Code of Behavior
- The basic principles listed in the “Overview” section of the “Mahjong Rules” chapter are also applicable to this chapter. Please note in particular the “Player Enforcement Principle”.
- The latest version on the World Series of Mahjong official website should be considered the valid version of these rules.
General Code of Behavior
- The player must not violate the spirit of a fair competition.
- The player should always play to the best of one’s ability. Collusion with another player (to the detriment of one’s own results) is prohibited. Communicating the contents of one’s hand (other than tiles which are legally exposed) to another player is prohibited. When one is behind in score and has little hopes of advancement, one should still demonstrate sportsmanship and play to the best of one’s ability, and should not recklessly discard tiles for the opponents to claim.
- Any form of intentional cheating, such as (and not limited to) hiding tiles on one’s body, illegal swapping of tiles, stacking the wall tiles in an unfair manner, or false reporting of scores, is strictly prohibited.
- The player should not obstruct the smooth running of the competition. The player should obey the judges’ orders; any appeals should be filed civilly.
- If the player believes that he has enough reason to dispute a judge’s ruling, he may try to explain his reason on the spot.
- If, after the above, the player still disagrees with the judge’s ruling, he should not argue with the judge, but should file his case to the head judge within 30 minutes after the end of the current session.
- The head judge has the final decision on all matters. Objections will not be entertained.
- For score checking requests, please see the section “Announcement of Results” in the “Tournament Format” chapter.
Apparels & Manners
- The player should be dressed neatly and decently. The player must not wear reflective clothing (check the buttons), glasses, or accessories such that one’s opponents can see one’s hand tiles.
- The organizer reserves the rights to require that the player covers up or removes any trademarks, slogans, logos, etc. on his apparels.
- During the competition, any bags or handbags must be placed under the chair. (One may keep his wallet and identity documents on his body.) Players are responsible for protecting their own belongings; the organizer will not be responsible for any losses.
- The organizer will provide free drinks. The player may not bring any drinks or containers into the event hall.
- The player should behave in a courteous manner towards other players, the judges, and the officials.
- During the play of a hand, players may not use any electronic/communication equipment such as mobile phones, PDAs, laptops, etc. When play commences, the player must switch off or put in “sleep mode” any such equipment, and switch off the ringer. Penalty points will be deducted if one’s equipment rings during play.
- During score computation at the conclusion of a hand, players may use the following tools to facilitate scoring:
- A simple calculator, or the calculator function of a mobile phone, tablet computer, etc.
- An application program (on a smartphone or tablet computer etc.) which allows the player to manually (directly) select from a list the scoring patterns applicable to this hand. Such program should include the functionality of displaying the applicable patterns for all players to see. The program may automatically sum up the score value of the patterns, and may also calculate the payoff of the four players. The program may support multiple languages in order to faciliate communication between players speaking different languages.
(The organizer does not officially support said application; the player will need to prepare his own.)
- It is prohibited to use a program which automatically determines applicable patterns through inputting (keying in or through a photo shot) the tiles in the winning hand.
- By joining the competition, the player automatically surrenders his image rights to the organizer. The organizer may record the player in image and sound, and may broadcast or publish such recordings.
- The player has the obligation to comply with the organizer’s request for an interview. A player who refuses to be interviewed may receive a point penalty. However, if the player has a reasonable excuse that receiving an interview at the moment may affect his performance in the competition (such as physical sickness or being too rushed), he may request that the interview be postponed (at the latest until the player has finished all playing in the competition).
- The judge may require a player to testify to what he has seen or heard. The player has the obligation to give true witness. A player who deliberately bears false witness to undermine the fair and just rulings of the judge will be heavily penalized, up to the maximum penalty of disqualification and blacklisting.
- The player needs a certain level of physical fitness to complete the 2-day event. Like any sports event, physical fitness is a part of this competition; managing one’s health condition such that one is fit to play in the competition is a responsibility of the player. The organizer shall not be liable for any health problems (sickness, injury, death) which arises during or due to participating in the tournament.
