 8 (these are discarded more seldom than other suit tiles). Sets composed of Cheung tiles earn extra points in some versions of Mah Jong (notably in the Chinese New Style Mah Jong).
Noun: A set of three tiles in sequence, e.g., Bamboo 1, Bamboo 2 and Bamboo 3. Since the Honor tiles do not have numerical values, a Chow can be composed only of the Suit tiles. Suit tiles are numbered from one to nine and there are four of each. Chows alone give no points (not even concealed Chows), but combinations of Chows do, in some rules.
Verb: To claim a tile for a Chow by declaring “Chow”.
A hand composed of four Chows and a pair. In order to be a scoring hand, most rules specify restrictions on either the nature of the pair (e.g., the must be non-scoring or not consist of Honors) of or on the way the hand goes out (e.g., the Japanese rules require Chow hand to be a No-points hand, which requires that it goes out on a discard that is used for a multiple-chance Chow).
As a player discards a tile, another player can require, or claim, it in order to compose a set. Most rules apply certain restrictions on claiming a discard, e.g., a tile for a Chow can usually be claimed only from the previous player, unless the claiming player can use the tile to complete his hand and go out.
A tile in the hand as opposed to a tile that is melded and exposed to other players. Notice however, that a concealed Kong must be placed on the table and is normally partially exposed (placed amongst melded tiles 2nd and 3rd tile face-up). Notice that there are considerable differences between the rules as regards the “concealedness” of Kongs, e.g. some rules consider melded Kongs as concealed triplets.
Traditionally a hand where all tiles are drawn from the Wall. If a concealed hand is subsequently completed on a self-drawn tile, the winning hand is said to be “fully concealed” or a “concealed self-drawn” hand (men qian qing zi mo, Jap. men-zen tsumo); if the winning tile is a discard it is just called a concealed hand. Note that there are considerable differences between the rules regarding the acceptance of Kongs as part of a concealed hand (some rules allow no Kong, some allow only concealed Kongs, some allow concealed and claimed but not ones promoted from melded Pungs, and some rules accept all Kongs as concealed sets).
Normally the 14 tiles to the right of the breaking point of the Wall are designated as the Dead Wall. Supplement tiles (replacements for Kongs) are taken from the Dead Wall. If Flowers and Seasons are used, supplement tiles for them are normally also taken from the Dead Wall (though in classical Chinese rules they are taken from the Wall, instead). Usually each supplement tile is replaced with a tile taken from the other end of the Wall, so the number of tiles in the Dead Wall always remains the same.
Some rules use an “exhaustible” Dead Wall with a predetermined number of supplement tiles in which case the used supplement tiles are not replaced with wall tiles. E.g., in the Chinese Classical rules an exhaustible Dead Wall of 16 tiles is used. In modern American and Australian rules, and modern pattern-centered Asian Mah Jong, Dead Wall is not used, at all.
Note that when a replenishing Dead Wall is used and there are no tiles left in the Wall (that is, the only tiles left in the game are the tiles in the Dead Wall), the deal ends immediately when a new tile is needed in the game. That means, among other things, that a player cannot receive a supplement tile for a declared Kong or an extra tile (a Flower or a Season) after there are no tiles left in the Wall (since there are no more tiles which could be used to replenish the Dead Wall).
The player who is currently East and responsible for dealing the tiles. The dealer starts a hand, and in rules based on classical Mah Jong he receives and pays double. Normally, if the dealer wins, the deal does not pass. Otherwise the next player in turn becomes the dealer (that is, East becomes North, North becomes West, West becomes South and South becomes East).
To utter a declaration of Chow, Pung, Kong, Ready or Out.
Noun: A tile a player removes from his hand and places face up on the table after having received a new tile from the Wall, a supplement tile from the Dead Wall, or after having claimed a tile discarded by another player.
Verb: to put away a tile from one’s hand and place it face down on the table.
The discarded tile can be claimed by other players within a reasonable time limit, if they can use the tile to complete their hand or a set of Pung or Kong. A player next in turn after the discarder can also claim a tile for a Chow. If no one claims the tile, it is placed amongst the discarded tiles inside the Wall and can no longer used during the deal.
To discard a tile that is claimed by another player who uses the tile to complete his hand and goes out. In Japanese Mah Jong discarder of the winning tile must pay for all losers. In classical rules this is not penalized in any way, but in modern Chinese rules discarder normally has to play double while other losers pay normally (in the Chinese Official and Taiwanese rules discarder pays alone, but just for himself, so it is an advantage to try to go out self-drawn).
