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Machi 「待ち」 is the Japanese term for "wait patterns". Given any mahjong hand at any instance, players are waiting for specific tiles either to develop their hands or complete it. Wait patterns arise during hand development, when mahjong tiles in possession in the hand are in need of other tiles in order to complete mentsu (tile groups) or the entire hand. Wait patterns during tenpai are of particular interest, as they indicate winning tiles. Players in tenpai must know their waiting tiles, or else end up missing a winning tile.

Five patterns here are classed as "basic wait patterns". These five patterns occur frequently; and they are not dependent on other patterns for formation. A combination of any of these five, including themselves, can form more complicated patterns.


Many different patterns arise during the course of hand development. Once a hand reaches tenpai, being able to interpret the hand's available winning tiles is a vital skill. If a player does not correctly read their winning tiles, they may miss a valid win, or they may commit a chombo with an illegal win call: either by calling a win on a tile that does not complete the hand, or calling ron while furiten due to a tile that they did not realize would complete the hand.

The most commonly occurring wait patterns have been given names, to make them more easily recognizable. More complex waits can arise involving a large number of potential configurations of the hand. This is especially true of hands with a large number of tiles in the same suit, most notably those aiming for chinitsu. Knowing the basic wait patterns also helps to combine them to interpret complex hands, which may have as many as 8 weights (not counting the special cases of chuuren poutou and kokushi musou, which are easily recognizable).

Wait counts

The waiting patterns can be analyzed using two numbers: n-sided waits and n-tiles available. This counts the number of tile types and the number of tiles themselves.

Patterns waiting for n-sided look for the number of tile types count as winning tiles. The largest number involves kokushi musou with a 13-sided wait pattern. The smallest number is 1.

As for counting the number of tiles available, this accounts every tile type having 4 copies each. Maximum possible counts exclude tiles required in the hand. Any tiles in other players' hands, the dead wall, or discarded tiles are not factored to this count. Of course, during the course of a hand, players must take into account the number of available tiles along with the maximum count.

Hand development

During hand development, it is important to understand the hand's machi for two reasons. The first is that, when trying to bring a hand to tenpai, a player will want to maximize the number of available tiles to bring them closer. Doing this requires interpreting the patterns of potential groups in a similar manner to finding tile waits in a tenpai hand. The second is that furiten is best avoided, and so a player should avoid making discards that would leave them furiten once they reach tenpai. This can be a particular challenge when developing single-suited hands that may have a large number of different waits.

Basic wait patterns

These five are essentially the basic wait patterns. Upon tenpai, they only look to complete either the last tile group or the pair.

Name Kanji/Kana Header text
Ryanmen 両面
Waiting for:
Penchan 辺張
Waiting for:
Shanpon 双ポン
Waiting for:
Kanchan 嵌張
Waiting for:
Tanki 単騎
Waiting for:

Named combinations

The basic patterns can be combined for more complex patterns; and the wait patterns listed here have taken on names.

Name Kanji/Kana Header text
Nobetan 延べ単
Waiting for:
Sanmenchan 三面張
Waiting for:
Sanmentan 三面単
Waiting for:
Entotsu 煙突系
Waiting for:
Aryanmen 亜両面
Waiting for:
Ryantan 両単
Waiting for:
Pentan 辺単
Waiting for:
Kantan 嵌単
Waiting for:
Kantankan 嵌単嵌
Waiting for:
Tatsumaki 竜巻
Waiting for:
Happoubijin 八方美人
Waiting for:

Double yakuman patterns

These two unique patterns are linked to specific yakuman. Under all possible tile waits with these patterns, yakuman is ensured; under some scoring rules, winning a hand with these patterns is awarded double yakuman. There are no other wait patterns with more than 8 winning tiles (although it is possible for an 8-sided wait to include four of the same tile in such a way that a hypothetical fifth copy of the same tile would complete the hand).

Chuuren poutou kyuumen machi

Waiting for:

Kokushi musou 13 machi

Waiting for:

Complex patterns

These combinations involve patterns that do not have specific names. Instead, they use combined forms of the other patterns. Furthermore, they mostly consist of consecutive, or closely consecutive, numbered tiles. Recognition of these patterns can produce some significantly powerful waits, which may be immune to suji and have large numbers of waiting tiles.

Related terminology


Karaten 「カラテン」, or empty tenpai, is the case where there are no tiles left to win with, due to all potential winning tiles already having been used in the player's hand, a discard pool, a called group, or visible as dora indicators. In some rulesets, a hand in this state is considered noten at an exhaustive draw.

Takame and yasume

Takame is a potential winning tile which is worth more points than another, called yasume.

External links

Machi in Japanese Wikipedia
Forum list of various patterns
Wait survey quiz in