A standard (four player) Mahjong set consists of 144 tiles. There are 35 different types of tile, each type occurring four times (4 x 35 = 140 tiles). However, in the standard Japanese three-player game only 108 of these tiles are used.
There are three suits, Coins (Pinzu), Bamboo (Souzu), and Characters (Manzu). Each suit runs from 1 to 9, with four tiles for each number, making a total of 36 tiles per suit. In the Japanese three-player game the tiles 2 to 8 of the Characters suit are removed. Only the 1 and 9 tiles of this suit are used.
There are four winds: East (Ton), South (Nan), West (Sha), North (Pei). There are four tiles for each wind making a total of sixteen wind tiles altogether. All these tiles are used in the three-player game.
There are three Dragons: White (Haku), Green (Hatsu), and Red (Chun). There are four tiles for each Dragon, making twelve Dragon tiles in all. All these tiles are used in the three-player game.
Flowers and Seasons
These tiles are only occasionally used as Bonus tiles in three-player Mahjong.
Tiles for the Three-Player Game
The tiles that are used in the three player game are:
- 1-9 of Coins (Pinzu) = 9 x 4 tiles = 36 tiles.
- 1-9 of Bamboos (Souzu) = 9 x 4 tiles = 36 tiles.
- 1 & 9 only of Characters (Manzu) = 2 x 4 tiles = 8 tiles.
- 4 Winds (Ton, Nan, Sha, Pei) = 4 x 4 tiles = 16 tiles.
- 3 Dragons (Haku, Hatsu, Chun) = 3 x 4 tiles = 12 tiles.
- Total = 108 tiles
- Mahjong sets usually include three or four dice. However, in Three Player mahjong only one die is used.
Scoring Tallies (Tenbo)
- 10,000 points
- 5,000 points
- 1,000 points
- 100 points
- There are four denominations of scoring tally:
- 3 x 10,000 tallies (30,000 points)
- 2 x 5,000 tallies (10,000 points)
- 4 x 1,000 tallies ( 4,000 points)
- 10 x 100 tallies ( 1,000 points)
- Each player starts the game with a tally of 45,000 points, divided into the following denominations:
Allocation of Seats
- Take one of each of the wind tiles East, South and West, place them face down on the table and shuffle them. Each player takes a tile. The person who drew the East tile chooses a seat and sits down. His seat is the temporary-East seat. The person who drew the South tile sits to his right, and the person who drew the West tile sits opposite him.
Building the Walls
- To build the wall, turn all 108 tiles face down and shuffle them well. Then each player should build a wall consisting of two layers of tiles, 18 tiles long.
The players then push their walls a few inches towards the centre of the table so that they meet to form three sides of a square.
After the walls have been built the Oya is chosen.