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Mahjong Rules



Terms in Mahjong

Pong – (or Pung) A group of three identical tiles (actually pong is a verb – action of taking a discard and creating a group of 3 identical tiles, a triplet).

Kong – A group of four identical tiles (again a verb).

To Pong or To Kong or To Chow – is the action of creating a set from a discarded tile.

Chow – A run of three consecutive tiles only in the same suit (eg 3, 4, 5 of bamboo)

Sequence – this is the run of 3 tiles, you would Chow to make a sequence.

Triplet – A set of 3 identical tiles, you would Pong to make a triplet.

Four – A set of 4 identical tiles, you would Kong to make a four.

Pair – A pair of identical tiles, also known as the “Sparrow’s Head”, the “Eyes” or the “Pillow”

Terminals – 1s and/or 9s of each suit

Honour Tiles – Winds and Dragons. Terminals are not honour tiles. [1] refers to Honours as only Dragons.

Major Tiles – Terminals and Honour Tiles

Minor Tiles – not the Major tiles, Simple Tiles.

Dead Tiles – Tiles unclaimed when discarded that may not return to the game

Fishing or Calling – When a player is waiting for one tile to complete his hand.

Bouquet – Complete set of 4 season or Flower tiles 1-4.

Loose Tile - After making an Exposed Kong or drawing a Season or Flower tile the tile taken from the Kong box is one of the two loose tiles on top of the Kong box.

Cleared Suit – When the suit tiles of a hand are all of the same suit

“Robbing the Kong” – (Snatching the Kong”) When a player with an exposed Pong draws the fourth matching tile from the wall and elects to add it to his Pong to form a Kong. A player needing this for Mahjong may claim it, thereby “robbing the Kong” (bonus points!)

Melded set – a formed and exposed set.

Standing Hand - If any player is "Calling" after he has drawn and discarded for the first time in that hand, he may declare a "Standing Hand". East Wind may also do so if he is "Calling" after his first discard. A player who has declared a Standing Hand must not change any piece in his hand, but must go on discarding the piece he draws until he draws or takes in the usual way the piece that he wants for Mah-Jongg.

“Goulash” - replacing the 2 Bamboos with wild cards. During a Goulash, no Chows are permitted and no Knitting hands are allowed.

Only Possible Tile - If, owing to the fact that certain pieces are exposed in some way on the table, there is only one piece which will complete a player's hand for Mah-Jongg, and he gets that piece, a bonus of 2 is added to the score. For instance, if he wants a 3 Bamboo to complete his hand, and another player already has an expose Pong of 3 Bamboos, then he would be entitled to the bonus. Again, if the piece he wants is the middle piece of a Chow then that would be the only possible piece. [4].

One Chance means the match of a pair, the middle of a sequence, the 3 of 1-2-3 or the 7 of 7-8-9 [7]

Play with the roof off – This is playing without setting a limit.

Eyes – “Eyes of the sparrow” are the pair set.

Limit – A non-winning player with a limit hand claims the limit from the other two losers without their first deducting their scores. He pays the winner in the usual way.

Colours – westerners call Dragons. They are red, green, and white, bearing the characters chung, fat, and bo (or often none at all in the last case), respectively.

Dead Wall - The last fourteen tiles in the Wall, separated from the rest of the wall. These may not be drawn normally. See also Loose Tile, Dead Hand.

Kraks (Cracks) – meaning Ten Thousands – westerners call Characters.

Concealed Set - is composed of tiles drawn from the wall, and held in
the unexposed portion of a player's hand.
Grounded Set - (melded) is one completed by claiming a discard, and placed face
up on the table.


Pong - "Three of a kind" of the same suit, such as:

intro-pung.gif - 2kb

Chow - "A Sequence of three" in the same suit, such as:

intro-chow.gif - 2kb

Exposed Kong

Concealed Kong

The first player to collect the tiles necessary to make a complete hand is the winner. This for instance, is a Mahjong hand:

intro-chow.gif - 2kbintro-pung.gif - 2kbstd-mj-north.gif - 1kbstd-mj-north.gif - 1kbstd-mj-north.gif - 1kbstd-mj-bam.gif - 1kbstd-mj-bam.gif - 1kbstd-mj-bam.gif - 1kbstd-mj-chr.gif - 1kbstd-mj-chr.gif - 1kb

Bonus Tiles

The Flowers/Seasons are “owned” as follows: East - 1, South - 2, West - 3, North - 4.




Corresponding Wind

















Circles (Pin, “tung”), Bamboo (Sow, “tiao”), Characters (ten thousand, Wan, “wan”)

The Winds

East (Ton) North (Pei) West (Sya) South (Nan)

The Dragons

Red (Chun, “ Cheung”) Green (Hatsu) White (Haku)

On more traditional sets (fig 5.), the red has the Chinese character (in red) for Cheung - meaning centre of the four directions. Some sets will have a "C" on the red dragon character tile.

Similarly, in traditional sets, the green dragon is not really a dragon, but a green imprinted Chinese character, Fa (or Fa Choy), meaning "commence" or "begin good luck." The green dragon will often have an "F" appearing on the tile.

The white dragon (also known as white board, soap, bak board, or pak board) may have a rectangle on the tile. In some sets, a "P" or "B" appears as well.

Special Tiles

Man Pot of Gold Cat Mouse        Fisherman Fish Cock Worm
Fig. 13. The Special Tiles

     There are additional special tiles that may be included in some sets, these can be the Man and the Bag/Pot of Gold, the Cat and the Mouse, or, the Fisherman, the Fish, the Cock or Rooster, and the Worm (see fig. 13). If a set includes these tiles they will normally only include one set or the other.

     These special tiles are used in lieu of one set of Seasons or Flowers. During the play of the game these tiles are treated just like Seasons with the normal exposing of the tile and replacement with a loose tile, but with the following exceptions. If a player exposes the Fish tile prior to the Fisherman being exposed, then any player holding the Fisherman in their hand has the right to claim the Fish tile for their own and includes both tiles as exposed tiles within their hand. This also holds true for the Mouse and Cat tiles, the Bag/Pot of Gold and Man tiles, the Worm and Cock/Rooster tiles. One catch to this is that if any player goes Mahjong while one of these tiles are being held in your hand and not been exposed, then your hand is counted as scoreless. You then pay and receive points as if your hand is worth 0 points regardless of what your actual hand is.

The Special tiles score as follows:

Each Special tile scores............................. 4 points

A Matched pair of Special tiles........ Double the total score

Both pairs of Special tiles...... Double the total score twice

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