Beginner's Lesson 15
Yakuman and More Rare Yaku
In this lesson, we will cover all of the yakuman and the rest of the rare yaku. Yakuman are the highest-scoring hands in riichi mahjong, and the 4 yaku we will cover in this lesson are related to yakuman in some way.
The first yakuman we will introduce is kokushi musou. Often translated as “thirteen orphans”, kokushi musou does not follow the usual pattern of 4 sets and a pair. Instead, it requires you to have 1 of each honor and terminal tile (there are 7 honor tiles and 6 terminal tiles for a total of 13!) and a second copy of any of these 13 tiles. It is possible to be waiting on 13 different tiles, which gives kokushi musou the widest possible wait in riichi mahjong. However, it is much more likely to be waiting on a single tile to complete the hand.
The second yakuman is chuuren poutou. Often translated as “nine gates”, it requires the hand to be entirely composed of 1 suit with a specific shape. That shape is 1112345678999 plus any other tile in that same suit. You may notice that the 1112345678999 pattern is can win on any tile in that same suit, which is the basis behind this yakuman. However, it is possible to have a closed chinitsu hand that qualifies for chuuren poutou by winning on a specific tile (ex. 1122345678999 winning on a 1). Chuuren poutou can only be earned with a closed hand.
The next pair of yakuman are daisuushii and shousuushii. Translated as “big four winds” and “little four winds” respectively, these yakuman revolve around the wind tiles. Daisuushii requires you to have triplets of all 4 wind tiles. Shousuushii requires you to have triplets of 3 of the wind tiles and a pair of the fourth. These yakuman may be claimed regardless of if your hand is open or closed.
The fifth yakuman is daisangen. Translated as “big three dragons”, it requires you to have triplets of all 3 dragon tiles. Daisangen may be claimed regardless of if your hand is open or closed. The related rare yaku is shousangen. Translated as “little three dragons”, it requires you to have triplets of 2 of the dragon tiles and a pair of the third. Shousangen is worth 2 han, regardless of if your hand is open or closed, but a hand containing shousangen will necessarily gain 2 more han from the 2 triplets of yakuhai.
The next yakuman is suu ankou. Suu ankou requires 4 ankou (concealed triplets) and is the most common yakuman. Due to the nature of this yakuman, the hand must be closed. Be aware that if you have 3 ankou and a shanpon wait to complete the fourth triplet, you must win by tsumo to earn suu ankou. A triplet completed by ron is not considered an ankou, so the hand would only qualify for san ankou rather than suu ankou (but it would also gain toitoi and any other relevant yaku).
The seventh yakuman is suu kantsu. Suu kantsu requires 4 kans and is perhaps the most difficult yakuman. Due to the nature of this yakuman, the final wait is necessarily a tanki wait (single wait to complete the pair). Suu kantsu may be claimed regardless of if your hand is open or closed. The related rare yaku is san kantsu. San kantsu requires 3 kans and is worth 2 han regardless of if your hand is open or closed.
The next pair of yakuman are tsuuiisou and chinroutou. Tsuuiisou requires every tile in your hand to be an honor tile. Chinroutou requires every tile in your hand to be a terminal tile. These yakuman may be claimed regardless of if your hand is open or closed.
The tenth yakuman is ryuuiisou. Translated as “all green”, it requires all of the tiles in your hand to be completely green. In practice, that means that the only tiles you can use are 2sou, 3sou, 4sou, 6sou, 8sou, and hatsu. In some rulesets, the hatsu is required to claim this yakuman. Ryuuiisou may be claimed regardless of if your hand is open or closed.
The last pair of yakuman are tenhou and chiihou. Translated as “blessing of heaven” and “blessing of earth” respectively, these yakuman are earned by winning a hand by tsumo on the first, uninterrupted turn of a hand. Tenhou is awarded to a dealer who wins with their initial 14 tiles, and chiihou is awarded to a non-dealer who wins by tsumo on their first turn. The related rare yaku is renhou. Translated as “blessing of man”, it requires a non-dealer to win by ron before their first draw. Renhou is given different values based on the ruleset, but it is commonly valued at mangan (a cheaper “limit hand”; these will be covered in a later lesson!).
The last rare yaku is double riichi. It requires you to declare riichi on the first, uninterrupted turn of a hand. It is worth 2 han, double that of a normal riichi. Other than the increase in han, double riichi has all of the same properties as a normal riichi, meaning that you have a chance to get ippatsu and/or ura dora as well. If you miss out on tenhou, chiihou, or renhou, at least you can still get some value with double riichi.
Here are some videos by Light Grunty that explain all of these yakuman and rare yaku:
Yakuman, Kokushi Musou, and Chuuren Poutou
Daisuushii, Shousuushii, Daisangen, and Shousangen
Suu Ankou, Suu Kantsu, and San Kantsu
Tsuuiisou, Chinroutou, and Ryuuiisou
Tenhou, Chiihou, Renhou, and Double Riichi
All of these yaku and yakuman are very rare, so do not feel pressured to memorize them all right away.
In the next lesson, we will discuss a full game of riichi mahjong.