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FAQ 13C. "I play Japanese Riichi/Dora Majan, and I need to know how to play with just 3 players."

Play Mah-Jongg Right Now!

Here's the way I was taught by my Japanese friends:
Remove the suit of Craks, except the 1s, 5s, and 9s. The 1/5/9 Craks, and the North wind tiles, all act like flowers (as flowers are used in all Asian forms except Japanese). There is no North player (deal only to the other three). Deal always passes to the winner. It's always the East round. Scoring is in Points, not Fan (for each Fan, count 1 point). Each flower is 1 point.
You can read about another way to play 3-player at And see a reader's comments below (from the Maj Exchange Q&A Bulletin Board).
See "Tom's Three Rules on Table Rules" - you are free to use either of these, or to cherrypick whatever ideas you like from either of them.

Many Japanese video games use one-on-one rules. "Yakuman DS" is one that I have played a lot. In this game, all 136 tiles are used in 4 walls as usual. One player is E, the other player is S (they should sit at opposite sides of the table). Play normally - either player may chow from the other. Expect high-scoring hands to be more possible than usual.
A Japanese couple I know, both professional and international players, play a 4-handed game with 2 people. One person plays 2 hands (like playing 2 Bingo cards at once). Their rule is that one hand is not permitted to feed the other, so they can only claim discards from the other person.

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