More Comments and Observations by Beerdaddy42
(Extracts from e-mail messages, 9 Aug 05 - 15 Sep 05, posted with permission)

9 Aug 05:

I am in East Texas, I was raised in Dallas, I live near Tyler, and my GranDad was from Collin county originally.

As one of the founders of the Texas42Club at the Win42 game site, I have experience in having to deal with what has indeed become a sore-spot with some folks in regards to indicating dominoes and using bidding conventions. I had heard every argument (both for and against such notions) before anyone else on the web had to deal with it.

It's Forty-Two, Paul. There's sure nothing new about people having arguments about the game and how someone else plays it. It occurs to me that people often talk about the hands after they are over. How are you not to pick up on the way they play (even if you don't talk in between hands).

I have a hard time understanding why some people insist indicating is cheating. My GrandDad played the game and if he had 6/6 and 6/5 - the 6/6 was gonna get discarded first if there was a little five to cover the little end. Call my GrandDad a cheat. You would have to know the man. Those that did, knew he was too honest for his own good. Everyone at the table knew he had 6/5. How is that cheating? So, no from my point of view indicating is part of the game and always has been. His people were from not far from where the game originated. He was born in the 1890's. I am certain they had taken up what was as close to the earliest version of the game of what became known as 42 as could be.

I hear people scoff at those that do not play only "straight 42". He would scoff at what they call straight 42. Straight 42 has no follow-me and in straight 42 the only thing that can be led out on the first trick is a trump. The original game did not have those. Glenn (Glynn) Hill had a page up at one time, I wish I could find it now because he verifies my assertion. I have never met a "straight 42" player that has ever played the game that way.

In my mind the variety of ways the game can be played is the best aspect of the game. Mastering a variety of bidding contracts instead of only one is more of a challenge. You don't have to always play using the same table rules. Try nothing but nello some time at a 42 party. It will be a smash. If you have several tables, you can have one for BareBones (ahem - straight42), one for nello only, or any combination.

In tournament play, they use referees like we should have had at our house on a big 42 night. The rules are more about not indicating with a facial clue or a touch of a domino. I don't know if they have rules about bidding conventions or how they would stop them.

I have played 42 in dominoes halls all over the Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana region and everyone plays the same basic game, but they all have their own playing variances. As in "social 42", bid indicating takes place in every single one of them. Some are playing tournaments in the halls and, Paul, the shame of it all is some people actually gamble on the game. Appalling as that may seem, they all indicate dominoes and all of them use at least a 30 bid means "helping hand" bidding indicators.

Bidding conventions arose in 42 for the same reasons they did in the game of bridge. No doubt, cross-over bridge players have had an influence on the game as it evolves.

As to what the bids are and what they mean, as long as everyone playing knows what's going on it ought to be OK. There is a difference between playing a few games in Aunt Sadie's dining room and tourney play.

I can say that a 30 bid meaning, "partner I have a helping hand", is all but universal. I do know of one lady that if she bids 30, it means she can make 30. The definition of a "helping hand" has a pretty wide scope of interpretation. My Grandad's people meant they "had some count and had stoppers but no trumps they were happy with and partner will you please bid". But I know lots of players bid 30 only when they have three doubles and no suit of trumps.

Other conventions I have seen are a 33 0r 34 bid to indicate the number of doubles they hold. Thirty-one bid means "I have a ten-count I can cover" is also a common bid indicator (the idea is to force a 32 return bid to partner's 30 bid. With a dime count thrown on partner's trick you can set 32 but not a 31 bid, so pump them up one notch).

I think that the people that are vehement about something they call cheating and use that word are possibly "losing-sensitive" individuals. It is easier to define cheating than it is to define indicating bids.

Some Examples:
If you have one mark bid and if you make the mark you go out and win, I am probably going to bid 2 marks if I am convinced it would be less of a gamble than to let you have it at one. If I only need two marks to go out and there is even a one in three chance I can make it, I am probably going two marks unless I perceive a good chance to set you. Now, I take the chance and my hand marries up well with partners and we make the 84 bid sailing away with the win. I don't have my double but have good trumps and only doubles would be a one in three chance. If partner has bid 30 and happens to have my double, I would appreciate it if you would take your loss graciously and not call me a cheater.

My point is who's going to be the bidding police and how do you enforce it? I will say that it is my opinion that if you play a certain way, I am going to figure it out if you are my opponent as well as if you are my partner. As long as you don't use special indicators like rubbing behind your ear, take a real long pause to make an indication, play the domino pushing the end you want your partner to return in towards him, and that your bids don't reveal specific dominoes in your hand, you are playing fairly.