A player who discards the winning tile.
Determined by the breaking point of the Wall at the start of the deal. In certain rules (notably the French rules), extra points are paid for sets that are composed of dominant Wind tiles (note the difference to the prevailing wind).
Bonus tiles typically used in modern Japanese Mah Jong. Dora tiles are determined by exposing tiles (called Dora indicators) from the Dead Wall at the start of the deal and, optionally, each time a player declares a Kong (these tiles are called Kong Dora, or more properly, indicators of Kong Dora tiles). Each tile in the winners hand that is a successor of a Dora indicator gives bonus points. The successor is determined as follows: for the suits, the next number of the same suit (rotating from 9 back to 1), for Winds, the order is East, South, West, North, and for Dragons, Red, White and Green. E.g., if the winner has a Pung of Bamboo 3s and a pair of Green Dragons, and the Bamboo 2 and White Dragons appear as Dora indicators, the winner receives extra points for a total of 5 tiles.
Sometimes special tiles called Ura Dora are used besides the regular Dora tiles in the case the winner goes out on a hand that has been declared Ready. In this situation the tiles below the Dora indicators are exposed after the winner has declared out, and the winner receives bonus points also for each tile in his hand that is a successor of a Ura Dora (or Kong Ura Dora) indicator.
Some rules also use special red Dora tiles (also known as Red Fives or Red tiles). For details, see Red Dora tiles.
One of the suits, consisting of 36 tiles numbered from 1 to 9 (four of each). The original Chinese term (‘tong’) means ‘tube’, ‘pipe’, or ‘cylinder’ and in a cosmological context symbolizes Wheel of Heaven. ‘Bing’ (the modern term for Dots), on the other hand, means ‘cash’ or small coins.
Wind tile that is at the same time player’s own Wind and Wind of the Round (or Dominant Wind). Pungs and Kongs of Double Wind usually pay the same as if the player had separately a Pung/Kong of Own Wind and Pung/Kong of Wind of the Round (or Dominant Wind), but some rules specify separate scoring (usually lower) for sets with Double Winds.
The 12 honor tiles called white (Ch. bai pai; Jap. haku), green (Ch. lu fa, Jap. hatsu) and red (Ch. zhong, Jap. chyun) dragons. Sets composed of Dragons always pay bonus points. Note that the letters P and C on the White and Red Dragon represent an older system of transliteration: P for white (pai vs. bai), and C for red (chung vs. zhong).
Noun: When there are no tiles left in the Wall, and none of the players succeeds to complete his hand and go out, the hand is said to end in a draw (or wash out). Note that if a replenishing Dead Wall is used and a player declares a Kong with the last tile of the Wall, or receives an extra tile (a flower or a season) as a last tile from the Wall, the deal ends immediately and no supplement tile is given.
Usually no points are calculated nor paid after a draw, but there are exceptions. According to the classical Japanese rules the deal passes after a draw, but in other versions of Mah Jong the hand is normally played again. Some rules apply special rules for the deal that is played after a draw (see Goulash)
Some rules allow also declaring an abortive draw in certain specific situations, e.g., if three players claim the same tile for going out, etc. In these situations the current deal is immediately abandoned and a new deal is started without passing the deal. For more information, see Abortive draws in the Miscellaneous rules section of the Japanese rules.
Verb: To pick a tile from the Wall.
One of the classical Limit hands. South, West or North player goes out on East’s first discard.
Eyes (or head) of the sparrow. A name given to the pair in a winning hand.
When the dealer wins a game the deal normally does not pass. The rules may also specify that if the deal ends in a draw, deal does not pass (or passes only under certain conditions). A continued deal is said to be an extra hand or extra deal. The modern Japanese versions often specify that the losers must pay bonus points to the winner for each extra deal. The bonus is increased for each continued deal, e.g. if it is 300 points for the 1st extra deal, it is increased to 600 and 900 points on successive extra deals.
Normally the counter of extra deals is reset immediately as the dealer changes (either because of another player wins or because of a draw). However, some rules specify that the extra deal counter is not reset until non-dealer wins. If the deal passes after a draw (and the deal was an extra deal), the next deal is considered a continued deal and extra deal counter is increased by one.
