Mahjong Appendix

(courtesy of William Pau, Hong Kong)

Special Benefits for Playing Mahjong - Addressing Senile Dementia

If old people become senile, they become confused, can no longer remember things, and are unable to take care of themselves. People having such a symptom is said to be suffering from senile dementia. It is not uncommon for us to obtain the information from the newspapers that a certain great diplomat or a favorite movie star suddenly had such an illness at old age. Therefore, prevention is better than cure. Why not try our best to avoid such happening when we are getting older?

Recently, I just happened to know that people who habitually like playing mahjong are not so easy to get that kind of an illness than those who never play mahjong at all. On the other hand, old people who never play mahjong are advised to be more careful. Maybe that's the reason why old people in the aged homes are always advised to play mahjong.

The 5-person Mahjong System

I wish to take this opportunity to introduce 5-person mahjong as follows:
The 5-person mahjong system has been in existence for ages, but it is not popular because no one likes to be a standby player (i.e. the 5th player) who only receives 1/8 of what the winner wins. My new system is different from the traditional as the standby is scheduled to be awarded with 25% of what the winner wins, payble by the other 3 losers. Each of the 5 persons has a chance to be a standby player in every 5 rounds. Therefore the system should be very fair.

The rates have been proved to be reasonable and acceptable . The advantages are:

  • 5 persons can play mahjong, not necessarily limited to 4
  • Although the standby player is jobless, he has the keen interest to watch the game as he is sure to have 25% benifits and nothing lost.
  • Each has a chance to be a standby player in turn and he may take the chance to have a rest, thus particularly benificial to the old friends to avoid sitting continuouly for hours.
  • Old people playing this game not only would have communication in human relationship as well as mental exercise.

'East', 'South', 'West', 'North' and 'Red Chung' to represent each round and each partner will play 5 rounds before starting another 5 rounds and so on..

Double "fans" for "Red Chung" Round

In playing 5-person mahjong, each of 4 players (A, B, C & D) at the East Round (1st round) has a double fans for his holding triple "East" but the player destined to be the first fool (F) will not have the chance. Therefore in the 5th Round, we will call it " Red Chung Round" so that the first fool will be given a double fans for his holding triple " Red Chung". In order to show a clear picture of the rotation of players, it is better to list out the postion of 4 players at each round as follows:

  • East Round(1st) :players from left to the right A, B, C, D while F as a fool
  • South Round(2nd) :players from left to the right F, B, C, D while A as a fool
  • West Round(3rd) :players from left to the right F, A, C, D while B as a fool
  • North Round(4th) :players from left to the rightF, A, B, D while C as a fool
  • Red Chung Round(5th) :players from left to the right F, A, B ,C while D as a fool

The above will show each of the 5 players will have equal share to play.

See 5 person Mahjong Score Table

Automatic Computer Mahjong Table

Both in Hong Kong and Chung Shan, China, there is a kind of special mahjong table which is operated by computer. It was said that it was originally invented by the Japanese. I tried twice with my friends. It was very interesting, as the players don't have to mix and place the 4 square castle walls. The machine does everything. There are 2 sets of mahjong. Once the game has started, the other set will mix together underneath the table for about 3 - 5 minutes. When the game finishes, one of the players is required to press a button, a hole opens automatically in the centre of the table. The 4 players should push all mahjong down to the hole. Almost immediately, the 4 square castle walls stand up just in the same way as done by the players. Then the bank can start a fresh game by pressing the dices which are stored in the covered centre hole. The table is still not popular because it costs over HK$10,000.

Mahjong Terminology
(from Mandarian to English)

Arng tiongRed Dragon
BarnChinese characters for "ten thousands" (one of the suits)
Chap sar yeowLimited hand of Thirteen Wonders
Chay whatGreen Dragon
Cheeto take thrown card (tile) from the proceeding player
Chek sek peng hoLimited hand of one-suit sequences
Cheo kongRobbing a kong (fours)
Cher monfgself-drawn card
ChongStarting hand
JeeCharacter cards
Khang tiongCentral-sequence card
Kharmconcealed triplets
Kharm Kharm hoLimit hand of concealed triplets
Khia chongRention of starting hand
Kong Kong hoLimit hand seconddrawn at end wall
Kong siongto win from card drawn from end wall
Kow sian monLimit hand of Nine Saintly Gates
LumSouth Wind
Paicard or tile
ParkMorth Wind
Pek ParngWhite Dragon
Peng hoall sequence game
Pian chianEnding sequence card
PongExposed triplets
Pow arng tiongRed Dragon Penaalty Caution
Pow chayFresh or Green, Card Penalty caution
Pow Chat WhatGreen Dragon Penalty Caution
Pow CheeCharacter Penalty Caution
Pow Kow CheongSame-suit penalty Caution
Pow lumSouth Wind Penalty Caution
Pow ParkNorth Wind Penalty Cautin
Pow Pek ParngWhite Dragon Penalty Caution
Pow SaiWest Wind Penalty Caution
Pow tiongEast Wind Penalty Caution
Pow tua paiBig card Penalty Caution
Pow Yeow KowAces and Nines Penalty Caution
Puak howDraw game
SayWest Wind
Sikew sionginsufficient cards
SokBamboo (one of the suits)
Tai siongExcess cards
Tai sum guanLimit Hand of the Three Dragons
Tan teowcard to complet pair of the "eyes"
Tee hoLimit hand from the first thrown card
ThongMarbles (one of the suit)
Tian hoLimit hand of original 14 cards
TiongEast Wind
Tiow chong"skip fishing"
Tua paiCharacter cards
Yeow kowAces and Nines

