Saturday, December 03, 2005

Is bidding 30 to indicate to your partner that you have doubles fair?

"What's not cheating: indicating with a domino- bidding 30 to tell your pard you have a helping hand"
Thanks for your clarification of what you accept as not cheating. I don't entirely agree with the first two points; but on the point about it's okay to bid 30 to indicate to your partner you have a helping hand (whether the meaning is to communicate "I have three doubles" or "I have double-five")---it has never been satisfactorily explained to me if this is acceptable, why it isn't also acceptable in a live tourney, or any in-person playing, to verbally tell your partner "I have a helping hand"--or "I have some doubles, partner" or "I have double-five" or type those words when playing a game online. Maybe the opponents don't know what the 30 bid means. If not, there is the unfair advantage, cheating if you will. It would be fairer if you're sanctioning the 30 to convey to your partner you have doubles or good help for him, to just openly verbally speak it or type it so that all the players at the table hear it or read it, would it not?
In other words, it's the covert nature of it, the being surreptitious in signifying---not by playing a domino---but by making the 30 a code whereby one's partner learns before any playing begins that his partner has doubles or a good helping hand becomes intrinsically a in cahoots thing that for generations of 42 playing was unknown. And it doesn't matter whether this 30 "code" has been pre-arranged or gleaned by an "in-the-know" player who is keenly looking to see if his partner does this sort of "indicating" and adjusts his bidding accordingly. The fact remains, the two players participating in this have a bit of knowledge, a tip-off of what may be in his partner's hand before any playing of the hand is done that perhaps the opponents have not picked up on. Hence the unfairness, hence the type of signifying that the players of 42 of the 1950s era and before would have instantly labeled "cheating." The question becomes this: because this type of signifying is now widely-accepted and practiced should it be condoned and sanctioned? Should it be simply acknowledged as a fait accompli foisted onto the pure game of 42, a corruption of the game that can't be undone, by unscrupulous players who will resort to any means they can get by with to win? Perhaps so. But wherever it is sanctioned and condoned, to be fair to those don't resort to doing this, allow all the players to simply say out loud, for all to hear, "I have doubles, partner---bid!"

11 Comments:

Blogger Texas42Token said...

Using the 30-bid to indicate specific domininos (or how many doubles) are in the bidder's hand is okay if all four players are privy to that particular bidding convention. It is not unreasonable to expect an experienced player to assume that a 30-bid could mean the bidder has a helping hand for his partner.

Indicating doubles during play is okay. Denying a player's option to play any domino he wishes when he can't follow suit is unwarranted. It is not unresonable to expect an experienced player to be wary of possible implications when a domino played doesn't follow the suit of the domino led.

Indicating is comparable to body language and rhetoric in everyday face-to-face communications. It can't be easily legislated or enforced; therefore, knowledge and experience are the most effective ways of dealing with the practice when confronted.

That said, there is logic in the argument that one should just say he has a helping hand and skip the perceived bidding subterfuge altogether. However, that would diminish strategy and mystique, just as eliminating bidding conventions would in the card game Bridge.

The only thing that really matters is that all four players know (and honor) the house rules and have a good time playing the game. In the absence of house rules, specific exclusions, and/or lack of common knowledge, the players should agree on the rules before beginning the game.

A more convincing argument might be about the wisdom of employing indicating tactics. Some players believe that indicating is overrated, adds little advantage, and is oftentimes detrimental to those who practice it. But, like a promininent 42 player once said: "42 is a game. It's not a religion."

2:19 PM  
Blogger getreal said...