I said it's easier to define cheating: "When you give signals that reveal specific dominoes or play in variance with what is specifically dis-allowed at the table you are playing at."

Paul, I can also tell you that the hullabaloo at one of the groups you mention (over bid indicators) was drummed up by sore losers - oops I mean losing-sensitive folks. I saw what you had added to your web site and I understand your consternation about the issue.

You have a quality site and the information there on the game is well researched and top-notch. The page is very professional in appearance and presentation. I for one am offended that anyone would take exception with the way you play 42 or the way you teach the game. It is appalling that people involved in league play would take issue with you about your site about how to play parlor games versions of the game. You had already pointed out that you were talking about informal game sessions. That being said, it is Forty-Two, man, it is Forty-Two. ~GriN~ A fight is gonna break out sooner or later, I suppose.

I'd recommend you operate your site with whatever vision you had in the beginning, Paul. You had already made the disclaimer that ones involved in league and tournament play have a responsibility to play according to the rules they operate under, distinctioning them from social players. I'd leave the 42 pro-mongers to managing their own sites.

Paul, thanks for including me in the dialog. I have strong feeling on this topic. I am particularly partial to your site on the game over and above anyone else's. In my thinking your agenda is pure and simple. Introduce the game to the people. It is my sincere hope you let the pro-mongers know that your site is not about them and that their criticism is appreciated and has been duly noted. I see no need in joining in their frenzy of a debate about 42 ethics. It's always been a "house-rules" game. I have seen your rules at plenty of houses and dominoes halls and some folks do and some folks don't as far as allowing certain bidding indications. If you are one that don't, we won't use them at your house. Simple as that.

12 Aug 05:

Mr. Proft, most people are indeed hung up on the the way they were taught the game of Texas42. Those Aggies, for example, most learned to play at the "Chicken". It's an interesting place to say the least about it. If you have not been there, put it on your "42 Places to Tour" list. They have tourneys and the table rules are always as follows:

Forced bid (sorry I laugh at this notion. It never was part of the original game and I promise, no one has to force me to bid. ~GriN~)

Nello on forced bid - Doubles can be called as high or low in the suit or a seperate suit of their own.

Plunge at 2 marks. -

I only started playing plunge about 5 years ago. As you know some folks play plunge at 4 marks and there are variations called "splash" & etc.

We at the Texas42CLub call those table rules, "Chicken" rules after the Chicken Ranch in College Station. It's not on campus, but A&M completely surrounds it.

Aggies almost always believe that is the only true way to play the game. Especially if they attended after the Chicken was established.

As I have mentioned in the past, the original game was based on the card games of "Pitch" and an ancient game usually called "Rounce". I also have to repeat that the original game of 42, one had to on the first lead out upon winning the bid, lead a domino in the suit of trumps that they had called. There was NO follow me.

Ergo, NO ONE PLAYS STRAIGHT 42 ANYMORE. I have never met anyone that ever played the original game, so I don't really know how there truely can be "42 Purists" per se. There are only personal preferences.

As I re-stated most recently, the variety of bidding contracts that are played is what makes the game of such intrigue and challenge to so many that play it. The only option I play but truely hate, is Sevens. Once bid, there is no strategy or skill save for not reneging.

** A personal note on plunge. I do prefer it set at 2 marks if nello is allowed anytime because players like me will bid 5 marks after a 4 mark opening bid and call doubles high!

Paul thanks for inviting me to send contrbutions and I most certainly will take you up on it and will try to submit something at least every month or so if I can.

I would like to ask a favor. I mentioned Glenn (Glynn) Hill in my last e-mail. I have no idea who the guy is. He had a page on the web at one time that truly was the best treatise on playing 42 at the more advanced levels of the game. He had put the page up sometime after Curtis Cameron had written the WinDominoes/Win42 games. A large portion of what the treatise was about is how the bots play, which I suppose is an indication of the way that Mr. Cameron plays.

Mr Hill is the only person I have encountered since GrandDad passed away that was aware of the original game. HeH Heh - he considered "Follow-Me" the most unforgivable bastardizastion of the game, ever. He hated nello but felt it might have a place in forced bid situations.

The favor I ask is, is there anyway you can find out who this guy is (or was)??? I had the thing on my hard drive at one time about 4 years ago. Alas, that was several re-formats and hard drives ago. So if you found his treatise, I would be ever so grateful for that particlar resource to be available again.

