Four Winds Rule Collection –
These rules represent the classical Chinese Mah Jong as it was played by
experts and intellectually oriented players in the second decade of the 20th
century. The classical rules are considered by many as the "true" form of
Mah Jong: a balanced result of a development that lasted several decades and
during which the rules and scoring reached their perfection, and also, a form of
Mah Jong that is pure of
additions of the later versions, which sometimes make the game unnecessarily
complex or over-emphasize the element of luck (and accordingly, gambling aspects
of the game).
However, the classical rules are seldom used in China of today (few are even
aware of this playing style), and the modern Chinese
variations, mostly developed outside of mainland China, where Mah Jong was
suppressed for decades, have abandoned many features of
the classical game, e.g., point scoring for basic sets, the payment scheme where
East receives and pays double, payments between the losers, etc. The modern
rules have also introduced a number of new scoring patterns and a payment scheme
which rewards a player for going out on a self-drawn tile (the winner's scores
are doubled in this case), and penalizes a player who discards the winning tile
(though not as radically as in the Japanese rules where the discarder pays for
all losers – in Chinese modern rules discarder just pays twice as much as the
Paradoxically the classical Chinese rules continue to have adherents in the Western
world, mainly in European countries, where the classical rules are still
often included in the Mah Jong tile sets that can be bought from stores and Chinese shops. These rules (embodied in Four Winds
rule collection as European Classical), however,
represent the Shanghai or Cantonese popular forms of Mah Jong, where scoring is
slightly simplified. They are well suited to learning the game, but miss some of the
details of Chinese Classical rules, which make the game more interesting
of the Chinese Classical rules that are often omitted or modified in the
later versions still considered classical are
- The winner gets 10 points instead of 20 points.
- Flowers and Seasons are used, but they score less than in most other versions
(these bonus tiles are not later additions to the game, but an essential
part of the original tile set; obviously they were omitted from the later
versions because of abuse in scoring – e.g., in some rules a player would
receive double for each Flower and Season).
- The Dead Wall is exhaustible (rather than replenishing as in most
modern Asian and European versions) and consists of 16, not 14 tiles.
Also, in the Chinese classical rules the
supplement tiles for Flowers and
Seasons are not taken from the Dead Wall, but from the open end of the Wall.
- The Limit is set at 1,000 points, rather than 500 pts used in later versions of the classical game.
- Kong declarations are allowed only after a drawn tile (i.e., a player is not
allowed to declare Kong after having claimed another player's discard for a
Pung or Chow – note that the Kong declaration is allowed if the claimed tile
was used for completing a Kong, since in this case the last tile – the
supplement tile – is drawn from the Wall or Dead Wall).
- Concealed and claimed Kongs are considered as concealed triplets in
patterns like Three concealed triplets, Fully concealed hand
and Hidden Treasure. In most modern versions of Mah Jong only concealed Kongs are interpreted as concealed
triplets (while claimed Kongs and Kongs promoted from a melded Pung are not). On the other hand,
modern Chinese rules often accept all Kongs as concealed triplets.
- Instead of rewarding the winner for going out on a one-chance Chow, the
classical rules give an extra 2 points for going out on a one-chance hand
(i.e., on a hand which can be completed with only one kind of a tile;
multiple-chance hands are allowed, as well, if the tiles for other chances
have already been played).
- The rules acknowledge a couple of patterns which are often excluded from later
versions, e.g. Three concealed triplets and Ready on first turn.
- A total of 19 Limit hands are acknowledged. These include hands like Fully
Concealed Suit Hand , Squirming Snake and Dealer's Consecutive
Wins (13 won deals), which are often omitted in other rules considered
- Going out on a Honor or Terminal pair pays 4 points (completing the hand
with a pair of Simples pays 2 points). This extra bonus for going out out on
a Terminal or Honor pair is seldom
acknowledged in any other rules.