Generational changes of attitudes in all sort of areas are to be expected, although not always for the best. I am merely as a voice crying in the wilderness lamenting the loss of innocence of my much beloved game. Ed
Oh, come on, Ed. It's not that bad.
You probably were disappointed when the NFL moved the goal post to the back of the end zone and added the two-point conversion. And when the NBA added the three-point field goal. 42 is no different when it comes to change. :-)
Yes, thanks for the forum about these issues affecting 42. As we of the "old school" of 42 fade away, it seems the trend will be an ever-increasing acceptance of the mutated form of 42 as the norm and standard of play. The author of the 42-online article pretty much states the issue as it is: "Indicating is a practice that has been around for quite a while, but was not part of the original game. It is something, however, that cannot be eliminated, as to do so would, by default, restrict the player as to what domino he could play at a time when he is not forced to follow suit. Since indicating is now a part of the game, then it is important that all players at the table understand what it is and how to use it for their advantage."
I don't know :)---maybe sometimes I relish in the "woe is me" angst of a lost cause :)---I still regret the Confederacy losing the War of Northern Aggression :). And I agree that you cannot and must not restrict any domino play, other than a renege. But in agreeing to that, does not mean I approve of what is being done or think it is ethically right.
But this 30 thing, however it is sliced and dissected, smacks of talking across the board to me. The 42-online article tries to dance around this by being opposed to pre-arranged understandings about what precisely the 30 bid means, yet (wink wink) if you're smart enough to discern by watching intently what your partner has when he bids 30, then it becomes okay---in other words, the partner has successfully "de-coded" the meaning of his partner's 30 bids. All is well now :)---they can then proceed to practice their completely understood messaging to each other and be perfectly legit by 42-online standard of what is okay in 42. The incontrovertible bottom line is that it is a verbal-code messaging (by attaching special meanings to the 30 bid) about what one has in his hand---before even one domino has been played---the communication is sent out and is received and understood and that gives the two who are doing this an edge over those who may not know about this sort of talking across the board (therefore not also doing it) or may think it isn't right and refusing to participate in this practice of giving one's partner a tip about what is in the bidder's hand. Since it cannot be stopped, as it has become so widespread and accepted, then my point is to take the unfairness out of it. Just openly permit the talking across the board wherever Indicating is officially proclaimed as being okay. The understood "I have doubles" or "I have double-five" or "I have three doubles" --- make it verbal, make it visible and audible for all playing at the table. Take the "code" away---recognize it for what it is---talking across the board. This 30 thing is not about good playing of 42, the keen discernment of what domino to play based on the dominoes one sees in his hand and those played on the board---it is about messaging, about revealing to one's partner some information about the dominoes one has ---and this done before even one domino has hit the board!
How about the analogy of a partisan fan transmitting by some sort of code---perhaps the Morse code, or some other way, the playbook of the opposing team to his team's coaches? Or maybe covertly hiding a wireless microphone in the clothing of the opposing team's coach and transmitting what he says to the coach of his team? Simply wouldn't be fair. If this were going to be condoned, sanctioned and approved as an accepted way of doing, then why do it covertly or surreptitiously---just openly broadcast it. But let's expand the analogy by having the NFL Commissioner say "Admittedly the transmissions of Morse code messages and hiding microphones onto coaches were not part of the original game of football, but the practice has been around for quite a while and cannot be eliminated. To restrict this would be to infringe upon one's freedom of speech. Since it is now part of the game of football, it is important that all players understand what it is and how to use it for their advantage. But there should be no conferring about this before a game, no asking the exact frequency to tune into the transmitted messages---but if you just happen to know what part of the band to tune and by careful tuning happen upon the transmissions and able to use the information to your advantage, then that's okay." But I say, if it is going to be allowed, then just go ahead and be completely open about it. Not everyone is in the know enough to intercept and properly decipher these transmissions in football (if they were really happening) and not everyone is in the know, or choose to be, about the exact meanings the two opponents in 42 have learned in association with the partner's meaning of a 30 bid. If one were going to do it football, then broadcast it openly! Let everyone in on what frequency to tune to know exactly what is being transmitted. And the same with this coded 30 bid---if it's going to be officially sanctioned, as apparently 42-online gives its approval, then don't restrict anyone at the table from saying out load (or typing if playing online) information about the good dominoes in his hand.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Texas42Token said...

Just as there are many religions, church denominations, and political philosphies, there are different beliefs in how the game of 42 should be played.

Each player has his personal preferences. Some are steadfast in their playing tactics, and some are ambivalent. It's not a matter of right or wrong, it's simply "what floats your boat."

I, for one, enjoy playing the game with others who also practice the subtle indicating styles. It's sometimes helpful, and it keeps me vigilant. Others think it should not be tolerated.

I agree that prearranged specific signals are cheating and are totally inappropriate; however, common knowledge indicating, e.g., the 30-bid helping hand, is acceptable. The players that don't recognise this bid option have not yet reached the skill level of an experienced, knowledgeable 42 player.

In 42, as in life, there will always be differences. Recognising and responding effectively to these differences is the challenge (and thrill) that makes the game of 42 so exciting.