Ch. for “double” or “multiplier” (the Japanese equivalent is han). Note that in the Faan-Laak scoring system a faan is actually not a double: instead, it is the only scoring unit used for assigning values to patterns in the hand, and the final score is determined by using a settling table that indicates a final point values for different faan values. For more information, see Faan-Laak scoring.
A scoring system used in modern Chinese Mah Jong, according to which the final score of the hand is determined by a settling table which regulates doubling of the scores and often specifies identical or intermediate values for increasing number of “faans”. “Laak” specifies the limit, but unlike the classical and Western rules, it does not specify the absolute limit for the final score, but is used as a unit indicating a point where linear doubling is first time settled (e.g., a hand can be worth 3 limits). For more information, see Faan-Laak scoring.
One of the classical Limit hands, consisting of Four Kongs and a pair of any tiles. Some rules allow going out without completing the pair.
Ch. and Jap. for the “point” unit used for scoring in classical Chinese Mah Jong and all Japanese versions of Mah Jong. Note that the point unit is normally not used in modern Chinese Mah Jong (instead, scoring is specified in “faan” units).
A complete game of Mah Jong normally consist of four rounds (East, South, West and North), which in turn consist of at least four hands, so that each of the players has been a dealer at least once per a round. There are often more than four hands per round, since normally the deal does not pass if the dealer (East) wins or if the deal ends in a draw.
A rule sometimes used in both the Western and Asian rules, which specifies that a special deal is played after a deal ends in a draw. E.g., in the British and Australian rules the Goulash deal is started with a Charleston (exchange of tiles); in addition, four jokers are used, and the winning hand is not allowed to contain Chows. The winner of the Goulash deal often collects a special bonus.
Sometimes the term is used just to denote a re-deal (a situation where a new deal is started after a draw without passing the deal).
When a player can complete his hand with a tile received from the Wall or Dead Wall, or by claiming another player’s discard, he can declare ‘Out’ and win the hand. Some rules require that a player declares ‘Ready’ before going out. In this case the player must have declared Ready before he is allowed to go out (the player cannot declare Ready and Out on the same turn, except on the very first turn).
Ways of going out:
self-drawn (Ch. zi mo chi he, Jap. tsu-mo agari): winning with a tile received from the Wall.
on a discard (Ch. ron he; Jap. ron agari): winning with a tile claimed from another player.
on a supplement tile (Ch. ling shang kai hua, Jap. rin-syan-kai-hou): winning with a tile received from the Dead Wall (after declaring a Kong or having a Flower or Season from the Wall) .
with the last tile of the Wall (Ch. hai di lao yue, Jap. hai-tei-rou-ei, hai-tei): winning with the last tile of the Wall.
with the last discard (Ch. ho di lao yu, Jap. hou-tei-rao-yui, hou-tei): winning with a tile that is discarded after the last tile of the Wall is played.
by robbing a Kong (Ch. qiang gang huo, Jap. chan-kan): winning by taking a tile that another player tried to use for promoting a melded Pung to a melded Kong.
Jap. for “double” or “multiplier” (the Chinese equivalent is “faan”). Note that in modern Japanese Mah Jong based on the Mangan scoring system a “han” is not actually a double, but instead a sort of regulated multiplier. The final score is determined by the combination of a given fu and han values earned by the hand. E.g., the final score for a hand worth 20 points (fu) and 3 han is not 160 points (20 points doubled three times), but 640 points, specified by a settling table.
A deal of tiles that ends in one of the following situations: a) one of the players goes out, b) one of the players makes a faulty declaration of Out, c) hand ends in a draw.
One of the classical Limit hands. East goes out on the dealt hand (after having replaced possible Flowers and Seasons).
One of the classical Limit hands. The hand consists of four concealed triplets and a pair. The rules vary significantly as for acknowledging Kongs in this hand, and in respect of the required way of going out. In the Chinese Classical rules the hand is allowed to contain concealed Kongs, but the winning tile must be self-drawn. Japanese rules also allow concealed Kongs but do not require the hand to go out on a self-drawn tile. Other rules might require that the hand goes on a pair (some allow going out on a discard, other require a self-drawn winning tile).
Dragons and Wind tiles are called Honors (some players prefer the term ‘characters’ based on literal translation, but this is a bit problematic since the confusion with the Character suit is so obvious). Tile sets composed of Honors are more valuable than sets composed of suits.
Extra tiles used in Modern American Mah Jong (and sometimes also in the Chinese New Style). The number of jokers is often 4 or 8, but some players use even more. Sometimes the use of jokers is restricted in some way (e.g. not allowed to replace Chows or single tiles).
