Rank and suit of dominoes

Forty-two is a trick taking game, with four players in fixed partnerships. This game was invented in 1887 in Trappe Springs (now Garner), Texas by 12 year old William Thomas and 14 year old Walter Earl. These were two fundamentalist Baptists who were caught playing Auction Whist with playing cards and were punished for it by their parents. Fundamentalist Baptists regarded playing cards as "Devil's Picture Book" and did not allow card games, but had no such restrictions on domino games.

Forty-two (42) is played by four people. A set of double-six dominos is required. Players sitting opposite each other are partners. The dominos are "shuffled" face down. Players draw seven (7) dominos apiece at random and conceal the dot (pip) sides from each other. Each player "bids his/her hand" in rotation. The highest bidder may designate "trump" and begins play by "leading" a domino. Each player, in turn, must follow "suit" (if possible). The person playing the highest domino takes the "trick" and leads the next domino. This process continues until all 28 dominos are played, the bid is made, or the high bidder is "set." Partners work together (without "talking across the table") to make their bid or to set the opposing team.

Suits and Trumps

There are 7 suits: blanks, ones, twos, threes, fours, fives and sixes. The highest domino of each suit is the double.

Normally one suit is trumps. Every domino containing that number is exclusively a trump, and apart from the double, they rank in order of the other number on the domino. For example if threes are trumps, the trump suit from high to low is:
3-3 6-3 5-3 4-3 3-2 3-1 3-0

The remaining dominoes, apart from the doubles, belong to the two suits corresponding to the two numbers on them. Within each suit they rank in order of the other number on the domino. So if threes are trump, the members of the fives suit from highest to lowest are:
5-5 6-5 5-4 5-2 5-1 5-0

Values of Dominoes

Each domino with 10 pips - 6-4 5-5 - is worth 10 points to the side that wins it in their tricks.

Each domino with 5 pips - 5-0 4-1 3-2 - is worth 5 points to the side that wins it in their tricks.

In addition each of the seven tricks is worth one point to the side that wins it.

There are therefore 42 points available in each hand.

The Deal

The first dealer is selected at random. Thereafter the turn to deal passes clockwise. The dealer "shuffles" the dominoes by mixing them thouroughly face down on the table. Then each player takes seven dominoes and sets them on edge so that the owner can see their values, but the other players cannot see them. The dealer's opponents should take their dominoes first, then the dealer's partner, and finally the dealer.

The Bidding

Each player has just one chance to bid or pass, starting with the player to dealer's left and going clockwise round the table. Each bid must be higher than the previous one.

The lowest possible bid is 30, meaning that the bidder's team undertakes to win at least 30 points in tricks. Then come 31, 32, 33, etc. up to 41, then 1 mark (which is equivalent to 42), 2 marks, 3 marks etc.

Bids of 1 mark and above require the bidder's side to win all the tricks (i.e. all 42 points) or take on one of the special contracts (Nello, Plunge, Sevens) described below.

The highest opening bid allowed is 2 marks (unless the declarer intends to play a Plunge). Once someone has bid 2 marks a subsequent player can bid 3 marks, and so on. To play Plunge it is necessary to bid 4 marks, or 5 if the bidding had already reached 4.

If all four players pass, the dominoes are thrown in and the next player deals.