9:46 AM  
Blogger getreal said...

Hi David, As you wrote me that 80% or more players in the tourneys do indicating---yes, the indicating genie is out of the bottle and how would one ever put it back in? But it is so saddening to me being a 42 player from an earlier era, a generation that didn't indicate in the ways done now, to see 42 change so much. A reminiscing perhaps :) of the 42 of my youth, back in the '50's when I could go to the drug store and get a cherry coke or a real chocolate malt---and at home play 42 in its purest form.
This isn't what 42 is about---consulting, conferring, getting your signals together with your partner about how he plays---42 is about playing to the best of your ability from what dominoes you see are in your hand and what dominoes have been played on the board. This seeking information apart and beyond keen observance of the dominoes played is where the Indicators get off the right track onto the path that leads to cheating.
The example of playing one's double while retaining the next highest of that suit is smart 42 playing based strictly on a domino that has been played with the obvious inference that can be drawn from it. Why would the bidder's partner throw away a double, the double-deuce? Is it because he has an aversion to doubles? Of course not. It can be logically surmised that there was a reason behind his partner doing that and that reason must be that he is still holding the next highest deuce. This is just plain good 42 playing---no cheating or unfairness associated with this at all. To restrict a player from doing that would be going to the extreme.
But let's contrast that with what the Indicators do. Playing a small four to indicate to one's partner he is holding double-four. How would one logically deduce, infer or surmise that means he has double-four? It wouldn't and it couldn't unless there was some "understanding" for it to mean that---and my objection is that here is where one departs from good 42 into the realm of cheating---this communicating by an "understanding" that a small four played as soon as possible will tell his partner that he has double-four. The joy of good 42 playing is in the deducing, the inferring, the surmising, the figuring of which domino in his hand is the best one to play on that trick---but the Indicators shift this away from what can be deduced to that which is "communicated," an actual talking across the board, saying "Look, partner, this means I have double-four"---again, no way would one ordinarily associate the playing of 4-0 with having the double-four unless this in cahoots messaging is being played. If you're allowing that, then why not just openly say it out loud? Just as if you're allowing a 30 bid to mean "I have three doubles," then why not just allow everyone to say that out loud? Because it isn't right---it isn't good 42! But also, the Indicators know that there are still some people not yet in the know about their doing this or they're playing against people who recognize this as a perversion of 42 and refuse to do it themselves---so of course, this gives the Indicators the edge, an advantage they're happy to exploit. But the Indicators, perhaps to ease their conscience, can say they do absolutely no conferring beforehand about whether a partner indicates, not even asking about it. To think that then makes it okay is a self-deluding sophistry! Anyone experienced at Indicating can quickly discern what his partner his doing, what his partner is meaning when bidding 30, without a word being said about it---and because you can readily perceive it, then that is equated with keen deducement of 42? No. The fact still remains, that a transmission of information about what dominoes are in one's hand is being sent and received by the means of the 30 bid. It is "talking across the board." For generations of 42 players "talking across the board" was instantly recognized as being wrong---but now, it has been accepted and adopted as being okay, if it's done by the coded 30 bid---but even 42-online see the inappropriateness in having people say out loud or type for all the players to see what is being transmitted by the 30 bid. A kind of wink-wink on the sly of convincing themselves that because there were no conferring about it before the game, no explicit spoken agreements about it that it has now become okay to transmit the tip-off of what is your hand to your partner.
If every player has agreed in advance to play like that, then of course people can play 42 by whatever rules makes them happy---but if a player who doesn't play in such a way sits down at a table with 42 being played like this, then this indicating become an unfair advantage, a finagling that is veering off from what makes 42 the great game that it is---which is found in the delight, the joy of playing the best domino to each trick accomplished by keen discernment of what has been played on the board. And even if everyone does agree that Indicating is okay and plays accordingly, it still is a lowering of the standard of 42---for talking across the board, communicating what is in your hand to your partner the way the Indicators do is getting away from the true joy in 42---that of deducing, inferring what best to play on each trick based entirely and strictly on what dominoes you see in your hand and those played on the board---with no coded or encapsulated meanings to it---just what is a logical deduction a skilled player would make, absent any special meaning to a bid or to a played domino. The Indicator may counter with "But by just keen observation, with no words at all spoken about it, I notice that when my partner plays a small four quickly onto my lead, he usually has double-four and when he play a small five or six, he usually has double-five or double-six---isn't that just good playing, just keen observation and deduction? Having noticed how he plays, why shouldn't I take advantage of that and lead accordingly?" You and your partner can play any domino you wish of course (provided it isn't a renege)---it would ruin 42 to try to restrict or prohibit playing of dominoes. It just isn't quite right---and if you can't see that it isn't right; if you can't see that it is a lowering of 42, if you can't perceive and comprehend the diminished fairness involved, then I'm reminded of the old sci-fi movie The Invasion of the Body Snatchers---the people in that movie were being taken over by an alien invasion, but didn't know it either. This Indicating thing would have been recognized instantly by earlier generations of 42 as alien to fair and square playing---but those in the movie were not aware they had been infected and new ways of thinking and behavior controlling them. And so too, an ever-increasing number of 42 players are completely oblivious to the fact that what they're doing with these indicatings would have shocked and offended the earlier generations of 42 players. In the movie, as I recall, someone assimilated by the aliens could be identified by a small pod attached to the back of their necks--- maybe we ought to, whenever we go to tourneys or live play, to always have a glance at the back of the necks of opponents :)---is this how Indicating began? :).
