Home / Mahjong's basic knowledge / Rules of competition Riichi Mahjong

Rules of competition Riichi Mahjong

Riichi Mahjong, popularly known as “Japanese” Mahjong, is a variant of Mahjong that is played with Riichi rules. The use of this type of rules begins in Japan, and they are next to the Rules of Competition Mahjong, one of the two modalities played in the world. While maintaining the basic mechanics of the game, the variation presents a unique set of rules such as riichi or the use of dorá.

Its origin dates back to 1924, when a soldier named Saburo Hirayama brought the game to Japan. The game quickly gained popularity and the first Mahjong clubs and schools were created in Tokyo, which further increased its expansion across the Nippon country. In this process of expansion, the Chinese rules of the original game were simplified and adapted to the mechanics of the local games. As of 2008, there were approximately 7.6 million Mahjong players and nearly 8,900 Mahjong halls in the country. In 2010, Mahjong topped itself as the most popular board game in Japan.


Japanese Mahjong is usually played with 136 tokens. Of the 136, there are 34 different chip types, with 4 copies of each. This is the same as in other modes of Mahjong, but without using flowers and seasons.

These 34 chips are divided into:

1.1 The three clubs

The Ball of Balls

From 1 to 9 balls
Stick balls

The bamboo stick

From 1 to 9 of bamboos

The stick

From 1 to 9 characters The only difference with the rest of Mahjong variants is the use of 3 red fives, one of each suit: These 3 tiles come in the Mahjong Riichi set along with the seasons. The chips that do not enter are the flowers. It is also possible to play Riichi Mahjong without these chips, although their inclusion will give a greater dynamism and some randomness.

Red five

1.2 Honors

The Three Dragons

The Red, the Green and the White.

The four winds

East – South – West – North

1.3 Additional equipment

Mahjong games often have markers to indicate the dominant wind and sticks to take the score, they are also used for counters and bets on riichi. The game also usually brings the dice.


2.1 Place of the wind

Mahjong is played with four players, each of which is associated with a wind according to the seat that occurs with respect to the east player. The East is the player who starts the hand. The South sits to the right of the East, the West sits opposite the East and the North sits to the left of the East.

2.2 Dominant wind

When the game begins, the east is the dominant wind. When the player who started the game like East, turns East again after all players have played at least one hand like East, the South round begins and the South is the dominant wind.

2.3 Sitting at the table

The positions of the players before the table are determined by means of the draw of the places. In the tournaments normally the 4 wind tiles are placed face down and each player is choosing and placing in the place associated to the chosen wind.

2.4 Building the Wall

The tokens are mixed thoroughly. Each player constructs in front of himself a wall of chips face down, seventeen chips long and two high. The four walls are pushed together to form a square.
Closed wall

2.5 Breaking the Wall

The East throws two dice and counts that number of players counterclockwise, starting with himself. The player thus determined breaks the wall in front of him, counting from right to left the same number of tokens indicated by the dice. After the last counted chip, the wall is broken by pushing the two sections of the wall apart a little. Then the player starts to take the first 4 chips and then the rest of the players take the chips until completing the starting hand.

2.6 The dead wall

The seven tokens stacked to the right of the wall make up the dead wall. The dead wall continues around the corner of the next wall, in case the end of the wall is reached. After the seventh stack of chips, the two sections of the wall are pushed a little apart to separate the dead wall from the end of the wall. The tiles on the dead wall are not used in the game, except to provide replacement tiles to form kongs.

2.7 The indicator dora

Count three tiles on the dead wall from the point where it was originally broken and flip the top tile to determine the gauge indicator (we can see it in the previous image). This tab indicates which data is available. If the dora indicator is a token, the dora is the next token of the same suit. As we see in the example as the bliss that is flipped is the 7 characters, the dorá will be the 8 of the same suit. If the indicator is a nine, the dora is the one of the same suit. If the indicator is a dragon, the dora is also a dragon and the following order is applied: red points to white, white to green and green to red. In the same way, in the case of the winds the following order follows: east-south-west-north-east.

