Last Update: 22 July 2020

Indicating Doubles in 42

Forward indicating in 42 is fairly common, but some purists believe it is signaling, a no-no in traditional 42 rules as early as 1955, before the public internet and the N42PA. There are other players who never heard of indicating doubles and play at a disadvantage against players who do indicate. Intention is a consideration in indicating doubles. (See "Afterthought" below).

In Sep 2019, the N42PA amended Rule #17 to include prearranged signals in the definition of "talking across the table." That was a significant achievement in the advancement of fair play in 42. The rule, however, does not address longtime partnerships that learned forward indicating as part of the game and do not realize that their opponents might not be aware of the possible meanings of their sluffs.

I addressed this at RuleAdds (Third Category players, no collusion). If it is not understandable, please enlighten me how to explain it better to help level the playing field for all 42 players, especially entry-level players in tournaments sanctioned by the N42PA. All players feeding into sanction tournaments that did not learn indicating doubles as part of the game need to know and recognize acceptable indicating signals.

I agree with the assessment that forward indicating methods should be taught to new players. That is how I learned them, and they are addressed in my rules. A player who cannot follow the suit led may play (sluff) any domino he/she wishes. Since this is the justification for retaining the practice, it seems only good policy to define acceptable practices, if not in the rules, perhaps in a preface to the rules.

Forty-two (42) is a lot like poker, except a poker player does not have a partner to help win the pot. If poker partnerships had existed in the Old West, there would have been a lot more shootings at the table for cheating and misunderstandings. Thankfully, 42 is a game enjoyed by many fun-loving players who place friendship and fellowship above winning the big bucks in closed tournament competition.

If you reply to this posting, be assured I will not use your name. I am only interested in understanding the rationale for not addressing acceptable indications in the rules. If you are a 42 player who learned the game without indicating doubles, you probably understand. If not, there are players who need to know acceptable play actions at the table.

Definitive baseline instructions for playing the game should be standard for all entry-level sanctioned tourney players.


N42PA rule #12 states: "If a player intentionally pauses to let their partner know they have more than one of a suit during play - that is considered a 'tell' and cheating." (I am not sure why pausing is addressed in the rules. Everybody at the table sees it and can deduce its meaning.)

Different logic is applied in the summarized N42PA rules: "Basically indicating is considered 'ok' since the tile played is during the game and visible to all players (i.e. the play of the 5:1 tile when the bidder is fishing trumps, you are void, and can play anything tells your partner AND THE OTHER TEAM that you probably have the 5:5)."

The fallacy in the latter statement is that "THE OTHER TEAM" might not be familiar with forward indicating. Consequently, they might see it as a sluff with no meaning. If, however, the rules explained forward indicating as an acceptable tactic, then "THE OTHER TEAM" would, indeed, have the same opportunity to correctly interpret the sluff.

Note: If the caveat in Rule #17, "... not limited to ...," is interpreted to include culturally learned indicating practices (no collusion), then pausing does not need to be addressed in Rule #12 .

Info: As of this writing, polling of online visitors at shows 23% of participants have played in tournaments (about double since a previous survey circa 2010). Seventy-seven percent (77%) of polling participants were older than 40 years of age. Other survey results are linked HERE.)

Kudos to the N42PA. It has done much to promote participation in open tournaments it sanctions and to define the rules and by-laws for its club members, entry-level and pros alike.

Still some work to be done to standardize rules of fair play for tournaments it sanctions (and the 42 community), e.g., acceptable indicating methods culturally learned as part of the game (no collusion), but considered signaling by some pre-2005 traditional players, apparently deemed acceptable by modern players if the indicator is a sluffed domino.

Comments and/or corrections are welcome.

Paul Proft, email

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