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Riichi is the most common variation of mahjong played in Japan. The basics of this game is very similar to the original mahjong that originated in China, but there are some additional features in Riichi that end up making the game very exciting and at times also addictive


One of the simplest features that is not present in the original mahjong is the way the tiles are discarded. In the original mahjong, the tiles are discarded and placed at the center of the table, but in Riichi, the tiles are placed in front of the player in an organized row. This way, your opponents can glean information about your hand and how you are playing it. The other difference is that in Riichi, a player cannot use the discarded tiles of another player to complete their hand. It is this fact that makes the game very challenging. However, in Riichi mahjong, a player has the right to buy the discarded tiles of another player by paying one thousand points and completing his hand. At this point, the player has to say Riichi and once this is said, the player cannot change his hand. After declaring Riichi, when it is the turn for the player to play, he has to discard his tile even if it is a risky proposition.

The basic aim of Riichi is to collect tiles to get one of the scoring patterns and thus getting a mahjong. The tiles that used in Riichi mahjong appear four times. And, there are also bonus tiles, but there is just one copy of each type of bonus tile. The times that used in Riichi are Bamboo tiles, Character tiles from 1 to 9, Circles and Dots tiles, Wind tiles, and Dragon tiles.

Getting a mahjong in Riichi involves making four sets of a particular form and having a pair of tiles. Each set of tiles must have the same tiles. When there are three identical tiles, it is known as ‘pon’. Four identical tiles are known as ‘kan’. You can also have suit tiles in a numerical order, but these tiles should be of the same suit. This is known as ‘chii’. It is important to note here that a chii should only consist of three tiles and not more or less than that. Also, the suit of the tiles should be the same. When it comes to making a pair, you can make pair using two identical tiles.

In Riichi mahjong, four players play against each other. There is no concept of team. There are a total of 136 tiles which have to be first shuffled and then arranged in a square. Each side of the square will have 2X17 tiles. This arrangement is known as the ‘Wall’. Once this is done, each player then takes 13 tiles from the wall. However, the player who is sitting on the East wall gets to draw 14 tiles instead of 13. This is also the player who will start the game and make the first discard. Thereafter, each player draws a tile and then discards.

As players try to draw and discard tiles, they are also busy arranging their tiles in order to complete a mahjong. The moment a player makes a mahjong hand, the game comes to an end. The player is then paid by the other three players. The higher the value of the hand, the higher points the player are gets. Then the tiles are once again shuffled and a new game starts.

It is not necessary that Riichi mahjong has to be played always with four players. It can also be played by two or three players. However, when there are four players, the game extremely exciting and challenging.

If you are playing Riichi online, then you do not have to worry about seat designation. This task is taken over by the software and seats are assigned in a random manner. Each seat has a name based on the Cardinal directions and play is always moves in a counterclockwise direction. The seats are named East, South, West and North.

The breaking of the ‘Wall’ is decided with the aid of a dice. Once the ‘Wall’ is broken, then drawing tiles are selected in a random manner. However, 14 tiles, which are in the counterclockwise position, are labeled as ‘dead wall’ and are reserved. The remaining tiles are known as ‘live wall’.

Once the ‘Wall’ has been arranged, the third tile in the ‘dead wall’ is turned over. This tile is known as the ‘Dora indicator’. This indicator is for identifying the bonus tile. If a person has a dora tile in his winning hand, he will be awarded double points.

In case the ‘dora indicator’ turns out to be a suit tile, then the dora, or the bonus tile, will be the subsequent higher tile in the same suit. For instance, if the dora indicator is a 9, then the dora will be 1 in the same suit. In case the dora indicator is a wind tile, then the next wind tile in the order of East, South, West and North will be the dora.

Once the tiles are dealt, normal tiles are drawn from the ‘live wall’ section. However, replacement tiles are drawn from the ‘dead wall’ section. Bear in mind that the ‘dead wall’ should always be restricted to 14 tiles. In case a player has to draw a normal tile and the ‘live wall’ contains no tile, the play ceases. This is known as dead hand or a washout. This version of mahjong can be found at

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