The CC Theory

About the debate


  • Argument - 2 a : a reason given in proof or rebuttal b : discourse intended to persuade; 3 a : the act or process of arguing; b : a coherent series of statements leading from a premise to a conclusion (Merriam-Webster)
  • Asami Ryo (Ryo Asami) - Japanese mah-jongg author. At one time he had a sizeable website (and its contents were discussed on the English-language mahjong newsgroup) but it has either moved or been taken off the web. Books unknown at present time. Asami-san also authored part of the MJM book (see MJM, below).
  • Assertion : the act of asserting also : declaration. Date: 15th century (Merriam-Webster)
  • Assumption - 5 a : an assuming that something is true b : a fact or statement (as a proposition, axiom, postulate, or notion) taken for granted. Date: 13th century (Merriam-Webster)
  • Babcock, J.P. - Oil executive who lived in Shanghai in 1920 and who single-handedly popularized mah-jongg in the United States by commissioning the manufacture, export, and distribution of mah-jongg sets and rules. One of the five members of the Standardization Committee of the American Official Laws of Mah-Jongg (1924). See Babcock.html.
  • Cantonese Old Style - Alternate name for HKOS (see).
  • Case - 1 a : a set of circumstances or conditions <is the statement true in all three cases> 5 b (1) : the evidence supporting a conclusion or judgment (2) : argument especially : a convincing argument. (Merriam-Webster)
  • CC or C.C. - Abbreviation for "Chinese Classical" (see).
  • CC Theory - 1 : The hypothesis, assertion, or claim that Chinese Classical mah-jongg rules (descended from an unknown set of original rules, AKA "proto-mahjong") are the "parent" rules of mah-jongg, from which all later variants evolved; 2 : The hypothesis, assertion, or claim that Chinese Classical mah-jongg rules predate the rules known as HKOS (see).
  • Certainty - 1 : something that is certain 2 : the quality or state of being certain especially on the basis of evidence synonyms certainty, certitude, conviction mean a state of being free from doubt. certainty and certitude are very close; certainty may stress the existence of objective proof <claims that cannot be confirmed with scientific certainty>, while certitude may emphasize a faith in something not needing or not capable of proof <believes with certitude in an afterlife>. conviction applies especially to belief strongly held by an individual <holds firm convictions on every issue>. Date: 14th century (Merriam-Webster)
  • Chen Yumen (Chen Zhengyao, ChenYanglou, Chin Zheng Yue - Ningbo, 1817-1878) - Possible originator (creator) of mah-jongg. Sources: DH/BP/MJ, MJM. See FAQ 11.
  • Chinese Classical - A name used by the proponents of the CC Theory to refer to the mah-jongg rules that were prevalent in the 1920s (as documented by the books of Hartman, Foster, Babcock, Racster, Millington, and many others). The name "Chinese Classical" is of modern origin. During the 1920s the term was not yet in use. See FAQ 2b for more about how CC differs from other variants of mah-jongg.
  • Claim - noun 2 b : an assertion open to challenge Date: 14th century (Merriam-Webster)
  • Conclude - transitive senses 3 a : to reach as a logically necessary end by reasoning : infer on the basis of evidence < concluded that her argument was sound> b : to make a decision about : decide < concluded he would wait a little longer> c : to come to an agreement on : effect < conclude a sale>
    intransitive senses 2 a : to form a final judgment b : to reach a decision or agreement synonym see infer. Date: 14th century (Merriam-Webster)
  • Conclusion - 1 a : a reasoned judgment : inference b : the necessary consequence of two or more propositions taken as premises; especially : the inferred proposition of a syllogism. Date: 14th century (Merriam-Webster)
  • Conjecture - 2 a : inference from defective or presumptive evidence b : a conclusion deduced by surmise or guesswork c : a proposition (as in mathematics) before it has been proved or disproved. Date: 14th century (Merriam-Webster)
  • Constantino, Benny - author of LET'S PLAY MAHJONG!, 1990, Federal Publications, ISBN 962-302-129-1
    Briefly (very briefly) describes Hong Kong "old style" Mah-Jongg. See FAQ 3.
  • Culin, Stewart - a 19th Century anthropologist whose research into games provides the earliest known mention of mah-jongg (see timeline in FAQ 11). (some of the earliest-known writings about mah-jongg came from Stewart Culin; this 1924 article is much later but is extremely informative). See also (bio & more articles by Stewart Culin)
  • Debatable - 2 a : open to dispute : questionable; b : open to debate 3 : capable of being debated. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Debate - a contention by words or arguments: as a : the formal discussion of a motion before a deliberative body according to the rules of parliamentary procedure b : a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides. Date: 13th century. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Deduce - 1 : to determine by deduction; specifically : to infer from a general principle; 2 : to trace the course of; synonym see infer. Date: 15th century. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Deduction - 2 a : the deriving of a conclusion by reasoning; specifically : inference in which the conclusion about particulars follows necessarily from general or universal premises b : a conclusion reached by logical deduction. Date: 15th century. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Display Hall of the Birthplace of Mahjong (abbr. DH/BP/MJ) - 1 : A building devoted to mah-jongg, located in the probable locale of the creation of mah-jongg, at 74 MaYa Road, Ningbo 315010, China, Tel. (0574) 8729-3526. 2 : A booklet entitled THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF MAHJONG, published by the Display Hall of the Birthplace of Mahjong (No ISBN #; Date of publication uncertain but perhaps 2002).
