Hanchan 「半荘」 encapsulates one game of Japanese mahjong. A typical game involves two rounds designated as East and then South. Even if a game ends early, such as when a player falls below zero points, then it is still considered to be a full game. For shorter games, players may play tonpussen 「東風戦」, or East only games.
Without any player falling below 0 points, the shortest game possible is 8 hands. Of course, the shortest game possible can end in just one hand. After that, games can be of varying lengths depending on the number of dealer repeats and other game results.
|2||東局２本場１||East 2 Bonus 1|
|4||東局３本場１||East 3 Bonus 1|
|7||南局１本場１||South 1 Bonus 1|
|9||南局２本場１||South 2 Bonus 1|
|11||南局３本場１||South 3 Bonus 1|
|Extra west round|
|15||西局２本場１||West 2 Bonus 1|
Typical games begin with the east round, or tonkyoku 「東局」. After that, the game moves into the south round, or nankyoku 「南局」. If necessary, it can go into the west round, or shaakyoku 「西局」.
For identification and labeling, every hand has a designation. It uses a combination of the wind round, a number 1-4, and the honba count. As an example, the very first hand is always East Round 1, Honba 0. As the first hand of the game, it is impossible for it to have an alternative designation. All other hands afterwards may differ due to the different ways the game plays out.
Renchan 「連荘」 are additional hands, by which the wind seating do not rotate. Under English terminology, a renchan may be considered as a "bonus hand". This is possible when the dealer wins a hand, an abortive draw occurs, or the dealer is tenpai at exhaustive draw. This is a clear advantage to the dealer position, with the ability to continually retain the dealer position given the two conditions. Comebacks are very much possible and doable from taking advantage of the dealer seat.
In the event when the wind seating does not change, then the honba count increases by one. For each honba, the hand value for any player is increased by 300 points. To mark honba, the dealer uses a 100 point stick to mark the number of renchan currently. The points are used as markers only temporarily and is not spent by the dealer. When the dealer seating rotates via a hand winning, the dealer receives the markers back. A game cannot end with a renchan on board. A seat wind rotation is part of the end game criteria.
Oorasu 「オーラス」 is designated for the last dealer of the game, barring any player ending the game earlier by dropping below zero points. This is the South 4 hand; for East only, it is the East 4 hand. Naturally, if the last dealer wins, an additional hand, or renchan, may be awarded and the game continues. Though, the game may also end if the last dealer happens to be the points leader, or if the other players force a wind rotation. The term is derived from all last.
Agariyame 「和了り止め」 is a specialized rule applied at oorasu, where the last dealer makes the call to end the game after one hand, whether holding the lead or not. Ending with the lead, the last dealer secures the win for the whole game. Otherwise, the same player may make the call to continue an additional hand, or renchan. If this rule is "nashi" or "deactivated", then the final dealer seat is retained until either the dealer fails to attain tenpai or another player wins a hand. In either case, the wind is technically rotated; and the game ends.
Enchousen 「延長戦」 is an extra round, provided that no player scored above the target points (typically 30,000) at the end of the game. This round functions like an "overtime sudden death period". The instant a player scores above the target points, then the game ends immediately; and the same player wins the game. For a regular hanchan game, this extra round is indicated as the West round. For tonpussen, the South round takes on this role.
- Hanchan in Japanese Wikipedia