In so called 12-tile Mah Jong each player receives one (virtual) joker in a dealt hand: the joker can be “used” only at the time of going out.
A rule, normally used in modern Japanese Mah Jong (Ari-Ari rules), according to which a minimum point requirement specified for a winning hand (normally worth 1 han) is ignored, when determining the ready state of the hand. I.e., a hand is considered ready, if it can be structurally completed into a winning hand, even if it would not meet the minimum point requirement, when complete. The more restrictive Nashi-Nashi rules often require a ready hand (when completed into winning hand with best possible tile) to meet the minimum point requirement.
The rule is meaningful in the context of draw when determining whether a player should receive a bonus for a ready hand, and also when determining whether a deal should be passed after a draw (the rules might e.g. specify that a deal is not passed if the dealer has a ready hand). It is also used after a drawn game, when players who declared ready must expose their hand for evaluating whether their declarations were legal.
Noun: A set of four identical tiles, e.g., four White Dragons. Since there are four of each tiles in a complete Mah Jong tile set, a Kong can be composed of any of the tiles in the set. Note that a concealed Kong must be placed on the table, and usually the first and fourth tile are turned face-down to indicate that the set is concealed (in some rules all tiles are left face-down). A concealed Kong normally scores more than a melded.
Verb: To declare “Kong”.
Note: Traditionally only concealed Kongs are considered as concealed sets, but some rules consider all Kongs as concealed triplets (based on the fact that all Kongs have at least three tiles that were self-drawn). Some rules accept only concealed and claimed Kongs as concealed sets, but do not consider Kongs that were promoted from melded Pungs as concealed.
See Dead Wall.
One of the classical Limit hands. Player completes two Kongs in a row on one turn and goes out on the supplement tile received for the second Kong.
A rule, sometimes used in Japanese Mah Jong, forbidding a player to break an existing set and immediately discard a tile identical with the claimed tile, or one related to the claimed tile (i.e., a tile 3 numbers different from the claimed tile which can form a sequence with the just exposed tiles).
A rule, normally used in Japanese Mah Jong, allowing scoring for melded All Simples hand. The more restrictive Nashi-Nashi rules often allow scoring for All Simples only if it appears in a concealed hand.
in addition to Bamboo 4
(last of the four),
the hand can be completed
with Bamboo 1, 2 or 3.
The hand is not one-chance
so it cannot be last-chance.
|Example of a
|Example of a hand
that is not last-chance,
though one of the winning
tiles is “last-chance”.
|Examples of a last-chance
hand with “dead” multiple
an extended rule).
A “one-chance hand” where all but one exemplar of the only possible winning tile have been played (see pictures above).
The rule is sometimes extended by specifying that a hand with multiple chances is considered last-chance, if all but one possible winning tile have been played (i.e., they are no longer available).
Discarding a dangerous tile (bao pai), which leads in a situation that a winner goes out (not necessarily immediately after having claimed the dangerous discard, but later either self-drawn or by discard) on a high-scoring hand. See ‘pao’.
Note: Use of this term is discouraged as it is a direct translation of the Chinese original term ‘fang chong’, which means just “discarding a winning tile”. Note that a dangerous discard does not necessarily involve discarding of the winning tile, but just a tile that lets a winner to later go out on a big hand.
A rare hand that automatically pays the limit (or a percentage of the limit, e.g., 50% of Limit, 400% of Limit, etc.), in which case scores for components are ignored and final score is directly determined by the scoring for the limit hand. Sometimes multiple limit hands are acknowledged; e.g., a hand can score one limit for being Hidden Treasure, and another for being All Green. A limit hand can also be composed of irregular combinations. E.g., Thirteen Orphans is not composed of regular Chows, Pungs, Kongs and a pair. There are about ten Limit hands that are universally acknowledged. For more information, see Limit and Special hands.
For short, the limit. An agreement between players on the maximum amount of points any player can score for a hand. Note that the limit is not applied to payments but just to the final score a player can have for his hand. E.g., in the classical rules the limit is typically 500 points, but if the winner is East, and he goes out on a hand that merits the limit, he will receive 1,000 points (double his final score) from each of the other players, so that the total of payments is 3,000.