  • Evidence - 1 a : an outward sign : indication b : something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter. Date: 14th century. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Faan - alternative spelling of "Fan" (see).
  • Fact - 5 : a piece of information presented as having objective reality. Date: 15th century. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Factoid - 1 : an invented fact believed to be true because of its appearance in print; 2 : a brief and usually trivial news item. Date: 1973. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Fan - "A double." A different thing from "a Point." In the CC rules, one first counts points, then doubles according to how many doubles the hand earns. In the HKOS rules, one merely counts the Fan (the doubles) then optionally does some more math depending on the house rules in use, to arrive at the score for the hand. Also: faan.
  • Foster, R.F. - American mah-jongg, cards, and games author, and one of the five members of the Standardization Committee of the American Official Laws of Mah-Jongg (1924). See Foster.html.
  • Gaan Ji-Cing (Gaan2 Ji4 Cing1, Kan Yi-Ching) - author of HOI TOI (Hoi1 Toi2), (Hong Kong), 1984, ISBN 962-17-0088-4. Chinese-language history of mah-jongg, in-depth strategy, pictures of unusual tile sets in the author's collection. Frequently cited by Alan Kwan (see) in past newsgroup discussions.
  • Glover set, the - one of the earliest known mah-jongg sets ever documented. See FAQ 11.
  • Hartman, L.F. - Mah-Jongg and bridge author, and one of the five members of the Standardization Committee of the American Official Laws of Mah-Jongg (1924).
  • HKMJ - 1 : Alternate name for HKOS (see); 2 : abbreviation for a computer mah-jongg program that offers Hong Kong style mah-jongg.
  • HKOS - Abbreviation for Hong Kong Old Style, the name of a particular type of mah-jongg. The proponents of the CC Theory hold that HKOS most likely descended or derived from Chinese Classical mah-jongg ("CC"), while the opponent of the CC Theory holds that it is more likely that HKOS existed prior to CC. See FAQ 2b. Our apologies if we have misrepresented the opponent's stance in any way.
  • Hong Kong Old Style - see HKOS (above).
  • Hypothesis - 1 a : an assumption or concession made for the sake of argument b : an interpretation of a practical situation or condition taken as the ground for action; 2 : a tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences; 3 : the antecedent clause of a conditional statement. Date: circa 1656 (Merriam-Webster)
  • Infer - transitive senses 1 : to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises <we see smoke and infer fire -- L. A. White> Date: 1528 (Merriam-Webster)
  • Inference - 3 : the premises and conclusion of a process of inferring (see INFER, above). Date: 1594. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Is - Date: before 12th century. intransitive senses 1 a : to equal in meaning : have the same connotation as. (Merriam-Webster). Note that "is" is a very different thing from "may be" or "might be".
  • Jyut Ping - A system for Romanizing the Chinese characters as used in Hong Kong and the surrounding area. The numbers indicate the vocal inflection or tone for speaking the word. Often used by Alan Kwan to Romanize mah-jongg terms and Chinese names used in this debate.
  • Kan Yi-Ching - (see Gaan Ji-Cing)
  • Khanhoo (k’ anhu) - a rummy-like game playable with mah-jongg tiles, money cards, or Western playing cards. Date of origin uncertain; play rules are known, thanks to Wilkinson (see).
  • Kwan, Alan Shiu Ho - One of the proponents of the CC Theory. Alan is trilingual (English, Cantonese, Japanese), and has read (and commented on) Japanese and Chinese books and websites in the English-language mah-jongg newsgroup. Alan's website ( discusses his interests in video games, board games, mah-jongg, manga (Japanese comics), and religion.
  • Kwan P’ai (Kun P’ai) - a Chinese game which likely played a role in the development or evolution of mah-jongg. Origin date uncertain; play rules uncertain.
  • Lo, Amy - author of THE BOOK OF MAH JONG: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE. Publisher: Tuttle. ISBN: 0804833028. Contains detailed explanations of Cantonese rules, Shanghai [New Style] rules, the 12-tile game, and the 16 tile Taiwanese game. See FAQ 3.
  • Logical - 1 a (1) : of, relating to, involving, or being in accordance with logic (2) : skilled in logic b : formally true or valid : analytic, deductive 2 : capable of reasoning or of using reason in an orderly cogent fashion <a logical thinker>. Date: 15th century Merriam-Webster

