Updated: 27 Aug 2019    

Indicating Practices in Sanctioned 42 Tournaments

Forty-two (42) reportedly was “invented” in Texas in the mid-1880s. It spread rapidly throughout the state via word of mouth. The earliest “official” rules for playing the game (that are known to me) were published in 1955. (They stated: "Signaling your partner by bids or in any other manner is against the rules.")

My parents played 42 in the 1940s, but I did not learn to play until the mid-1980s. Written rules were rare, and folks learned about the game by word-of-mouth, watching others play, and playing. Needless to say, there were plenty of game variations and different playing styles in Texas at that time.

There was no public internet until the 1990s. The internet was instrumental in exposing the game to the general public. The National 42 Players Association (N42PA) was founded in 2005. It used the internet to publicize rules for its club's membership. Players also used the internet (and social media) to address questionable playing tactics in tournaments, and new rules were posted online to define enhanced fair play in tournaments hosted by the N42PA.

Thanks to the internet (and social media), a new playing culture emerged that turned a blind eye to some questionable playing tactics. Obvious physical cues and show bids between partners were addressed in the rules; however, acceptable methods for indicating doubles (or lack of) were not defined.

At last count, there was a median estimate of 70,000+ players in the 42 community. According to past and current survey results, approximately 10%-20% of polling participants have competed in 42 tournaments. As of Nov 2018 there were less than 160 members in the N42PA that had opportunities to participate in closed Association tournaments, including the Tournament of Champions (TOC), which has paid as much as $2400 to the top two winning teams.

My observation has been that many N42PA members (and non-members) are definitely street-wise when it comes to understanding diversifications in playing practices. The N42PA rules, however, applicable to all sanctioned tournaments, open and closed, allow partners to practice subtle indicating tactics not yet defined as acceptable. (Past and present polling results indicate that some undefined tactics are unfair and should be addressed in the official N42PA written rules.)

Where is all this headed? Should the rules for sanctioned tournaments be amended to define acceptable indicating tactics, or should they remain the same to accommodate keenly observant and "street-wise" closed tournament players? Are more definitive rules appropriate for social players feeding into open sanctioned tournaments?   More.

Time will tell. Comments are welcome.

Paul Proft, e-mail

visitors since 18 Jan 2019