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2014 MCR Rulebook

BEIJING - Through an effort to make clarification on several points of rule, and also to help spread the popular game of mahjong, the World Mahjong Organization (WMO) has released an update to its official Mahjong Competition Rules (MCR), and also has introduced a simplified version of the rules called International Mahjong Primary Competition Rules (MPCR).

The official English updates to MCR, as released on the 11th of April 2014, offer very few changes that will impact the way players have come to know and understand the game. While some readers may have been hoping to feel the ground quake with the shift of new rules, perhaps like hoping to see the heavy advantage to self-drawn wins evened out, the changes, as minor as they are, will likely only be felt as a slight tremor at best. The vast majority of the changes, as compared to the original document, are subtle word alterations or phrase reconstructions, and don't substantially alter the way the game is played. Readers will also note that the illustrated fan examples have all been redone in more colorful tiles.

The most substantial rule changes include:

3.5.5 - 4 Authorizes only those automatic mahjong tables sanctioned by the World Mahjong Contest Center.

3.5.5 - 6 Any electronic scoring device must be sanctioned by the WMCC.

3.5.7 -2 Added the following requirements “When head referee announce start of the session, all players should stand up and bow to each other, players will seat afterward. Keep silence in the

contest hall, only the words for contest is exception. Players and referees

should thank each other after session is finished.”

3.5.7-3 Omits the referee’s right to mix the tiles himself.

3.5.7-4 added “If players have any objection to how tile wall formed,

player can rise hand to call a referee and current Hand should begin after

one time rebuilding the Tile Wall.”

3.5.7-5 height to throw dice reduced from 20-30 centimeters to “10-20 centimeters above the table.”

3.7.2-4 Clarifies “Only one player can win” to “Only one player can win current hand” suggesting players may tie for the tournament.


MPCR Rules

The newly introduced Mahjong Primary Competition Rules, released on the 15th of April 2014, represent a simplified version of the MCR rules in an effort to help spread the game to new players. It appears that the "Primary" in the rule's title isn't meant to imply that this ruleset will be the primary (main) ruleset of Chinese competition, but rather is meant in the same sense as "primary education", meaning it comes first in the process of learning. The most significant difference between MCR and MPCR is the reduction in the number of scoring fan from eighty-one to only thirty, as summerized briefly below. Significant omissions include all of the limit hands, and gone too is the Chicken Hand. Time will tell how well this new set of rules is received and played, if at all, by various mahjong organizations like the EMA.

24 Points

1. Seven Pairs

2. Full Flush

16 Points

3. Pure Straight

4. Pure Shifted Chows

5. All Fives

12 Points

6. Lesser Honors and Knitted Tiles

7. Upper Four

8. Lower Four

9. Big Three Winds

8 Points

10. Mixed Straight

11. Mixed Triple Chow

12. Out with Replacement

13. Robbing a Kong

6 Points

14. All Pungs

15. Half Flush

16. Mixed Shifted Chows

17. All types

18. Two Dragon Pungs

4 Points

19. Fully Concealed

20 Last Tile

2 Points

21. Dragon Pung

22. Concealed Hand

23. Tile Hog

24. Double Pung

25. Two Concealed Pungs

26. Concealed Kong

1 Point

27. Melded Kong

28. One Voided Suit

29. No Honors

30. Flower Tiles

To download the new Mahjong Primary Competition Rules, follow this link to the WMO site.

Comments by readers on this article

Edwin Phua: We in Singapore have been analysing the new beginners' rules (the 'primary' rules) using the Chinese version which was released about two weeks earlier.

We are troubled by this new development, as we feel that the new beginners' rules may hinder learning of MCR rather than aid it. We feel that there are negative consequences in transitioning from this beginners' ruleset to the full ruleset for beginners.

Probably, the major difference now is not actually the omission of several scoring elements, but the reduction of the winning requirement from 8 points to 6 points. This is probably concommittant with the omission of several important two-point scoring elements such as All Chows, All Simples, Seat Wind, and Round Wind.

Beginners may learn to play effectively within this system, but the full rules will be like a totally different system. Would habits learnt here be difficult to unlearn?

We have been following the changes to the main rules as well. This update (as well as the 2011 Chinese update) are mainly cosmetic in nature, as none of the rules have been significantly altered. A lot of problematic areas still exist in the fouls and penalties section without change, which have to be corrected via addenda released during each major competition, such as at WMC 2012, and at the recent China Mahjong Championship 2014.

Senechal D.: If the WMCC plans on regulating the use of autodealers, could they publish a list? Also, what *authority* lets them decide table A is good, table B is bad? Have they had problems with Amos or Alban, and what exactly do they propose as a better alternative? --- Other than that, I suppose people who enjoy playing government rules now have the option to have fun playing simple government rules too. cough

Edwin Phua: I doubt we have to worry about this particular detail, because unless there are companies that sell such tables can ship worldwide and service such equipment, we will be unable to comply with this rule. 

