Riichi Tutorial


The seating in Riichi and Mahjong in general is important. Much like poker its used to determine the order of dealers (east). The seats are determined at the beginning of the game in the following manner:

  1. A single tile of each wind (kazehai) is placed face down on the table.
  2. The tiles are shuffled and each player picks one of the tiles.
  3. The player who drew the east wind (ton) picks a seat.
  4. The other players sit down according to their tiles.

Shuffling the Tiles and Building the (haiyama, 牌山)

The next step is to put all the tiles on the table face down and shuffle. The shuffling is called
Shihai (洗牌). Once shuffled, each player builds a wall (牌山 haiyama) in front of themselves. A wall (haiyama) is 2 tiles high and 17 tiles long with the tiles face down.

Determining the Dealer (Oya, 親)

Now its time to determine who the dealer (親 oya). To determine the dealer the player currently sitting east takes 2 dice and rolls them. The roller starts counting counter-clockwise, with himself as number 1 up to the sum of two dices thrown. The player on indicated takes the dice and repeats the procedure. This time the indicated player is the
dealer and the current east.

[TODO illustrate]

If you want to do this without counting divide the sum by 4. If the remainder is:

Remainder Player Indicated
0 Player left to the roller
1 The roller
2 Player right to the roller
3 Player across the roller

The dealers in a game are named after the winds with the first is called the chicha (起家), the second, the nancha (南家), the third dealer shacha (西家), and the fourth oya peicha (北家).

The Game

A complete game of Riichi Mahjong is called a hanchan (半荘). Prior to starting a game the player decide how many rounds are to be played. A single round is made up of 4 hands (kyoku, 局). The dealer is rotated when kyoku ends.

When playing Riichi each round is named after a wind. The first round which is the the east round is called tonba (東場), the second round is the south round naba (南場), the third round is the west round shaba (西場 shaba) and the fourth the north north is called peiba (北場). To denote the a specific kyoku (局) in a certain round the prevailing wind of the round is written + the kyoku number. For example to denote the 2nd kyoku (局) in naba 南2局 is used.

[updated 2010-05-31]

[updated 2010-05-29]


Pons and kongs of two winds are considerably more valuable. The first is your seat wind, which is relative to the dealer (Oya). The dealer (oya) is always considered to be have the east (ton) seat wind, so if you are sitting to her left you are south; across the table from him, you are west (sha); to her right and you are north; and of course if you are the oya you are east. The other important wind you should keep in mind is that of the the current round. You should know whether or not it is currently the east cycle (tonba) or south cycle (nanba). The reason you should keep these two winds in mind is that they are more valuable when calculating the score.
[update 2010-07-03]

Dealing The Tiles

Breaking the wall (taking the first tiles from the wall) and dealing the tiles in Riichi Mahjong is called haibai(配牌). Haibai(配牌) starts by the dealer (Oya, 親) throwing two dices. The Oya will then count from the right edge of his wall to the sum thrown. The oya will then take the two tiles indicated plus an additional two tiles to the left of the opening (makes four tiles total). Going counter clockwise the remaining players sitting south, west and north respectively take four tiles each, until all the players have 12 tiles. The dealer (oya), starting with himself, will then deal out 1 tile to each player until all the player have 13 tiles each. At this point the oya will take an additional tile making the number of tiles in his hand 14.
[updated 2010-06-11]

The Kings Tiles (Wanpai, 王牌)

The 7 stacks to the right of the initial dealer split make up a special wall (haiyama) called wanpai “the king’s tiles” (王牌) or the deal wall (in the western world). These 14 tiles can be left where they are in the wall (haiyama), or separated and placed in the middle of the table.

The Wanpai is used for provide tiles for the initial dora indicator and for other optional dora indicators that are to be explained later.

The dora indicator is the 3rd tiles from the left of the Wanpai and is fliped around and left open for the rest of the round.

The 2 stacks to the left of the dora indicator are the Rinshanhai (summit tiles, 嶺上牌) and are used for kan-doras.

[updated 2010-06-15]

The Dora

The dora is indicated by the tile that was turned over in the wanpai.
If the dora indicator is a suite tile the dora is the next higher tile in the same suite. In case the dora indicator is a 9 of whatever suite the Dora is the tile 1 of the same suite. For example if the dora indicator is 5 bamboo the Dora is the 6 of Bamboo. In case the Dora Indicator is the 9 of dots, the Dora is the 1 of Dots.

In the case of the winds (kazehai, 風牌), the sequence is 東南西北 (east, south, west, north). Similarly if the Dora indicator is North (Pei, 北) the Dora is East (Ton, 東). Please note that this sequence of directions does not follow the sequence in which directions are represented on a compass.