Always remember that good 42, the 42 that our Texas ancestors played, was not based on pre-arranged understandings that reveals doubles are in his partner's hand---but rather, by keen deducing, inferring, surmising what best to play simply by the dominoes in the player's hand and what dominoes are played on the board. "While this is not as obvious, you cannot call this cheating, because to do so, would limit me to playing a low domino from a suit for which I have no double." I call it cheating. From Google: "define: cheating": "Let us define cheating as any behavior outside the rules intended to give an unfair advantage to one or more players", "cheating can be to create an unfair advantage, usually in one's own interest, and often at the expense of others." Why is this player saying he is limited? He is in no way limited. He can play any domino in his hand. The problem of cheating arises because he chose to transmit a message to his partner by playing 4-0, and that message that is attached to the 4-0 is that "I have double-four." Play 4-0 if he chooses, but don't encapsulate any message within it. What would his partner think if he saw his partner throw double-four on his lead of double-six? Again, is he thinking that his partner just hates doubles and wants them out of his hand as soon as he can toss them? Of course not. One can logically deduce that since his partner has never exhibited any strong phobias against doubles that most likely he wouldn't have done that unless he is still retaining the next highest four. It's a logical deduction---what good 42 playing is about. But where is the logical deduction or surmising or inferring in playing the 4-0? How would that ever be associated with having double-four?---it could not and it would not, unless there was a special attached message---and that message, by agreement (whether articulated or not), some understanding about it, is where the Indicators are propelling the great game of 42 on a downward and regrettable path. As someone strongly opposed to indicating, I certainly wouldn't restrict anyone from playing any one of the seven dominoes that is in hand. In no hand is he ever restricted from playing any domino he chooses to play (assuming no renege). My point is that it's wrong to have 4-0 carry the message that "I have double-four"---it is wrong, it is cheating, for it to carry that message---it a departure from the great game of 42 that our ancestors loved. Indicating is an unfair advantage when it is based on messages transmitted to his partner about what he has in his hand that one would not, could not logically discern and deduce from keen observance of the dominoes, but rather on an "understanding" about that bidding in such a way or playing in such a way will mean this or that. It is unfair to anyone in the game not playing by these contrived and corrupted "rules." As I said earlier, people can agree to play by whatever rules makes them happy. But it's a demeaning, a corrupting, of the great game of 42 when the philosophy of making marks any way one can supplants honorable, fair and square playing by imparting "messages" about what dominoes are in his hand not based strictly on what can be openly seen and discerned, inferred and deduced. What will be the next tactic the Indicators will employ? Perhaps when an opponent trumps, to make sure it doesn't slip by his partner, he can clear his throat? And when he trumps in and wants to always be sure his partner sees it so that he will put on count, he can perhaps cross his leg or look suddenly over to his right or left? Does that sound preposterous? Something that can never happen in 42? It is no more far-fetched than what has actually happened in 42. This corrupt indicating that has now been accepted and sanctioned, especially in online tourneys and live tournaments would have shocked the 42 players of earlier generations. It would have been instantly batted down as a departure, a falling away from right-playing and viewed as the unethical way of playing it is. But somehow more and more people started doing it and more and more people tolerated it and now it is accepted, even in tournaments, where there ought to be the crème de la crème of what is best in 42. So next time you go to a tournament, look for the sudden turn of your opponent's head, a crossing of the legs, a clearing of the throat at a critical moment of play and wonder if you are not witnessing the future of 42.
Forty-two is under twin assaults and fast caving in to both. The variationists with their in effect talking across the board letting their partner know when they have three or four or more doubles with their Splash and Plunge, their multiple nelo bids and the inexplicable 7's variation where there is absolutely no playing strategy at all. Variations is like a camel sticking his head in a tent---soon he will be in completely trampling and destroying all that was good inside. On one side of 42 we have the variationist camel and charging in now on the other side of the tent is the indicating camel. Both are devastating the great game of 42. But what can be done about it? The answer is not in outlawing certain bids or in prohibiting or limiting the playing of certain dominoes or even in trying to police indicating. I don't think you can get the camels out of 42 now. I think the best that can be done now is for anyone who has an Internet site pertaining to 42, and tournament directors before the competition begins, to just plainly state that the gold standard of 42, the joy, the delight of 42 is found in keen discernment, the deducing of what best to play from what dominoes you see and that signaling, messaging your partner about what is your hand, that departs from that is not the way 42 has always been, is wrong, a departure from the way 42 used to be played---state plainly that if you're a new player to the game, you need to beware that your opponents will be doing it and that they may in the future come up with even more ways to communicate with each other about when to bid, when they have doubles, or perhaps when to trump. Don't let any player come into the game unaware of what will be going on---for if you do that then you are letting them be cheated out of marks and out of games---for they don't know what's happening and are not doing it themselves. Yes, don't let the newcomer think that 42 has always been like this---let him know there was a time when making marks any way you can wasn't paramount, that playing the game totally honestly was how it was played and back then no one guessed that 42 would change to what it is now.