In modern Asian Mah Jong a multiple limit scoring system is used instead of an absolute limit. Here the limit specifies a point where linear doubling of scores is first time regulated. A hand can well score multiple limits (either by virtue of multiple patterns the faan values of which have been added together, or by virtue of a single pattern that can score e.g. 400% of the Limit). The maximum final score is specified by a settling table but can be surpassed by assigning a direct multiple limit value to individual hands and patterns, or by allowing multiple limit hands, in which case a hand can score several limits for being e.g. both Hidden Treasure and All Green.
A hand containing three triplets and a pair of Winds. Normally pays 1 extra double.
A hand with two Dragon Pungs and a Dragon pair plus any sets. This usually scores three doubles (one extra, since the two Dragon triplets score each 1 double).
See ‘supplement tile’.
A pair composed of Dragons or special Wind tiles (usually player’s own Wind or Wind of the Round). In classical rules a lucky pair is worth 2 points.
A term used to denote the Dragons, Winds and Terminals (as opposed to simples, or minor tiles, i.e. suit tiles from 2 to 8). Major tiles score slightly better in classical Mah Jong than minor tiles.
A scoring system used in modern Japanese Mah Jong, according to which the total score of the hand is determined by a settling table over “fu” (points) and “han” (multipliers). The settling table regulates doubling of the fu and often specifies identical or intermediate values for increasing number of han. As in modern Chinese Mah Jong, the limit does not specify the maximum for the total score, but is used as a unit (e.g., a hand can be worth 3 limits). For more information, see Mangan scoring.
A tile set that is composed by claiming one of the tiles from another players discard. A melded tile set is placed face up above the players hand. Notice that a concealed Kong, which must be placed on the table after the declaration, is not melded, though the second and third tile are normally placed face up (in certain rules, however, all tiles of a concealed Kong are placed on board face down). Note too that in some rules a claimed Kong is considered as a concealed triplet (while being at the same time a melded Kong), and accordingly the fourth tile is turned face down as to make is stand out from concealed Kongs and Kongs completed from melded Pungs.
When a tile is claimed from another player, the resulting set must be put aside and exposed to other players. This is called “melding” a tile set. Once a set is melded, its component tiles cant be used for other combinations. Melded tiles are placed above each players hand. Notice that declaring a concealed Kong closely resembles melding a Kong: in both cases the tiles are exposed and put aside and cant be used for other combinations, but in the previous case the 1st and 4th tiles are normally turned face-down as to mark the set as concealed (in some rules the tiles are left face-down).
Also a tile set that is melded.
A restriction on a winning hand, which requires that the hand is worth at least the specified amount of points (the unit can be points meaning the total score for the hand doubles, faan or han, depending on the selected scoring system). Often the rules specify certain additional conditions for calculating the minimum points, e.g., the bonus points for Flowers and Seasons, Dora tiles, etc., are often ignored when determining whether a hand meets the minimum point requirement.
A term used to denote the suit tiles from 2 to 8 (as opposed to major tiles, i.e. Honors and Terminals). More commonly known as simples.
A rule that forbids a player to go out on a discard that he has missed (after his last move, and before he has made his next draw or a legal claim). Some rules extend the rule to cover a player’s next self-drawn tile, as well. Note that it is legal to claim a missed discard if the player does not go out with the tile (i.e., he discards one of his tiles after having melded the set).
A rule occasionally used in the modern Japanese Mah Jong, which states that if the deal ends in an exhaustive draw (as opposed to an abortive draw, caused by e.g. a dead hand) and a player’s discards consist of terminals and honors only, and none of his discards have been claimed and the player himself has not melded any tiles (including concealed Kongs), the hand is scored as if the player had gone out. The score is often specified as single limit (mangan).
One of the classical Limit hands. Can be considered a sort of “mother of all hands” in classical Mah Jong. The hand consists of tiles 1112345678999 of one suit, all in hand, allowing a player to go out on any tile of the same suit – a player has nine chances to go out, hence the name. Not to be confused with American gate hands, which are just irregular hands amongst others. Modern versions sometimes allow impure version of Nine Gates hand, in which case the player has 12 of the tiles mentioned above in hand and 13th tile of one of the tiles between 2 and 8 (the winning tile makes the hand identical with the pure version of Nine Gates, but the player did not have 9 chances to go out).