In the the case of the Dragons (sangenpai, 三元牌), the sequence is 白發中 (white, green, red).

When you have completed your hand, there are dora in the hand, you receive a higher score. Each dora tile included is worth 1 han (翻). Han will be explained later in these rules. Han gained via dora do not fulfill the 1 han minimum rule.

Additional Dora

In some games, optionally, extra doras can be used.

ura-dora (裏ドラ)

The ura-dora (裏ドラ) is indicated by the tile under the dora-indicator. It is opened when the game ends.

Kan-dora (槓ドラ)

Kan-dora (槓ドラ) indicated by the tiles to the right dora-indicator is turned over when a kan is declared. One Kan-dora(槓ドラ) indocator is turned used for every kan declared.

Kan-ura-dora (槓裏ドラ)

Kan-ura-dora (槓裏ドラ) indicated by the tiles underneath the kan-dora indicators and are turned over at the end of the game.

Using dora tiles are every typical of Japanese Riichi. Although optional they are commonly used and add an extra dimension to the gambling aspects of the game. Dora and extra dora tiles function much like the the red fives (akapai, 赤牌) and are worth one han each.

[updated 2010-05-29]


In a round of Mahjong players play in turn in a counter-clockwise fashion, starting with the
dealer (Oya, 親). Players draw one tile from the wall (牌山 haiyama) and add
it to their hand. The drawing of a tile is called Tsumo. The player will then select one tile from his hand and discard it. The discarded tile is placed in front of the player with its face up. In Japanese mahjong it is of great importance to be able to see directly, during and at the end of the game, which tiles were discarded by which player.
So each players discards must be kept separate from the other players. Next player is not allowed to act until the previous player has discarded his tile.

Players begin and ends their turn with 13 tiles, unless the player goes out (wins the game) in which case the player has 14 tiles. The dealer (Oya, 親) begins the game with 14 tiles, and the other players, known as ko (子), with 13.
[update 2010-06-27]

A Completed Hand

With a few exceptions of yakus (役 “special hands”), All Yakus involve completing 4 sets
(面子 mentsu) and a pair (雀頭 jantou). Sets (mentsu) are combinations of three or four
tiles, and the pair (jantou), is a pair of identical tiles:

Green Dragon (Hatsu)Green Dragon (Hatsu)

There are three kinds of Mentsu (sets of three or four tiles): Pon (刻子 kotsu), Kan (槓子 kantsu) and Chi (順子 shuntsu).

Pon (kotsu) can be made from any of the tiles and (kotsu) is a set of three identical
tiles. Here are a few examples :

Green DragonGreen DragonGreen Dragon or

Bamboo 8Bamboo 8Bamboo 8

Kan (kantsu) is similar to Pon (kotsu), except that it contains four
identical tiles. Unlike the other Mentsus, if you form a Kan (kantsu) you must declare it by placing it face up to on the table:

Tile BackEast TileEast TileTile Back

The reason for the forced declaration is that when a Kan is formed there are no longer enough tiles in your hand to complete the other sets.
[TODO : Illistrate with an example]

For this reason you must draw a tile (rinshan hai, 嶺上牌) from the wanpai (the wall) and add it to your hand.

A Chi (shuntsu) is a run of 3 numbered (kazuhai) of the same suit in numerical order,
such as:

character_4character_5character_6 or


A Chi (shuntsu) can not be formed from the winds(kazehai) or the Dragons (sangenpai, 三元牌).

You can go out and win the game when you have completed the 4 sets (mentsu) and the pair(jantou), with some predefined patterns. These patterns will be discussed later.

Here are a few examples of complete hands.

An example of a completed hand:

circle 9 tilecircle 9 tilebamboo 1 tilebamboo 1 tilebamboo 7 tilebamboo 8 tileWhite Dragon TileWhite Dragon TileCharacter 2 TileCharacter 2 Tile

[Date : 2010-05-28]


During a game a set (mentsu) may be formed by either a self drawn tile (from the wall), or by claiming a tile that has been discarded by another player. This is called naki (鳴き).
There are three types of of naki(鳴き) in Riichi: Pon, Kan, and Chi.

Pon and Kan

Not surprising that Pon is when a player discards a tile that could complete a pon (kotsu). The player claiming the tile must announce “pon”, open the other two tiles, and place the pon (kotsu) face up to the side of his hand.
The claiming player must then discard one tile.

Similarly Kan is when a player discards a tile that could complete another players kan (kantsu). The claiming player must announce “kan”, open the three other tiles, and place the kan (kantsu) on the table to the side of his hand. The player must now take a tile from the wanpai (the wall) and then discard a tile.