Indicating will win marks and games at times, an advantage to be sure---but, ironically, it's not an overwhelming advantage. It can cause one to not play his hand as well, can divert his partner into playing a domino he wouldn't otherwise have done and go set because of it (because the domino he is intent on "indicating" in some instances would have been needed as a backup to a backup that might have resulted in catching a domino that would have resulted in a mark), can cause his partner to bid more than he otherwise would have (when a 30 bid means several doubles) and possibly go set because of the over bid. At times it will help, but other times indicating will detract and harm the Indicator's chances of making the mark---the Indicators outfoxing themselves :). Besides the fact that it isn't proper, definitely a kind of cheating---to me, it just isn't worth encumbering my mind with trying to communicate these messages to my partner---I'd rather just play the best I can by watching the doms in my hand and those already played on the board.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Texas42Token said...

Indicating is a two-edged sword. There are risks. A false indication by your partner could have undesirable results. And you can't always come to your partner after an indication. Sometimes it is helpful, and sometimes your opponents can use your indications to help set you.

Integrity and trust go hand-in-hand in the game of 42. Each player is on his honor to play a fair game. The examples you provided on unscrupulous indicating tactics are indicative of unscrupulous players. They do not represent the honest players who practice commonly accepted out-in-the-open indicating styles.

1:30 PM  
Blogger 42manwhoknows said...

Indicating any specific dominoes or groups of dominoes with 30 or any other bid is cheating, pure and simple. This practice is NOT widely accepted. Yes, there are people who do it, but it should never be condoned or sanctioned, outside of a friendly game where the participants agree in advance that they all want to signal-bid each other.

I can have a 30 bid without many doubles. Or I could have several doubles, but not a 30 bid. My partner can choose to assume that I have a helping hand because I bid, but there is no guarantee. This is the only honest and fair way to play 42. Period.

The way people talk about indicating doubles during play, it's like it happens every single hand and is the difference between winning and losing a match. That's crazy. In a recent tournament we played in, there were only two occasions when I had an opportunity to indicate a double to my partner when he was playing a bid. TWO times - that's it. And only one of those two times would it have even mattered to him.