No-points hand (sometimes also called a Valueless hand) consists of a complete hand with mere Chows and an ordinary pair (other than a pair of Dragons or a pair of players own Wind or Wind of the Round, or any other pair that possibly has a scoring value). The hand is typically used in Japanese Mah Jong and should not be confused with Chicken hand (a hand with a total value of zero). Normally it is required that the hand does not score anything in the point (fu) unit, excepting the winning bonus (and possibly a point bonus for Concealed hand), i.e., the hand must be completed on a discarded tile (since going out self-drawn earns 2 points), and the winning tile must not complete a pair or a one-chance Chow (since these earn 2 extra points each). Note however that a No-points hand can pay doubles normally (e.g., three doubles for being One Suit Only, etc.). A No-points hand normally pays the winner one extra double/han (or 10 points, depending on the rule).
can be completed
with Bamboo 2 or 5
can go out on Bamboo 2 (completing a pair or
a multiple-chance Chow), or
Bamboo 5 (completing a multiple-chance Chow)
|Examples of hands
that are not one-chance.
|Examples of a one-chance
hand with “dead” multiple
an extended rule).
A hand is called ‘one-chance’ if there is just one kind of a tile (disregarding how many there are still left to be played of that tile), which can theoretically complete it into a structurally valid winning hand (see pictures above). E.g., a hand consisting of 2-3-4-5 and calling for 2 or 5 is not considered a one-chance hand, even if four 2’s and three 5’s have already been played (in the latter case the hand is practically one-chance as there is only one kind of tile that can complete it, but it is not theoretically one-chance).
However, often the concept of one-chance is extended by specifying that a hand with multiple chances is considered one-chance, if all but one possible winning tiles have been played (i.e., all four of each of the other tiles appear amongst discards and melds). Note however, that a tile is not dead by the fact that it cannot complete a hand (e.g., because of a minimum point requirement). E.g., if a player is calling with a Dragon pair and pair of Bamboo 5 and the hand would qualify for a winning hand only if it were completed with a Dragon Pung, the hand is not considered “one-chance”.
One-chance hand is acknowledged in the classical Chinese rules, but is often interpreted in later rules as a hand that is completed with either a one-chance Chow or a pair, allowing cases like “calling with 2-3-4-5 for 2 or 5” (on the other hand, in this case there is normally no extra bonus for going out on a pair; in classical rules a player might get bonus for both going out on a pair and for One-chance hand).
See also Last-chance hand.
A player declaring ‘Ready’ on his first discard. If a player subsequently goes out on the declared hand, he is normally rewarded with one extra double. This rule is used in classical Chinese Mah Jong. It normally requires that the hand is not altered in any way after the declaration (if changing is allowed and a player does change his hand, he is no longer entitled to this bonus).
A one-chance Chow is one that can be completed only on one side or with a middle tile (see picture above). In Japanese and Western rules this gives often a minor bonus (usually worth 2 points).
Going out on a discard after all tiles of the Wall have been drawn. This is normally rewarded with 1 extra double.
Going out by drawing the last available tile from the Wall.
This is normally rewarded with 1 extra double.
Note: In some rules this hand is called hai di lao yue (meaning literally Catching the Moon from the Bottom of the Sea), but this term is more generally used to refer to a special case where a hand goes out on the last tile of the Wall and the winning tile is 1 of Dots.
Going out on a tile received as a replacement for declaring a Kong or as a replacement for a Flower or Season tile. This normally pays 1 extra double. Some rules (e.g. Chinese Classical) pay this bonus only if the supplement tile was received for declaring a Kong.
An act of claiming a discarded tile for a Pung (or Kong, if jokers are enabled) after one of the other players has claimed the same tile for a Chow. This can be done unintentionally, but normally over-claiming is a strategic device: the discard is claimed e.g. to prohibit an opponent player to improve his hand.
Own Wind refers to a pair or triplet composed of player’s own Wind. This is is often rewarded with bonus points.
Two identical tiles in an incomplete hand, potentially a triplet. Also a sequential pair (ta) that can be completed into a Chow.
The fifth set in the winning hand, consisting of two identical tiles. All regular hands must contain one (and only one) pair.
In classical Mah Jong special “pao” rules are often applied (in Western world the rule is more commonly known as “pao”, and accordingly the rule is listed here rather than under the letter “B”). These rules specify that if a player makes an irresponsible discard, he must pay alone all losses (for all losers), even if the actual discarder is someone else or if the winning tile is self-drawn. These penalties are also called “insurance penalties”, since they guarantee that other losers do not suffer from the pao discarder’s blunder. In addition to One suit only, insurance penalties are normally used for the classical limit hands Big Three Dragons, Big Four Winds, All Honors, All Terminals and All Green. In addition, some rules specify Last Five Tiles Error (or Last Four Tiles Error), according to which a player who discards a fresh winning tile, when only five (or four) tiles are left in the Wall, must pay for all losers.
