How to Play Japanese Three-Player Mahjong
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Introduction

Preliminaries

The Winds & "the Oya"

Bonus Tiles

Playing the Game

Building a Hand - The Basics

Building a Hand with Special Combinations

How to Complete a Hand

Interrupting Play with Pon and Kan

Special Cases

Mistakes

Points and Payments

Yaku Table

Other Stuff

News

Acknowledgements



Mahjong in Japan

Books on Mahjong

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Eri
Eri
Mahjong Queen

(Posing with David after an evening of mahjong.)


In Fond Memory of
Click here to go to Allan Jenkins' Memorial Site
Allan Jenkins, 1966-2002;
Mahjong Player, 1999-2002





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3PMJ Acknowledgements



Mahjong Sensei 1990-1991, 1992-1997, 1999-today

First and foremost, my thanks must go to Noda Yoji and Yoshimoto Satoru, two remarkable men of intelligence, humour and patience.

As well as being an accomplished 3-player Mahjong player Noda-san is an innovative engineer in the field of vacuum technology, a fanatical golfer, a competent player of Japanese igo (or "go" as we call it in the west) and a successful poker player. To view his website go to Toyo Koatsu Co. Ltd.

Satoru-san is a herbal medicine pharmacist who offers a wide range of services including a herbal dispensary, acupuncture, moxibustion and therapeutic massage. Yoshimoto-san also has a phenomenal knowledge of the flora of the Hiroshima and Ehime regions of Japan, and during the mid nineties I suppose that he must have photographed every species of wild flower in the region. He can be visited online at http://www.hicat.ne.jp/home/yakuoudo.

It was during my first year at Lang Education Centre, Hiroshima, Japan, 1990-1991, that Noda-san and Satoru-san spent many an evening teaching me how to play. Their patience and good humour covered the many lacunae of mutual incomprehension.


Fellow Players, 1990-1991

I was not the only teacher at Lang Education Centre who started playing three-player mahjong. Gill, Andrew Manasseh, John Cargill and Kathy were also regular players and Merin Waite put in an occasional appearance.


Fellow Players 1992-1997

During this period several of the staff and students of Lang Education Centre, Hiroshima would head for a nearby mahjong parlour after Friday evening classes had finished.

As well as Noda-san, our circle included a new generation of Gaijin players:

Guy Perrin, Joe Voelker, Don Fowler.

Japanese players included the ever-present Noda-san, the quiet, gentle, self-effacing mathematics teacher Teruo-san, a.k.a. "Tearaway", and Osamu-san the gigantic trader of burdock, also noted for his lovely young wife and his perpetually cheerful countenance.

Yoshimoto-san had left Lang by this time but continued to join our Mahjong sessions from time to time.


Akadenwa 赤電話

Our regular parlour was a run-down affair managed by a friendly woman and her outrageously obese daughter. When the parlour went bankrupt in 1995 or 1996 we switched to the cleaner, brighter establishment across the road - Akadenwa.

Akadenwa was a small parlour consisting of just five tables. Until January 2002 it was run by an ebulliant Mama-san who also performed the roles of chef (serving up a generous array of free snacks), raconteur (largely of smut or incomprehensible anecdotes), coach (doling out often unwarranted advice on what tiles to play), and formidable mahjong player. Sadly, in January 2002 Mama-san returned to her home town in Ehime, Shikoku.

It was during the mid 1990s that I decided that I ought to write down the rules, or at least the yaku of the 3-player game. I began to take a few notes each time something "new" occurred, which was most weeks, but for the most part I relied on Noda-san to do the scoring and check the yaku for us.


Fellow Players 1999-2003

When I returned for yet another innings at Lang Education Centre, Hiroshima, most of the old circle had moved on to "better" things. So I asked Allan Jenkins if he would join Noda-san and me in re-establishing the Friday night ritual of mahjong at Akadenwa.

Right up until the night of his fatal motorcycle accident, 4th February 2002, Allan Jenkins was a dedicated games-player. I met him in August 1990 at Lang Education Centre, where he taught English for several years. He eventually had to leave Lang and so he worked as a private English instructor while convincing the authorities that he was a full-time student of the Japanese game of igo and therefore qualified for a "cultural visa"...

In the autumn of 1999 Allan introduced another player to our circle, a J.E.T. teacher called Jezz who lived on the island of Etajima during the week, but who used to come over to Hiroshima for weekends of bliss with his hostess-bar girlfriend (excepting the hours spent in the mahjong parlour). Jezz returned to England in 2000.

Nevertheless, our circle expanded, augmented by another new generation of Lang Education Centre teachers; Tim Buthod, Jaime Selwood (until September 2001) and Ray Bolger. Former Lang teacher and Kanji-cruncher, Neil Gregory also started playing, but has since moved on to Kanazawa, or somewhere.

Our Tim, Regular Beer Drinker, Occasional Mahjong Player

Tim, Summer 2001

In 2001 Allan also introduced some Japanese players to our circle, one of whom, Yasu, is now a regular at our Friday evening session.

Jezz returned to Hiroshima in June 2002, stayed for six months and was again a regular (and regularly successful) member of our circle. His other interest is Sumo, and he runs an online Sumo game at benchsumo.net.

In April 2003 Jaime returned to Hiroshima. His famous black mahjong set is following by surface mail...

Fellow Players 2004-Today

In 2004 Akadenwa closed down and so we shifted to Kodama jansou just around the corner and down the street.

Three players joined our circle during this period. Richard Noone, Eri, and Kenyon. Richard left Japan after an eventful couple of years working as a teacher in Hiroshima. Kenyon is our most recent gaijin regular and has made sufficient progress in the game to be dubbed The Human Computer. Eri was the first Japanese woman to join our circle for a while.

One of Kenyon's aquaintances, Hide-san joined our games in 2006. He introduced his younger brother, Kiyo as well as his missus, Yuri, and her father, Enami-san.


Gallery

Current Players
Noda Playing Three Player Mahjong
Noda

David & protégé
David and protégé

Jaime Playing Three Player Mahjong
Jaime

Ray Eating Pot Noodles While Playing Three Player Mahjong
Ray

Kenyon Playing Three Player Mahong
Kenyon

Hide Playing Three Player Mahong
Hidé

Occasional Players
Neil Playing Three Player Mahjong
Neil
Retired Players
Master Playing Three Player Mahjong
Akadenwa Master

Yasu Playing Three Player Mahjong
Yasu

Tetsuya Playing Three Player Mahjong
Tetsuya







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Page last modified: 10th September 2011