Think about all the things that have to happen for that to work:

1) Partner wins the bid; AND
2) You have both a double and another from that suit to indicate the double; AND
3) Partner leads a domino from a suit that you cannot follow, giving you the opportunity to indicate; AND
4) There is not a more important domino for you to play (i.e.: count) than an indicator domino; AND
5) Partner can actually choose to lead to the domino of the suit you indicated

In a typical match, those five specific things will converge into the 'perfect storm' maybe once or twice, AT MOST. I have specifically kept track of such circumstances during tournaments I've played. It is not a regular difference-maker opportunity. If you win a match or a tournament, it's because you made good bids, played your bid properly, knew how to set opponents, and had a little luck in hitting your partner. In my personal notes I review before each tournament, to get focused on
strategy keys to remember, the idea of indicating doubles would be way down the list of importance compared to other keys to playing well. I find that indicating doubles is most beneficial to players who choose to make wild bids no matter what, meaning they have several offs and are desperately looking for some tip from their partner on what to lead back that they could catch. So either they get lucky or they get set. In either case, they are really not in control of their destiny in the match. 42 is NOT a game of luck. Players who turn it into a game of luck by constantly making wild bids that their hands do not support are denying themselves the opportunity to enjoy a truly great game to the fullest. Many of these players will say, "well, I know I can't set him, so I'd rather go set bidding, and maybe I'll get lucky." That is a RIDICULOUS and completely false statement. You have no way of knowing whether you might set someone until you know what trumps are. What if your opponent plans to bid on aces or blanks? You thought you had a bad hand, but lo and behold you have two or three of his trumps! And if your partner still has a bid after you, your wild bid may have just knocked him out of a very good bid that his hand fully supported. Just because you don't have a bunch of high doubles or count, does not mean you will not set the opponent. Again, it is a RIDICULOUS way of thinking. What if your partner has some doubles and/or count - you're not the only one playing this game, you know. The art of setting is highly underrated, and is just as important and skillful as learning to bid and play a bid properly. In one tournament we played, we were down 6-5, and my partner bid 84. The opponent raised him to three marks on a bad hand simply because he decided he could not set my partner. We set him on the second trick and won the match. Thank you very much. We didn't have to sweat trying to make our 84. I love people who play like that. He very well may have been able to set my partner, but there is no way he could have known that until AFTER he knew what my partner's trumps were. I love to sit back in a match against poor or wild bidders and set them all day long. I have beaten teams 7-0 without ever playing a bid! Tell me who is the better player in that circumstance - the one who believes you should bid not matter what, or the one who won the match?

11:50 AM  
Blogger 42manwhoknows said...

Indicating any specific dominoes or groups of dominoes with 30 or any other bid is cheating, pure and simple. This practice is NOT widely accepted. Yes, there are people who do it, perhaps many, but it should never be condoned or sanctioned, outside of a friendly game where the participants agree in advance that they all want to signal-bid each other. The National 42 Players Association forbids this practice, and will expel those who do it.

I can have a 30 bid without many doubles. Or I could have several doubles, but not a 30 bid. My partner can choose to assume that I have a helping hand because I bid, but there is no guarantee. This is the only honest and fair way to play 42. Period.

Of course, telling your partner you have the double-five is about a blatant an act of cheating as can be comprehended. Like another blogger said - why don't you just say it out loud? I find that indicating doubles is most beneficial to players who choose to make wild bids no matter what, meaning they have several offs and are desperately looking for some tip from their partner on what to lead back that they could catch. So either they get lucky or they get set. In either case, they are really not in control of their destiny in the match. 42 is NOT a game of luck. Players who turn it into a game of luck by constantly making wild bids that their hands do not support are denying themselves the opportunity to enjoy a truly great game to the fullest. Many of these players will say, "well, I know I can't set him, so I'd rather go set bidding, and maybe I'll get lucky." That is a RIDICULOUS and completely false statement. You have no way of knowing whether you might set someone until you know what trumps are. What if your opponent plans to bid on aces or blanks? You thought you had a bad hand, but lo and behold you have two or three of his trumps! And if your partner still has a bid after you, your wild bid may have just knocked him out of a very good bid that his hand fully supported. Just because you don't have a bunch of high doubles or count, does not mean you will not set the opponent. Again, it is a RIDICULOUS way of thinking. What if your partner has some doubles and/or count - you're not the only one playing this game, you know. The art of setting is highly underrated, and is just as important and skillful as learning to bid and play a bid properly. In one tournament we played, we were down 6-5, and my partner bid 84. The opponent raised him to three marks on a bad hand simply because he decided he could not set my partner. We set him on the second trick and won the match. Thank you very much. We didn't have to sweat trying to make our 84. I love people who play like that. He very well may have been able to set my partner, but there is no way he could have known that until AFTER he knew what my partner's trumps were. I love to sit back in a match against poor or wild bidders and set them all day long. I have beaten teams 7-0 without ever playing a bid! Tell me who is the better player in that circumstance - the one who believes you should bid not matter what, or the one who won the match?