Normally the winds change places in a counter-clockwise direction after the hand is played. East wind, which marks the dealer, passes to the next player in turn. Note that if East wins, the deal normally does not pass. Also, if the deal ends in a draw, the deal usually does not pass (except in Japanese Mah Jong).
Wind of the Round is often called Prevailing Wind. A Mah Jong session normally consists of a full game of four rounds. On the first round the Prevailing Wind is East, on the second round South, on the third round West and on the fourth round North.
Prevailing Wind also refers to a pair or triplet composed of Wind of the Round. This is is often rewarded with bonus points.
Noun: A set of three identical tiles, e.g., three Bamboo 3s. Since there are four of each tiles in a complete Mah Jong tile set, a Pung can be composed of any of the tiles in the set. A concealed Pung normally scores more than a melded. The term is often used to denote both Pungs and Kongs.
Verb: To claim a tile for a Pung by declaring “Pung”.
A hand composed of four triplets (Pungs/Kongs) and a pair. I.e., a hand that contains no sequences (toi-toi ho). This is normally rewarded with one extra double.
A hand that is one tile short of being complete; also, a player waiting the winning tile. In the Japanese rules a player can declare ‘Ready’ (Jap. ri-chi) which results in a bonus if the player subsequently wins the deal. Some rules require an obligatory ready declaration as to warn other players that a player needs only one tile to go out.
Note: A “ready” hand means that the hand is structurally in all respects one tile short of a winning hand. If there are restrictions on the winning hand (e.g., limitation in number of Chows, prohibition of mixed suits, etc), the hand is not considered ready, if it cannot be completed with just one tile in a way that meets these requirements. If the rules apply a minimum point requirement on the winning hand, it is often ignored when the ready state of a hand is checked, but some rules require that a hand – when completed – meets the minimum point requirement. In this case rules often specify certain additional conditions (e.g., bonus points for Flowers or Seasons, Dora tiles, the ready declaration itself, etc., are often ignored when calculating the hand for minimum points).
In addition to (or sometimes in place of) the actual Dora tiles, some Japanese rules use special red Dora tiles, also known as Red Fives or simply as red tiles.
According to this rule, one of each of the four number five tiles of each suit is marked red (thus there are three red bonus tiles theoretically available in each deal). Each such special tile in a winner's hand gives a specified bonus.
If the winning hand is restricted by requirement of minimum points (han), the bonus for red Dora tiles is normally not included in the calculation when determining whether a hand qualifies for a winning hand.
Japanese for “declare Ready” (the Chinese term in Pin Yin is li zhi). A version or Ready hand rule used often in the Japanese Mah Jong. According to this rule the hand that is to be declared ready must usually be completely concealed (concealed Kongs are allowed, though). After the declaration, the hand is often locked (and sometimes the tiles are placed face down on the table). This means that no changes are allowed to the hand (though some rules allow concealed Kongs that do not alter the hand). Furthermore, the rules may require that the player who has declared Ready must go out with the first possible discard (or self-drawn tile).
Going out on a hand declared Ready usually scores one extra double (han). Penalties are often applied if a player who has declared Ready fails to win the deal.
Going out by taking the winning tile from a player who declares a melded Kong (adding a tile he has received from the Wall to a melded Pung). This normally pays one extra double. If the robbed tile is Bamboo 2, the winner receives limit points (if the limit hand Scratching a Carrying Pole is acknowledged).
A Round consists of at least four deals so that each player has been East (dealer) at least once. There are often more than four deals per round, since normally the deal does not pass if the dealer (East) wins, and in some versions of Mah Jong, the deal is also played again if the hand ends in a draw. Notice that sets composed of the Wind of the Round (like sets composed of players own Wind) often pay twice more than sets composed of ordinary winds, and they are usually worth an extra bonus (one double/faan/han).
A complete Mah Jong session normally consists of four rounds. The first round is East, the second round South, the third West and the last North. In modern Japanese Mah Jong a single match consists normally of only two rounds (East and South rounds) but often several complete matches are played in a row.
A rule that forbids a player to go out on a discard that is identical to his last discard. Often modified by extending the restriction, e.g., the modern Japanese version of ‘furiten’ prohibits a player to go out on any discard, if he has discarded during the deal a tile that he currently could use to go out.