China itself has hundreds of brands, so only allowing some companies which meets its requirements provide tables for tournaments as an assurance seems reasonable.

Sylvain Malbec: I'm not sure what this "Mahjong Primary Competition Rules" is made for. 

• If it's intended to be used in competitions, it goes against the primary objective of MCR: standardizing the game. 

• If it's to convert players for other rules, it's simplifications don't seems necessary. 

• If it's to help beginners to learn mahjong, it's hardly usable without a learning path and it still includes unnecessary complications (like the Account-Once Principle, which have about no explanation at all).

People in this conversation

Comments (8)

  • Guest - 阳光

    How come English is not used in China MCR . I played in China and no one used English to count points . The game is international.

  • Guest - KC Low

    Because in China, they speak Chinese and even the young people are reluctant to speak English as they have a poor command of it.

  • Guest - 阳光。

    Maybe MCR is not international Mahjong . International is all languages is it not ? Why even play if you go too China .it is in Chinese language only ,not English allowed or understood . Why is it called international ? When it is not .It original came from China . I play the game here in Canada and it is with all Chinese people I'm the only Western man playing the game . I would never play in China because it is all in Chinese and some of these Chinese have no respect for the rules . I have been through this before with the Chinese MCR people .

  • Guest - Edwin Phua

    阳光。, I find your reasoning to be problematic. 'International' in this case simply means that there is a standardised ruleset that everyone from around the world can play together without many problems. Alas, it does not mean it will be problem-free, and it does not mean that all the players will be able to communicate with each other clearly. While English is a very common language used widely in the world, it is not actually understood and spoken by everyone! And there is no international language that is spoken and understood by everyone.

    Indeed, when you go to Japan or other countries in Asia (e.g., Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam) or many countries in Europe, few will be able to play mahjong with you in English! Scoring is done in their own language which they are comfortable in, although I note that Japanese MCR players are tending to use Mandarin pronunciation in their scoring now.

    And that is not even considering how mahjong is governed internationally and which languages are prescribed for use during tournaments. (This is a problematic issue, which will hopefully see some solution soon under the Mahjong International League.)

    And if you look at other games/sports, it is also unlikely that competitors can comprehend everyone else and their sport's international officials in any one language. It will always be a problem in a multi-lingual world. Moreover, some sports have their origins in non-English languages, and their sporting terminology/jargon is also in non-English languages, despite their international outreach. Fencing will always use French, taekwando using Korean, judo and karate using Japanese! MCR, as a mahjong ruleset originating from China, will use Mandarin Chinese as its main language (and this language is that most of the development/research/practice of MCR is using)! Players in China will naturally use Mandarin Chinese as their language of communication! To insist otherwise is a misplaced sense of self-entitlement.

  • Guest - 阳光

    The original Mahjong in China is MCR . It is not international , as you say . I speak all forms of Chinese and English . To me if you say it is international , that's because the man for China wanted it to be international . It is not it is the original from China . The very Frist , the scoring of this game has changed too . I also play Shanghai, Taiwan , Cantonese , these all came from China . Never before in North America . They now have there own that western people play which is a Mahjong invented by North American and the same goes for EU they have there own . MCR is not original international ,

  • Guest - KC Low

    The next time people will be requesting will be that the winds and dragons be changed to their English equivalents and the 1 to 9 characters be changed to English (10,000, 20,000, etc.). In international tournaments, the contestants are supposed to point out the scoring pattern and it is self-evident. Even people in Europe do not count in English!

  • Guest - Martin Rep

    In 1998, a formal Chinese state committee designed a new set of rules. It was based upon many local rulesets. These new rules were granted an official status in China. As a result of this, playing mahjong was not longer forbidden in the People's Republic. Basic principles of the new ‘healthy’ were: no gambling, no drinking, no smoking.
    It was however, not the Chinese, who made these ‘healthy’ rules to an international standard. This was the Japanese visionary president of the Japan Mahjong Organizing Committee, Kyoichiru Noguchi. He not only promoted the new rules, which he could do since he owned an important publishing company, Takeshobo, but he also organized the very first World Championship in Mahjong, which meant the launch of a first international standard in mahjong. This is why, at the time, these rules were called International Rules. After some years, they generally were indicated as Mahjong Competition Rules (MCR).

  • Guest - 阳光

    Interesting but not right .In English you have some information that is not correct or right . MCR originated in China not in Japan . When you find the person a Chinese man who brought it back let me know . I'm not going to tell you the name of the man who brought this Mahjong . It sure was not a Japanese man .

    Comment last edited on about 10 months ago by Guest

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