Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tournaments and Singapore Style Mahjong Rules

I had become quite involved in Singapore Style mahjong in the past two years, despite my desire to focus on Mahjong Competition Rules. This is mainly due to my involvement in teaching mahjong at community centres (CCs) and the main variant that most people want to learn and play here in Singapore is naturally Singapore Style.

Besides teaching mahjong, I was also roped in to help out as a referee at mahjong tournaments organised by Nee Soon South Community Club, one of the community centres I usually teach at. (Ever since the relaxation of the prohibition on playing mahjong in CCs (see this past post), many CCs are now organising tournaments for their divisions' residents to participate in, and Nee Soon South CC was no exception.) The task of being the referee necessitated a hard look at the tournament rules that I was supposed to uphold. Of course, I had previously written course materials for teaching mahjong, and I had already prepared quite a bit of material on Singapore Style mahjong, but tournament rules are a different matter altogether. Singapore Style mahjong has no official, standardised set of rules, but it has a common form that many groups of players more or less adhere to. There are, however, many little details that differ from group to group. To come up with a coherent set of tournament rules that has commonality with the form most people in Singapore play with was a difficult task. Even up till now, after almost one year and two tournaments, I am still working on perfecting the tournament rules.

Here, I am starting a series of posts that will describe most, if not all, of the elements of Singapore Style mahjong, from the essential features of Singapore Style and the kinds of scoring elements, to obscure rules and weird situations (and how such situations should be dealt with). Besides describing the various elements of Singapore Style mahjong, I will be analysing each element in depth and give reasoned explanations as to which form these elements should take, especially in a tournament setting. These rules are not meant to be definitive (and variations will be indicated accordingly in the articles), but a main feature would to assess their utility in tournaments. Rules solely for gambling would still be described accordingly, but not recommended. There is no stamp of official approval on these rules, since there is no association or sporting body to govern these local rules of mahjong. This series of articles will be a constantly evolving body of work: I will amend these articles whenever I get new ideas, input and feedback from others, or when I face new situations that give me new perspectives.

I welcome all feedback and comments!

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