The man was one who humbled himself before GOD. One thing interesting, he taught bidding indicators and indicating on the board. He apparently was older than me and had played the game for some time because he had knowledge of the original game.

That is how my interest in him relates to our most recent exchange of ideas. Paul, I promise if you find him or his work he did on 42, you will be spending much time studying his work.

16 Aug 05:

You hit a home run, sir. Run with what you got. I imagine some folks may want to argue that 84 is a derivative of 42 not the other way around. I have no doubt that the inventors of the game knew of the card game, Pitch, and were not allowed to play for moral reasons and I have little doubt that they were very familliar with "84 Rounce". Both were highly popular in this entire region in that day and time. The popularity of rounce surely was a driving force of the spread of 42 in this region. You only had to have one deck to play it and because it was played with only 28 dominoes, it was easier to keep up with.

My GrandDad was a very young man with a wife and family in the 20's. He was born in mid 1895'ish and already knew the game very well by the 1920's.

25 Aug 05:

Thanks for my own little space on your site with the two postings you linked together. I would just like to comment to you as opposed to requesting a change in my own comments in the postings. The game of Moon has as sketchy of a background as 42 does, perhaps, even more so.

I say this because it is indeed possible that it is the older of the two games. I have not ever been able to actually determine a time line for it nor have I seen references to it that would allow me to draw a conclusion one way or the other. I do know it's an old gambler's game. I have seen more money games at Moon tables in the dominoes halls than at 42 tables or regular dominoes. It may have even more variations than 42 which would lead one to ask was it at sometime in the past played more widely and in more regions than 42. The two games are simular enough that I have seen the assumption made that Moon is a dirivitive of 42. It may well be that Moon was played and called by another name on Mississippi riverboats in Mark Twain's time. If true this would not neccessarily prove it to be older or newer than 42.

I lean towards believeing it the older of the two games but intend to do more research before attempting to advance that notion. I just wanted to add that litle morsel of food for thought.

My question is about bidding fairness issues. I have been known to advance the bid not for the purpose of winning the bid but to "pump" the bid up to my opponents in hope of getting a set.

My favorite example would be:

My opponent to the right opens with a 30 bid. I have the 6/4 in my hand, it's covered on both ends, and maybe some stoppers and a little more count. I may not have a biddable hand and so bid 31 with the hope my opponent to the left will be encouraged by his partner's 30 bid and bid 32 or higher. Now, if I can just lay that 6/4 down on a trick my partner has caught or that I am certain he will catch or think that he might catch(and he does), we have set the opponents for a mark.

Clearly, I have bid a hand that is likely un-makeable. If everyone at the table knows how I play or notices from board play that I do this, they know I have a covered Dime-Count in my own hand thus revealing specific dominoes in my hand(either or 6/4 & double-5). Now I realize, that is not the only time I bid 31. But it would never be a poor assumption on anyone's part that has played me a few games. Am I therefore putting up a bid that possibly reveals specific dominoes in my hands and thus violating my own rules of fair-play?

I have made some outragous hands on 31 bids having been unsuccessful at pumping the bid up and being hung with the honors. I know a player that calls it a "speed-check" when passing after my 31 bids.

I have never seen this issue brought up when the discussion of bidding fairness crops up. Is Pump-Bidding cheating? I would like to know your opinion. I would also like to know if you ever pump bid.

(Proft's opinion: No, it's not cheating; yes, I've done it. - PP)

12 Sep 05:

I have played many a 42 match with players of only "Straight 42" that would call Follow-Me and or lead out on the first trick with a non trump. "Straight42" is vernacular that has been adopted more than being a technical term (as is "BareBones"). Of course it would be that way, hell, it's 42 ain't it! ~GriN~

My only point is that it is an incorrect use of the term straight 42 to refer to games that indeed are not straight 42. Mr Hill echoed that sentiment in his treatise. Any term you came up with would be fine with me as long as the distinction is made. If we used the term Pure 42 to call "No Nuttin" Rules (including no no-trump and leading of non-trump on the first lead out) and to call no nello no plunge or sevens "Straight42" (thus allowing Follow-Me and non trump leads on first trick) would work fine.

Glenn (Glynn) HiLL did that piece I told you about. In that page he made the observation that Follow-Me was the begining of the end of pure 42 in it's original form. Ironcally, he thought Nello was ok in games where forced bid was included in the table's rules. He hated the idea of Open Rules where all the different bidding contracts were allowed. He was a devout man and considered gambling and swearing an afront on decency.

