|||||||||   Ideal Competition in 42 Tournaments   |||||||||

Last update: 27 Oct 2016

Over the years, I have received feedback from social players who also compete in formal tournaments. Comments indicate their opponents sometimes communicate subtle, mutually understood bidding and indicating signals to their partners unbeknownst to them. They feel this is an unfair advantage because the observation penalty (burning a mark) for learning the opponents' system could be costly in close games.

Some of these tactics are culturally learned within local playing groups. Some are contrived privately before competition begins. (It should be noted that physical cues between partners and privately arranged bids that communicate specific information are illegal in sanctioned tournaments.)


So, how can the playing field be leveled when varying playing cultures come together in tournament competition? Some nifty ideas have surfaced in Facebook exchanges between 42 players. One idea was for players to share their private signals with their opponents at the table. How so? Announce mutually understood and private indicating methods in the presence of the other team before the game begins.

Sure, this is an ambitious undertaking, but both teams start the game with the same knowledge of indications to be used. Some advanced players might feel this will ruin the game of 42 because it removes the advantage of private indications from their strategies. Maybe so, but the absence of more openness will continue to discourage some savvy traditional social players from participating in 42 tournaments.

It is understood that some players will not be forthright in divulging their indicating methods, and the tournament directors will have to address these anomalies when challenged. In time, however, it is likely that players will conform and follow the guidelines provided by the sanctioning body.


There is diversity of opinions on this subject. Some say openness, especially open bidding conventions, would be the demise of the game of 42. Sharing with or asking the opponents what bidding and doubles indicating methods they use would be novel and informative. Learning and applying the private methods used by advanced opponents could also add balance to the competition.

Indicating doubles (or lack of) via sluffs is common practice in 42 and is not addressed in sanctioned tournament rules. When partners privately agree/understand which indicating method they will use in a game, their opponents must figure out which method, if any, is being used during play action at the table. Is this an unfair advantage imposed on them which could have costly consequences in close games?

You decide. State your position so others can get a feel for which way the wind is blowing. Participate in the survey below and/or send email or anonymous message and state your view(s). I will include pertinent remarks below (anonymously) for all to see and ponder.

Paul Proft. webmaster

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Survey For Tournament Players
(Polling started 27 Oct 2016, reset/reopened 17 Nov 2017)

Is it fair play for partners to agree privately before a 42 game begins which method they will use to indicate doubles (or lack of) during play action at the table?

Webmaster's Note: In 2016, I posted a survey form similar to the above in the Facebook 42 Strategy Group. Even though there are currently more than 400 members in the group, only 41 voted. The majority vote suggested pre-game private indicating agreements between partners was not fair play. I thought the sampling was insufficient to draw any valid conclusions, so I posted the above polling form at my 42 website in October 2016 hoping to draw more participation from the 42 community. The survey ended 31 Dec 2016, and nobody participated or offered comments. So, in November 2017, I reset the polling form, and I'm trying again. Perhaps this is no longer an issue worthy of pursuing, and most queried players have reconciled private agreements between partners as an acceptable part of game strategy. -PP, 18 Nov 2017

Comments Received:


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