These rules represent the classical Chinese Mah Jong as it was played by experts and intellectually oriented players in the second decade of the 20th century. The classical rules are considered by many as the "true" form of Mah Jong: a balanced result of a development that lasted several decades and during which the rules and scoring reached their perfection, and also, a form of Mah Jong that is pure of additions of the later versions, which sometimes make the game unnecessarily complex or over-emphasize the element of luck (and accordingly, gambling aspects of the game).
However, the classical rules are seldom used in China of today (few are even aware of this playing style), and the modern Chinese variations, mostly developed outside of mainland China, where Mah Jong was suppressed for decades, have abandoned many features of the classical game, e.g., point scoring for basic sets, the payoff scheme where East receives and pays double, payments between the losers, etc. The modern rules have also introduced a number of new scoring patterns and a payoff scheme which rewards a player for going out on a self-drawn tile (the winner's scores are doubled in this case), and penalizes a player who discards the winning tile (though not as radically as in the Japanese rules where the discarder pays for all losers – in Chinese modern rules discarder just pays twice as much as the other losers).
The traditionalists may oppose and consider these changes as a degradation of the game, but they often fail to see that modern Chinese rules are flexible enough for varying playing styles. E.g., the pattern-centered New Style rules can be used for both gambling purposes and for intellectually challenging games, while the old-style rules (Hong Kong Mah Jong rules in Four Winds) are very simple and close to the classical rules in spirit, and are well suited even for novice players – the rules and scoring are actually simpler than Chinese classical. As the payoff scheme in modern Chinese Mah Jong does not reward East (but rather going out self-drawn), and penalizes mildly the discarder (and thus discourages irresponsible discarding), many have argued that the changes in modern Mah Jong have actually improved the classical game.
Paradoxically the classical Chinese rules continue to have adherents in the Western world, mainly in European countries, where the classical rules are still often included in the Mah Jong tile sets that can be bought from stores and Chinese shops. These rules (embodied in Four Winds as European Classical rule preset), however, represent the Shanghai or Cantonese popular forms of Mah Jong, where scoring is slightly simplified. They are well suited to learning the game, but miss some of the details of Chinese Classical rules, which make the game more interesting and challenging.
The most distinctive features of the Chinese Classical rules are listed below (note that many of these features appear individually in national European versions, but often slightly modified):
|Tiles||144 (136 + 4 Flowers and 4 Seasons)|
|Restrictions for the winning||None|
|Claiming rules for going out||Player first in turn wins|
|Passing of the deal||When non-dealer wins|
|Rule of Ready||None|
|Dead hand rules||None|
|Payment||Between all players; Chinese Classical scheme|
|Discards||In random order, no extended discard information|
|Basic tile points||Standard. The losers are paid the same as the winner.|
|Scores for basic sets||Standard. The losers are paid the same as the winner.|
|Scores for Flowers and Seasons||4 pts for each Flower and Season, 1 dbl for having both own Flower and Season, 1 dbl for all Flowers or all Seasons, 3 dbl for All Flowers and Seasons. The losers are paid the same as the winner.|
|Scores for patterns based on Chows||None|
|Scores for patterns based on Pungs and Kongs||Three concealed triplets (1 dbl), Little Three Dragons (3 dbl), Big Three Dragons (5 dbl). The losers are paid the same as the winner.|
|Scores for patterns based on the whole hand||Fully concealed hand (1 dbl), Chow hand (No value pairs, 1 dbl), Pung hand (1 dbl), All Terminals and Honors (1 dbl, Pung hand not implied); One suit with Honors (1 dbl), One suit only (3 dbl). Note: No scoring for losers.|
|Scores for miscellaneous patterns||None|
|Scores for winning||Winning (10 pts), Self-drawn last tile (2 pts), Out on a pair (2 pts), Out on a major pair (2 pts), One-chance hand (1 dbl – Dead multiple-chance hand allowed), Out on the last tile of the Wall ( 1dbl), Out on the last discard (1 dbl), Out on a supplement tile (1 dbl – Only for Kongs), Out by robbing a Kong (1 dbl), Ready on first turn (1 dbl).|
|Penalties||Faulty out: Deal ends and the offender pays 300 pts to each of the other players (deal passes if the offender is East); Faulty claims: None; Insurance penalties: Classical hands, Nine tiles error, Five tiles error|
|Limit hands||Classical: All Green (100%), Four Kongs (100%), Hidden Treasure (must go out self-drawn, but can contain concealed and claimed Kongs, 100%), Three Great Scholars (no Chows are allowed, 100%), Little Four Winds (1 dbl), Big Four Winds (100%), All Honors (100%), All Terminals (100%), Nine Gates (100%), Thirteen Orphans (100%), Fully Concealed Suit Hand (100%); Serpents: Squirming Snake (melded sets allowed, 100%); Pairs: None; Special ways of going out: Heavenly Hand (100%), Earthly Hand (100%), Moon from the Bottom of the Sea (100%), Plum Blossom on the Roof (100%), Scratching a Carrying Pole (100%), Kong on Kong (100%), Dealer's Consecutive Wins (13 deals, draws allowed; 100%);American hands: None; Miscellaneous: None. Losers: Only for Little Four Winds (1 dbl) and Big Four Winds (4 dbl; losers do not get scores for the implied Pung hand).|
Classification of rules
Alan's Zung Jung
Chinese New Style
Dutch League rules
EMA Riichi Rules
Hong Kong Mah Jong
Internet Mahjong Server
Mahjong Masters Million
Taiwanese 16-Tile Mah Jong
Wilmington Advanced 12-Tile rules