- The organizer will provide light meals for qualifying players during meal service time.
- In order to protect everyone’s right to breathe fresh air, smoking is prohibited inside the event area (including the food and drinks service area). We thank you for your cooperation.
- Players should not consume excessive amounts of alcohol before or during the event. One is responsible for his own behavior at all times. Any misbehavior by an inebriated player will be penalized accordingly.
- The shuffling of mahjong tiles may be noisy. Please bring your own earplugs if needed.
- The player with a physical handicap should inform us of it during registration, so that we can make the needed preparations for his needs.
- English, Mandarin (Chinese), Cantonese (Chinese) and Japanese are the four official languages of the competition. All instructions and announcements will be issued in all four languages.
- In order to facilitate smooth communication, each player and judge will wear a “language badge” which indicates what languages (among the four) the person can speak.
- One must verbally announce his claims. For each keyword, one may choose among several different language versions.
Etiquette during Play
- No chatting is allowed during the play of a hand, except for the required verbal announcements for claims. Please remember that claims must be verbally announced (same for win and kong declarations); an unvoiced claim has no precedence, and the opponent may ignore it and continue playing.
- The players may make some brief comments or discussions in between hands, but they should not speak too loudly and disturb nearby games in progress.
- While it is understandable that the shuffling of the tiles may be noisy, the players should not make unnecessary noise during the deal or the play by banging the tiles hard against the table. The exception is that, it is permitted to knock once the winning tile (as a normal emotional expression).
- One may not leave his seat or stand up in the middle of a hand.
- During the play of a hand, if one needs to access his belongings under the chair, or needs to pick up a dropped item on the floor, one must first notify a judge, and can bend down only under the supervision of the judge. During play, one may not access or use any electronic/communication device such as a mobile phone.
- If one shows any suspicious movements during play, a body search will be conducted to prove his innocence. The body search will be conducted by a person of the same sex.
Score Record Card
- Each table will be issued one Score Record Card for each half (or quarter). Each card provides space for recording the score for two cycles (eight hands).
- The judge fills in the Score Record Card for the players. However, players who know how to use the Score Record Card may instead fill it in themselves.
- Any writing on the Score Record Card should be done openly on the table (not on one’s lap). Please write carefully; any corrections must be verified and signed by a judge.
- After the scores for each hand have been recorded, be sure to verify that the scores have been recorded correctly before starting the next hand.
- At the end of a half (or quarter), the players should sign the Score Record Card in the designated spaces after verifying that the scores have been totaled correctly. Players should remember to perform this step of checking and signing; once the card has been submitted to the organizer for tallying, it may become impossible to correct any errors.
- The player should enter the event hall at least 10 minutes before the starting time of the session.
- Each player will receive a seating slip, which shows the player’s table number. The player should show up at the table on time.
- After a cycle, the players exchange seats. After a half (two cycles), the players rotate tables. Please see the “Tournament Format” chapter for details.
- After rotating tables, the player should not tell the results of his previous opponents to his new opponents, and he should not elaborate in detail his own previous results. Also, one should not ask such information of his opponents.
The different classes of penalties are summarized below. The judge decides the type and terms of a penalty. The head judge has the final decision.
- Disqualification & Blacklisting: A player may be disqualified from the competition due to intentional cheating, collusion, or a deliberate offense which seriously hinders the running of the competition. In serious cases, the player may also be blacklisted from participating in the event in future years. A disqualified player is not eligible for any prize money (including any prize money accumulated in previous rounds), and the entry fee will not be refunded. The forfeited prize money will be distributed to other players according to the “Prize Structure”, on a later date after all relevant appeals have been settled.
- Resignation: A player who does not complete the required playing, for example due to absence or early departure, will be eliminated from the tournament. The resigning player receives the prize money accumulated from previous rounds.