  • Mahjong - alternate spelling for "mah-jongg". Both spellings are acceptable; Babcock was the one who gave it the hyphen and the double G when he trademarked the name; Babcock's spelling is thus the one usually found in American dictionaries.
      Main Entry: mah-jongg
      Variant(s): or mah·jong /"mä-'zhä[ng], -'jä[ng], -'zho[ng], -'jo[ng], 'mä-"/
      Function: noun
      Etymology: from Mah-Jongg, a trademark
      Date: 1920
      : a game of Chinese origin usually played by four persons with 144 tiles that are drawn and discarded until one player secures a winning hand (Merriam-Webster)
    See following entry as well.

  • Mah-Jongg - 1 :see "mahjong" entry (above); 2 : a game which can be distinguished from other games by four primary characteristics:

      a. The form of the pieces.
      b. The symbols or indicia on the pieces.
      c. The structure of the set (the distribution of symbols on the pieces).
      d. The game played with the pieces.

    Herewith, more about those four characteristics:

      a. The form of the mah-jongg pieces

        i. The pieces are usually small tiles, something like dominoes only thicker and not as tall.
        ii. Or the pieces could instead be in the form of paper cards.

      b. The symbols or indicia on the pieces:

        i. Three suits of 1 through 9; "dots, bams, and craks" (called other names in other languages).
        ii. Four winds: East, South, West, North. [Note: The earliest sets may have had a differing number, but today a set with a different number of different wind indicia would not be regarded a proper mah-jongg set.]
        iii. Three dragons: White, Green, Red. ["Dragons" is the Western term, not the Chinese term. The earliest sets may have had a differing number of dragon tiles.]
        iv. May also include "flower" or "season" tiles (some of which may not actually depict flowers or seasons).
        v. May also include jokers or various other special tiles.

      c. The breakdown of the set (the distribution of symbols or indicia on the pieces):

        i. Four each of the three suits of 1 to 9; "dots, bams, and craks," yielding a total count of 108 suit tiles or cards.
        ii. Four each of the four winds, for a total count of 16 wind tiles or cards.
        iii. Four each of the three dragons, for a total count of 12 dragon tiles or cards.
        iv. The total count of the suit tiles, wind tiles, and dragon tiles is 136 tiles. This is the "basic set."
        v. The number of "flower" or "season" tiles (some of which may not actually depict flowers or seasons) may vary considerably, from none to over twenty.
        vi. The number of jokers or various other special tiles may vary considerably, from none to over twenty.

      d. The gameplay consists of forming the tiles into a hand.

        i. The first player to form a valid hand wins.
        ii. A complete mah-jongg hand usually follows the formula "Number of tiles = (n groups) + pair, where 'group' = 3, 'pair' = 2, and 'n' = (usually) either 4 or 5." In other words, the complete hand might be 14 tiles, or it might be 17. The use of "groups" as mentioned here is the norm, but as with all generalities about mah-jongg, there are exceptions.
        iii. The game is normally intended primarily for four players (variants may allow other numbers of players).
      (Definition written by the proponents of the CC Theory.)

