Updated 29 Apr 2018
 

Some Methods Used to Indicate Doubles (or Lack of) in 42
(Sluff = Slough = Domino discarded when player can't follow the suit led.)

Commonly used and accepted traditional methods:
1. Sluffing a double to indicate next highest domino held.
2. Sluffing a domino whose high end indicates double held.

Methods requiring pre-game understandings:
3. Sluffing a domino whose low end indicates double held.
4. Sluffing a domino whose high end indicates double NOT held.
5. Sluffing a domino with both ends indicating doubles NOT held.

Some partners don't indicate at all, adding a sixth variable to the mix.

The first method is deducible. One would not normally sluff a double unless he also holds the next highest domino in that suit.

The second method is commonly practiced, but false indications can occur with unexpected results.

Polling indicates the last three methods are considered unfair play because they require pre-game "understandings" between partners.

Paul Proft, E-mail
www.texas42.net

Notes:

1.  As of 28 Apr 2018, the linked Official N42PA Rules for sanctioned 42 tournaments state the following (indicating doubles - or lack of - not specifically addressed):

"Any physical signals or cheating of any kind will not be tolerated. Examples include tapping dominoes on the table before being played, pointing dominoes in certain directions intentionally as a strategy, encouraging your partner to bid or pass during the bidding cycle, etc. Also bids meaning specific information will not be tolerated. An example would be if a team agrees that every time they bid 30, they always have the double 5, or they always have at least 3 doubles, etc. An agreement for a bid to mean non-specific help is permissible (but frowned upon by some players)."
If show bids are not acceptable in sanctioned tournaments, why are "show indicators" (above methods) and "show placements" acceptable? It seems they all provide opportunity for private agreements or understandings between partners that allow advantage over their opponents in tournament competition.

I welcome feedback from the leadership of the N42PA and its members in regard to my comments. Perhaps I'm missing something in my analysis of the status quo, and you can help set me straight. If you wish to respond anonymously, that's fine. I will not post anonymous comments unless they influence my current thinking about why tournament rules leave much to individual player interpretations, nor will I be able to determine the identities of the senders. Pertinent email extracts, however, will be posted anonymously unless instructed otherwise. - PP

26 Apr 2018 (expanded 28 Apr 2018): These are indicating styles used by some tournament players that are culturally learned or privately agreed between partners in 42 competition:

        1. Show bids (privately understood bids between partners that indicate specific information about the bidder's hand, e.g., a 30-bid means the bidder has the double-five in his hand).
        This indicating style is addressed in sanctioned tournament rules and is deemed unacceptable practice. (Polling also reveals this is considered unfair practice.)

        2. Generic helping hand bids (no specific information indicated by the bidder, e.g., a 30-bid could indicate the bidder has doubles and/or count in his hand to help his partner make a higher bid).
        This indicating style includes generic helping hand bids in seldom used bidding ranges. This is addressed in sanctioned tournament rules. (Polling reveals that generic helping hand bids are considered fair practice.)

        3. Private physical signals (less optional placement of dominos after the draw).
        These are deemed unacceptable in sanctioned tournament and include intentional pauses, pushing/tapping or hovering over dominos, body language, and other privately agreed physical indications, including audible. These are designated unacceptable practices in the tournament rules.

        4. Sluffing the double to indicate the next highest domino held in suit.*
        This indicating style is commonly practiced and accepted by most players as determined by polling; however, it is not addressed in sanctioned tournament rules.

        5. Sluffing a domino whose high end indicates the double held in that suit.*
        This indicating style is also commonly practiced and accepted by most players as determined by polling; however, it is not addressed in sanctioned tournament rules, either.

        6. Sluffing a domino that indicates double(s) NOT held in the suit that was led.
        This method usually requires an understanding between partners and is not addressed in sanctioned tournament rules; however, polling reveals most participants feel privately agreed indicating methods between partners is not fair play.

        7. Sluffing a domino whose low end indicates the double held in that suit.
        This method usually requires an understanding between partners and is not addressed in sanctioned tournament rules; however, polling reveals most participants feel privately agreed indicating methods between partners is not fair play.

        8. Using sanctioned 3-4 or 4-3 optional placement of dominos to send private signals.
        Sanctioned tournament rules state that players must place their dominos in a 3-4 or 4-3 arrangement after the draw. By ommission, the rule allows the optional placements to vary from hand to hand of play, throughout all games. This makes it possible for partners to privately agree that one of the options, when displayed, indicates specific information about the player's hand, e.g., that it contains the double five or some other specific information.

Note: If there are other indicating styles that need to be included in this narrtive, please send them to me. Thanks.   PP

* Some players believe it's okay to ask a new partner privately if he/she indicates, as long as a specific method is not discussed in the exchange.

2.  Here's an extract from Richard Wall's 1955 booklet How to Play Texas 42: "Signalling your partner by bids or in any other manner is against the rules."

Wall's concise statement 60+ years ago pretty much covered the waterfront. Signalling your partner about what's in your hand is a no-no, e.g., show bids, indicating doubles, placement of dominos, pointing, pauses, etc. In 2005, the N42PA set forth official rules that cited several unacceptable practices. Some players today, however, still need more specific guidelines to enhance fair play in tournaments.

3.  Questions from active tournament player (with webmaster answers):

Q.  "Which opinion and view holds more weight and credibility regarding 42 tournament play and rules? An opinion and view of a specific 42 rule based on a 'poll'? Or the same opinion and view of a specific 42 rule based on actually attending and participating in said 42 tournament?"
 
A.  Both have merit. Polling can indicate how participating players feel about specific issues. When 15% believe private agreements between partners is fair play in indicating doubles (or lack of), then rules are appropriate to approve, disapprove, or regulate the practice. One does not have to participate in tournaments to understand the need for fair play in 42 competition.
 
Q.  "How can you define, apply and enforce rules regarding 'indicating' when every domino 'indicates' some form of information on every trick played?"
 
A.  Agreed. Every domino played does, indeed, indicate some form of information on every trick played. My comments on private understandings about irregular practices for indicating doubles are posted above and in the following document: www.texas42.net/indicatingSuggestion.html.
4.  Proposed preamble: Preamble to organized tournament rules.

(Social players in non-tournament games may play by whatever rules they agree on, e.g., variations, etc.)
 

 
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