Mahjong Strategy: Evaluate and re-evaluate the hand

Mahjong Strategy

This article describes that you should evaluate your hand at certain frequency in one round with example : my game record.

Hi all, thank you for checking this website ! First of all I want to point out that this concept was presented by Mr. Koichi Kihara, famous Japanese professional Mahjong player.

When you see starting hand, it is important to evaluate that hand. According to the researcher, average Shanten (number of effective tiles to Tenpai) is around 3.15 when you drawed 1st Tsumo: 14 tiles starting hand. So if you are better than average, you can be progressive which doesn’t secure many safe tiles in your hand. If you are worse than average: more than 4 Shanten, you should be defensive: keep some safe tiles in your hand.

Below is the example of bad hand.

This hand is 4 shanten, and probably worse than average 4 shanten hand, because 1. they have only 1 Ryanmen: open end taatsu and 2. effective tile for 24p and 45p is both 3p and dupulicated, But please note this evaluation is not stable.

This is the hand on 6th turn. My hand got to be 3 shanten. Just 1 step, but you can see the shape got to be much better. Now this hand has 3 Ryanmen Taastsu. And more important info you can see is that most of the discarded tile from the other players are Jihai:honor tiles and terminals (numbered 1 or 9) which implys the hands of the other players may not be such good. With this comparison, we can judge that the value of this hand got to be higher than that of on 1st turn. And with this judgement, we don’t have to be such conservative which means we don’t have to save so many safe tiles.

Finally, this hand got to be tenpai on 12th turn. Wait pettern is shanpon of 4p and 5p, which is hard to win, but the expected score is enough high (at least 5200), so I riichi-ed.

As you have seen, the value of the hand may change in some turns, so I recommend you to re-evaluate your hand at certain frequency (like 1st turn, 6th turn, and 12th turn) and decide the strategy (to be progressive or to be defensive).


In every article, I express 1 circle as 1p, 1 banboo as 1s, and 1character as 1m.