Riichi is the Japanese version of the ancient Chinese tile game Mahjong. A normal game is played by 4 players representing one wind each: East, South, West or North, depending on the seating. The tiles used in the game are 136 pieces and there are 4 of each.
The game starts with all players shuffling the tiles face down and stacking them up in four walls. Dice are thrown and each player receives 13 tiles. The players take turns drawing and discarding tiles counterclockwise. The goal of the game is to arrange the tiles into 4 sets and a pair. Example:
During the game players can also take other players’ discard tiles by making calls to complete a set:
“Chii” is called to make a sequence. The “Chii” call can only be used for discards from the player to the left.
“Pon” is called to make a triplet. The “Pon” call can be used for discards by any player.
“Kan” is called to make a four of a kind. The “Kan” call can be used for discards by any player. This call is also used when a player has four of the same tiles in their hand and wishes to declare it as a Kan. Another alternative is to have a previous Pon and draw the fourth tile allowing the set to upgrade to a Kan. When a Kan is made a tile is taken from the end of the wall as replacement.
“Ron” is the call when a player only needs one more tile to win and can be made from any player’s discard.
To be able to win, a hand must consist of 14 tiles (excluding Kans). A crucial condition for the player is that the winning hand must contain a Yaku (point). For beginners the easiest combinations to remember are:
• One triplet of player’s own wind or round wind.
• One Triplet of any dragon.
• All simples. None of the sets contain 1, 9, dragon or wind.
• Outside hand. All sets must contain 1,9, dragon or wind.
• All Pons. Four pons/kans and a pair.
• Half flush. One suit only plus dragon and winds.
If the player keeps the hand closed (not making any Chii’s or Pon’s ) there are more possible Yakus:
• Fully concealed hand. Self-draw on a concealed hand.
• Pinfu. Hand consists of only sequences. Pair cannot be player’s own wind, wind of round or dragon. The wait is two sided for a sequence.
• Pure double chii. Hand must contain two identical chii’s in the same suit.
• Riichi. Any waiting hand declared “Riichi” with a 1000 points stake.
• 7 pairs. (special hand) No two identical pairs.
This was a short description of Riichi. Here you can find European Mahjong Association full Rule set for Japanese Mahjong.
It’s a lot of rules and points to be aware of. Have patience and start practicing. The skill will increase in time. See our event calendar for meetups and tournaments.