Scoring in 42, Marks versus Points

In 42, each trick taken in a hand is worth one point plus any counters played in the trick. The maximum number of points in a hand is 42: seven tricks and 35 points in count dominos (5-5, 6-4, 5-0, 4-1, 3-2). There are two methods that can be used to keep score in a game of 42.

Scoring by points (250 points determines which team wins the game):

        • If the bidding team makes their bid, both sides count points taken. For example, if a team gets the bid for 31 and just makes their bid, they get 31 points, and their opponents get 11 points. If they bid 31 and take 35 points, they get 35 points and their opponents get 7 points.

        • If the high-bid team gets set, they get zero points and their opponents score points taken plus the amount of the bid. For example, if a team gets the bid for 31 and makes only 28, they get zero points, and their opponents get 31 (what was bid) plus 14 (points they took) for a total of 45 points.

Scoring by marks (Seven marks determines which team wins the game):

        • If the bidding team makes their bid they get a mark or multiple marks if more than one mark is bid. Their opponents get nothing. (Bids from 30 to 42 count as one mark, 84 equals 2 marks, 126 equals 3 marks, 168 equals 4 marks, and 210 equals 5 marks.)

        • If the bidding team gets set, the opposing team gets the number of marks bid, and the bidding team gets nothing.

You can readily see that making a bid is less rewarding than setting the high bidder, and playing strategies will differ between the two scoring systems. The incentive for using the point system is twofold:

        • It discourages reckless bidding because the penalty for not making your bid is significant.

        • It encourages players to exploit the merits of strategies to set the high bidder because the reward is more significant than making a bid.

So, why do most players, even in tournaments, keep score by using the marks system? The reasons are threefold:

        • It's convenient and expedient, just marks on a sheet of paper.

        • The players don't have to play out the hand after the bid is made or set (to determine the teams' final scores in each hand).

        • The scorekeeper doesn't have to add numbers to keep running scores for each team.

That's why the marks scoring system is so popular. For a thorough discussion on scoring in 42 tournaments, see Chapter 10 in Dennis Roberson's book, Winning 42.

Paul Proft

If you have comments on scoring systems used in 42, send me an e-mail, and I will post pertinent comments below.

5 Feb 2013: I play in a domino club which uses the point system for scoring. One of the players and I had a disagreement about scoring. Here's the scenerio: A "42" bid was set by 1 trick. My opponent said that the team who did the setting was to get a score of 42. I said that it should be 43 as that would be setting the bid plus the amount in the trick. (there were no count rocks in the trick) What is correct? Hope you can shed some light on the subject.

The setting team should get 43 points.

14 Jun 2022 (addendum): The National 42 Players Association (N42PA) specifies marks as the official standard for scoring in sanctioned tournaments. In social games, players agree beforehand what scoring variation rules apply. - PP

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