Linked for public viewing 1 Sep 2019; updated 22 Jan 2021

Leadership in the 42 Community

The 42 community is a diverse collection of 42 players, concentrated mostly in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Most (10,000+) are social players who learned the game from relatives and friends (mostly Texans). Some are members of 42 clubs. There are many diverse open and closed 42 tournaments sponsored by various organizations. Tournaments that play straight 42 (no variations) can be sanctioned by the National 42 Players Association (N42PA), a recreational 42 club with its own membership, rules, and tournament directors.

There is no officially recognized standard set of rules for definitive fair play in 42, including sanctioned tournaments. The purpose of this document is to promote interest in establishing adequate universal fair play rules for the game. This might be an unrealistic objective in moving Texas 42 forward, but discussion is needed to address its merits and shortcomings. (Feedback from some tournament players indicate it is unnessary and will ruin the game.)

So, you may ask, how is fair play in 42 defined? Good question! In both social and formal competition, there is much diversity. Some players believe definitive fair play rules would be a distraction in the game. Others believe that, without standardized and definitive fair play rules, there is opportunity for partnerships to exploit omissions in the various rules of play. (Pre-2005 history generally indicates that signaling between partners is against the rules.)

So, what is the solution to levelling the playing field in 42? The leadership in the 42 community must agree that definitive fair play rules are appropriate to move the game forward. But first, who is the leadership? The highest echelon is the N42PA whose jurisdiction is sanctioning open 42 tournaments that play straight 42. The N42PA rules apply to tournaments that it hosts. Other sanctioned tournaments have their own rules (or can opt to follow the N42PA rules).

Does the 42 community look to the N42PA to pull it together? That's an interesting question, and who best to decide other than the N42PA and the leaders of tournaments it sanctions. If they can agree to standardize fair play rules in sanctioned 42 tournaments, the problem is diminished, and all sanctioned tournaments will play by the same rules. (The rest of the 42 community, in time, will follow.)

How will this debate end? Will liberal interpretations of current diversified fair play rules continue to obscure historic "no signaling" guidelines between 42 partners? Hopefully, prudent minds will prevail in deciding this question (TBD).

Comments and/or corrections are solicited (including the postscripts).

Paul Proft, e-mail

Dated Postscripts:

28 July 2019 (updated 6 Sep 2019): The founding of the N42PA was a worthy achievement in that it established straight 42 as the standard for sanctioning tournaments. The original N42PA by-laws stated that it would not take control away from the tournaments it sanctions. It has held true to that commitment; however, now with national prestige and large winning cash prizes at stake, it is time to standardize and expand the scope of fair play rules to apply to all sanctioned tournaments, including state, "national" and "world" championship tourneys advertised at the website.

The N42PA and leadership in sanctioned tournaments can make it happen. Their mutual cooperation and coordination to standardize adequate fair play rules will, in time, benefit the entire 42 community, social and tournament players alike. In the meantime, sanctioned 42 tournament champions cannot compete for the "national" title unless they are members of the N42PA club and play by its rules. They can, however, compete in the open sanctioned "world" championship tourney.

29 Aug 2019: On this date, there were 33 tournaments listed, plus 13 warm-ups, in the 2019 N42PA tournament schedule. The N42PA membership list showed 128 members, with 92 members qualified to compete in the December 2019 N42PA Tournament of Champions ("national" championship), member ranking points to vary until then.

The N42PA Facebook group had more than 690 members, 19% were members of the N42PA. The 42 Strategy Facebook group had more than 500 members. Six percent (6%) of the Strategy group were members of the N42PA. The 42 Roundup FB group had more than 620 players who had signed up in its directory database.

1 Sep 2019 (updated 16 Jul 2020): The N42PA is the sanctioning authority for open tournaments that play by the straight 42 format. This provides a pool of sanctioned tournaments that the N42PA club membership can participate in, earn qualifying points, and compete in its annual closed Tournament of Champions (TOC) which yields "national" champions and sizable winning cash prizes ($2400 for first and second places in 2018).

The N42PA constitution and by-laws are posted at The N42PA rules apply to tournaments hosted by the N42PA club and tournaments that adopt the N42PA rules verbatim (optional). Other tournaments sanctioned by the N42PA have their own rules. There is no standardized written playing rules in sanctioned tournaments.

Other than its sanctioning authority, the N42PA has no jurisdiction over other 42 tournaments. Maybe some tournament organizers are not receptive to oversight by the N42PA club? Sanctioned tournament status, however, is a plus in attracting players to participate in tournaments with typical entry fees of $20-$50 per partnership. (Tournaments can be more profitable when advertised and supported by the N42PA club.)

What are the official rules? It seems that negotiated agreements between the N42PA and the tournaments it sanctions could yield standardized rules for all sanctioned tournaments.

The vast majority in the 42 community are social players, some of whom are members in 42 clubs and participate in tournaments, some of which are sanctioned by the N42PA. Who represents these players? Without effective leadership and adequate standardized fair play rules, competition is an uneven playing field, and creative players can exploit omissions in diversified playing rules.

The card game Bridge and the Texas 42 domino game were derived from the card game Whist. The Bridge players addressed signaling tactics and standardized their rules. Bridge is now an organized world-class game. Texas 42 tournament players and their leadership apparently chose to continue tradition based on trust and individual interpretations of diversified fair play rules.

27 Sep 2019: The N42PA Board of Directors approved amended N42PA rules (Rules #8 and #17), linked at the N42PA website.

26 Oct 2019 (updated 19 Nov 2019): One other noteworthy consideration is defining acceptable culturally learned indicating practices (not prearranged) that are not included in the new, overdue definition of "talking across the table." When that happens, the N42PA rules will be a complete set of rules that can be standardized (and tweaked as needed) in sanctioned tournaments and the 42 community at large.

19 Nov 2019: There are thousands of other 42 players who are not included in the 29 August statistics above. These unincluded players constitute the majority in the 42 community. Hopefully, their interests in social competition will be a consideration in moving the game forward for future generations.

The internet, social media, and organized/publicized tournaments sanctioned by the N42PA can be used effectively to standardize adequately defined fair play rules and level the playing field for all 42 competition, social and tournament players alike. What better way to promote participation in sanctioned tournaments and expand membership in the N42PA?

25 Nov 2019: My online observation has been that some tournament players make it to the winners' circle in formal competition without relying on indicating methods that are not addressed in the N42PA rules.

Some intermediate competitors, however, are able to defeat traditional players who are not privy to subtle culturally learned indicating methods not defined as acceptable in the rules. As a result, some traditional players are eliminated and do not advance.

Some traditional players need more playing experience, and others have choices: learn to recognize and utilize indicating methods not addressed in the N42PA rules, or accept their lower/intermediate placements in competition because they did not.

Of course, the playing field can be better served if acceptable culturally learned indicating practices were defined in standardized rules applicable to all sanctioned tournaments.


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