How to Play Japanese Three-Player Mahjong

More Mahjong Styles




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


Points and Payments

Yaku Table

Other Stuff



Mahjong in Japan

Books on Mahjong

Mahjong Sets & Accessories


Drop me a line


Other Stuff


At the beginning of the game each player places a Yakitori tessera on the table to his right. The tessera has a picture of a skewered sparrow on it. When a player completes a hand he removes the tessera from the table. Any player who has not removed his Yakitori tessera from the table by the end of the game has to pay a fine to the other players in addition to the amount that he has to pay out for losing the game. He has been "skewered" like a barbequed sparrow.


Starting a New Game

The winner of the last hand of the previous game shakes the first die to establish the Oya.

Playing Three-Player Mahjong with Four People

When allocating seats shuffle a North Wind tile, Pei 北, with one each of the other three Wind tiles. Each player takes a tile. The player who picked up the East Wind tile chooses a seat and the other players then sit in the appropriate seats, as explained elsewhere. Whoever picks the North Wind tile sits in the temporary North seat with the temporary East seat on his right and the temporary West seat on his left.

The Oya is chosen by rolling one die twice, as explained in another place. The Oya is allocated the East Wind.

After the Oya has been chosen, the player who is seated to the Oya's left (in the new North seat) does not participate in the game until the Oya and the Winds change. He then enters the new round and is allocated the West Wind. The former Oya (East Player) sits out until the Oya and Winds change again.

Playing Three-Player Mahjong with Five People

When allocating seats shuffle one each of the Wind tiles and one other tile. Whoever picks the odd tile cannot yet be allocated a seat at the table.

The four players at the table choose the Oya and the player allocated the "North" seat sits out of that round.

At the end of the round the departing Oya leaves the table and the player who picked the odd tile moves into the seat he vacated. He is allocated the North Wind, which means that he still cannot participate in the game. He will join the game the next time that the Oya and the Winds change.

Remember, each time the Oya loses his position he also loses his seat!

This means that each player changes his seat several times in the course of a game. Each time the player moves he should make sure he takes his kitty with him.

The "Empty Tray" Limit Rule

Players may agree that if during the course of a game a player runs out of Tenbou sticks then the game is declared to be over and the scores are calculated. The player with the empty tray receives a score of -50. The combined total of everybody's scores will add up to zero.

*** End of Three Player Rules ***

Privacy | Terms of Service

Page last modified: 10th September 2011