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SLOPER ON MAH-JONGG
||By Tom Sloper (トム•スローパー)
Japanese players have created terms for every possible aspect of play in mah-jongg. The terms below are useful in other forms of the game as well.
Tenpai: When you are ready for mah-jongg, waiting for a tile that'll give you the win. Pronounced "ten pie." 「聴牌」
Karaten: It means "empty tenpai" - your hand is ready for mah-jongg, but you can see that the tile you need to make mah-jongg is dead. Pronounced "kah-rah-ten." 「空聴」
Shan-ten: How many tiles away you are from tenpai (one shanten, two shanten, three shanten, etc.). Pronounced "shon-ten." 「向聴」
Ishanten: One tile away from tenpai (having one unwanted tile in the hand when it's not your turn). Pronounced "ee-shon-ten." 「一向聴」
Uke-ire: The number of possible remaining tiles that can make you one tile closer to tenpai. Pronounced "ooh-keh-ee-reh." 「受け入れ」
Janpon-machi: The hand is complete but for two pairs, either of which could be added to, to win the game. In American mah-jongg, this could apply when there is a joker that could be used to complete the other set. Pronounced "john-pone-mah-chee."「シャンポン待ち」
Kabe: Literally, "wall" or "barrier." Roughly, the term refers to counting visible tiles (among exposures and discards and in your own hand) to determine the probability of someone being able to use that tile. If you see three or four of that tile, then a barrier exists that prevents the other player from using it. Pronounced "kah-beh."「壁」
Tanki: Pair wait. The hand is complete except for the pair (you have one tile of the pair, waiting for its twin). Pronounced "tahn-key." 「単騎」
Hadaka-tanki: "Naked wait." When making a hand with one pair, and all other sets are exposed, so all can see that you need to complete that pair. Pronounced "hah-dah-kah-tahn-key."「裸単騎」
Genbutsu: A tile that's safe to discard. Pronounced (hard G) "gen-boot-sue." 「現物」
Kikenhai: A "hot tile" (dangerous to discard). Pronounced "kee-ken-high." 「危険牌」
Awaseuchi: Discarding the same tile that another player threw. Pronounced "ah-wah-seh-ooh-chee." 「合わせ打ち」
Zentsuppa: The practice of going for the win without regard to defense. Pronounced "zent-soup-pa." 「全ツッパ」
Ikasama: To cheat, especially using sleight of hand. Pronounced "ee-kah-sah-mah." 「イカサマ」
Which is more curious: that we don't have words for all these things in English, or that the Japanese do?
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© 2014 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.