This page is based on information from Kuromiya Kimihiko and Takerube Nobuaki.
Seven Bridge is a kind of rummy played in Japan, in which sevens have a special role. It is also known as Mâ Jan Bridge or Seven Rummy. Mâ Jan is a Japanese name for Mah Jong, but this game has no connection at all with Bridge and is only distantly related to Mah Jong.
Seven Bridge can be played by two to five players, and is probably best for three. A standard international 52-card pack of cards is used, the order or cards in each suit being A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K, with the ace always low. Deal and play are clockwise.
As in all rummy games the objective is to form melds. These may be sets of equal cards, or sequences of consecutive cards in a suit. Sets and sequences must consist of at least three cards unless they contain a seven.
The sevens are special cards. A single seven by itself is a valid meld. Two or more sevens form a valid set, and two or more cards of the same suit in sequence form a valid sequence.
Some examples of valid melds:
- A card cannot be used in more than one meld at the same time. If you have 3-4-5-4-4 you can form either a sequence meld 3-4-5 or a set of fours, but not both.
- Ace is always low, next to the 2, so K-Q-A is not a valid meld.
Any player may deal first, and the turn to deal passes to the left after each hand.
Each player is dealt seven cards. After the deal, the dealer turns up the next card and puts it on the table to start the discard pile, and the remainder of the deck is placed face down beside it to form the stock.
The player to the left of the dealer begins, and play continues clockwise. In each turn you draw a card from the stock, meld (optional), lay off (optional), and discard.
- Normally, your turn begins by taking the top card from the face down stock pile and adding it to your hand. In certain circumstances you can instead begin a turn by taking the top card from the discard pile - see Chî and Pon below.
- Having drawn a card, if you have any valid melds in your hand, you may place these cards face up in front of you. Note that when laying down more than one seven, you must make it clear whether they are being played as a set (which can only be extended by adding more sevens) or as single sevens (which can from the basis of separate sequences in their suits).
- Lay Off
- If you already have at least one meld face up in front of you, you may lay off cards from your hand by adding them to your own or other players' melds. You may lay off in the same turn that you have laid your first meld. You can add a fourth card to a set of three equal cards, or extend a suit sequence by adding adjacent cards of the same suit. If a player has laid a single seven as a meld, for example the 7, the same or another player can later add the 6 or 8, making it a sequence, or another 7, making it a set. Once a second 7 has been added, only further 7's can be added to it - players can no longer add the 6 or 8. When laying down a seven, the player must make clear whether it is being melded as a single card or laid off on an existing meld.
- You must discard one card at the end of your turn, placing it face up on top of the discard pile. Your turn must always end with a discard even when you are going out.
In certain circumstances, you can begin a turn by picking up the top card of the discard pile, instead of drawing from the stock. The conditions are:
- You must immediately use the card from the discard pile with at least two cards from your hand to lay down a new meld. You cannot keep the card from the discard pile in your hand, nor can you lay it off on a meld that is already on the table.
- You must previously have played at least one normal turn, drawing from the stock and discarding. You cannot take a card from the discard pile as your first turn of the game.
If you wish to use the previous player's discard to form a new sequence meld you say "Chî" and take the discard instead of drawing from the stock. You then put down this meld and any others you wish to play, and discard in the normal way.
If you wish to use a discard to form a set of three or four cards you say "Pon" and take the discard. You may do this even if it would not normally be your turn to play next, but if you are taking the discard out of turn, you must announce "Pon" before the player whose normal turn it would be draws a card - otherwise it is too late to take the discard. After you have melded and discarded, play continues with the player to your left: this may cause some players' turns to be skipped.
Note that a discard cannot be taken out of turn to make a sequence.
If more than one player wants the same card from the top of the discard pile, "Pon" has priority over "Chî".
Note. These "Chî" and "Pon" rules derive from Mah Jong: hence the priority of "Pon" over "Chî", which is somewhat illogical in this game, since sequences and sets are equally difficult to make. However, this game game is unlike Mah Jong in that there is no special privilege for a player who needs a card to go out. A player needing a card to go out with a Chî in Seven Bridge does not have priority over a player wishing to make a "Pon" without going out, and you cannot go out by taking a discard out of turn to form a Chî.
When a player goes out, the other players add up the value of all the cards still remaining in their hands, as follows:
- Kings, Queens and Jacks: 10 points each
- Aces: 1 point each
- Sevens: 20 points each
- Other number cards (2-6, 8-10): face value.
The winner scores the sum of the other players' total points.
If a player wins by melding seven cards all at once, the winner's score is doubled. To achieve this, the player must no have melds on the table prior to the winning turn.
In some groups the dealer, rather than the player to dealer’s left, is the first to play.
Some play with the following different scoring schedule:
- Kings, Queens and Jacks and Aces: 10 points each
- Other number cards (2-10): face value.
- In addition to being worth 7 points each, each 7 doubles the score for the whole hand.
Some play that aces are worth 11 or 15 rather than 10.
Some play that Q-K-A is a valid meld (but K-A-2 is not).
Some do not require a final discard when a player goes out.
The game can be played with a 53-card pack including a joker, that can be used a wild card substituting for any needed card in a set or sequence of three or more cards. Once played, jokers remain in the meld where they are played until the end of the hand - they cannot be reclaimed or moved. A joker in a player's hand when another player goes out is worth no points in itself but multiplies the score for the hand by five.