Webmaster's note: Edwin Glynn Hill, AKA Tanzenmaus (42 handle), is a longtime 42 player in northeast Texas. He came from a family of 42 players and learned to play the game in the Dallas area when he was about ten years old. Later in life (circa 2001), he posted a web page on the internet entitled "How 42 should be played" (linked at the bottom of this document). In 2005, he sent me an e-mail message (below) that put the spotlight on some 42 practices I had learned many years ago. He was instrumental in my becoming aware of a better way to teach and play the game of 42. Thanks, Ed, for sharing your viewpoint. Your wisdom has greatly helped in improving the quality of my web site at Texas42.net.   - PP

Comments from a "Pure 42" Advocate
(E-mail content posted with permission, 2 June 2005)

Dear Sir, Just been to your site.

I think variations such as unrestricted nelo in its three forms, Plunge, Splash, and the worst of all, 7's, contribute much to the corrupting of 42. Skill in playing, in knowing how to discern what best to play by what dominoes have been played is the joy in 42. The joy is not, or should not be, in just making marks in any way one can, as seems the variationist philosophy. And really, it should not be so either for the barebones player. And to me, the true 42 player, the real connoisseur of the game is the barebones player, playing 42 in its purest form.

Personally, I think "indicating" is yet another step toward increasing the degeneration of the great game of 42. I think it is certainly merely good playing to give one's partner double-five or double-six and that he ought to know I would not have done that without still retaining the highest five or six. (I'm certainly not one to quickly give my partner double-five simply because it is a big count domino---to me, that is quite bad playing). There are some things I expect of my partner. When I have bid and not sure where the trump is I'm leaving out, I expect him to trump in at first opportunity if he has the trump---do that in preference to giving me nickel-counts---and if my partner fails to trump when he could have, then I am apt to immediately draw that trump in, assuming he doesn't have it. I expect my partner to NEVER---and I mean NEVER give me 6-4, when I have bid on fours, to my initial lead of double-four and hold onto a smaller one---it will irritate me, after I have taken away his second trump, for him to give the lame excuse of "...but I didn't have a lead for you." Too many players cannot imagine that most probably I will not come back the second trick and put him in the lead---but will, instead, proceed to lead my doubles and expect him to eventually be able to use his 6-4 to trump my off, which lots of times is behind a double. And I expect my partner to always play a smaller trump rather than higher trump when I lead out initially with my double (unless it is count, such as 1-4, 3-2, 5-0, which I do expect my partner to give me when I bid and lead out the double-trump). And when leading down, as is very often the preferable way to play, I expect my partner to try his best to catch it, even if he has no leads for me (for if I've bid on deuces and lead a small one and for whatever reason my partner fails to play his 6-2 and lets my right-opponent catch that first trick with 2-5, then the initiative goes over to the opponent, which so often will result in my going set when both my partner and I have to follow suit to that second trick).

But I think when one departs from keen discernment of what dominoes have been played to providing "messages" to his partner about what is in his hand, about what has not yet been played, then a line has been crossed that should not be. The game of 42 has been changed, modified, morphed into a way of playing that for generations was not played that way. When partners have agreed in advance to let each other know they have certain things they wouldn't have known from dominoes already played, then how does that really differ from talking across the board? If a 30 bid means "I have doubles or lots of good count to help you, partner," then why not allow that statement to be spoken aloud? It amounts to the same thing. Unless, sometimes there are opponents who have not yet learned of that way of indicating, then it even becomes more unfair. If spoken aloud, all would recognize immediately that such talking across the board is not right----but doing so, in effect furtively, surreptitiously, with an unspoken "I know what you're telling me" by his partner becomes acceptable? It's not the 42 I grew with when I was a boy in 1950s.

And back then, I knew nothing about playing a small four as soon as I could to indicate to my partner I had double-four or a small five to indicate I have double-five. These ways of playing were introduced, as were several of the variations, later on. Additions that, in my opinion, degrades 42, saps away at its purity and makes it a different game---not a better game---but definitely a different game.

This thing of indicating unquestionably will enable people to make marks they otherwise might not. Partners who are adept at all the ways of indicating do have an advantage over partners who do not do that. But I think it is not an overwhelming advantage. The indicating itself can sometimes cause one to not play his hand quite as well as he might have, preventing a back-up of a back up which might have resulted in a walker for his partner or a domino that could catch. And at times indicating can cause the partner to bid more than he would otherwise have done and if he misses his partner, can go set on a hand that he might not otherwise have bid on. So indicating cuts both ways. It's not the 42 of generations past and, in my opinion, when 42 loses its purity, as it has when played in such ways, this great game has become cheapened and, for me, there is a sense of loss, a sadness of what the game once was, and is increasingly becoming less so.

I like your polls. I would suggest that you ask how many respondents indicate. And how many think it a proper way to play 42. And how many prefer variations and how many prefer barebones 42.

Sincerely, Ed (tanzenmaus)

More on Indicating
(Ed's Blog)

More by Tanzenmaus
(How 42 should be played)

More Commentaries

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