Webmaster's note:

Jeff Robertson is partner and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the 9thWonder Marketing Agency in Denver. He is also a team member in the development of Shoot42, an online interactive 42 game with audio/video chat. I asked him to share his story how, when, and where he learned to play 42, and to provide info about Shoot42. He was most gracious in sharing. His story is below. Enjoy. Thanks, Jeff.
- PP

Commentary by Jeff Robertson

"I'll bid thirty. [Looks at his dominoes for the first time] Make that thirty-two."
- An expert

I grew up in Clifton, Texas and learned 42 from friends. Or maybe it was from my grandparents. Regardless, I didn't play much as a kid.

Fun fact: For many years, I worked at the marketing agency that built the dominoes.com and dominorules.com websites many versions ago. I was quite proud of my Flash-based "design your own domino" tool that integrated with the manufacturer's in-house ordering system. If you remember Flash tools, you know this was a long time ago. But that's another story.

And then I met a 42 expert.

A friend's grandfather, who was a retired engineer and lifelong 42 player, was playing with a group. I asked to join the next game, and his team beat my team in what may have been the all-time shortest game to seven.

And he didn't just beat us, he explained how he was beating us while he did it.

When he had the first bid, he bid 30 before collecting his dominoes (while explaining how he could pretty much always win 30). Then he looked at his dominoes, upped his bid to 32 and explained how he had a pretty bad hand. I asked why he bid, twice, with a bad hand, and he explained how with his offs he wasn't going to lose a 10-count, it's usually better to bid and control the play, etc. I understood about a fifth of what he was saying.

As we played the second trick, he said, "Well that's good. That means my partner probably has my off, and you've probably got the 6-4 so that won't be a problem." On further inspection, I did indeed have the 6-4, and I realized I should be trying to learn instead of trying to win. Winning was not an option.


Developing www.shoot42.com

The "why" is simple -- we built the site because one of the guys tried to move his monthly 42 game online during COVID. He couldn't figure out how to play 42 on his iPad while his friends were video chatting so they could still yell at each other while playing. So we built something to do that.

The "how" is far more interesting.

Well, it's far more interesting if you're a nerd. Otherwise, it's incredibly boring. I'll post the full story at https://www.9thwonder.com/blog when I have time. And I will have time once the people playing on our site stop emailing me ways to make the bots play smarter. I am getting yet another master class in 42.

Jeff Robertson
25 August 2020

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