11:54 AM  
Blogger TexasTinCup said...

Let me start by saying that I am opposed to, and will not participate in any private pre-game conversation about my specific play style. I prefer to observe a new partner and figure out on my own how they play. The opponents are free to do the same and if they choose not to, or are unable to, so be it. My feeling is that observation is one of many skills needed to play 42.

This thread has continually attacked the 30 bid as wrong, and some have even called it cheating. As a practical matter, this discussion is academic. One cannot dictate what may be bid on any given hand. I will add my two cents though because I choose to play the game to a higher standard that just following the letter of the rules. I do not feel that “30=generic helping hand” is wrong in any way. Further, if I observe that my partner’s 30 bid, or any other, is more specific, then I will make use of that information without guilt.

Lets face facts; there are many other bids that also communicate information about a hand. If I open with a 36 bid, most good players will assume I plan to lose one trick with or without a 5 count on it. There is a high probability that this hand will have several doubles in it. If the score was 2-6 against us, and my partner had boss trumps and a few offs, I would not be upset if she bid 84 on the chance she can hit my hand, especially if I am overbid. Should I not be allowed to bid 36 with a legitimate 36 hand that happens to have a few doubles?

I’ll answer your question before you pose it. You were going to say, but you had a 36 hand… you didn’t have a 30 hand, you just wanted to tell your partner you had help. Better re-think that. I just checked my bid stats in the Win42 game and they prove that my 30 is a very high percentage bid, in fact, it is the highest. I make 67% of my 30 bids (20 of 30). Some others for comparison… 50% of 31, 45% of 32, 62% of 34, 60% of 35, 55% of 36, 61% of 40, and 47% of 41 bids. You sure you want to tell someone that they can’t make 30 with the seven dominoes they have in front of them??

Bidding in competitive 42 is seldom about the seven dominoes in your hand though. It has much more to do with the bids thus far, each player’s style, and the score at the time. Lets say I have the following dominoes: 55 56 54 50 33 30 20. This is a perfect 35 hand but if the person after me is an aggressive bidder, I will bid 36 on my hand to prevent him from easily overbidding me. If my partner and I are behind by a few marks, I might decide to bid 84 with the hope my partner has 22 or 36.

I’m happy when I can determine that a team is show bidding. If I realize their 30 means they have 55, that gives me important information I can use against them. If I know 55 is on my right, and all the other count is in, I can let tricks go by without fear the player on my left will drop count on them. I can also take the 30 bid off the table by bidding 30 or 31 myself. This will cause big problems for a team that relies on the 30 bid to win games rather than their own skill.

getreal claims that the 30 bid is nothing but verbal messaging. Tell me something, what verbal message do you get when you are down 5-0 and the opponent opens with an 84 bid. That screams LAYDOWN to me. Are you going to suspend your hold on the moral high ground and make use of that verbal signal and try for three marks with this in your hand? 00 06 05 04 03 53 61 Every bid should tell you something about a players hand, thirty is just the most well known.

Here is a real life example. My partner and I were losing an (nelo allowed) online tournament game 2-6. He opened with a 30 bid knowing that if I had trumps I would try 84 in order to catch up. I had them, and I did. The shuffler overbid me because she knew the two of us would probably make that bid as she had played against us often. She went nelo and we set her and went on to win the game. After the game, my partner confessed that he had no help at all when he bid 30. Based on his experience, he knew how I would react though and how the shuffler would react to what I did. He took a chance and turned a 2-6 game into 5-6. That is good 42 playing, nothing less.

