Mahjong Teaching Method, Tibet Rules

A couple weeks ago, the USPML hosted a Mahjong booth at PAX EAST. Over the course of three days, with only space for four mahjong tables (three used for teaching), we ended up teaching over 350 people through one hour “How to play Mahjong” sessions. Throughout all of our teaching at PAX East, the biggest success came from a certain teaching style we learned from Benjamin Boas (Author and Mahjong playing American who lives in Japan), called the Tibet Rules. The beauty in these rules is that not only do they effectively teach people how to play mahjong, but also gets them quickly immersed in a game that they can immediately play and get better at, without having to jump through a set of convoluted rules. At PAX East, the large majority of the people that came back for intermediate and advance lessons, as well as those who came to buy mahjong sets, lesson books, and find out more information about mahjong after their lessons, came from the tables using a variety of these rules to teach. The following is the rules that Ben sent us:


The Mahjong Meetup returns tonight!

Sorry for the short notice but tonight Monday, May 2nd, at 9:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time The Mahjong Meetup will return. Dasuke and I have been busy with our day jobs and other commitments, so we’re trying to broadcast when we have openings in our schedules. All apologies.

Also, unfortunately due to me forgetting to click on the archive settings on Twitch, the first episode did not record. I’ve double checked the settings so we will have the episode up on our YouTube channel.

Dasuke will recap PAX and talk about recently formed NARMA (North American Riichi Mahjong Association) and if we have time, a general call in show where you can talk about your first encounter with riichi mahjong so get your microphones ready.

Please join us!


The Mahjong Meetup on

The first episode of The Mahjong Meetup will air this Friday April 15th, 3:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

Dasuke and I will talk about our experiences at one of the few jansous outside of Japan, the recently formed NARMA, and a general call in show where you can talk about your first encounter with riichi mahjong.

Please join us!


Yaku, Hai!: Riichi (& Ippatsu & Daburu Riichi)

In order to be able to build the best hands, you need to know both how to plan out your play with a hand, and how to execute that plan. This is the essence of hand development: taking that group of 13 useless tiles you start with, and using them to build a tenpai that wins you the game. In riichi, you are constantly confronted with choices like “Do I open my hand?”, “Do I just try to get to tenpai quickly, or am I okay with a slower, more valuable hand?”, and the ever-important “Do I fold?” The yaku are basically your toolbox of techniques to build hands, so understanding each of them is critical (especially in games where they contribute more to scoring, like when playing without open tanyao or red fives).

This is the first article in Yaku, Hai!, a new series of articles which  go into detail on each of the yaku in turn, explaining the rules surrounding them, when you would use them, and the nuances which may not be apparent at first glance. This first article covers the single most important yaku: the titular riichi. We’ll also cover riichi’s brother double riichi and cousin ippatsu, since their the strategy is simply a part of riichi’s.

Riichi is simple on the surface: stay closed, get tenpai, declare riichi, profit! But both the rules and strategies are very complex, making it one of the most difficult yaku to master. Riichi is one of the best reasons to stay closed until you hit tenpai, but that’s not all. There is an incredible amount of strategy that goes into the decision of when to riichi or not, and there is far, far more than one article’s worth to say about it.


Upcoming tournaments

Rochester is right around the corner, we’ll have our usual reporting team present this March 12-13. If you’re there, ask for the Osamuko team :)

After that, there will be a tournament run once again in the beautiful city of Montreal, QC (CAN). A classic 2-day weekend tournament this June 4-5, 2016. Come enjouy the city while the exchange rate is favorable for tourists.

More info at — Be there!