Rinshan Kaihou Cologne
Riichi Mahjong Club


published on 2018-10-13, last updated on 2021-07-04 written by Manuel, edited by Thai “0xReki” Chung
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Our goal is to make tournaments and free play as comfortable and pleasant as possible. To give everyone the chance to give their best at any time and reach for the top while never forgetting fair play, we would like you to read the attached etiquette document and would be honoured if you would live it with us together.

Note: This document is by no means influenced from any third party and is alone translated and written down by members of the club on collected experiences. We want to give you some background information why etiquette is such a sensible but important subject to mahjong.

Etiquette rules have their origins from the time when mahjong was played in shady places in Japan for gambling or by the yakuza. To maximize chances of winning, players taught themselves how to cheat. Nowadays, where automatic tables are widely used all over Japan, tile stacking or tile switching etc. became almost impossible.

Since the most of us play like the old days, where tiles are shuffled manually and walls built by hand, all these afore mentioned tricks can be done without any great effort.

While playing at tournaments, aside from the people from your known circle of friends and club, one often meets players from foreign countries, some of them for the first time. No one can say with 100% certainty that everything goes the way it should be without accusing anyone.

That’s exactly the point where etiquette comes into play!

Main reason number 1: Prevent cheating.

Don’t cheat and don’t look like you’re cheating!

Main reason number 2: Make the game run at a faster pace.

As tournaments are played with time limits, everyone benefits from a faster game.

If everyone follows and lives the true spirit of 和 (“wa”), the Japanese term for “peace” or “harmony”, there are sheer endless possibilities, and we can truly heighten this wonderful game of mahjong to the next level – together!

To ensure this, this ‘guideline’ was originally from suzume.hakata21.com, summarized and translated/expanded.

Beginning of the Game ‘Drawing the Haipai’

  1. The wall should be placed slightly rotated counter-clock-wise.
    –> This makes it much easier for the other players to draw their haipai and prevents that the player to the left could miss a tile he had to draw.

  2. The wall can be divided into segments of 11-6 or 6-5-6. This makes it easier to count where the wall should be broken for inexperienced players.

  3. East should break the wall and draw his tiles himself! The wall should NOT be broken by any other player than Oya! Oya takes the dice back himself.
    –> The dice can be taken directly after rolling or with the first discard.

  4. The dora indicator and the rinshan tiles should be turned by the player sitting in front of the wall containing the specific tiles as soon as east begins to draw his tiles.
    –> The rinshan tile should be placed down first so that it won’t fall down when the dora indicator is being turned.

  5. East may begin to discard as soon as North has seen his own tiles.

Drawing and Discarding of Tiles

  1. Players should play with only one hand
    –> Using two hands are allowed:
    • to push the wall,
    • to sort the tiles in your hand,
    • to straighten the tiles in your hand,
    • and to reveal the tiles when Ron/Tsumo or Tenpai.
  2. The player’s hand should not reach over the table unless they are drawing, discarding or taking a necessary tile for a set.

  3. Never, at any time, should tiles be placed outside the gaming area or in a player’s hand.
    –> This can and will be counted as attempted cheating.

  4. The discard pond should be placed in rows of six tiles.
    –> It should be clear and ordered at all times!

  5. If possible, sort in tiles after drawing and discarding.

  6. The tile which is being discarded should be let go immediately.

  7. Do not fold down your hand before the game has ended.
    –> You hand could be interpreted as the wall for other players. An exception that is tolerated is “Hadaka Tanki” (lone last tile), where the risk of tile falling over is higher.

  8. Do not give information with direct or ambiguous statements!
    –> No things like “Aaah this isn’t going good for me…” or “Ah, there’s someone going for Honitsu, huh?” or “Should I call pon or chii..?”

  9. When the wall is getting short, push the wall a bit to the front.

  10. Do not explicitly try to stall for time by slowly drawing or discarding.
    –> When it’s your turn, draw and discard quickly. When very slow players are interrupting the game flow, kindly ask them to play a bit faster, if possible.

  11. The Dead Wall is not replenished when a kan is declared!
    –> Possibility for cheating or wrong ending of the game! If one is unsure where the game ends, friendly ask the player in front of the dead wall to count.

  12. Don’t make disturbing sounds with the tiles.
    –> No clacking or slamming the tiles too hard on the table.

Calling and revealing/placing of sets

  1. Calls should be made loud and clear for everyone.
    –> Pon!/Kan!/Chii!/Riichi!/Ron!/Tsumo! have to be audible for every player at the table.

  2. Note the order when calling/declaring a set! –> First call loud and clearly, only after that, continue with further actions. Opening the hand or taking a tile and calling after that is not allowed and results in a dead hand!

  3. When calling chii, you should wait a bit before revealing your tiles, for someone else calls pon on that tile.
    –> Pon goes first, waiting a bit protects your own hand, so nobody sees your unfinished set. A Pon declaration should be made immediately. While technically, it is perfectly acceptable to make a late Pon call after a Chii (jap.: “Jamapon”, interruption Pon), it is considered not very elegant.

  4. Sets should be placed on the right side of the table, each set over another.
    –> Called sets should not be placed in front of the player’s hand. Placing them over another on the right of the table makes it clearer to see for other payers, especially for the player to the left, as the player’s right hand could hide them.

  5. How to Declare a Closed Kan (Ankan):

    1. Call “Kan!”

    2. Reveal the set, turning the two outer tiles OR the two inner tiles, check if Ankan is valid.

    3. The player in front of the dead wall reveals the new dora indicator.

    4. Draw the rinshan tile.

    5. Either declare “Tsumo” or discard a tile.

    –> Step 3 and 4 should not happen at the same time as there is a risk of two hands colliding and the dead wall gets nocked over partially. In either way, the dora indicator must be turned before the player discards the tile!

  6. How to Declare a pon-to-kan (Shouminkan):

    1. Call “Kan!”

    2. Reveal the tile, putting it on top of the tile which was called from another player before (turned horizontally).

    3. The player in front of the dead wall reveals the new dora indicator.

    4. Draw the rinshan tile.

    5. Either declare “Tsumo” or discard a tile. 

    -> Note: Pay attention to the Kan Dora timing rule. According to the EMA-Rules, the Kan dora indicator is always being turned immediately!

Declaring Riichi

  1. Call out “Riichi!” loud and clear
    –> Make sure nobody calls “Ron!”, then place the tile sideways and then place a 1000 point tenbou after the riichi declaration in the middle of the table.

  2. The riichi bet is a single 1000 points tenbou.

  3. After declaring riichi, the tiles should be drawn and discarded quickly.

Behavior when Winning

  1. A win has to be declared loud and clearly with “Ron!” or “Tsumo!”.

  2. When Tsumo occurs, the winning tile should not be sorted into your hand.
    –> When sorting the tile into the hand despite this ‘advice’, the yaku ‘Pinfu’ and the 2 fu points for tsumo cannot be awarded!

  3. When winning, the tiles in the players hand should be clearly arranged.
    –> Everyone should be able to see you have a valid hand.

  4. When winning, the tiles should be revealed with both hands at once.

  5. (Kan-)Ura-Dora indicators shall be revealed by the winning player himself and placed next to his hand!

  6. The winning player should be counting his own hand and asks the other players for the points he wins.
    –> In case Non-Eest wins with Tsumo, the lower point count from non-East players should be said first, after that the point count from east is being said.

Behaviour After Winning or Ryuukyoku

  1. The payment should be transparent and in the least number of tenbou as possible.
    –> E.g.: 3900 points should be paid with one 5000 point tenbou and not with 3× 1000 and 9× 100 tenbou.

  2. Tenbou should be placed in front of the player.
    –> Putting points hand in hand or throwing of the tenbou to other players is respectless and unsportsmanlike manners.

  3. When losing a hand or being no-ten, the player’s hand should be concealed.

  4. At Ryuukyoku, the declaration of Tenpai/No-Ten should be in order East –> North

  5. After ending a round, no player should be looking at the possible next tiles or ura dora indicators or rinshan tiles.

  6. Do not bring up criticism while the hanchan is ongoing.

Behaviour at Tournaments

  1. Greet players at the table and wish them success at the table.

  2. Ask the Referee if you are not sure about a rule. Never argue or discuss with them.

  3. Please count your points exactly when you are asked for it, especially before the last hand.

  4. Congratulate the winner.

  5. At the end of a hanchan, all the tiles should be turned face-down and four wind tiles should be placed separately.

  6. The points should be brought to their initial state. 

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