  • Matiao (Madiao, Ma Diao Di, Ma-chiau) - Played with a deck of 40 money cards, a trick-taking game for four players (1300s - 1700s). Involved in the development or evolution of mah-jongg. See FAQ 11.
  • May - 1 c -- used to indicate possibility or probability <you may be right> <things you may need> -- sometimes used where might would be expected <you may think from a little distance that the country was solid woods -- Robert Frost>. Date: before 12th century (Merriam-Webster). Antonym: "is" (see).
  • Might - 1 c -- used to indicate possibility or probability <you might be right> <things you might need> Date: before 12th century (Merriam-Webster); sometimes used where may would also be appropriate. Antonym: "is" (see).
  • Millington, A.D. - author of THE COMPLETE BOOK OF MAH-JONGG, Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, 1987, ISBN 0-213-16951-7 (newer versions have different ISBN numbers -- ISBN 0297813404 and ISBN 0460813404). See FAQ 3.
  • MJ or M.J. - abbreviation for "Mah-Jongg" (see).
  • MJM or Mahjong Museum - Museum in Chiba, Japan. Also used to refer to the MAJAN HAKUBUTSUKAN DAIZUROKU ("Illustrated Book of the Mah-Jongg Museum," or literally translated "Mah-Jongg Museum Big Encyclopedia"). Edited by the Mah-Jongg Museum (no author name). Publisher: Takeshobo, April 1999. ISBN 4-8124-0473-8. See FAQ 3.
  • Mo He Pai - Chinese game that may have figured into the development or evolution of mah-jongg. Dates uncertain at time of this writing (December 2002).
  • New Style - Mah-Jongg rules that differ from Hong Kong "Old Style" in offering even simpler scoring yet more numerous special tile combinations and special hands; sometimes associated with the region around Shanghai. See FAQ 2b.
  • Newsgroup, mahjong, the English-language - A sort of internet bulletin board where anyone can participate in freewheeling discussions on mah-jongg. The English-language mahjong newsgroup is at, but your browser may not be set up to handle newsgroups (in which case you could access the newsgroup via The Japanese-language newsgroup is at
  • 1911-A set, the - One of the earliest known surviving examples of a mah-jongg set from before 1920 when Babcock (see) introduced the game to the West. See FAQ 11.
  • Ningbo (Ningbo, Ningpo, Ningbo) - the area from whence it is believed that mah-jongg originated, during or shortly after the Tai Ping Rebellion, perhaps by Chen Yumen (see).
  • Old Style - alternate name for HKOS (see).
  • Opponent - 1 : one that takes an opposite position (as in a debate, contest, or conflict). Date: 1588. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Peng He Pai - Chinese game that probably influenced the development or evolution of mah-jongg. Expanded the matiao deck to 120 or 150 cards in the mid-to-late 1700s. See FAQ 11.
  • Perlmen & Chan - Samuel K. Perlmen and Mark Kai-Chi Chan, authors of THE CHINESE GAME OF MAHJONG, Book Marketing Ltd., 1979, ISBN 962-211-0169. Describes HKOS and New Style rules. See FAQ 3.
  • Postulate - 2 a : to assume or claim as true, existent, or necessary : depend upon or start from the postulate of b : to assume as a postulate or axiom (as in logic or mathematics). Date: 1593 (Merriam-Webster)
  • Premise - 1 a : a proposition antecedently supposed or proved as a basis of argument or inference; b : something assumed or taken for granted : presupposition. 2 [a matter] previously stated. Date: 14th century (Merriam-Webster)
  • Preponderance - 1 : a superiority in weight, power, importance, or strength 2 a : a superiority or excess in number or quantity b : majority. Date: 1681 (Merriam-Webster)
  • Proof - 1 a : the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact b : the process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement especially by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning; 3 : something that induces certainty or establishes validity; 5 : evidence operating to determine the finding or judgment of a tribunal. Date: 13th century (Merriam-Webster)
  • Proponent - : one who argues in favor of something : advocate. Date: 1588 (Merriam-Webster)
  • Proto Mah-Jongg - the original (unknown) mah-jongg rules, which preceded the rules currently known as Chinese Classical mah-jongg and the rules currently known as Hong Kong Old Style. If Chen Yumen is indeed the originator of mah-jongg, Proto Mah-Jongg would be the rules that Chen Yumen originated.
  • Racster, Olga - author of HOW TO PLAY MAH-JONGG IN THE CHINESE MANNER, 1924 (David McKay Company, Philadelphia). Subtitle: "The Official Rules of the Mah-Jongg League." In the Author's Note, Racster specifically says that the main difference between the rules used in Shanghai and the rules used in Hong Kong is that in Hong Kong, the basic score for going mah-jongg was 10 points, as opposed to the 20 points awarded in Shanghai. Click here to see a few detailed scans of this book.
  • Rebut - transitive senses 2 a : to contradict or oppose by formal legal argument, plea, or countervailing proof b : to expose the falsity of : refute. intransitive senses : to make or furnish an answer or counter proof. Date: 14th century (Merriam-Webster)
