Updated: 1 Sep 2019    

Indicating Practices in Sanctioned 42 Tournaments #2

Apparently, traditional values of fair play in 42 have been overcome by the influence of the internet and social media. It used to be that private indicating agreements between partners were considered unfair play in 42 competition. Now, it seems, partners can do whatever is beneficial to winning, unless there is a specific written rule or open agreement to the contrary. Apparently, “talking across the table” no longer includes private indicating agreements between partners.

It used to be that “talking across the table” was against the rules, but that guideline was insufficiently defined. Obvious physical cues were identified, and everyone at the table saw them when they occurred. Following a flap on show-bidding in a statewide tournament prior to 2015, a new rule was added that declared the practice unacceptable. Kudos to the leadership at that time for the improvement.

These were steps in the right direction; however, there are still some grey areas that need addressing, e.g., indicating doubles (or lack of). Acceptable methods need to be defined by the leadership. In the absence of adequate definition, the “creative” and unwitting players will continue to have the edge in competition.

If that is how 42 is supposed to be played, then the leadership should address “creativity” and cultural variations as fair play and define the various practices in the written rules. If not, then each partnership is up to its own devices in how to “outfox” their opponents. It needs to be said; otherwise, the traditional players will compete following their personal, now obsolete, sense of fair play and risk being disadvantaged by a minority of “creative” and some cultural unwitting opponents.

Not sure why the 42 leadership is silent in this matter. Could it be that they believe the new 42 should be open to creative indicating, and definitive rules would be a setback in formal competition? If so, then 42 has become a lot like Poker, except some partnerships can legitimately attempt to defeat opposition teams via private indicating agreements.

The card game Bridge overcame these problems by addressing them early on: private conventions/indications had to be shared with the opposition teams. Sure, that complicates the game, but fair play is accommodated, and the playing field is levelled; otherwise, it is a uneven playing field with inadequate fair play guidelines.

Of course, there will always be partnerships that exploit lack of adequate definition in diversified rules, and they could be challenged when exposed, subject to the judgement of tournament officials.

Paul Proft, e-mail

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