Saki is slightly unlike the normal Shonen series. Whereas most series about "anything" will beat us in the face with information about everything about series, they've left us mostly to our own devices about Mahjong... freaking Mahjong
In Kaiji we got an entire episode devoted to explaining rock, paper, scissors, yet Saki cannot form the words to actually tell us what a winning hand is, or how scoring works.
To this effect I decided to put together an off hand glossary to terms and concepts that go on in Saki. Enjoy.
BasicsMeld = sets of one particular character, or a run of 3
Pung = Three of a kind
Kong = Four of a kind
Shuntsu = 3 in a row, of the same suit (1, 2, 3 of stones, etc.)
Winning the gameA Winning hand is one that consists of 3 melds and one pair. This is referred to as a mahjong.
Tsumo - completing your hand off of a random tile draw
Ron - completing your hand off of another players discard
Tempai - Being one tile away from victory
A player who is Tempai may reveal this to the other players by declaring Richi. Calling Richi (when they throw the sticks in) declares they are one away, and obligates them to discard any tile they draw that does not immediately win the game. Winning while Richi gets a bonus, and losing enforces a penalty.
Flow of play/Winds:Dice are rolled to figure out who is starting player/dealer. A round is over when all players finish being the East wind/dealer
Special rule about the East wind: The Wind only passes when the East wind loses. As long as he or she wins, the number of hands they play continues to lengthen. Thus, the concept of momentum and the importance of the East wind come out.
Each turn players draw a tile, then choose to discard one. Players may take a discarded tile out of turn, if it forms a Pung, Kong, or the pair neccessary to win a hand. They discard normally afterwards, and play continues to the right of the player who stole the tile (which could easily result in skipping players)
If mulitple players call the same discard, they reveal what it was for, and the hand of largest importance (Pung vs Kong vs winning hand). In particular, if a player calls Kong with a discard, but another player can use the tile to win, it is referred to as "Robbing the Kong" and often connotates bonus points.
Special rule about Kong: If a player calls a kong, he or she then immediately takes a tile and discards as normal. That tile, however, comes from a particular part of the remaining pool, and they have no say over which they take.