Last update: 20 Aug 2019

Fair Play Rule Considerations in 42 Competition

The rules for playing 42 in tournaments hosted by the National 42 Players Association (N42PA) club are linked at the top of their online rules document. The rules address acceptable conduct of play in tournaments hosted by their club. Partnerships that follow their rules can exploit omissions to take subtle liberties in gaining advantage in tournaments.

There are three categories of 42 player partnerships:

      1. Those who play their hands without resorting to signaling tactics with their partners. This category is no problem in any 42 competition.

      2. Those who signal their partners via privately agreed methods (collusion). This category is unethical.

      3. Those longtime partnerships that use local group-accepted signalling tactics (culturally learned). This category oftentimes seems innocent, but opponents not familiar with their unconventional methods are at a disadvantage.

So, how do you address these different styles to "level the playing field" in 42 competition?

The first category needs no addressing.

The second category can be addressed by adding the following definition to existing tournament rules:

" 'Talking across the table' is cheating and it includes (but is not limited to) any kind of communication or signaling that is private to the two people doing the communicating. If there is a conversation beforehand to set up certain actions to mean certain things, then it is cheating." SOURCE
Note: This rule negates the requirement to cite numerous examples of cheating.

The third category can be addressed by defining acceptable common indicating methods, e.g., sluffing a double might indicate the next highest unplayed domino in that suit is held by the player, and the high end of a sluffed domino might indicate the double in that suit is held by the player.

All other indicating methods are unacceptable unless specifically defined as acceptable in the rules. (Bridge has a similar rule: "The gravest possible offense is for a partnership to exchange information through prearranged methods of communication other than those sanctioned by these Laws.")

Generic helping hand bids are acceptable provided they do not indicate specific information about the bidder's hand, and they meet the criteria of the second category rule above ('talking across the table').

When social players send email to asking resolution of questionable playing practices, I usually cite the N42PA tournament rules. Other than the straight 42 format, the N42PA rules are not applicable to all tournaments sanctioned by the N42PA club. Sometimes the issue(s) are not definitively addressed in the N42PA rules, and I have to advise the inquirers to agree on their own rules.

One can readily see how adequate universal standardized fair play rules are needed in sanctioned competition. Social and tournament players will, in time, follow fair play guidelines enhanced by the leadership in the 42 community. My question: If not the N42PA, who is the leadership in the 42 community?

Paul Proft, email
26 May 2019

Postscript: Fair play rules are important in all 42 competition, social and tournament. A very wise player once stated that the game of 42 is not about tournaments, but, instead, tournaments are about 42. (Very profound if you think about it.)

Note: Link and conversations deleted from FB 30 May 2019.

References:   1   2   3

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