- Dead Hand: A player may be prohibited from winning in the current hand. This penalty is applied when there is an irregularity in the hand which renders it ineligible to be completed as a winning hand, such as an improperly displayed set, or a long hand or a short hand.
- No Claims: A player may be prohibited from claiming any discards, for any purpose, in the current hand. This penalty is applied against a long hand, or when a player inadvertently exposes or sees an opponent’s hand tiles.
- Penalty Points: A score penalty may be assigned for a variety of offenses, such as exceeding the play time limit, or repeated violations of failing to verbally announce one’s claims. Usually, this penalty is just deducted from the player’s total score, and will not be credited to his opponents. The exceptions are serious offenses in which an opponent’s opportunities are being undermined by the offense (such as disruption and abortion of the game).
- Penalty Tiles: See the section “Penalty Tiles” in the chapter “Mahjong Rules”. This penalty deals mainly with illegally exposed tiles. Its purpose is to prevent a player from benefitting from the help from another player (either a colluding partner, or in a “tactical alliance”) through illegally giving information about one’s hand.
- Warning: For some minor violations (such as failing to verbally announce one’s claims), the judge may issue a warning. A larger penalty may apply to repeated violations.
- Correction: For certain kinds of violations, the judge may correct any irregularity, or give the benefit to another player, in order to maintain the fairness of the competition. For example, if a player deliberately draws two tiles for the purpose of preventing his lower seat from taking the seabed tile, the judge may nevertheless give the lower seat the chance to draw one tile.
Collusion vs. Tactical Alliance
- Each player should play for oneself, aiming to achieve the best score and ranking for oneself. One must not intentionally play to the detriment of one’s results with the purpose of improving the results of a certain other player. This is called collusion, and is a serious offense punishable by disqualification and blacklisting.
- During the play of a hand, the situation may arise that an opponent has developed a major threat of a high-scoring hand. In such case, sometimes it is to one’s advantage to deliberately help another opponent win a small hand (even deliberately discarding the winning tile for the opponent), so as to escape the threat of the big hand. This strategy is called “Tactical Alliance”, and is legally allowed because the purpose is to avoid a big loss for oneself, which is to one’s own benefit.
- A case of Tactical Alliance should be sustained by the followings. Poorly sustained cases will draw suspicion of collusion.
- The threat of the high-scoring hand is real (actually in the player’s hand) or visible (in the exposed sets, or a clear pattern in the discards).
- The winning hand is indeed small, or visibly small.
- The player’s own hand is small or unlikely to win.
The judges have the right to rule on the case.
- The “Payoff Scheme” in the “World Series of Mahjong Scoring System”, in fact, encourages Tactical Alliance, since for small hands the discarder does not have to pay the loss of the two other players.
- There is also the case that, while an opponent is clearly threatening a big hand, one also has a big hand himself with a good chance of winning (already calling or close to calling). In this case, one may want to risk discarding dangerous tiles because he does not want to abandon his own big hand. This is considered legal risk-taking.
- Even when the player has accumulated a negative score in the round, and is likely to be eliminated, he should still play to the best of his ability, and should not discard recklessly. Otherwise, the player may be penalized for collusion, regardless of whether he has arranged any illicit agreements with another player or not.
- Towards the end of the preliminary round, some players who are hopelessly behind in score may lose their fighting spirit. It is allowed for a disheartened player to voluntarily withdrawfrom the tournament, so as to allow the player to rest, and also avoids forcing one to play unwillingly, which might undermine the fairness of the competition.
- A player who voluntarily withdraws is (of course) considered to have resigned, and is not eligible for any prize money for the current round (regardless of his results at that point).
- A player who wishes to voluntarily withdraw should report his intention to the organizer as soon as possible. After completing two or more sessions in the preliminary round, one who reports voluntary withdrawal earlier than ten minutes before the start of the next session may retain certain player’s privileges, such as meal service, during the period of the preliminary round. If one reports later than ten minutes before the start of the session, the organizer has the discretion on whether to grant such privileges.
