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 tonpuusen 「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.
|0||東 1 局 0 本場||East 1|
|1||東 2 局 0 本場||East 2|
|2||東 2 局 1 本場||East 2 Bonus 1|
|3||東 3 局 0 本場||East 3|
|4||東 3 局 1 本場||East 3 Bonus 1|
|5||東 4 局 0 本場||East 4|
|6||南 1 局 0 本場||South 1|
|7||南 1 局 1 本場||South 1 Bonus 1|
|8||南 2 局 0 本場||South 2|
|9||南 2 局 1 本場||South 2 Bonus 1|
|10||南 3 局 0 本場||South 3|
|11||南 3 局 1 本場||South 3 Bonus 1|
|12||南 4 局 0 本場||South 4|
|Extra west round|
|13||西 1 局 0 本場||West 1|
|14||西 2 局 0 本場||West 2|
|15||西 2 局 1 本場||West 2 Bonus 1|
|16||西 3 局 0 本場||West 3|
|17||西 4 局 0 本場||West 4|
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」. During the game, a dealer indicator is used to either mark the initial dealer or the current dealer. It also shows the current wind round of either East or South.
Kyoku 「局」 is the identifier for each mahjong hand played during the game. It uses a combination of the wind round, a number 1-4, and the honba count 「本場」. As an example, the very first hand is always East Round 1, Honba 0 「 東 1 局 0 本場」. As the first hand of the game, it is impossible for it to have an alternative designation. All subsequent hands may differ due to the different ways the game plays out.
For every wind rotation, the designation for the wind round increases by one. After East Round 1, then the game moves onto East Round 2. This indicates that the player to the right of the initial dealer has become the new dealer. This continues onto East Round 4, which is the last round for East. If the game continues from here, then the designation becomes South Round 1. Here, the initial dealer once again became the dealer. Only this time, it is the South Round. Most games end after South Round 4. If necessary, the game continues into the West Round.
Barring certain conditions, the dealer has the ability to retain position and deny a wind rotation in the next hand. In this case, renchan occurs.
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. Under specific conditions, this honba count is able to increase even during a wind rotation.
End of game
The game may end according to different scenarios. Normally, the last hand of the game is in South 4 (for tonpuusen, it is East 4). This last hand is generally designated as oorasu. However, depending on the rules, the game may very well not end in South 4 (East 4); and it may extend into an extra round. Finally, the game could end well before oorasu, when a player's points drop into the negatives.
Tobi 「トビ」 pertains to negative scores. In general, games end when a player falls below zero points. However, some game settings allow the continuation of the game despite the negative scores. This is particularly applicable to televised games, which do not desire the premature ending to a game.
Oorasu 「オーラス」 is designated for the last dealer of the game; the term is derived from all last. This is the South 4 hand; for East only, it is the East 4 hand. By this point, every player has had the chance to be the dealer twice (once for East only). Naturally, if the last dealer wins, renchan may occur for another hand. Though, the game may end if the last dealer happens to be the points leader; or if the other players force a wind rotation. This depends on agariyame.
Agariyame 「和了り止め」 is a specialized rule applied at oorasu, where the last dealer can end the game, while holding the lead after one hand. This decision enables the last dealer to prevent other players from additional chances of improving their point standing. Naturally, the last dealer with the lead secures the win for the whole game. Otherwise, the same player may make the call to continue an additional hand, or renchan. The game can end, if a player aside the dealer wins the hand.
When the rule setting is set to "nashi", then the game continues until one more wind rotation is invoked. In this case, the last dealer has the privilege of retaining the dealer seat to continually attain points until a proper end to the game.
Enchousen 「延長戦」 is an extra wind round. The extra round functions like an "overtime sudden death period" This extra round continues, when no player scored above the target points (typically 30,000) after South 4. The instant a player scores above the target points with a winning hand, then the game ends immediately; and the same player wins the game. However, ryuukyoku cannot end the game. For a regular hanchan game, this extra round is indicated as the West round. For tonpuusen, the South round takes on this role.
- Hanchan in Japanese Wikipedia