In the case of pon and kan, once the claiming player discards her tile the game continues to next player the right. Thus some of the players might loose their turn.

Pon (kotsu) and kan (kantsu) formed with a claimed tiles are called open pon (minko, 明刻) and open kan (minkan, 明槓). Pon (kotsu) and kan (kantsu) that are created via self drawn tiles are called concealed pon (anko, 暗刻) and concealed kan (ankan, 暗槓).


Chi is used when a player claims a tile from the discard of the player to the left to form a chi (shuntsu). The claiming player should announce ‘chi’, open the 2 other tiles in that complete the chi (shuntsu), and place the Chi to the left of his hand. The claiming player should thenm discard a tile. It is important to note that unlike pon and kan, a chi can
only be claimed from the player to your left, unless the chii completes your hand.

In some situations several players may claim the same tile at once, in those cases the player who completes his hand with the discard will be rewarded the tile, if none then the player forming a pon or kan will be rewarded the tile. If all are claiming the tile for a chii then the player sitting nearest to the right of the discarding player will be
rewarded the tile.

Placement of the Discarded tile

When a tile is claimed it must be placed in such way to indicate from whom the tile was claimed. The way to do this is to turn the left tile horizontally, if the tile was claimed from the player to the left, the right tile horizontally if the tile was claimed from the palyer to your right, and the middle tiles horizontally if the tile was claimed from the
player sitting across the table.

[Updated 2010-05-28]


When you are a single tile away from a complete hand, you are tenpai (聴牌). Here is an example of a ready hand:


If you are in Riichi then you are tenpai.


If you are in tenpai without claiming any tiles, you may declare riichi(立直).
To declare riichi you place a 1000 points stick on the table, and loose the possibilities of changing your hand. You may no longer claim tiles unless you can declare Ron or keep a tile in your hand unless you can declare Tsumo. If another player wins the round, that other player recieves the 1000 points on the table. If the game ends in ryukyoku (流局)
(no tiles left) or chombo (wrong declare of ron/tsumo), the points remain on the table and will be won by the winner of the next round. Declaring riichi is worth 1 han. You can always see that someone in the game has declared Riichi, in their discards. The tile discarded just before declaring riichi will be placed horozintally on in the discards.


A mahjong hand is rated by number of Han (翻). Ratings are determined by hands Yaku (役) and how it was completed. To go out a hand of at least one Han is needed.
[updated 2010-05-28]

Kuisagari and Menzen

There are two terms to know when looking at the 役 (yaku) hands below.

食い下がり (kuisagari) is a reduction in 翻 (han) that penalizes you for picking up another player’s discarded tiles.
Each 役 (yaku) below specifies whether it is affected by the penalty or not, and if it is how much that penalty is.

門前 (menzen) means that your hand was formed using all self-drawn tiles and you completed it via tsumo. Some 役 (yaku)
require that you have done so in order to gain any 翻 (han) from the 役 (yaku).


Some of the 役 (yaku) listed below have 役満 (yakuman) listed instead of a 翻 (han) value. 役満 (yakuman) are the most
difficult 役 (yaku) to complete and as such, if a player completes one, he receives a set number of points and does not
have to count 翻 (han). This will be explained in depth in the section of these rules covering scoring.

In the 役 (yaku) below, 槓子 (kantsu) can act as 刻子 (kotsu).

The Yaku

1 翻 立直 (riichi) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
You achieve 聴牌 (tenpai). You are allowed to pick up another player’s discard after declaring 立直 (riichi). You are however allowed to declare kan IF it does not break your riichi.
1 翻 一発 (ippatsu) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
You win via tsumo or ron in the first turn after declaring 立直 (riichi).
2 翻 ダブル立直 (double riichi) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
You declare 立直 (riichi) with your opening hand.
1 翻 門前清自摸和 (menzenchintsumohou) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
You win via tsumo.
1 翻 役牌 (yakuhai) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
Your hand contains a 刻子 (kotsu) of either 三元牌 (sangenpai) or of the 風牌 (kazehai) for either the cycle’s or your seat’s wind
1 翻 嶺上開花 (rinshankaihou) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
You achieve 聴牌 (tenpai), complete a 槓 (kan) and win via tsumo on the 嶺上牌 (rinshanhai) you draw.
1 翻 河底撈月 (oteiraoyui) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
You win via tsumo using the last tile of the 局 (kyoku).
1 翻 平和 (pinfu) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
All of your 面子 (mentsu) are 順子 (shuntsu). Your 雀頭 (jantou) cannot be a 字牌 (jihai), and your hand must be 両面待ち (ryanmenmachi) when you 聴牌 (tenpai).

