"Hey, welcome to the Sparrow Club," says the leader of the club, as you walk in for the first time. "I'm Ryan, nice to meet you." The two of you shake hands.

As you walk around, you notice that the room has a very Chinese décor to it, and indeed most of the people here are East Asian in ethnicity. People are all sitting down at square tables in groups of four, playing board games. Some of them are playing casually, others look deep in concentration deciding what to do next.

"I'll introduce you to some of the regulars first. Here we have Pin Hu and Toi-Toi, who are teaming up against two others," says Ryan, motioning to the first table as you two walk past.

"Over there are the pros of the group," says Ryan. "They're two pairs of siblings, named Sangen and Suushi respectively. Nobody here knows their first names, because they've never told us. We've just used their last names as nicknames ever since they joined the club."

You then come across a group of two playing together instead of four. "What's with those two?" you ask Ryan.

"Oh, those are Fan Pai and Tan Yao," said Ryan. "They're the dunces of the group, they know how to play but never really got good at it."

Finally, the two of you sit down at a table with another person already at it. "You want to play with three players?" he asks. "My sister Yi couldn't make it today."

What board game are people playing here, and what is Ryan's last name?


1 Answer 1


I think the answer you're looking for is:

Mahjong, and Ryan's last name is Peikou. It is a game played by four players at a square table and the players' names are names of specific yaku in Japanese riichi mahjong.

Pin Hu is a Chinese way of saying "Pinfu", and Toi-Toi is "Toitoi" as named.

The Sangen and Suushi siblings are nicknamed as "big/little", which gives the names "Daisangen", "Shosangen", "Daisuushi", and "Shosuushi" respectively.

Tan Yao and Fan Pai are both yaku as named, and are some of the lowest-valued yaku in the game. (Fanpai is also known as yakuhai.)

Finally, "Yi" and "Ryan" can both be suffixed with "Peikou" to create "Iipeikou" and "Ryanpeikou", which are also both mahjong hands. The "Ryan" in "Ryanpeikou" is pronounced more like "Liang", which happens to be Ryan's Chinese name.

  • $\begingroup$ Damn you - I'd identified the game as Mahjongg already, but hadn't yet determined the significance of the names (I suspected they were words used in the game, but don't know it well enough to know names of hands). [Oh, and well done.] $\endgroup$
    – Glen O
    May 4, 2015 at 2:55
  • $\begingroup$ It's probably also worth noting that the sparrow is often on the 1 of sticks/bamboo, hence the club name. $\endgroup$
    – Glen O
    May 4, 2015 at 3:01
  • $\begingroup$ @GlenO Also, the game itself is known as 麻雀 in most places in the world, which is Chinese for "sparrow". $\endgroup$
    – user88
    May 4, 2015 at 15:17

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