I can not say if the article in the Ft Worth Star Telegram mentioned it or not. I read it but that was 4 years ago and don't recall if that is even mentioned. It was not about Mr. Hill and am sure I'd recollect if he had been mentioned in that piece.

BareBones is just vernacular my GrandDad used to distinguish between "No Nello and etc and Straight42. I was the first one on the web to use the term and am delighted it has caught on. However, most people refer to BareBones Rules as Straight42 and they are indeed different. The difference is as you stated. In Straight42, NO BIDDING CONTRACTS ARE ALLOWED. And, believe it or not, Follow-Me is indeed a special bidding contract that may or may not have been added by the games originator(s). In Straight42 winning bidder must lead a trump on the first trick.

I am certain that the original game allowed only a trump to be led on the first trick. Mr Hill also made mention of this in his treatise. Most of that work was critical of the way Mr Cameron had written the Win42 software's bots to play the game and that it allowed all sorts of variations (aghast, he had allowed it to even be set to play sevens!). ~GriN~ He considered Follow-Me the first worst bastardisastion of the game. You can just imagine how he felt about 7's.

My dad's people played a variety of table rules. GrandDad's favorite was BareBones and my dad loved open rules with Nello allowed. We played you could call Doubles High in the suit or Doubles is Doubles in Nello. I never played allowing doubles to be called low in the suit until I was well grown.

If there were several tables playing, GrandDad would make certain one table was for playing the Straight game and one for BareBones and one for Open Rules. We never played sevens or plunge (splash) but I was taught they existed but they are lousy variations.

My Grandfather was from Wylie area of Collin County before there was a Wylie. It's not that far from Commerce which is but a few miles from the game's often alleged origins. I can not tell you with perfect certainty that the original game had no follow me or that you had to lead a trump if you won the bid. I was not there and my GrandDad's people were from that region most oft credited with it's origin. They did not originate it however, and though I believe strongly they played 42 as close to the original rules as anyone family could have, the only collaboration that I have seen of that was Mr Hill's treatise and old men in the dominioes halls I'd encounter from time to time.

I also have no idea how many if any of the variations and special contracts were added or played by the game's orignator(s). One would nearly have to suppose that they themselves encountered them at some point in time too.

Wish I could be of more help. Keep me posted if you find any resources on this subject. Perhaps some mention can be found on 84 Rounce which was extremely popular in that day and time.

15 Sep 05:

In the summer of 2001, the Texas42Club set up the very first 42 League online at MyLeagues powered by CasesLadder. When playing online most communication is by typing in a chat box. It was easier to say the Table rules we wanted to play were, "BareBones" than to type out, "No forced-bid, no nello, no plunge, and no damned old sevens". We chose the vernacular term my GrandDad used of "BareBones" mostly because I was one of the main ones organizing the league we had set up and had been taught the difference early in childhood. I am sure that was the first time the term was used online or anywhere in print.

I remain vigilant to point out to those using the term "Straight 42" that would mean no Follow-Me and one must lead trumps on first trick out. Until recently, the Texas42Club never played any matches using Straight42 rules. We have set up a new seperate league just for Straight42 and BareBones so that purists may play purists and their ratings would not include matches of any other type. It is my opinion that both Straight and BareBones 42 are pure in the sense that no irregular bidding contracts are used. I would only add that no one knows how many variations the game's originators played. The did not invent the game and then die immediately afterwards. I find it difficult to make the assumption they never played the game any differently than what they had come up with when they devised it.

My only other point was that Purists insist on playing the pure game in it's original form, which is rarely the case. BareBones, in fact might even be a better term for straight42 and vice versa. My guess is that GrandDad used those terms to reflect the chroncological order of the introduction those table rules. Straight (as in the original way) vs barebones (as in the way most folks play now).

I am all for the distinction between those two ways of playing pure 42 ever how it is done. In closing let me say this, most purists consider the way they were taught the game to be the pure form. Aggies think Forced-Bid, Nello allowed on forced bid only with doubles allowed to be called separate or high or low in the suit, plunge at 2 marks and no 7's the pure game. The reason is based on the fact that most of them learned to play at the Chicken Ranch where those are the designated rules for tournaments. Mr Hill's definition of the pure game was the same as my Grandfather's. I suppose I am a non-purist, but my definition of the pure game would be Straight or BareBones rules. I consider them both to be the pure form of 42.


Posted with permission from Beerdaddy42
Head Administrator of the Texas42Club

[These observations are private ones and do not represent any position taken by the Texas42Club as an organization. We allow players to have their own positions and to take the stance that is the one they believe in. It's only 42. It ain't a religion. - BD]

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