  • Rebuttal - the act of rebutting, especially in a legal suit; also : argument or proof that rebuts. Date: 1830. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Rules of debate - It should be self-evident that without rules, an argument might well degenerate into nothing more than a fight conducted with words, the end result being rancor between the opposing sides. Rules of debate exist to assist opposing sides in achieving a format within which to express opposing views, thus casting illumination on the views of both sides, and hopefully reducing the anger and hurt feelings.
    In the beginning, this debate raged, without rules, on the English-language mahjong newsgroup, resulting in anger and frustration. So the proponents of the CC Theory (Sloper, Kwan) set up this web version of the debate -- albeit without the cooperation of the opponent of the CC Theory (Tsui). While we in this debate are not agreed on whether to use British Parliamentary Style, Oxford Style, or any other formalized style of debate, the proponents of the CC Theory have chosen a format in which each side presents its arguments, and each side gets to present a rebuttal to the other side's arguments. This debate page is a "living document" which can be changed as new arguments and counter-arguments are brought to the fore (probably through the English-language mahjong newsgroup).
  • Shanghai - 1 : Port city in China, formerly an enclave of numerous foreign business representatives, and from whence mah-jongg's popularity and influence was exported to Japan and the West; 2 : Alternate name for New Style rules (see). 3 : A trademarked name for a solitaire tile game played with mah-jongg tiles.
  • Sloper, Tom - One of the proponents of the CC Theory. Sloper is a game designer, game producer, author, and lecturer. Sloper's game biz career began at Western Technologies, where he designed LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) games and the Vectrex games "Spike" and "Bedlam." There followed stints at Sega Enterprises (game designer), Rudell Design (toy designer), Atari Corporation (director of product development), and Activision (producer, senior producer, executive producer, creative director). In 12 years at Activision, Sloper produced 36 unique video game and computer game titles (plus innumerable ports and localizations), and won five awards. Sloper worked for several months in Activision's Japan operation, in Tokyo, where he came to appreciate mah-jongg and hanafuda. Sloper is perhaps best known for designing, managing and producing Activision's Shanghai line. Website at
  • Tai Ping Rebellion - 1850-1864. Also called Tai Ping Teen Kwok (Heavenly Kingdom Of Peace). Hung Hsiu-Chuan led this radical political and religious upheaval that was probably the most important event in China in the 19th century. It ravaged 17 provinces, and took an estimated 20,000,000 lives. (Encyclopædia Britannica, It was during this period that it is believed that mah-jongg originated, most likely around Ningbo, and perhaps at the hands of Chen Yumen (see).
  • Theory - 4 a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action <her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn> b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances -- often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all>; 5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <wave theory of light>; 6 a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved assumption : CONJECTURE c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject <theory of equations>; synonym see HYPOTHESIS. Date: 1592 (Merriam-Webster)
  • Tsui, Cofa - The main opponent of the CC Theory. See FAQ 3 for Cofa's book on his trademarked variant of HKOS rules. Cofa's website is at
  • Ur Mah-Jongg - see Proto Mah-Jongg.
  • Wilkinson, Sir William Henry - a British Sinologist who served as British consul in China and Korea and who wrote articles and books on Chinese games in the mid 1890s.
  • Wilkinson set, the - A mah-jongg set brought back from China by Wilkinson -- one of the two earliest-documented mah-jongg sets in the world. See FAQ 11.
  • Work, M.C. - American mah-jongg, bridge, and auction author, and one of the five members of the Standardization Committee of the American Official Laws of Mah-Jongg (1924).
  • Yeh-tzu (Yezi Pu, Yeh-tza) - a Chinese game that probably influenced the development or evolution of mah-jongg. See FAQ 11.
  • Zhi Pai - a Chinese game that could well have influenced the development or evolution of mah-jongg. Dates uncertain.

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Arguments FOR the CC Theory

Arguments AGAINST the CC Theory

Rebuttal to arguments for the CC Theory

(Rebuttal written by opponents of the CC Theory)

Rebuttal to arguments against the CC Theory

(Rebuttal written by proponents of the CC Theory)

Disclaimer: Some of the ideas in this article may have been originated by mah-jongg scholar Michael Stanwick. My apologies to Mr. Stanwick if I have expressed any of his ideas as my own without appropriately crediting him as the originator.