March 20, 2012

Another article on 42 in the LA Times

This one's about the big 42 tournament in Halletsville.

Domino effect consumes a Texas town

They tied at first, but Badum and Kuntschik finally prevailed, shaking hands and moving on to their next opponent, a legendary 42 player named Don St. Clair.

St. Clair, 76, has been playing for 68 years. He and partner Richard Mach, 50, a retired engineer, have been together for 20.

With his thick, yellow-lens glasses, leathery skin, and cigarette pack tucked neatly in the breast pocket of his Oxford shirt, St. Clair looks every inch the card shark.

He may spend his days painting lines on parking lots in the Dallas suburbs, but he has the mind of a mathematician.

"Nice hand, Richard," Badum said as they began.


Underneath the table, Mach twitched a leg rhythmically. He had the pained expression of a high-stakes poker player. St. Clair had a dynamite hand, but his eyes remained impassive.

Badum watched the hand unfold, disappointed.

"It's about time we get rocks like that, Aaron," he said to Kuntschik.

When they finally won a trick, Kuntschik pumped his fist.

His joy was short-lived.

St. Clair and Mach seized control of the game by betting aggressively. With luck, and the rocks, on their side, the older men won and went on to claim the state championship, their third, about 10 p.m.

As the two Austin players left, St. Clair was sympathetic.

His real advantage comes from knowing his partner so well he can read his eyes, his manner, even more than his bids. Perhaps, he said, the next generation of Austin 42 teams can stick together long enough to master that.

March 14, 2012

Article about the game of 42 in the NY Times

I just came across an article about 42 today in the NY Times, at least the online version. I think it's taken from a Texas Monthly article.

It mentions the Austin 42 Club, and how they're working to keep the game from dying out due to mainly being played by older people:

Hundreds of small groups, mostly composed of retirees, now gather weekly or monthly for informal games and tournaments. Last year, the unofficial “national game of Texas” received a more formal designation when the Legislature named it “the official state domino game.”
Despite the recognition, however, the game is dying off as its players age. There are a few cities in Texas where this is not the case. One is Austin, home to the largest club in the state.
Aaron Kuntschik, the club’s 39-year-old director, says the group formed in the spring of 2005. “In six years, we’ve had a little more than 200 people sign up,” he said. “Of those, we usually have 60 or 70 active members in the league.”
Besides mini-tournaments once a month, the club offers spring and fall leagues, each 10 weeks long, plus playoffs and a six-week summer fun league.
During a break in play at the mini-tournament, Mike Sobin, a 32-year-old in a red T-shirt and backward baseball cap, explained how he helped create the club.
“A friend taught a few of us how to play, then we taught other people, and within a year we had a little league of eight,” Mr. Sobin said.
In 2006, his club combined with another that had risen independently at a bar across town, bringing the number of teams to 16.
Partly because Mr. Sobin and his friends who started the group were in their 20s, the club that has formed is much younger than other 42 groups in Texas. Roughly one-quarter of players are under 30, half are between their 30s and 50s, and a quarter are in their 60s or beyond.