Playing Hong Kong Mahjong (15-fans)

General description

The original design of mahjong was for 4 players but certain players find it more excited when it is played by three of them. As playing of mahjong is so common that it is unnecessary to write anything about it except introducing the way Hong Kong People are playing nowadays. As people here like excitement, they always prefer to play more fans creating greater contrast. No matter 8 fans or 15 fans, the system is all the same.

Whole responsibility for the issue of a mahjong tile

Any player issuing a card sufficiently makes another player win has to bear the whole responsibility to pay all the charges which include his own share and that of the other 2 players. Therefore, all former penalties may be ignored except "12 tiles". By 12 tiles, it means that if any player issues a tile to make a player display 12 tiles on the table, he掞l have to bear the whole responsibility for paying all the penalty involved for the player's successful self-drawn tile.

Unlike old days

The Bank (Starting hand) has no advantages at all as in the old days. He is the one to throw the dices to decide which player is to take the first pair of tiles in turn. In case any player wins by a self-drawn tile, all the other 3 players should pay equal share. One additional fan will be added to a self-drawn tile. It is always important for each player to compromise the minimum, the maximum fans and the number of fans for each term before starting to play the game. Normally they would agree the following number of fans:

  • Aces and nines with flowers(3)
  • Door entrance cleared i.e. no card appeared in front of the player (1)
  • Door closed i.e. one more tile added to the exposed triplets after opening a "kong"(1)
  • Pair pair game(4)
  • Pair pair game in different suits(8)
  • Pair pair game in one-suit(13)
  • Aces and nines free i.e. no aces and nines(1)
  • Ping ho i.e. same sequence game(1)
  • Robbing a kong (fours)(Cheo kong) i.e. win the tile used to open a kong from another player(1)
  • Self-drawn tile(Cher mong)(1)
  • One-suit in the same sequence i.e. Chek sek ping ho(10)
  • One-suit but without the same sequence i.e. Chek sek kwai ho(9)
  • Character triplets with fan( 1 )
  • Character triplets with double fans(2)
  • Characters triplets without fan (0)
  • Kharm kharm ho Win from all concealed triplets(13)
  • Kong siong win from a tile drawn from the end wall(1)
  • Kong kong ho - to win from second drawn immediately after the first drawn from the end wall (15)
  • Complete Aces and nines (15)
  • Thirteen Wonders i.e. Chap sar yeow (13)
  • Tai sum quan or Major Three Dragons : Red Dragon or arng tiong, Green Dragon or What Chay 發財 and White Dragon or Pek Parng(8)
  • Sai sum quan or Minor three Dragons, i.e. (6)
  • Tian ho Win from original 14 tiles(15)
  • Tee ho Win from first thrown tile(15)
  • Major 4 joys (East or tung, South or Lum南, West or Say & North or Park北Winds(15)
  • Minor 4 Joys (East, South, West & North winds)(15)

The following are only known to the old & specialist but seldom occurred in practical playing:

  • Kow sian mon or Nine Saintly Gate (exceeding 15)
  • Eighteen Angels (exceeding 15)
  • A red dot in the midst of the ten thousand green bushes( the highest grading, certainly exceeding 15)

Distribution of initial chips

To start with, each player will be distributed with 100 sets of chips, and each set covers 100 units making a total of 10,000 units.

9 purple chips at 10 set each:90 sets (9000 units)
9 red chips at 1 set each:9 sets (900 units)
9 yellow chips10 units each:90 units
10 white chips at 1 unit each:10 units

Total : 100 sets (10,000 units)

If the 4 players agree to regard $0.3 for each unit, the total chips as a start for each player: $0.30 x 10,000 = $3,000.

The maximum fan to be compromised before playing

The calculation of 15-fan mahjong (see note 2) is quite standard and systematic depending on how many fans one wins. If we are going to play 15 fans, it means the maximum no of fans one wins is 15 regardless of the winning tiles turns to be 16 fans or more. No one would play for endless fans as it would involve a very large figure after multiple calculations. Hereunder is a list of calculations for 15-fan winners:

Fan Self-Drawn Issued
4 32(64)

© 2019, Kevin & Connie Lacobie Some graphics by: