42 is a game of patterns. You’ll see common patterns regularly over the course of a game where you’ll instantly understand your situation… However have you ever played a hand and said to yourself, “I have no idea what’s going on right now?” That’s probably because the pattern is vastly different from the ones you’re used to seeing.
One of the most common patterns, especially for novice 42 players, is the 4-5 winners (2-3 offs). In this pattern the bidder places a bid to win the bid exactly without much, if any, help from their partner.
E.g. Tony has the 6:6, 6:5, 6:2, 3:3, 4:4, 2:1, 5:3 (Winners in BOLD) and bid 31. Tony’s partner is Gail and Gail has the 2:2, 0:0, 2:0, 5:4, 6:3, 2:3, 4:1.
Tony plays his dominoes in the order listed above pulling in the 6:4, 2:3, and 4:1. Tony is 6 points shy of his goal of 31 and now must toss an off, either the 2:1 or the 5:3. Without any help from his partner thus far (either with tossed count or indications), his best option is to stay out of trouble and toss the 2:1 since he knows the 2:3 is already taken. There is nothing wrong with any of this play, it’s very common, but what if you could increase your chances by adding a cultured lesson to your game?
42 veterans have learned over time to improve the decision making process when throwing an off. Veterans will use the process of indicating to help decide the off to throw. A domino is considered to be an indication domino when it is played at the first Void opportunity.
E.g. Tony plays his 6:6 and then his 6:5… Gail follows the 6:6 with her 6:3, but is Void on the 6:5 and has to decide what next to throw…
There are two methods of indicating, Straight and Reverse.
Straight indicating is when Gail throws an indication domino where the high end indicates a double her hand.
E.g. Gail has the 2:2 and the 0:0. To help Tony get into her hand, she is going to try to indicate that she has the 2:2 by playing her 2:0. The high end indicates the double in her hand.
However i’m sure you’ve already noticed that with he 2:1 in Tony’s hand and the 2:0 being played as an indication, Tony won’t be able to take advantage of this indication to get into Gail’s hand. This is where Reverse indicating is superior.
Reverse indicating is where both ends of the indication domino do not lead into a double.
E.g. Gail has the 2:2 and the 0:0. To help Tony make an educated decision about what off he throws, she indicates with her 5:4. As a reverse indication she is telling her partner don’t lead a 5 or a 4.
This all sounds great Jeff, but how do I know which way my partner is playing? Straight or Reverse? Culturally, straight is the most common format in the 42 communities, it has been learned and practiced by generations. However, Reverse is growing rapidly in favor of Straight. If you’re environment is friendly enough, chat with your partner openly at the table before the game about indication methods. Otherwise, just be consistent with your own strategy and look out for the same in your partner. You’ll be able to tell quickly and use it to improve your game!