2.8 The game

Player East takes the first four tiles on the wall after the original opening point. The chips are taken counterclockwise as the players’ turns take place in that direction, South takes the next four chips, West the next four, North the next four and so on until all the players have Twelve tokens. The East continues to take two chips: the top chips in the first and third pile on the wall *. South, West and North each take a token in order of importance. Now he has an initial hand of fourteen chips while the other players have thirteen chips.

Each player accommodates his chips by standing in front of himself, so that only he can see the faces. The dice are placed to the right of the East; In this way it is always clear to all players that player is the East.

* This means that the East takes a chip, waits for the other players to take one chip each and then takes his fourteenth chip.


The goal of the game is to form a complete hand. The main reason for the game is to accumulate as many points as possible in the winning hands. No matter how many hands each player has won, the accumulated score determines the winner.

3.1 Phases of the game

A player’s turn begins when he takes a token and ends when he discards a token. During a turn all players have their turn once. A turn is interrupted if someone steals a chip to form a kong, a pong or chow or if a hidden kong is declared. A hand lasts until a player has completed a hand and wins or when a tie occurs. During a round all players are East at any given time. A complete set usually consists of two rounds: the east round and the south round.

3.2 Hand Mahjong

A complete hand of Mahjong is composed of four packs and one pair. A pack can be a chow, a pong or a Kong, and the pair will be two equal tokens. In addition, a full hand must have at least one yaku (we will define it as a play point).

A chow is three consecutive chips of the same suit. Chows can not be made with dragons or winds. 8-9-1 of the same suit also do not form a chow.

A pong is made up of three identical tokens.

A kong is composed of four identical tokens.

A pair is made up of two identical tokens.

[Picture couples]

There are two special hands in riichi that are not composed of four packs and one pair. These hands are the seven pairs and the thirteen orphans (in the section of punctuation of the Riichi Mahjong we will see in what they consist these plays).

3.3 Turn of a player

Players take their turn in order. The East begins and the next turn proceeds counterclockwise. A player begins his turn by taking a token. However, since the East begins with fourteen chips, the East can not take a chip on its first turn. If the player can not or does not declare a win or a kong, the player ends his turn by discarding one of his hidden chips. The discards are placed in an orderly manner, six in a row, in front of each player inside the wall, so it is clear who discarded, which chips and in what order.

3.3.1 The most recent disposal

The most recent discard may be requested by any other player, provided he can complete a mahjong, a kong or a Pong. A claimed kong or Pong may result in players losing their turn, as the game continues from the player making the claim not from the player who made the throw.

The player who is about to start his turn may request the most recent discard for a chow. If the player does not want to request the discard, he begins his turn by taking a tile from the wall.

Requesting a chip to win takes precedence over any other request, which is ignored. Claiming a chip to form a kong or a Pong takes precedence over a request to form a chow; However, this must occur within three seconds. A player who has requested a chip to win, or for a kong, Pong or chow, can not change his request.

If the most recent discard is requested after the next player has already taken a chip but this is done within three seconds after the discard, the chip taken is put back into the wall.

3.3.2 Exposed Kong

Requesting the last discarded chip to form an exposed kong is done by saying kong or kan clearly, placing the chip face up along with the three matching hand chips. After revealing a new kan dora, the player takes a replacement tile from the dead wall and continues his turn as if he had taken a tile from the wall.

The dead wall always has 14 tokens, so after a kong the dead wall is replenished with the last tile of the wall.

3.3.3 Exposed Pong

Requesting the last discarded chip to form a Pong is done by saying Pong clearly, placing the chip face up along with the two matching hand chips.

3.3.4 Exposed Chow

A token to form a chow can only be requested by the player on the right. Claiming the last discarded chip to form a chow is done by saying chow or chi clearly, placing the chip face-up together with the two tokens that complete the pack.

