Swedish 42 in Illinois

There is a large distribution of Swedish-Americans in the United States, some located in Central Texas in the 2000 census: McCulloch, Mason, and Williamson Counties.

Third and fourth generations of Swedish descent in Illinois and Florida play a version of 42 that is similar to Texas 42. Deceased immigrant grandparents also played the game.

Interestingly, like Texas 42, Swedish 42 is a four-player trick-taking domino game with bidding and trumps. Players sitting opposite each other are partners.

Swedish 42 plays just like Texas 42 with these minor variations:

To open the game, the player with blank-one commences the bidding.

If the first two bidders pass, the third is forced to bid at least 20.

At the end of the hand, if you made your bid, you get the number of points that you took, and the opponents get the number of points they took, which adds up to 42. (Each trick won is one point. Counters are multiples of five.)

If you donít make your bid you deduct that amount of points from your score.

First to 204 points wins.

If the game was close at the end, it would be possible that both teams could exceed 204 points. Our rule is that the bidder wins, even if he had less points than the opponents.

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Thanks to Dave White and his 42-playing group for the info on how to play Swedish 42.

Texas 42 differences:

In Texas 42, the player to the left of the shuffler starts the bidding process.

The minimum bid in Texas 42 is 30.

In social games of Texas 42, the forced bid option is directed to the last bidder when the first three bidders pass.

Some methods for indicating doubles and helping hands are common practice in Texas 42.

In Texas 42, optional scoring of 250 points wins the game; otherwise, seven marks wins the game. (Each hand is scored as a mark unless multiple marks were bid.)

Additional information on Swedish 42 (or information on other versions of 42 with immigrant roots) is solicited. Please send e-mail.

Revised 26 Jan 2018
Paul Proft, webmaster


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With the onset of public internet in the 1990s, the worldwide web made it possible to research historical documents and exchange information online with other researchers. Here are some findings that help explain the origin and spread of 42:
Forty-two (42) reportedly originated in Garner, Texas, in the 1880s. U.S. military personnel from Texas probably introduced 42 in European countries during WWI and WWII.

Immigrants from those countries could have brought versions of 42 with them when they came to the USA. There were cultural variations of 42 prior to the 1990s. In 2005, the N42PA set forth tournament rules that specified straight 42 (no variations) as the standard.

Some Swedish immigrants settled in Texas and could have learned Texas 42 from the locals. They and/or their offspring could have moved later and introduced the game in northern states like Illinois. (The Swedish version is very similar to earlier versions of Texas 42.)

The well water in Mineral Wells, Texas, was known for its medicinal qualities in the 1880s and early 1900s. The town attracted travelers from the north and became a health resort where "games were very popular in the pavilions and boarding house lobbies, with the domino game '42' being the most popular." Swedish travelers from Illinois could have visited Mineral Wells and carried the game back with them.

Texas 42 is known as the National Game of Texas. In 2011, the Texas Legislature and Governor Perry proclaimed 42 as the official domino game of Texas.

Paul Proft
28 Jan 2018