Texas 42 Rules and Instructions
(Archived Cardinal document)


This 11-page booklet was included in a box of of dominos produced by the Cardinal Products Company in New York. The publication date is not shown, but I suspect it became available shortly after the Cardinal Company was founded in 1948. (I believe the copyrighted material is now in the public domain.) The document has many tips on useful strategy and offers sage advice on how to play your dominos. Beginners will learn much by reading through these rules and instructions. It is a well written document how to play straight 42 (with options).

Members in my family play by these rules, including the forced bid with low boy option. We refer to "Low Boy" as nello, Nel-O, or "going low," and we score by marks rather than by points. You might also notice that there is no mention of indicating via the bid or by play action on the board. Traditional "pure 42" players do not advocate indicating unless it is intuitive, e.g., sluffing the double to indicate you're holding the next highest domino in that suit. Another form of indicating, though legal, is considered unwise by the traditionalists, i.e., sluffing a domino whose high end indicates the double you're holding. Today's 30-bid, commonly interpreted to indicate a helping hand, is not addressed, either.

Thanks, Matt Johnson, for bringing this old document forward and sharing with the 42 community. It helps explain why so many modern day players play 42 very similar to these rules and instructions. (Forty-two reportedly originated in northeast Texas in the late 1800s. The game was passed down by word of mouth, mostly within families, prior to and following publication of written rules in the mid-to-late 1900s. The National 42 Players Association (N42PA) was founded in 2005, and the Texas Lesgislature designated 42 as the official State Domino Game of Texas in 2011.)

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