August 28, 2005 (Year of the Rooster)
Chinese Official Tournament Rules. A controversy has erupted, and our intrepid players haven't been able to resolve it. Noriko arranged some tiles.
"How would you score this?" she asked. Samantha started. "Big Four Winds, All Honors and Terminals, Half Flush." Earl said, "sounds right to me." Waiyee asked, "This is about the non-repetitive principle, isn't it?" Noriko replied, "Yes, sometimes called the exclusionary rule. If the rule applies to this hand (and Mr. Sheng Qi, one of the authors of the rule book, says it does), the pair can be combined with the winds either as terminals or as suit tiles, but not both."
"But that rule only applies to smaller patterns, doesn't it?" Earl asked. "Patterns of just two or three sets?" Noriko produced a printout. "That's what it said in Tom's FAQ, but I checked it again, and Tom has deleted the reference to two- or three-set patterns."
Earl arranged some tiles. "If the non-repeat rule applies to four-set or whole-hand scoring patterns..."
"...then why can a player claim All Chows (a four-set pattern), then combine the pair with the chows to form both All Simples and Full Flush (whole-hand patterns)?"
Noriko said, "This problem was posted on Martin's forum by a player from Shanghai. He raised an interesting concept: That some of the scoring prohibitions might apply to patterns involving all the tiles of the hand, while others might apply to patterns involving the sets. All the tiles of the hand are simples, and all the tiles are the same suit." She pointed to the pair of eights. "You aren't claiming the pair in combination with the other four sets." Earl, pointing at the windy hand, objected, "Well, same thing if you make Half Flush, or All Terminals and Honors."
They tried to come up with logic that would permit the three scoring patterns for the chows hand yet deny the three scoring patterns for the winds hand, and they couldn't.
"The rule book hasn't been fully translated into decent English." Noriko looked at Waiyee. "You can read Chinese..." Waiyee interrupted, "But the book is very hard to get." Noriko produced another printout. "Cofa's translation of the Scoring Principles includes the original Chinese. Does the rule say it applies to smaller patterns, made with two or three sets?" "No."
Some held that they'd have to abide by what the author said - others that it was inconsistent. The players could not reach consensus on how they'd handle the winds hand if it came up in play.
A follow-up was written on this topic in Column 255.
And a subsequent column on the topic is Column 259.
Click the entries in the header frame, above, to read other columns.
Question about this column? See an error? Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board.
Want to play Chinese Official rules on your computer? Four Winds from Lagarto & Armadillo Graphics is available at http://www.4windsmj.com.
Download Chinese Official rules for free: http://www.mahjongnews.com/comj.htm.
I've written a booklet that goes into strategy and provides a little info about some rule refinements that have occurred since the downloadable book. See http://www.sloperama.com/tour/rulebook.htm.
FAQ 22 answers the most frequently asked questions about Chinese Official scoring.
If you can read Chinese, the full official rules are at http://us.mjclub.com/RulesAndScore.
© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.