3.3.5 Showing the packs

The chips in the exposed packs can not be reused to form other packs and can not be discarded. After claiming a token, the chips that make up the hand are exposed immediately. Discarding is permitted before the claimed chip is taken. If the claimed chip is not taken within the turns of the next two opponents, ie before two discards are made, the player has a dead hand.

The exposed packs are placed to the right of the players’ tabs in full view of all players. The claimed chips are rotated to indicate which player made the discard.
A reclaimed kong has a chip torn. A kong that was formed by extending an open Pong has two rotated chips: the chip with which the expansion was made is placed next to the previously rotated chip.

[Image kong]

3.3.6 Exposed third dragon of a Pong and the fourth exposed wind of a Pong

A player who provides the third dragon of an opponent’s Pong / kong or the fourth wind of an opponent’s Pong / kong must pay the total value of the hand in case the Three Great Dragons or the Four Great Winds form With a chip taken directly from the wall (the two remaining opponents do not pay anything).

In case another opponent provides the chip to complete the hand, he will share the pay with the player who provided the third Pong / kong dragon or the fourth Pong / kong wind.

3.3.7 Extending an exposed Pong to form a kong

An exposed Pong can be extended on a kong exposed during a player’s turn after the player has taken a wall chip or a replacement chip, ie not on a turn where a chip was claimed to form a chow or a Pong. The player must say kong or kan clearly, place the fourth chip next to the rotated Pong tab, allow 3 seconds for Mahjong statements to occur and then reveal a kan dora and take a replacement chip. The dead wall is replenished with the last tile of the wall.

3.3.8 Hidden Kong

A hidden kong can be declared during a player’s turn after the player has taken a wall tile or a replacement tile, ie not during a turn where a tile was claimed to form a chow or a Pong. The player must clearly say kong, reveal the four kong cards, then flip the two intermediate cards, reveal a kan dora and take a replacement chip. The dead wall is replenished with the last tile of the wall.

A player still has a hidden hand after declaring a hidden kong, if he does not have open packs.

A hidden kong can not be stolen, except when you can win with Thirteen Orphans.

Note that four identical tokens only make up a kong if the hidden kong is declared.

3.3.9 Fourth kong

If no one wins on discard after the fourth kong, the hand ends in a fruitless draw, except in the case where the same player who has the four kongs, in which case the game continues, but no more kongs can be declared

3.3.10 Mahjong with a discard (rum)

A player who can form a valid mahjong hand with at least one yaku with the last discard, can win by saying rum or mahjong clearly, unless it is furiten.

3.3.11 Mahjong with a tile taken from the wall (tsumo)

A player who can form a valid mahjong hand with at least one yaku with a token taken from the wall can win by saying tsumo or mahjong clearly. The player must keep the winning chip separate from the rest of the hand, so that it is clear to all players what the winning chip was. A player who is furiten can win on a chip taken from the wall.

3.3.12 Riichi

A player with hidden hand on hold can declare riichi saying riichi clearly, rotating aside the discarded chip and paying 1000 points to the table placing a stick next to the discards. If an opponent claims the chip rotated to win, the riichi statement is invalid. If an opponent claims the chip rotated to form an exposed pack, he rotates his next chip discarded.

A player can not declare riichi if there are less than four tiles on the wall.

The 1000 points return to the player who declared riichi if he wins. If another is the winner of the current hand, this charges the 1000 points and in case of a game tied the bet riichi remains on the table to be claimed by the next player to win a hand.

A player who declares riichi can no longer change his hand. However, it can declare a hidden kong if the chip taken matches a hidden Pong, if this does not change the expected move and if the three tokens that can be put together to form a kong can only be interpreted as a Pong in the original riichi hand . (In case of three consecutive Pongs with the same suit, it can not be declared kong, since the tokens can be interpreted as three identical chows).

It is acceptable for a player who is furiten to declare riichi. A player who after declaring riichi, chooses not to win on a discard that completes his hand, becomes furiten.

