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Mahjong in Saki

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The Saki (anime) and the Achiga-hen side-A (anime) can be enjoyed without knowing much about the specifics of mahjong. Paying close attention to the mahjong adds another layer of enjoyment. Knowing mahjong is more necessary when reading the Saki (manga) and the Achiga (manga).

Crunchyroll's Saki anime translator used mahjong terminology found in the European Mahjong Association's riichi mahjong rules, which have since been revised.

Saki2

Saki drawing a kan tile to rinshan while Nodoka watches in disbelief.

Settings

The players play a Japanese variation of mahjong called rīchi mahjong. In the Sakiverse, the number of entrants in mahjong tournaments worldwide are a hundred million and growing. High school students in mahjong clubs compete for rank and for potential elevation to professional status for their members.

Unlike the mahjong in the Akagi world, where corruption restricts the game's popularity, mahjong in the Sakiverse is a worldwide sport. In tournaments, the players compete in rooms separated from other players, the commentators, and the fans. Automatic mahjong tables are bathed in lights and several cameras record the action. Furthermore, the competition rooms are shielded from electromagnetic waves and suspicious items are examined by the referees. It's on this seemingly transparent stage where several high schools girls appear who seem to defy all common sense.

Player characteristics

The players' personalities and emotions directly affect their mahjong playing. Having the right mindset, which comes from both playing experience and the support of teammates, greatly impacts their play. Their personalities often revolve around their personal histories and values, from which they develop their play styles. In addition, many players appearing recently have developed special abilities. While players with special abilities often have the advantage over skilled players, skillful play and determination still greatly affects results among both normal and special players alike.

Basic rules

Main article: Riichi mahjong
Main article: Mahjong yaku
Main article: Scoring in mahjong

All basic rules of the game apply within the Sakiverse. Yet, instead of manual tile shuffling, characters both in tournaments and casual settings are seen using automatic tables.

Rules summary

To summarize the basics, it is important to note that mahjong functions like a card game using 3 suits with an additional group of tiles called honors. Players have two primary objectives with the game: developing hands (to score points) and/or to avoid playing into each other's hands (avoiding losing points). Every player begins with the same number of points; and therefore, the only source of points is from each other.

With regards to developing hands, players seek to achieve tenpai, which puts them in position to score their hands either by draw (tsumo) or by other player discards (ron). Various methods can be used, but they are summarized by two primary methods: open and closed. By open hands, players make claims on player discards to complete hands. By closed hands, players purely rely on tile draws to complete hands. Those who achieve tenpai with closed hands have the option to declare, riichi. Also, at all times, players must have some form of yaku in order to win a hand.

Overall, these basic conditions provide a heated competition among players to win (or avoid losing), by having more points than the other players.

Tournament rules

Most of these rules apply to both the prefecturals and the nationals, as the prefecturals serve as qualifying tournaments for the nationals.

Some of the tournament rules are:

  • Team matches consist of five players playing one or two hanchan games each, with each team starting with 100,000 points. The team lineup is submitted when registering for the prefectural qualifiers and can not be changed. Players incapable of playing may be replaced with reserve players.
  • Individual matches consist of either east wind or hanchan games, with each player starting with 25,000 points.
  • Matches can end when someone goes below zero points.

In casual play and in individual tournament matches, the winner of a game receives roughly 5000 points from each of the other players. More specifically, the players with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th most points divide their points by 1000, round it with 0.5 rounded down, and then subtract 30 to get their ± score. The total ± score of these players is negated to arrive at the winner's ± score. For Saki Miyanaga to score ±0 while starting with 25,000 points, she needs to not finish with the most points and she needs to get 4,600 through 5,500 more points to get to 29,600 through 30,500 points.

Team tournament format

A team tournament consists of several tournament rounds.

  • A (team) tournament round consists of one or more matches.
  • A (team) match usually consists of five battles.
  • A battle consists of one or two hanchan games. ("Match" is often used instead of battle, with a team match consisting of five sub-matches.)
  • A game usually consists of two prevailing wind rounds. ("Hanchan" or "east-south rounds" is often used instead of game.)
  • A round usually consists of four seat-wind rotations. (The Saki anime, the European Mahjong Association, the Mahjong articles at Wikipedia, and Barticle's Guide uses this definition of a round.)
  • A rotation usually consists of one hand, but may include additional hands due to east seat-wind repeats. (The Achiga-hen anime and the mangas call this a "round" instead of a rotation, and don't use a proper term for a rotation and a round.)
  • A hand usually consists of multiple go-arounds. (The Achiga-hen anime and the mangas also call this a "round" instead of a hand, and thus are confusing when there is a need to discuss both the rotation and the hand.)
  • A go-around usually consists of four turns, but may be interrupted when a player calls a tile or declares a kan.
  • A turn usually includes one draw and one discard.

Matches, battles, games, and rounds usually end with the last seat-wind rotation, but may end sooner when a player goes below zero points.

Individual tournament

Just like the team tournament, players go through a regional qualification competition in order to qualify for nationals.

Male competition

Most of the characters in the Sakiverse are female. Yet, there exist male players, as well as a tournament for male characters. However, little is known about this branch of competition as the series greatly focuses on the female tournament. According to Ritz, Men's inter-high champ is about as strong as Izumi Nijou.

For more

See the intermediate level continuation page for more rules and concepts used in Saki style mahjong or the riichi mahjong article for a complete set of rules, including additional rules for real life play.

Saki hand explanations

This section includes introductory hand readings requiring no knowledge or just basic understanding of the concepts and rules of mahjong.

Kuro's introduction

After Kuro joins them, young Nodoka notices that the doras appear to be missing. When Ako explains that all of the doras gather to Kuro, Nodoka exclaims that that's superstition. That causes Kuro to drop a nine of characters tile Chuuwan, which Shizuno claims for a ron with a hand worth 8000 points.

South prevailing-wind round. East seat-wind/dealer: Kuro, south: Ako, west: Shizuno, north: Kuro.

IiwanRyanwanSanwanSuuwanUuwanRyuuwanChiiwanPaawanChuuwanChuuwan NansouthNan, ron: Chuuwan
the horizontal south wind tile picture has still not been uploaded
perhaps add scoring here

Harue then requests that Kuro show her hand.

dora indicator tile: Iisou
RyanzouRyanzouRyanzouRyanzouSanzouUusou-akaRyuusouRyuusouUupin-akaUupin-akaUuwan-akaRyuuwanChiiwan

The two of bamboo tiles Ryanzou are all doras, as are the red five of bamboo Uusou-aka, the red five of circle tiles Uupin-aka, and the red five of characters tile Uuwan-aka. Kuro has a total of eight doras. perhaps discuss one shanten

For more, including Saki's plus-minus zero hands, see the hand explanations section of Gameplay in Saki.

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