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FAQ 13B. Q: I play Chinese Classical mah-jongg or another Asian form of the game (including Western/Wright-Patterson but excluding Japanese Riichi), and need to know how to play with fewer than four (<4) players.

Asian styles for 3 players (you can use these rules for Chinese, Filipino, Taiwanese, HKOS, British/Western, etc.) -- Build 4 walls. Deal 13 tiles to each player (14 to the dealer) as normal. Just skip the empty seat (nobody is North) -- do not deal tiles to the empty seat (exception: Taiwanese players deal a dummy hand to the empty seat; it is never used). Player sitting to right of empty seat may chow from opposite player. Some people prefer to leave out the North tiles and the #4 flowers and all the Bams, and build only 3 walls (and play only 3 rounds, omitting the North round). You can also click here to read Korean 3-player rules. You may use any 3-player rules that the three of you agree to use; for more on this concept, click here to jump to Tom's Three Rules on Table Rules.

Chinese style 2 players -- Build 4 walls. Dealer has 14 tiles, opposite player has 13 tiles (as usual). Don't deal tiles to the empty seats. No chow exposures allowed. Leave the flowers out even if you normally use flowers.
OR -- Use only one suit and honors. Build 2 walls. Deal to 2 seats only. Chows OK. Score as normal if you want, or make up your own scoring.
Click here to jump to Tom's Three Rules on Table Rules.

Western style mah-jongg (including British style and Wright-Patterson style) -- Deal 14 tiles to East and 13 tiles to the other 2 players as usual (don't deal tiles to the empty seats). Disallow chow exposures if playing 2P. If you use jokers and flowers, omit them. The Charleston and/or goulash are optional - if you use the procedure, the 3 players exchange tiles with the 4th (vacant-seat) wall. Click here to jump to Tom's Three Rules on Table Rules.

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