A player who is furiten can still win with a chip taken from the wall.

Riichi is a yaku. A player who wins in the first round after the riichi statement (including the player’s next robbery) may claim an additional yaku for an ippatsu. The ippatsu opportunity is lost if the turn is broken by a claim to form a kong, Pong or chow, including hidden kongs.

A player who wins after the riichi statement reveals the chips under the gauge indicator and any kan dora gauge. These cards indicate a dora which can only be claimed by players who have declared riichi.

3.4 End of a hand

A hand can end in three ways: by an exhaustive draw (no one declares winner after discard after the last chip), by an unsuccessful draw or because one or more players declare winners.

3.4.1 Last record

The last tile in the wall can only be claimed to win, not to form a kong, Pong or chow. In the event that a kong is declared on the penultimate card, the replacement card becomes the last card.

3.4.2 Exhaustive packaging

A close tie occurs if no one declares a win after the discard after the last chip. The 14 tokens of the dead wall are not used. After an exhaustive tie the players who do not have tenpai hand, they pay a fine to the tenpai players. The total penalty is 3000 points. That is, if three players are tenpai, the notenpai player pays 1000 to each of them, whereas if a single player is tenpai he receives 1000 points for each of the notenpai players. A player is not considered tenpai if he is only waiting for a chip of which he already has 4. A player is still considered tenpai if all his waiting chips are visible between the discards and declared blocks. Players who have declared riichi are required to show their tenpai hands in case a comprehensive draw occurs.

3.4.3 Unfruitful draw

After an unsuccessful draw, notenpai penalties are paid and players who have declared riichi are not required to show their tenpai hands, with the exception of four riichi statements. After an unsuccessful tie, a counter is placed on the table on the right hand side of the East.

An unsuccessful tie can occur in four ways:
• A player who has at least nine different terminals and honors in his first hand on the first round may declare an unfruitful tie.
• No one wins after discarding after the fourth kong and the four kongs do not belong to the same player.
• All players discard the same wind on the first round of discard.
• All players have declared riichi and no one declares the triumph in the discard of the four players. All players are required to show their tenpai hands.

3.4.4 Handling riichi bets after tied games

In case of a tied game (be it exhaustive or unsuccessful), any riichi bet remains on the table and may be claimed by the next player to win a hand. In case more than one player wins at the same time, the riichi bets are for the closest winner to the right of the one who made the throw.

3.4.5 Furiten

If a tenpai player can form a mahjong hand using one of his previous discards, he is furiten and is not allowed to declare a Mahjong on a discard.
A player who is furiten may choose to change his hand to avoid being furiten (except if he has declared riichi).

A player who is furiten, can still win on a stolen wall chip.

A player who does not declare Mahjong in a discard that completes a mahjong hand, is temporarily furiten even if the last chip does not give him a yaku and can not declare a win on a discard in the current round. If the return is interrupted by a request for kong, Pong or chow, the player ceases to be the temporary furiten. The temporary furit condition always ends when the player takes a chip, ie no player can still be considered furiten in a chip taken from the wall.

Furiten – Example 1

If a waiting player can form a mahjong hand using one of their previous discards, this is furiten and is not allowed to declare a win at a discard, even if the hand completed with the previous discard did not have a yaku.
Consider a player with the following hand:

The player has a three-sided wait for 3-6-9. The player is furiten if any of the three expected chips are among his discards.

Furiten – example 2

Consider a player with the following hand:

The player is waiting for bamboos 1 and 4. A discarded bamboo 7 does not return furiten. Only if one of the expected chips (bamboo 1 or 4) is among the discards is the player furiten.

Furiten – example 3

Consider a player with the following hand:

The player is waiting for three different tiles: circles 4 and 7 and a white dragon. If the player discarded one of these tokens, it would be furiten.

