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.


The first two bidders on any hand have the opportunity to use a 30 bid to indicate to their partners that they have a good helping hand. Why would they do this? For one thing, it lets their partner know that the partner can make a higher bid and have a better chance of making their bid, because the first bidder has dominoes that will be useful. So what does the 30 bid mean? People mean different things by a 30 bid. For some it means they have the . For others, it means they have several doubles. Some mean that they have 3 doubles, one of which is the , or . Another camp will use the 30 bid to mean they have some doubles and lots of count. All told, there is no "standard" definition of a 30 bid, other than the one bidding 30 has what they consider a helping hand and they do request the partner overbid them if at all possible. What are the risks of bidding 30 here? The biggest, of course, is that your partner has a hand full of dysfunctional dominoes (i.e. garbage) and cannot overbid you; therefore you get stuck with the bid. So, if you bid 30, be sure you can make your bid or be willing to take the risk that your partner will overbid you if you cannot. A second risk is that some people bid 30 thinking that they can only make a 30 bid. They have no intention of indicating anything to their partner in their bid. This can inadvertently mislead a partner into thinking his partner has a helping hand.
Each player should realize that not all players will choose to use a 30 bid to indicate a helping hand. It will be up to each player to determine what type of 30 bid has been made on their own by watching the playing pattern during the game. You are not permitted to confer with your partner ahead of time and define a set of signals as to what a bid means. That is cheating and will not be tolerated. Anytime a person approaches you to set up game signals you should report the conversation to a TD or the Admin Staff. All players are to use the standard definition or none at all. This keeps the game fair to all players. On the other side of the coin, DO NOT complain to the TD or Admin Staff that players are cheating when they are only doing what most 42 players do in regard to indicating their hand by bidding 30 as defined above.

What is 42-Online's position on the 30 bid? Simply put, a player may bid 30 to indicate that he has a helping hand for his partner. A player MAY NOT pre-define what that means before the game (i.e. "if I bid 30, it means I have the ") with their partner. This is setting up signals and not permitted. Verified reports of this occurring with proof will result in suspensions for players who set up signals with their partners other than the general standard definition above.


Players may indicate the presence of a specific double or other domino in their hands by what they play when they are unable to follow suit in a trick. The most common forms of indicating are these two:
1. If you cannot follow suit and you wish to indicate a double you have in your hand to your partner, you play a domino in the same suit, where the indicating end of the domino is the larger number. For instance, to indicate you hold the , you can play the or the or the . Playing the , while it is still a 3, indicates the , not the . Most players will indicate with count as well as non-count dominoes, but not all will, so do not assume that when count is played, that it is also an indicator. You will have to figure it out by experience, just as you have to figure out a 30 bid by experience. This is the most common form of indicating.
2. A second form of indicating is to indicate a certain domino by playing the double itself. For instance, if you hold the and the , you could indicate to your partner that you have the highest 3 by playing the . Your partner could lead a small 3 and you would catch the trick.

The purpose of indicating is to help cover your partner's offs by indicating to him which suit he can lead and expect to still win the trick. There are some risks involved in indicating, which each person must weigh.

1. You could have a choice between playing non-indicating count or indicating. You have to consider which domino will best help your team with the hand. If there is little risk in the domino being captured by the opponents, then you may choose to play a domino which will indicate. If you need the count, and your partner is expected to win the trick, then playing the count may be the best course. For instance, suppose you have the without another 4 or 6, and suppose you have the and the . If the is led by your partner, you will need to decide whether to play the to indicate the , or play the to get it out of your hand before you lose it to the opposition. If you play the , your partner might think you are indicating the , so you habe a choice to make.
2. You may not have any doubles or the only non-double dominoes you have do not indicate your doubles. In this case, it is very easy for your partner to get what is called a false indication, which could easily lead to undesirable results. The expression, "Live by the sword, die by the sword" comes to mind!

Let's take a few examples to help clarify the idea behind indicating:
1. Your hand is:
Suppose your partner wins the bid and calls 4's as trump.
Your partner leads the
You have several choices. You could play the to get the count included in your score, but at the same time your partner might think you are indicating the . You could play any of your offs, as none of your offs point to a double in your hand. In other words, none of your offs "indicate" a double. This would be risky, in that playing the might make your partner think you hold the . Your best alternate option to playing the count, is to play the . This is a way to indicate to your partner that you have the highest 3 available, the . Since you still have two other leads, losing the as a lead will not be an issue. If your partner has any of the small 3's as an off, this makes a good way to cover one of his offs.

2. Your hand is:
Suppose your partner wins the bid and calls 3's as trump.
Once again you have choices. You could play the to indicate your , or you could play your or to indicate your . The only domino that would not indicate a double would be the . You could consider playing the to indicate the , but the percentages go down on indicating the next higher domino as you go to the smaller doubles. There are fewer dominoes your partner can lead to hit that next higher domino; in this case, there is only the .

Let's deal with a complaint from some that want to say that indicating is cheating. In this particular hand, not being able to discard the , , or is a hardship on you, just to avoid the appearance of indicating. You should have the freedom to play ANY of your seven dominoes that will best help win the trick. It would be impossible to prove motive in a case like this and puts the player in a position of having to discard a good domino which could help win the trick, which is not right.

Suppose this hand had the instead of the . Would this person have a legal play to avoid indicating? He would have to discard a double.

Indicating is not cheating and should not be thought of that way.

Let's review and make a few last points here.

1. Indicating and the standard bid of 30 to indicate a helping hand ARE NOT cheating.
2. Indicating tells BOTH TEAMS something about the indicator's hand. It can be used both for and against him.
3. A table where all 4 players are aware of what indicating is, eliminates the advantage of having only one team knowing it.
4. Indicating DOES NOT guarantee that your partner can lead to your double or that you will win the hand. Use it at your own risk.
5. Specifically setting up meanings of other bids (i.e. bidding 33 means I have "...") IS CHEATING and is not permitted. This constitutes a distinct advantage for one team over the other and will not be tolerated.
6. Contacting your partner prior to a game to set up "signals" is prohibited. Do not do it. While there may be no harm to ask them if they "indicate" or not prior to play, it does not take long at all for a player to know that for a fact once the game starts. All players are to report anyone who approaches them to set up signals for the game.
7. The rules for "indicating" are standardized as listed above. This assures all 4 players at the table are privy to the same signals and that no one is using signals that provide their team a decided advantage. No variations or alternative forms of indicating are approved for usage, including doing a "reverse indicator", where the LOW end of the indicating domino is used instead of the HIGH end of the domino (thus playing the would indicate the instead of the ). Because it requires pre-arranging the signals AND all four players are not privy to this, using the LOW END for indicating is prohibited and is considered cheating.

What is 42-Online's position on indicating?
1. Indicating, as described above is not cheating, and may be used on site.
2. Indicating is limited to the description above; anything beyond that is cheating.
3. You may only ask your partner prior to the game if they "indicate" per this document (you can point them here if they do not know what indicating is). You may not arrange signals or bid definitions with them. That is cheating.
4. You are to report anyone who approaches you about setting up signals for use during a game. They can ask you if you "indicate", but not go beyond that, as "indicating" is approved. Please provide a copy of the conversation whenever possible.
5. Those who go beyond the definitions of indicating and the 30 bid will be subject to suspension from the site, and banishment if the offenses continue.
6. As usual, no accusations of cheating, NOR HINTS THAT INFER SOMEONE HAS CHEATED, are permitted onsite. If someone has gone beyond the limits defined here, report it, WITH PROOF, to a TD or the Admin Staff.