1 翻 断ヤオ九 (tanyaochuu) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
All of your 面子 (mentsu) are made up by 中張牌 (chuchanpai).

1 翻 流し満貫 (nagashimangan) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
All of your discarded tiles are ヤオ九牌 (yaochuhai) and none have been taken by another player.
1 翻 一盃口 (ipeko) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
You hand contains two identical 順子 (shuntsu).

3 翻 二盃口 (ryanpeko) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
Your hand contains two 一盃口 (ipeko).

2 翻 連風牌 (renpupai) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
You are 親 (oya) during 東場 (tonba) and complete a 刻子 (kotsu) of 東 (ton) tiles, or you are 親 (oya) during 南場 (nanba) and complete a 刻子 (kotsu) of 南 (nan) tiles.
2 翻 三色同順 (sanshokudoujun) 食い下がり: 1 門前: no
You form 3 順子 (shuntsu) of the same numerical sequence using 萬子 (manzu), 筒子 (pinzu), and 索子 (sozu).

2 翻 三色同刻 (sanshokudoukou) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
Your hand contains 刻子 (kotsu) of the same number using all 3 suits.

2 翻 一気通貫 (ikkitsukan) 食い下がり: 1 門前: no
You form 順子 (shuntsu) running from 1 to 9 in the same suit.

2 翻 対々和 (toitoihou) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
All of your 面子 (mentsu) are 刻子 (kotsu).

2 翻 混老頭 (honrotou) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
All of your tiles are ヤオ九牌 (yaochuhai), and all of your 面子 (mentsu) are 刻子 (kotsu). This hand doubles as a 対々和 (toitoihou) for a total of 4 翻.

役満 清老頭 (chinroto) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
All of your 面子 (mentsu) are 刻子 (kotsu) and 老頭牌 (rotohai).

2 翻 七対子 (chitoitsu) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
Your hand is 7 対子 (toitsu).

2 翻 全帯ヤオ九 (chantaiyaochu) 食い下がり: 1 門前: no
Your 雀頭 (jantou) and 面子 (mentsu) all contain ヤオ九牌 (yaochuhai).

3 翻 純全帯ヤオ九 (junchantaiyaochu) 食い下がり: 2 門前: no
Your 雀頭 (jantou) and 面子 (mentsu) all contain 老頭牌 (rotohai).

2 翻 三暗刻 (sananko) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
Your hand contains 3 暗刻 (anko).

役満 四暗刻 (suanko) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
Your hand contains 4 暗刻 (anko). You must win via tsumo, unless you only need to complete your 雀頭 (jantou).

2 翻 三槓子 (sankantsu) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
You have 3 槓子 (kantsu).

役満 四槓子 (sukantsu) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
You have 4 槓子 (kantsu) and win by completing your 雀頭 (jantou).

2 翻 小三元 (shousangen) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
You have 刻子 (kotsu) made up of 2 of the 三元牌 (sangenpai), and your 雀牌 (jantou) is made of the remaining set.

役満 大三元 (daisangen) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
You have 刻子 (kotsu) made up of all 3 of the dragons (sangenpai, 三元牌).

3 翻 混一色 (honiso) 食い下がり: 2 門前: no
All of your 面子 (mentsu) consist of either 字牌 (jihai) or the same suit of 数牌 (kazuhai).

6 翻 清一色 (chiniso) 食い下がり: 5 門前: no
All of your 面子 (mentsu) consist of the same suit of 数牌 (kazuhai).

役満 九連宝燈 (churenpoto) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
All of your 面子 (mentsu) consist of the same suit of 数牌 (kazuhai), and you have 3 of the 1 and 9 tiles as well as 1 of each tile 2-8.

役満 字一色 (tsuiso) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
All of your 面子 (mentsu) consist of 字牌 (jihai).

役満 緑一色 (ryuiso) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
All of your 面子 (mentsu) consist of green tiles. 發, and 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 索子 (souzu) count as green.

役満 国士無双 (kokushimusou) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
Your hand contains one of each ヤオ九牌 (yaochuhai).

役満 小四喜 (shousushi) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
Your hand contains 刻子 (kotsu) of 3 of the 風牌 (kazehai) and a 雀頭 (jantou) of the 4th .

役満 大四喜 (daisushi) 食い下がり: 0 門前: no
Your hand contains 刻子 (kotsu) of all 4 of the 風牌 (kazehai).

役満 天和 (tenho) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
You are the 親 and win using the 14 tiles you start the round with.
役満 地和 (chiho) 食い下がり: 0 門前: yes
You are a 子 (ko) and win using the 13 tiles you start the round with and the 1st tile you draw.