- A player who wishes to voluntarily withdraw should report his intention to the organizer, and should not just vanish (no-show). A player who is absent during any session in the preliminary round, without reporting to the organizer and without an acceptable explanation, will be put in the “low priority list”: for a certain period, such players will have the lowest priority for any promotional benefits offered by the organizer.
- No matter how much a player has fallen behind in score, one is welcome to continue playing in the tournament as long as one still has the fighting spirit. However, one who has fallen too much behind should not try to chase a too minute chance of rank-in. For example, if one is behind by so much that even winning a limit hand would not be enough for rank-in, one should not attempt a limit hand with a handful of tiles which show no such promise while discarding recklessly. A player who has a reasonable chance of rank-in (say at least 1%) may try to build big hands, but if one’s chance is way too minute, one should play with the objective of attaining a good score in the current round, and should not pursue a too minute chance by all means while discarding recklessly. A player who elects to continue playing is obligated to play to the best of his ability.
- From the third session in the preliminary round onwards, “not knowing the scoring patterns” will not be accepted as an excuse for discarding recklessly. It is very disadvantageous for a player to continue playing under such ignorance; it is recommended that the player uses the opportunity of the practice games (described below), or seek help from the judges or other players during rest periods, to familiarize oneself with the scoring patterns as soon as possible. It is suggested that, a player who has not learned the core scoring patterns after two sessions, and is also behind with a negative running score at that point, should voluntarily withdraw.
- Late arrivals: A player who arrives late will receive a point penalty as if he has taken a time-out for the duration by which he is late. (See next item.) A player who is late for more than 5 minutes will be considered an absentee, and will be eliminated for resignation or be penalized for an arbitrary number of points (no less than that specified in the next item).
- Time-outs: A player who, for any reason (such as going to the toilet), wants to leave the table before the half or quarter is completed, must get permission from the judge. A player who takes a time-out receives a penalty of 5 points for every 30 seconds (or part thereof). A player who is penalized for over 150 points within a half for time-outs and late-arrival is considered to have resigned, for failing to complete the required playing.
- A time-out can only be taken in between hands. One is normally not allowed to take a time-out in the middle of a hand, unless there is a dire emergency.
- When a player takes a time-out, the three other players should stay at the table. If they leave the table, they will also be considered to be taking a time-out, and penalized accordingly.
- A player may take, without penalty, a short time-out of around 60 seconds to ingest medication, if he submits in advance a doctor’s notice stating the necessity of the punctuality of the medication. The judges reserve the rights to impose the time-out penalty in all other cases (even for medical reasons).
- A player who fails to show up at one’s table 5 minutes after the start of the session will be considered an absentee, and will be eliminated from the competition for resignation or be subject to an arbitrary number of penalty points. If a player has some emergency (such as the need to go to the toilet) which might cause him to be late for a little bit over 5 minutes, he should inform the head judge in advance, in which case the penalty may be reduced (to only that specified in the “Time-outs” item above).
- If a player is absent, the highest-ranked player among those eliminated who is present around the event hall will be called to fill one’s place.
- If a player realizes that he will be unable to participate in a future round (due to some emergency), he should notify the organizers as early as possible.
- The organizers may designate “neutral players” to fill in empty seats at a table, or may make last-minute rearrangements to table assignments for the same purpose. Usually this will be done in the preliminary round only, as for later rounds previously eliminated players will be called for this purpose.
- On the day before the competition, practice games will be offered in the event hall. Registered players may freely participate.
- During the practice games, the judges will be present to give instructions and rules explanations to the players.
- Score Record Cards will be provided for practice. The practice games results are not counted, and no ranking will be computed.
- The practice games serves as a chance for rules and skill practice for the players. Money wagers are prohibited.