Handicap system in mahjong?

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

Hi Folks,

I received an inquiry from Marvin:
"Does MJ has a handicap system? Could one be developed much like the golf
handicap system?"

To which I have replied:
"I did play by some kind of "handicap rules", in which the new comers are
allowed to win at any rank while those experienced players of the table can
win only if the hand reaches a fixed, higher rank (e.g., with 3 folds
minimum). Other than this, all other rules of the play are the same.

I don't know if any specifically made "handicap rules", or any that are
similar to that of the "golf handicap system", exist. Perhaps the folks at
the mahjong newsgroup (rec.games.mahjong) could give you some hints. I'll
post your question to the newsgroup as well."

Could anyone give any further comments?

Thanks,

Cofa Tsui
www.iMahjong.com
7 answers Last reply
More about handicap system mahjong
  1. Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

    "Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<HTkxc.710691$Ig.509718@pd7tw2no>...
    > Hi Folks,
    >
    > I received an inquiry from Marvin:
    > "Does MJ has a handicap system? Could one be developed much like the golf
    > handicap system?"
    >
    > To which I have replied:
    > "I did play by some kind of "handicap rules", in which the new comers are
    > allowed to win at any rank while those experienced players of the table can
    > win only if the hand reaches a fixed, higher rank (e.g., with 3 folds
    > minimum). Other than this, all other rules of the play are the same.
    >
    > I don't know if any specifically made "handicap rules", or any that are
    > similar to that of the "golf handicap system", exist. Perhaps the folks at
    > the mahjong newsgroup (rec.games.mahjong) could give you some hints. I'll
    > post your question to the newsgroup as well."
    >
    > Could anyone give any further comments?
    >
    > Thanks,
    >
    > Cofa Tsui
    > www.iMahjong.com

    Hi, Cofa!

    I (as an experience player in games other than MJ) would distinct
    TWOlevels of Handicapping:
    * "internal" (with changes of Rules for unexperienced player for less
    strict ones), and
    * "external", where corrections are applied for final scoring, place
    placement etc.

    The former requires accurate tuning for particular set of MJ Rules.
    Sometimes it is not so easy to define less strict set of Rules for the
    Game remain interesting to play.

    The latter is always preferred option, especially, when applied in
    Tournaments scoring, Master Points calculations etc. There is an extra
    advantage here: after a handicapped player raise his/her level of play
    and "compensation" is not required, a player should NOT start to play
    entire different game, that is change his/her strategy, way of
    thinking etc.

    As an example of good application of such "external" handicapping I
    would descibe Master Points (MPs)calculation in Bridge tournaments.
    Firstly, a player (or a pair of players since Bridge mostly is
    pairs-based game) receives MPs for a place in tournament based on
    ACTUAL (raw) scoring.
    Secondly, each player receives a "compensation" depending on his/her
    Qualification Ranks (Grandmaster, Master, Novice etc.), so that
    entirely Novices add more "compensatory" points to raw scores than
    Masters. Place and MPs for a player are based now on a combined score.
    )That allows to give bonuses to Novices who did not win big tournament
    but instead got say 4th place out of 40.)

    In general, I would say that we (MJ community) can derive any kind of
    "official" handicap rules. Though it would be crucial AFTER MJ
    community would derived Qualification Requirements for players (Jesus,
    should it also depend on what kind of MJ Rules out of 20-30 a player
    plays??).
    As for "internal" handicapping, like allowing Novice to go out on
    weaker hands, it looks like some kind of "house rules" which any group
    of player could set for themselves.