3.4.6 Chombo

Serious fouls are punished by the chombo, after which the current hand is played again. If a triumph is declared at the same time that a chombo occurs, the chombo is annulled.

The penalty chombo has the same level as a payment mangan: 4000 for the East, 2000 for the other players. If the player who commits the foul is the East, 4000 are paid to each of the other players.

The following faults are subject to the penalty:
• Invalid declaration of triumph.
• Statement of riichi in a hand that is not on hold (determined only in case of a tied game).
• Make an occult kong invalid after having declared riichi (determined exclusively if the committing the foul wins or in the case of a tied game).
• Display more than five wall tiles, the hands of the player or opponents.
• Claim a token after the hand was declared dead hand.

After a chombo the bets riichi are returned to the players who declared riichi and it returns to play the game. No counter is placed and the player who starts the game is not rotated.

3.4.7 Dead Hand

Some irregularities are not punished with the chombo resulting in a dead hand. A player who has a dead hand can not declare a win, kong, pong or chow, and can never be considered tenpai.

The following irregularities result in a dead hand:
• More or less than 13 tokens in the hand.
• Expose chips from an opponent’s hand or dead wall.
• Make an invalid kong, pong or chow.

3.4.8 Minor irregularities

If he teaches more than 5 tokens of the wall he is applied to him. (Although this rule is very strict and is not usually applied if it is not repeated regularly).

3.4.9 When a victory is declared

When a hand ends with one or more players declaring a win, the hand (s) are qualified. Only winners receive payment. If there is more than one possibility, the winner is free to determine how the winning chip ends the hand.

A player who wins on a chip taken from the wall receives payment from the three opponents. A player whose discarding as a result of one or more victory statements pays the total value of each hand to the winner.

The East receives more points for a win; However, it also pays more in the event of an opponent’s triumph in a chip taken from the wall.
When the East wins the hand (regardless of whether more players win or not), a counter is placed on the table to the right of the East.

3.4.10 Counters

A counter is placed to the right hand of the East after a hand where the East declares a triumph and after an exhaustive tie.

Each counter on the table increases the value of a winning hand by 300 points. In case of a win in a chip taken from the wall the payment is shared, therefore, each opponent pays 100 points for each counter of the winner, in addition to the standard payment for the hand.

All counters are removed after a hand where another player other than East declares a win and the East does not.

3.4.11 Five Counters

In case there are five or more counters on the table, a minimum of two yaku will be required to declare a win.

3.4.12 Rotation of the player who starts the game

After the end of a hand, it is determined if the East is still East or if the privilege proceeds to the next player.

The East is still East if it declares mahjong or is tenpai. Otherwise, the starting player is rotated and the player who was South now becomes East, the West becomes South, the North becomes West and the East becomes North.

3.5 Continuation of the game

When the rotation of the starting player is resolved, the chips are placed face down and a new hand begins.

When the player who started the game like the East becomes East again, after all opponents have had at least one hand like East, the South round begins.

When the player who started the game like Este, turns Este again, after all opponents have had at least one hand like Este in the south round, the game ends.

3.6 End of the game

When the south round ends, the game also ends, the winner is the player with the most points. No matter how many individual hands were won, the total sum of points determines the winner. Ties can occur. Any bets riichi that remain on the table are charged by the winner.

3.6.1 Bonus for the winner

At the end of the game an extra bonus / penalty (one) is applied to the score. The two best placed players receive a bonus from the two players with the lowest positions in the game, according to this scheme: the Winner receives 9,000 points, the second place receives 3,000 points, the third place is penalized with -3,000 Points and the last place is penalized with -9,000 points.

If there is a tie, the points for the relevant places are divided among the tied players. That is, if two players are tied in the first position, each gets a bonus of 6,000 points.

Note: In the case of a finished game due to the expiration of the game time, the Uma bonus does not apply to the score.

About admin

Check Also

mahjong and bridge

mahjong and bridge The Chinese people’s play is “playing mahjong”, Westerners play cards. I will play …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *