League Rules

These are the general operational rules for the Austin 42 League. These do not cover the standard game rules of straight 42, rather instead clarify the usual options found between various games as well as how the league will be managed along with the nuances found in competition-level play. If you have any questions, ask on the Austin 42 email list, or via the Contact Austin 42 page. And remember, we’re here to have fun.

General Organization

Current League: Spring 2015

Registration Start: Thursday, January 16, 2015
Registration End: Saturday, February 7, 2015
Season Start: Monday, February 9, 2015

Cost: Free
League Coordinators: Jeff R and Mark B

League Nights: Mondays, 7:00 p.m.
League Location: Billy’s on Burnet

Each team will randomly be assigned up to 10 matches within the pool of teams registered to play. League night is generally Mondays at 7:00 p.m., at Billy’s on Burnet, but teams may opt to schedule alternate times/locations as needed.

Registration timelines, schedules, scores, standings and other related league information will be posted on the Austin 42 league’s website at www.austin42.org. Other information may be distributed via the Austin42 email list on Google Groups. All league members are encouraged to subscribe to avoid missing important announcements.

Basic Match/Game Rule Options:

  • best 2-out-of-3 games
  • forced bid
  • first to 7 wins (no win by 2)
  • points won above 7 are reported
  • single- or double-stacking for marks hands (optional)


Teams are organized before starting the league season. Teams must register with the League Coordinator by the registration deadline.

Substitutions. If one team member must withdraw during the season, a substitute player may replace the team member, but must fulfill the remainder of the season. If both members of a team withdraw, the team becomes defunct.


Teams are scheduled for one regular season match per week. There will be one bye week scheduled during the regular season. Note: if there are an odd number of teams, additional bye weeks may be scheduled to accommodate. Matches will be assigned randomly between teams.

League playoffs will follow the regular season after a bye week.

Timeliness. Teams are expected to arrive on time. Teams may deviate from the standard league time and/or night if necessary, but must notify the players involved to reschedule. If no contact is made prior to the night of the scheduled match, it will be assumed that the match is being played at the standard league time and location.

Teams may deviate from the standard league night if necessary, but must notify the players involved to reschedule. [Teams absent or delinquent by more than thirty minutes for a scheduled match (without prior notification) shall forfeit the match at the discretion of the punctual team. Matches must be decided (e.g., completed or rescheduled) within six days of the scheduled match.]

Re-assignments. Match re-assignments, if required, will be done as randomly as possible at the discretion of the league coordinator and affecting the minimum number of teams possible and with due consideration given to the time remaining in the league season.

League Scoring

League teams are scored and ranked according to points awarded as described here.

Matches are determined by the best of three games, with each game decided by the first to seven marks. Scores above seven marks are valid and count in the scoring matrix.

Match scores must be reported by either team within 72 hours of the match and may be disputed by the team that did not initially report scores. Reports shall consist of the actual marks in each game (for example: 7-3, 1-8, 7-5). Disputes must be reported immediately to the League Coordinator, who will investigate and respond.

Points. Points are awarded teams as follows:

  • Each game is worth five (5) points to the winning team
  • Each match is worth eight (8) points to the winning team
  • Each points spread (difference between team scores for a game) of four marks is worth three (3) points to the winning team
  • Each forfeit, while not marked as a loss, is worth zero (0) points to the forfeiting team

Thus, match winners can earn between 18 points (two rounds and the match with no spreads) and 30 points (a match score of 8-0, 8-0), while the match loser can earn between 0 points (no round wins) and 11 points (winning one round 8-0). It is important to remember that, under this system, league standing may not strictly follow win-loss records.  A forfeit win, while not marked as a win, is worth eighteen points to the team with the bye.


There may be 2 playoff brackets at the discretion of the League Coordinator: one championship bracket consisting of the top 16 teams and a consolation bracket of the next 16 teams. We will play to 6th place and will use the WinNAdvance method (a better replacement for the single-or double-elimination brackets). In future leagues, we will consider sanctioning by N42PA so players can be awarded N42PA points based on their participation and wins in the Austin 42 league season.

Seeding: Teams will be ranked (and seeded in playoff brackets) as follows:

  • total match wins
  • head-to-head (if played)
  • total games lost
  • total marks lost
  • total marks won

All playoff matches follow the same rules of play.

Conduct of Play

The basic rules of 42 apply subject to the rules options otherwise stated above. Many of the rules in this area are waived (or compassionately tolerated) by teams during the regular season. During Playoffs, it’s expected that players know these competition-level rules.

Dominoes. Both teams are responsible for providing dominoes and will agree upon the set used. Dominoes are expected to be single colored, not color-coordinated by number, and without designs or other markings on the backs that might determine specific dominoes.

Touching Dominos. As a general rule, dominoes should not be touched except to play. Once touched, that domino must be played.

Reneges. A renege is the failure of a player to follow the suit of the current trick when they have a domino of that suit and results in the loss of hand. Note: In social games, if the reneging player immediately notices and corrects the renege, teams will often continue play out of courtesy.  During playoff games, reneges should not be tolerated under any circumstances and the non-offending team should be awarded the mark(s) for that hand.

Misplays. Playing out of turn, leading out of turn, pre-playing (placing a domino face down out of turn or face down in front of one’s hand), double-playing and other misplays should be called as warnings on the first occurrence, then as violations if such misplays persist.  Misplays are also not tolerated during the playoffs and should be treated as reneges. 

Turnovers. Accidentally or intentionally turning over, dropping or otherwise displaying a domino not yet in play grants information which would not otherwise be available and adversely affects play. It is recommended that a warning be issued for first such occurrences (unless obviously intentional) and violations called for any subsequent turnovers. If a domino is accidentally turned over face up, leave it face up and that domino must be played at the first legal opportunity.

Table Talk. During the play of a hand, players may not provide any physical or verbal cues, statements, or other communication which may aid their partner. This includes but is not limited to deliberate slow play, discussion of game-play, play/trump announcements (i.e., “I trump” or “I have this hand”), solicitations, signaling, etc. Ambiguous cues, such as play patterns, changing the style or force of play, hovering over certain dominoes, touching one domino and playing another, etc., should be called as warnings on the first occurrence, then as violations if such communications persist. Such communication includes asking anything about previous tricks or in anyway advising a player about the current trick. However, it is permissible for a player to ask the other players to identify which dominoes they have played in the current trick only, in which case each player shall point to the domino they played.

Interruptions. Teams may not interrupt the play of a game by leaving the table together.  Breaks may be taken between games or on an individual basis.  Violations will result in the forfeit of a mark.

Time Limits. If a player is taking an inordinate amount of time to bid or play their hand, the opposing team may call time limit, after which the player has one minute to bid or play else forfeit the mark. This policy is intended only to prevent egregious abuse of people’s time, and if overused can constitute a callable violation.

Spectators are encouraged to watch games. Spectators shall not comment on hands during the game, even between hands. Spectators may be removed from the game area for repeated infractions.

Lay-downs. Any player may declare a lay-down, that they have the bid made or their opponent set (usually in order to save time). The opposing team may challenge and if able to demonstrate any possible legal play order that the declaration could be incorrect, the declarer must forfeit the hand and mark(s). It is suggested that a player wait until they’re in the lead and then lay the dominoes down in the order they will be played to avoid any question.

Initial Shakes for Following Games. The members of the team that lose a game shall draw for initial shake of the next game in a match.

Seating Arrangements. The team that loses a game may choose to re-arrange the seating order for the next game.

Reneges, Violations and Disputes

Any violation of play rules may be pointed out by any player upon discovery. If true, the hand ends and the bid awarded to the non-violating team. A list of potential violations can be found in the Rules of 42 and herein.

Disputes. In the event that a renege is disputed by the violating team, play shall be stopped and the matter referred to a League Coordinator. If a League Coordinator is not immediately available, the two teams must notify the League Coordinators within 24 hours or both teams forfeit the match.

Adjudication. The League Coordinator has full discretion as to the resolution of a referred violation and the resolution of the match, and may assign a forfeit-bye or double-bye, elect to continue the game in his or her presence, or otherwise direct the players appropriately.

There are a number of actions that may occur during play, some intentional and some inadvertent, which give undue advantage to one team or otherwise adversely affect the hand’s outcome. When such violations occur, the opposing team may ignore the action, issue a warning, or call the violation. A team need not warn for a violation before calling it, though in many cases a warning would be polite.

By issuing a warning, the opposing team is declaring that they believe the violation to be intentional, and that should it occur again they will call the violation. By calling a violation, the opposing team is declaring the violation as intentional and asking the other team to forfeit the mark. The violating team can either agree to forfeit the mark or dispute the violation, in which case the game is stopped and the matter is referred to the League Coordinators.