    Best regards,

    Vitaly Novikov
  2. Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

    "Combo" <the_novikovs@hotmail.com> wrote in message
    news:7c6538ba.0406090445.2f298769@posting.google.com...
    >
    > Hi, Cofa!
    >
    > I (as an experience player in games other than MJ) would distinct
    > TWOlevels of Handicapping:
    > * "internal" (with changes of Rules for unexperienced player for less
    > strict ones), and
    > * "external", where corrections are applied for final scoring, place
    > placement etc.
    >
    > The former requires accurate tuning for particular set of MJ Rules.
    > Sometimes it is not so easy to define less strict set of Rules for the
    > Game remain interesting to play.
    >
    > The latter is always preferred option, especially, when applied in
    > Tournaments scoring, Master Points calculations etc. There is an extra
    > advantage here: after a handicapped player raise his/her level of play
    > and "compensation" is not required, a player should NOT start to play
    > entire different game, that is change his/her strategy, way of
    > thinking etc.

    I agree that the "external" approach is a preferred choice. I always don't
    suggest change of any existing rules at will (you know, those "make whatever
    rules you like" kind of suggestions) unless you mean to create a new set of
    rules. With the "external" approach, anyone can create and apply those
    supplementary rules that are suitable for their groups, but without the need
    to create a new variant of play.

    [...]
    >
    > In general, I would say that we (MJ community) can derive any kind of
    > "official" handicap rules. Though it would be crucial AFTER MJ
    > community would derived Qualification Requirements for players (Jesus,
    > should it also depend on what kind of MJ Rules out of 20-30 a player
    > plays??).

    I am not quite sure this approach would reach a result. As you have
    indicated, there are some issues to deal with and the process could be
    extremely difficult and paintful.

    > As for "internal" handicapping, like allowing Novice to go out on
    > weaker hands, it looks like some kind of "house rules" which any group
    > of player could set for themselves.

    Changes of this type can perhaps workable in private playgorups (i.e., house
    rules) only. As I can see, and predict, that in the future, any changes to
    existing mahjong games that are intended for common adoption would only be
    possible when the changes are associated with a specific identity of the
    variant of play (e.g., brand name of game, organization or event, etc.). It
    is quite impossible to make a change to the rules of HKOS (or CC, etc.) that
    is commonly accepted without doubt.

    [Test: Over time, the HKOS has common changes that require a "chucker to pay
    for all" (other players not required to pay to the winning player). However,
    I believe many of you are still playing by the rules (if HKOS) that all
    players shall pay the winning player even if the game is won on a discard.]

    Cheers!

    Cofa Tsui
    www.iMahjong.com
  3. Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

    Hi friends

    I doubt if a handicap system is any good. Handicaps are useful in
    games where skill of of the greatest importance. Mahjong has its own
    handicap: the way the winds will spread the tiles amongst the players.
    Even newcomers can beat experienced players. Which is virtually
    impossible in chess or golf.

    Just my two eurocents.


    |
    |Martin Rep
    |The Independent Internet Mahjong Newspaper
    |Mahjong News:
    |www.mahjongnews.com
    |The Dutch Championship Riichi Mahjong:
    |www.riichi.tk
    |The Golden Dragon Hong Kong Mahjong Club:
    |www.gouden-draak.nl
  4. Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

    "Martin Rep" <mrep@mahjongnews.com> wrote in message
    news:vsucd01orl4liue7r356ltt28356d7alkf@4ax.com...
    > Hi friends
    >
    > I doubt if a handicap system is any good. Handicaps are useful in
    > games where skill of of the greatest importance. Mahjong has its own
    > handicap: the way the winds will spread the tiles amongst the players.
    > Even newcomers can beat experienced players. Which is virtually
    > impossible in chess or golf.

    But Martin, the effect of Winds in mahjong is of luck issues rather than
    skill. I don't see it has anything to do with a handicap rule. Or do I miss
    something?

    Cheers!

    Cofa Tsui
    www.iMahjong.com
  5. Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

    On 2004-06-21 22:01:03 +0200, "Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> said:

    > "Martin Rep" <mrep@mahjongnews.com> wrote in message
    > news:vsucd01orl4liue7r356ltt28356d7alkf@4ax.com...
    >> Hi friends
    >>
    >> I doubt if a handicap system is any good. Handicaps are useful in
    >> games where skill of of the greatest importance. Mahjong has its own
    >> handicap: the way the winds will spread the tiles amongst the players.
    >> Even newcomers can beat experienced players. Which is virtually
    >> impossible in chess or golf.
    >
    > But Martin, the effect of Winds in mahjong is of luck issues rather than
    > skill. I don't see it has anything to do with a handicap rule. Or do I miss
    > something?
    >
    > Cheers!
    >
    > Cofa Tsui
    > www.iMahjong.com

    Cofa - What I am trying to say is: a handicap is used in sports or
    games where skilled players *always* beat the less skilled players.
    E.g. a good chess players will *never* lose from a beginning player,
    and a good golf player will never be beaten by a poor one.
    However, in mahjong there are no absolute terms to tell a good player
    from a bad one. Everyone knows a beginner can beat even the most
    experienced mahjong master. Because of the luck that is involved
    (wherefor I used the metaphore of the winds). We have concluded before
    that mahjong is a game of skill, luck [and intuition]. But, eventually,
    fate determines whether a players gets a handicap (bad tiles) or not
    (good tiles).


    --


    |
    |Martin Rep
    |The Independent Internet Mahjong Newspaper
    |Mahjong News:
    |www.mahjongnews.com
    |The Dutch Championship Riichi Mahjong:
    |www.riichi.tk
    |The Golden Dragon Hong Kong Mahjong Club:
    |www.gouden-draak.nl
  6. Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

    Martin and Cofa,

    Firstly, I cite some paragraphs of your thoughts from this thread:

    > >> I doubt if a handicap system is any good. Handicaps are useful in
    > >> games where skill of of the greatest importance. Mahjong has its own
    > >> handicap: the way the winds will spread the tiles amongst the players.
    > >> Even newcomers can beat experienced players.

    > However, in mahjong there are no absolute terms to tell a good player
    > from a bad one. Everyone knows a beginner can beat even the most
    > experienced mahjong master. Because of the luck that is involved
    > (wherefor I used the metaphore of the winds). We have concluded before
    > that mahjong is a game of skill, luck [and intuition]. But, eventually,
    > fate determines whether a players gets a handicap (bad tiles) or not
    > (good tiles).

    Secondly, I cite a part of original message (1st in a thread):

    > I received an inquiry from Marvin:
    > "Does MJ has a handicap system? Could one be developed much like the golf
    > handicap system?"

    Now, let's look at definitions of a word "handicap" as I have found in
    the web:

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/handicap
    handicap - advantage given to a competitor to equalize chances of
    winning

    http://golf.about.com/cs/golfterms/g/bldef_handindex.htm
    Definition: A USGA Handicap Index is a numeral, to one decimal place,
    that represents a golfer's potential for scoring. A handicap index of
    14.5, for example, indicates that a golfer will, on his or her best
    days, shoot somewhere around 14 or 15 strokes over par.

    As I personally see we have several issues in here:
    * how to differentiate/ equate different skills level of players in a
    game?
    * how to measure/ quantify those inequity of chances to win? (!
    Classification and Ranking ?)
    * given some quantitative measure of luck (like golf handicap index)
    what are PROBABILITIES of a player to win, to get, say, second place
    in 16-hands match, etc.?

    Golf index clearly says to me: if one player has index, say, by 3
    higher that means that this player would finish event with
    ON-SOME-AVERAGE 3 strokes more.

    If we look at Ratings in chess (Elo coefficients) that system works
    (is designed to work in such a way!) like:
    when difference of Ratings of two players is 200 points that means
    that, say, in 10-board match their score would be AROUND 7.5 to 2.5
    that is 3:1. (As clear consequence 400 points means 9:1 ratio, 100
    points means 1.7320508 (square root of 3):1 ratio, etc.).

    Game of Go. 100 points means that players would be "equal" with one
    stone of HANDICAP. Look, that game is maybe the only perfect example
    of "internal" handicapping.

    We can easily convert that way of thinking to 16-hands matches in MJ:
    based on pre-defined or pre-calculated Scores/ Indices of 4 players
    one can calculate on-the-average final raw scores and hence places.

    That clearly leads to Classifications and Ranking. I tried to start
    that discussion on EMC-2005 forum:
    http://www.mahjongnews.com/phorum/read.php?f=1&i=129&t=129

    Being statistician and having experience on tournament holding I CAN
    prepare (on a volonteer basis) some kind of reference tables: Ranking
    ==> Index ==> Probabilities ==> Scores ==> Places ==> Ranking. Or, at
    least, I know how to do that. Major stuff concerning grounds to do
    that is already mentioned in above mentioned forum.

    As for luck (and intuition) in general I would give an example of
    tennis.
    Let's assume that two player's level is so that chances to win a ball
    are 9:1 when better player serves, and 7:3 when the other player
    serves. Those numbers only say that out BIG number of serves winning
    would break in proportions close to the above mentioned. Though less
    skilful player can win even several balls (no matter who serves) in a
    row.

    The way to decrease that statistical "uncertainty" of "who is the
    king?" is to play longer events (or to assigned any winning scores
    ONLY after big number of "tries"). Like in tennis we have system
    Ball-Game-Set-Match. On the longer event there are more CHANCES to
    reveal winner (or even try to quantify results-probabilities etc.).

    In MahJong we have similar thing: Hand-(Round?)-Match(16 hands). From
    my personal view any Rating and Ranking should be applied to those
    16-hands matches. We can try to define typical ranges of Raw Scores
    (Points) and Victory Points (or VP, those points for places based on
    4-2-1-0 system).

    As a possible summary: anything goes in ONE particular MJ hand. It may
    depend on Honors distribution, Rules, condition of players, time of a
    day, etc.
    Though: in a long event Master have more (all?) chances to reveal
    his/her level of play.

    Hope to continue on Statistical project,

    Vitaly Novikov
  7. Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

    the_novikovs@hotmail.com (Combo) wrote in message news:<7c6538ba.0406232320.3193a8d5@posting.google.com>...
    > As I personally see we have several issues in here:
    > * how to differentiate/ equate different skills level of players in a
    > game?
    > * how to measure/ quantify those inequity of chances to win? (!
    > Classification and Ranking ?)
    > * given some quantitative measure of luck (like golf handicap index)
    > what are PROBABILITIES of a player to win, to get, say, second place
    > in 16-hands match, etc.?
    >
    > Golf index clearly says to me ...
    > If we look at Ratings in chess (Elo coefficients) ...
    > Game of Go ...

    I wonder if it is even possible to assign rankings to players of
    multi-player games (ignoring the randomness/luck element for the
    moment). Golf is clearly a game by one player against him-/herself.
    Chess and Go are games against one other opponent. In these games, it
    is easy to compare and determine the ranking between two players. But
    in a multi-player game, if player A plays against players B, C, and D
    of various "ranks", what can we conclude from the outcome of such a
    game about the ranking of player A? If A wins, does it mean s/he is
    better than all of his opponents (assuming they all play to their best
    abilities)? The situation is similar to multi-team sports competition
    (such as the World Cup soccer match). Eventually there is a single
    winner, but can we conclude that the winning team ranks higher
    (consistently) than the other teams? I know it is possible to assign
    such rankings (casinos do it all the time with sports competition
    "odds" determinations), but they only do it for a specific match and
    the "ranking" of a team does not "stick".

    Now, for the game of MJ, we throw in the randomness/luck factor, and
    the fact that the upper-player has an effect on the performance of the
    lower-player. Is it even possible to draw any conclusions from a
    limited number of games played? I'll grant that it is probably
    possible to draw a conclusion given infinite matches and infinite
    combinations of the infinite players. But our lifetime is much
    shorter than that :-(.
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