How to Play Singapore Mahjong – Part 3

How to Play Mahjong - Part 2 Scoring and Winning

This is Part 3 of the How to Play Singapore Mahjong series . Check out Part 1 and Part 2 here if you have missed it.


In Part 3, I will share more on the Scoring and Winning of Mahjong. This part is split into following sections:
3.1 Scoring
3.2 Instant Payment
3.3 Non-combinations
3.4 Combinations
3.5 Additional Points
3.6 Special Conditions
3.7 Paying for All
3.8 Penalties


3.1 Mahjong Scoring
3.1 Mahjong Scoring

3.1 Scoring

The score for the winning player is measured in Points (台 Tái). Other than forming combinations, other events (explained below) reward players with points as well. The rarer the winning combination, the more points it is worth. In an Ordinary Scenario, the three other losing players pay the winner chips based on the number of points of the winning combination.

A single increment in the number of points mean doubling the number of chips won and lost by the players. Hence, there is an incentive for players to form a rarer winning combination to earn more points and therefore, chips. The Shooter, being the player who discarded the winning tile to the winner, is penalised and pays twice the chips compared to other losing players. In a Self-draw (自摸 Zì Mō) Scenario where the winning player forms the winning combination by drawing a tile from the Open Wall instead through another player’s discarded tile, the winning player is rewarded with the losing players paying double the chips, as if they are all Shooters.

Players often set a minimum number of points (mostly one point 一台 Yī Tái) before any player can declare Mahjong!, such that the game has a degree of challenge. Similarly, players often set a maximum number of point, or Limit (mostly five points 五台 Wǔ Tái) for any winning combination, such that the game does not become overbearing 😅.

The scoring mechanics is best summarised in the payout table shown in the infographics. For purpose of illustration, the base chip is set to one (1), with every increment being double that of the previous.


3.2 Mahjong Instant Payment

3.2 Instant Payment

Other than winning, the game rewards players with Instant Payment – an immediate payment among players for certain Player Moves. This is independent of winning or losing the Hand. Similar to Player Moves mentioned in Part 2, Instant Payment can either be exposed or concealed, translating to a payment of the base or double the base amount respectively.

The Player Moves invoking Instant Payment are (1) obtaining a combination of Bonus tiles (咬 Yǎo) and (2) Kong (槓 Gàng). The combinations of Bonus tiles earning the Instant Payment are:
1. Obtaining the Cat (貓 Māo) and the Mouse (老鼠 Láo Shŭ)
2. Obtaining the Rooster (公雞 Gōng Jī) and the Centipede (蜈蚣 Wú Gōng)
3. Obtaining all four Animal Bonus tiles
4. Obtaining both Flower Bonus tiles with numbers matching the Seat Wind
5. Obtaining either sets of the Flower Bonus tiles

Bonus Tiles

A Concealed Instant Payment (暗咬 Àn Yǎo) can only occur during the Initial Draw of 13 or 14 tiles, before performing any Replacement Draw. Any Instant Payments thereafter are considered Exposed Instant Payment (明咬 Mínɡ Yǎo). This means that obtaining a Cat in the Initial Draw and performing a Replacement Draw to obtain a Mouse will only grant an Exposed Instant Payment.

Kong (槓 Gàng)

A Concealed Instant Payment (暗槓 Àn Gàng) is invoked from exposing a Concealed Kong. An Exposed Instant Payment (明槓 Mínɡ Gàng) can be invoked through either an Exposed Kong or an Exposed Kong from an Exposed Pong.


3.3 Mahjong Non-combinations
3.3 Mahjong Non-combinations

3.3 Non-Combinations

Other than forming combinations, achieving some of these Non-combinations events also grants Points to the players.

Animal Bonus Tiles (動物牌 Dòng Wù Pái)

Obtaining an Animal Bonus tile grants one point. Obtaining all four Animal Bonus tiles grants an additional point, making it five points (4 + 1 = 5).

Flower Bonus Tiles (花牌 Huā Pái)

Obtaining either Flower Bonus tile with the number matching the Player’s Seat Wind grants one point. Obtaining the full set of four Flower Bonus tiles of either the Four Gentlemen or Four Seasons grant an additional point, making it two points (1 + 1 = 2) for amassing one full set.

Dragon Honor Tiles (三元牌 Sān Yuán Pái)

Obtaining a Pong / Kong of any of the Dragon Honor Tiles grants one point.

Wind Honor Tiles (风牌 Fēng Pái)

Obtaining a Pong / Kong of the Wind Honor tiles matching either the Seat Wind or the Prevailing Wind grants one point. The effects stack – Obtaining a Pong / Kong of South when the Player is at the South (南 Nán) Seat Wind and the Prevailing Wind is South (南 Nán) grants two points to the Player.


3.4 Combinations

The points derived from Non-combinations above are added to that of the Winning Combination to derive the total number of points for the winner.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Sequence Hand
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Sequence Hand

Sequence Hand (平胡 Píng Hù) – 4 Points

This is formed by having four Chows of any Suit and a pair. The Pair can be made up either identical Suit tiles or any Wind Honor tiles which is neither the Prevailing Wind nor the Seat Wind of the Player. The Player must not have any Bonus tiles as well.

In addition, the Player can only earn the points from taking a discarded tile if the Player is waiting for at least two different tiles to win. For example, a Sequence Hand earns the valid points if the Player’s remaining tiles are 4588 of Bamboo and obtains a discarded 6 of Bamboo to win, as the Player can win with either 3 or 6 of Bamboo. On the contrary, the Player with 1288 of Bamboo would not be awarded the 4 points of a Sequence Hand through obtaining a discarded 3 Bamboo as the Player can only win with a single tile. Other examples which do not earn the 4 points include 1179 waiting for a 8 and 2347 waiting for a 7 to form the Pair.

Nonetheless, the Players can take the discarded tiles to win the Hand, if the Player has sufficient points earned from Non-combinations mentioned above to meet the minimum points set.

Alternatively, the Player can wait to perform a Self-draw to obtain the single tile, which can be challenging at times as it restricts the Player to only a single type of move to win.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Lesser Sequence Hand
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Lesser Sequence Hand

Lesser Sequence Hand (臭平胡 Chòu Píng Hù) – 1 Point

This is formed when a Player has a Sequence Hand, but has drawn any Bonus tile. This happens frequently as players often draw Bonus tiles throughout the game while attempting to form the Sequence Hand.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Triplets Hand
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Triplets Hand

Triplets Hand (碰碰胡 Pèng Pèng Hù) – 2 Points

This is formed by having four Pongs / Kongs and a pair. They can be made up of any combination of Suit or Honor tiles.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Full Flush
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Full Flush

Full Flush (清一色 Qīng Yī Sè) – 4 Points

This is formed by having four Chows / Pongs / Kongs and a pair with all the tiles of one single Suit.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Half Flush
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Half Flush

Half Flush (半色 Bàn Sè) – 2 Points

This is formed by having four Chows / Pongs / Kongs and a pair, with the tiles belonging to either one single Suit and Honor tiles.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Pure Terminals
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Pure Terminals

Pure Terminals (清么九 Qīng Yāo Jǐu) – Limit

This is formed by having four Pongs / Kongs and a pair, with the tiles being 1 or 9 of any Suit.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Half Terminals
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Half Terminals

Half Terminals (混么九 Hún Yāo Jǐu) – 4 Points

This is formed by having four Pongs / Kongs and a pair, with the tiles in the combination of 1 or 9 of any Suit and Honor tiles.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - All Honors
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – All Honors

All Honors (字一色 Zì Yī Sè) Limit

This is formed by having four Pongs / Kongs and a pair of Honor tiles only (either Dragon Honor tiles or Wind Honor tiles).

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Three Great Scholars
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Three Great Scholars

Three Great Scholars (大三元 Dà Sān Yuán) – 10 Points or Limit

This is formed by having Pongs / Kongs of all three Dragon Honor tiles as part of the winning combination.

Alternatively, the Player can opt to declare a win by revealing the Pongs / Kongs of all three Dragon Honor tiles, but without having form the entire winning 14-tile combination Hand. In such case, the Player would be awarded 5 points instead of the Limit. Note that the Player ought to exercise care in not revealing the remaining concealed tiles in the Hand as they do not form any combination, failing which the Hand would be rendered a False Win.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Three Lesser Scholars
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Three Lesser Scholars

Three Lesser Scholars (小三元 Xiǎo Sān Yuán) – 3 Points

This is formed by having Pongs / Kongs of two out of the three Dragon Honor tiles and the pair made up of the last of the three Dragon Honor tiles.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Four Great Blessings
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Four Great Blessings

Four Great Blessings (大四喜 Dà Sì Xǐ) – Limit

This is formed by having Pongs / Kongs of all four Wind Honor tiles as part of the winning combination.

Similar to Three Greater Scholars, the Player can opt to declare a win by revealing the Pongs / Kongs of all four Wind Honor tiles, but without having form the entire winning 14-tile combination Hand. In such case, the Player would be awarded 10 points instead of the Limit. Note that the Player ought to exercise care in not revealing the remaining concealed tiles in the Hand as they do not form any combination, failing which the Hand would be rendered a False Win.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Four Lesser Blessings
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Four Lesser Blessings

Four Lesser Blessings (小四喜 Xiǎo Sì Xǐ) – 3 or 4 Points

This is formed by having Pongs / Kongs of three out of the four Wind Honor tiles and the pair made up of the last of the four Wind Honor tiles.

3.4 Mahjong Combinations - Thirteen Wonders
3.4 Mahjong Combinations – Thirteen Wonders

Thirteen Wonders (十三幺 Shí Sān Yāo) – Limit

This is formed by having one of each tile from the Honor Tiles and 1 and 9 of the all three suits, and a duplicate of one of the thirteen tiles. This is the only combination which allows the “robbing” of Concealed Kong (explained below).


3.5 Additional Points

Other than achieving Non-combination events and forming Combination hands, there are additional points awarded for the following methods of winning.

These additional points can only be obtained if the player has a minimum of one point obtained either through Non-combination events or the winning combination. Hence, the player cannot use the additional points obtained as the minimum point required, if the player does not have any points from Non-combinations or does not earn any points from the 14-tile winning combination to begin with.

3.5 Mahjong Additional Points - Replacement Draw for Bonus Tile
3.5 Mahjong Additional Points – Replacement Draw for Bonus Tile

Winning on Replacement Draw For Bonus Tile (花上 Huā Shàng) – Additional 1 Point

This happens when the Player performs a Replacement Draw after drawing and revealing a Bonus tile, and draws the final winning tile. By virtue of winning by a Replacement Draw, the game rewards the winner with an additional one point.

3.5 Mahjong Additional Points - Replacement Draw for Kong
3.5 Mahjong Additional Points – Replacement Draw for Kong

Winning on Replacement Draw For Kong (杠上 Gàng Shàng) – Additional 1 Point

This happens when the Player performs a Replacement Draw after performing / revealing a Kong, and draws the final winning tile. By virtue of winning by a Replacement Draw, the game rewards the winner with an additional one point.

3.5 Mahjong Additional Points - Robbing the Kong
3.5 Mahjong Additional Points – Robbing the Kong

Robbing the Kong (抢杠 Qiǎng Gàng) – Additional 1 Point

This happens when the winning tile of a Player is the tile which is exposed by another Player who performs an Exposed Kong from Exposed Pong. By virtue of exposing that tile, the Player is deemed to won by “robbing” the Kong, as the tile was not discarded) and wins the game.

Players can only “rob” an Exposed Kong from Exposed Pong, but not from Concealed Kong or Exposed Kong. The only combination which can “rob” a Concealed Kong is the Thirteen Wonders.

3.5 Mahjong Additional Points - Fully Concealed Hand
3.5 Mahjong Additional Points – Fully Concealed Hand

Fully Concealed Hand (门清 Mén Qīng) – Additional 1 Point

This happens when the Player completes the winning combination through Draws only (including Replacement Draws), without performing any Exposed Chows, Pongs or Kongs.

3.5 Mahjong Additional Points - Winning on Last Available Tile
3.5 Mahjong Additional Points – Winning on Last Available Tile

Winning on the Last Available Tile (海底捞月 Hái Dǐ Lāo Yuè)– Additional 1 Point

This happens when a Player draws the last tile (i.e. last 16th tile as the Dead Wall comprise 15 tiles) and wins with it.


3.6 Special Conditions

3.6 Mahjong Special Conditions - Complete Flower Bonus Tiles
3.6 Mahjong Special Conditions – Complete Flower Bonus Tiles

Two Sets of Complete Flower Bonus Tiles (八仙过海 Bā Xiān Guò Hǎi)– Limit

This happens when a Player draws and exposes all eight Flower Bonus tiles comprising one set of Four Gentlemen and one set of Four Seasons. Due to the extreme low possibility of achieving this event, this is awarded the Limit.

Note that the Player ought to exercise care in not revealing the remaining concealed tiles in the Hand as they do not form any combination, failing which the Hand would be rendered a False Win.

Robbing the Eighth (七抢一 Qī Qiǎng Yī) – Limit

This happens when a Player has drawn and exposed seven out of the eight Flower Bonus tiles, and another Player draws and expose the eighth Flower Bonus tile. Due to the extreme low possibility of achieving this event, the winning Player is deemed to have “rob” the eighth Flower Bonus tile and the Player who has drawn it shall be the Shooter for purpose of computing the payouts.

3.6 Mahjong Special Conditions - Hidden Treasure
3.6 Mahjong Special Conditions – Hidden Treasure

Hidden Treasure (四暗刻 Sì Àn Kè) – Limit

This happens when a Player has managed to amass a hand of four Concealed Pongs / Kongs and a pair, and draws the final winning tile through a Self-draw.

3.6 Mahjong Special Conditions - Eighteen Arhats / Four Kongs
3.6 Mahjong Special Conditions – Eighteen Arhats / Four Kongs

Eighteen Arhats/Four Kongs (十八罗汉 Shí Bā Luó Hàn) – Limit

This happens when a Player has managed to amass a hand of four Kongs and a pair.


3.7 Paying for All

As shared in 3.1, we saw that the Shooter and two other losing players pays the Winner the chips. However, there are some special conditions which the Shooter pays for the other two losing players as well.

3.7 Paying for All
3.7 Paying for All

High Risk Discards (包牌 Bāo Pái)

If it is visible from the Exposed tiles of the Player that certain discards will allow the Player to hit the Limit, the other Player who discards such tiles will trigger a Paying for all event.

If the Player already has any two Pongs / Kongs out of the three Dragon Honor tiles, the other Player who discards the third Dragon Honor tile which the Player Pong / Kong will be the Shooter paying for the other two losing players as well.

If the Player already has four points, and the Pong / Kong of any Honor tiles will help the Player hit the Limit of five points, then the other Player who discards such tiles would be the Shooter and pay for the other two losing players in the event the Player wins eventually.

If the Player already has three sets of Chows / Pongs / Kongs exposed which are all of the same suit, then the other Player who discards a tile of that suit which the Player performs a Chow / Pong, then the other Player is deemed to be the Shooter paying for all if the Player wins through a Self-draw or by the tile discarded.

3.7 Paying for All
3.7 Paying for All

Fresh Tile Mahjong Scenario (包生 Bāo Shēng)

When there are 5 and fewer tiles left, excluding the 15 tiles deadwall, a Player discarding a Fresh tile (i.e. a tile which is not in the discard pool or exposed on the table) which is used by another Player to Mahjong! triggers a Paying for all event. The Discarding player is deemed to be the Shooter and pays for the other two players as well.

Fresh Tile Discard Kong Scenario (包杠 Bāo Gàng)

When there are 7 and fewer tiles left, excluding the 15 tiles Deadwall, a Player discarding a Fresh tile which is used to Kong by another player triggers a Paying for all event. The discarding player is deemed to be the Shooter and pays for the Kong entirely, including the share of the other two losing players.


3.8 Penalties

3.8 Penalties
3.8 Penalties

Sacred Discard (回头牌 Huí Tóu Pái)

This happens when a Player draws a tile and didn’t notice he or she has won, and proceeds to discard that tile. Subsequently, if the other three players discards the same tile, the Player cannot take the tile to win. If the Player has done so, this would result in a False Win.

Missed Discard (过水牌 Guò Shuǐ Pái)

This happens when a Player opts not to Pong from a discarded tile, if another player discards the same tile, the Player cannot take that tile to Pong or to win. The player would have “missed” the discard and is not permitted to take that tile.

False Winning Claim Scenario (诈胡 Zhà Hú)

This happens when a player declares Mahjong! without:
1. forming the winning combination;
2. having the minimum points for winning
3. Revealing the remaining Concealed Hand which does not result in any combination when claiming a win under special wining scenarios (e.g. Three Greater Scholars).

When this happens, the player is penalised and needs to pay all three players the Limit (using the example, means paying each player 64 chips)

3.8 Penalties
3.8 Penalties

Short Hand (小相公 Xiǎo Xiàng Gōng)

This often happens when the player forgets to perform a Replacement Draw for drawing and exposing any Bonus Tiles or Kong. Hence, the Player has lesser tiles. The player forfeits any rights to win, but is able to claim a Kong.

Long Hand (大相公 Dà Xiàng Gōng)

This often happens when the player performs additional Replacement Draws from drawing and exposing any Bonus tiles or Kong. Hence the player has more tiles. The player forfeits any rights to win and any rights to claim a Kong, because the additional tiles grant the player an advantage of finding a Kong.


Summary

With the last part, most of the general rules and scoring of Mahjong have been covered. It is important to clarify the rules with the players before the game starts as there might be slight variants depending on each individual’s playstyle. Hope this series has helped some beginners out there who are trying to learn Mahjong! 😄 Comment down below if you have any queries or if you would like to see a more in-depth discussion on Mahjong!


Icons sourced from icons8.

22 thoughts on “How to Play Singapore Mahjong – Part 3”

  1. For the 平胡, you stated
    ” This is formed by having four Chows of any Suit and a pair. The Pair can be made up either identical Suit tiles or any Wind Honor tiles which is neither the Prevailing Wind nor the Seat Wind of the Player. The Player must not have any Bonus tiles as well. ”

    If I use dragon honor tiles (三元牌) as pair isit OK?

    1. For 平胡, the dragon honor tiles (三元牌) cannot be used as the Pair.

      Generally, any tiles that would award points cannot be used during formation of 平胡 – This comprise the Wind tiles which is the Prevailing Wind or the Seat Wind of the Player, and the Dragon Honor Tiles. I believe the spirit behind this rule is to recognise the trade-off for forming 平胡, where the opening up of more options through the use of Chow to form sets is compensated by the player needing to give up tiles which would award any points.

      Hope this clarifies! 😄

  2. Inside the 14 tiles, can a player win from a mix of chow’s and pong’s if the pong’s are not honors? Also if the 14 tiles are a mix of suits? I believe this scores zero points. Can you confirm? This excludes any bonus tiles.

    Example:
    – chow circles
    – chow bamboo
    – pong characters
    – pong circles
    – any eye/pair of anything

  3. When you are the starting player, and your initial set of 14 tiles include four of a kind, do you declare 暗杠 immediately or must you discard the first tile and declare 暗杠 on your next turn?

    1. You can declare 暗杠 immediately.

      However, as four of a kind Suit tiles is very versatile, you may want to consider holding on the 暗杠 to explore potentially forming more sets, unless your hand shape is looking good that the 暗杠 is less relevant.

  4. The 3.2 Instant Payment table should the score be reversed? i.e. Exposed = 1, Concealed = 2.

  5. Thanks for sharing your memory! You have a great write-up here, clear and concise.
    Excellent reference for beginners and safe guard the original recepie for old timers. There are just too many house rule variances out there even the SGMJ Wiki has lost its authenticity.
    Please do treasure the purity of your memory and preserve how SGMJ has been played since many years ago.

  6. Very well written, clear explanation. Well done! Perhaps u want to consider writing a section on mahjong strategy?

  7. Hi I want to ask how many tai would I get if I have the following tiles:

    1-9 dots
    789 bamboo
    1 pair of eyes (fa cai)

    Some of them I collected via chi and I do have 1 flower tile but it is not on my position. Is this also considered 0 tai?

  8. Very informative article for beginner like me. Thank you for sharing.

    Let’s say that my deck are all wanzi and bamboo tiles, is it true that I cannot use circles as my eye?

    1. If your hand comprise tiles of mixed suits of Wanzi and Bamboo, you can still use Circles as your eye for the Sequence Hand (平胡), Lesser Sequence Hand (臭平胡) and Triplets Hand (碰碰胡). These hands allow for the tiles to be of mixed suits 😄

  9. Hello! Can I quickly check how many tai is the following as the zhong is not pong..

    2 zhong
    3 yi suo
    3 jiu suo
    3 yi tong
    3 jiu tong

    Thanks!

  10. For 臭平胡, is that necessary to obtain a Animal Bonus tiles or flower Bonus tiles with numbers matching the Seat Wind?

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