One of the classical Limit hands. Going out by taking the winning tile from a player who is about to promote a melded Pung of Bamboo 2 into a melded Kong.
A tile received from the Wall as opposed to a claimed tile. Also, going out on a self-drawn tile.
A complete hand is composed of four sets and a pair. The sets (besides the pair, which is normally not counted as a set) are as follows: Chow (a sequence of one Suit), Pung (three similar tiles) and Kong (four similar tiles). A set can be composed of tiles received from the Wall (a concealed set), or completed by claiming the missing tile from another players discard (a melded set).
A Bamboo, Dot or Character tile whose value is other than 1 or 9. Some rules give points for a hand with All simples.
A valuable hand that is often composed of irregular combinations, e.g. Seven Pairs. Often used as a synonym for Limit hand.
A pile of two tiles, forming a unit in the Wall.
Bamboos, Dots and Characters are called Suits. Only Suit tiles can be used to compose Chows.
A tile taken from the Dead Wall as a replacement for a tile used for declaring or claiming a Kong. If Flowers and Seasons are used, supplement tiles for them are normally also taken from the Dead Wall (however, the Chinese Classical rules specify that the supplement tiles for Flowers and Seasons are taken from the Wall, instead). A supplement tile is also known as a “loose tile” (because the supplement tiles used to be placed two at a time on top of the Dead Wall as if tiles that are “loose“).
Normally each supplement tile taken from the Dead Wall is replaced with a tile from the end of the Wall so that the number of available supplement tiles always remains the same; as a result each used supplement tile reduces the number of available tiles by one. Normally the number of supplement tiles in the Dead Wall is 14. Note that a player is not given a supplement tile after there are no tiles left in the Wall; instead, the deal ends immediately after the last action that would normally result in receiving a supplement tile (this is because there are no longer tiles that could be used to replenish the Dead Wall).
In some rules (notably in the Chinese Classical rules) the Dead Wall is exhaustible with a pre-determined number of tiles (e.g., 14, 16 or 20). In this case a supplement tile is not replaced with a tile from the Wall, and consequently does not reduce the number of playable tiles.
In the modern American, Australian and highly pattern-centered Asian games (e.g. in Chinese Official) Dead Wall is not used the supplement tiles are simply taken from the tail end of the Wall.
A Bamboo, Character or Dot tile whose value is 1 or 9.
One of the classical Limit hands. The hand consists of one of each Dragon and Wind, 1 and 9 of each suit and 14th tile forming a pair with any of these. Classically a player was allowed to rob even a concealed Kong to complete this hand, but this is no longer allowed in modern Mah Jong. In Japanese Mah Jong separate scoring is sometimes assigned to Thirteen Orphans pure, which requires that a player is calling with the orphans (in which case he can go out on a tile identical with any of the 13 tiles already in hand).
One of the classical Limit hands. A hand consisting of Pungs/Kongs of all three Dragons and any other remaining set (Chow, Pung or Kong) and a pair. Some rules might specify restrictions for the remaining tiles.
The cards or pieces of of the Mah Jong set. The complete set consists of 144 tiles, eight of which are bonus tiles (Flowers and Seasons) and not kept in hand. Many rules do not use bonus tiles at all.
A player begins his turn by drawing a tile from the Wall or by claiming a discarded tile, and concludes the turn by discarding a tile. Some rules restrict player’s right to declare a concealed Kong, or completing a melded Pung into a melded Kong, to the situation where the turn is started by drawing a tile from the Wall (declaring Kong after having claimed a discarded tile is not allowed).
Before the deal begins all 136 (or more, if Seasons and Flowers or jokers are used) tiles are shuffled and arranged in four rows (two layers per each row) forming a square shape that resembles a wall. At the beginning of the deal the Wall is broken, and the dealing of tiles is started from the first tile left to the breaking point. Traditionally the 14 tiles to the right of the breaking point comprise the Dead Wall (or the Ruin).
See Prevailing Wind.
The four honor tiles named after the four directions, East, South West and North. There are four of each Wind in the Mah Jong set.
A completed hand with four sets and a pair (or tiles composing an irregular hand) and meeting all special requirements for a winning hand (e.g., the minimum point specification, prohibition of mixed suit, etc.).
A special penalty, sometimes used in modern Japanese Mah Jong, according to which a player who has not won a single deal during the entire game (normally consisting of two rounds) must pay each of the other three players a penalty worth a limit (normally 2,000 points) at the end of the game. East normally pays and receives double.