If you think indicating is simply playing 40 to show 44, you need to pay attention in game more often. In a live tournament game recently, my partner had bid 31 or something, was raised, and I got the bid. He had two trumps and was unable to show me an indicator. On my 4th lead, he had the choice of playing 21 or 20. He had already played two aces and since they were his trumps, he played 21 hoping I would notice that and lead to his 11. I did, and we made the hand because he played his hand to the best of his ability and I paid attention. Naturally, neither of us sat down in advance and said, if I play three of the same suit, I have the double… we just used common sense and our EYES during the hand. There was also no guarantee he had his trump double. I bid without mine all the time, but it was enough to let me make and educated guess. That is real 42.

There seems to be a double standard here about indicating as well. Playing the 66 to indicate the 65 has been blessed over and over here. When I am with a new partner, I will blatantly indicate in that manner so I can show them that I do indicate my doubles. Nothing wakes up a partner more than seeing the 66 dropped on the first trump lead. Once they know I will show doubles, I will play my indicator prior to any five counts. Can anyone explain why I would play the 40 and then the 50 on two boss trump leads? When I have the bid, I could care less about 5 counts. I need to get my partner in the lead so I am always looking for ways to do that.

As for as your desire to “level the playing field”, it can’t be done. We all have different experience and skill levels. Ed, you are a true 42 veteran and I’m sure you have thirty (or more) years of experience on me. I don’t want you having to play down to my experience level though, I want to see your best game so I can learn from you. That’s how we all improve our games, by playing the best opponents we can find. I’m thirty-eight by the way.

5:39 PM  
Blogger getreal said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm wondering now if this isn't much like a tempest in a teapot---my thinking now is that it may not actually make much actual difference in the long run whether one does the sort of Indicating we've been discussing or not. In looking at David's stats, I see they are similar to mine (except he does significantly better at making his 30 bids than I do---67% versus my 50%). Thirty-one bids: 60% for me vs. his 50%; 32 bids: 53% me vs. 45%, 33 bid: 58%; 34: 63% vs. his 62%; 35 bids: 68% vs. 60%; 36: 57% for me and 55% for David. I don't bid in the 37 thru 40 range often; the one time I did bid 37 in 74 games I lost it. But did make my two 41 bids. Of my 27 attempts at making 84, I made 56% (in 74 games). What do these stats show? I suggest it shows that over many games players who are at the same level of 42 expertise (and Texastincup knows the game of 42, knows what can happen on any particular play and how to "wiggle" out marks in tight situations, just as I do; and just because I've played for 30 years longer is meaningless) will have similar success at 42, regardless of whether one "Indicates" or not. In some instances the Indicating will unquestionably help him---but perhaps over the long haul, over many games, the supposed advantages reaped by Indicating is actually illusory. If someone such as David, who is adept at Indicating, has basically the same stats as someone adamantly opposed to Indicating, then where is the advantage? He's for it for the reasons stated and I'm against it for the reasons I've stated---but won't we both have just about the same success at winning games? And to me that's the final proof of expertise, that you win more games than you lose. After 74 games I'm at 73% wins---but all those were not always against opponents of David's skill. And it's the basic skill at 42 playing that is the overriding factor in consistently winning more often than losing. It's been a long time since I've played with TexasTincup---I'd like to play, say 40 games, with David and we keep up with the percent won---I'm thinking at the end of the games, there will be a win stat of around 51 percent---maybe he has it and maybe I'll have it---I'd be surprised if either one of us (even with all the Indicating he and his partner wanted to do) overwhelmed the other.

5:55 PM  
Blogger TexasTinCup said...

Ok Ed... How can I not accept such a public request for a duel..:)

Do you have an account at www.42-online.com and if so, what is your handle there? I think that's a better place to play these 40 games because it will be easier to come up with a partner for each of us.

Let's say each of us can partner with the same person only 5 times in the set. That will guarentee eight different partners.

If you like, we can play 20 games on your home field (Win42) and 20 games on mine (42 online).

My yahoo messenger name is texastincup42, please contact me so we can get this started..:)

David

9:15 AM  
Blogger best42 said...

The strategy, challenge and risk of 42 at its best requires each bidder to bid without knowing anything specific about his partner's hand, period (doubles, 6-4, 5-5, whatever). To pre-arrange a bid signal with our partner to the contrary is outright cheating, period. It is NOT widely accepted, at least not in tournament venues, and is expressly prohibited at such events. Yes, it is very difficult to police, but it is not accepted, and should never be condoned. It ruins the game.

1:38 PM  

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