Inaugural state 42 championship set for Saturday

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Jerry Whitney of Texico shows off Thursday, what could be a great hand in the upcoming inaugural New Mexico state 42 championship this Saturday at the Texico Community Center.

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

As a resident of Houston, Jerry Whitney had been to the Texas 42 dominoes championships in the south Texas town of Hallettsville.

Upon arriving in Texico 10 months ago, he figured New Mexico needed a state tournament, too. So he proceeded to organize it.

On Saturday morning, the inaugural New Mexico state 42 championship will take place at the Texico Community Center beginning at 9 a.m.

“It’s a bidding game and you bid how many points you think you can catch,” explained Whitney of the particular rules of 42. “My parents played and I played with them. The game is actually called Texas 42, but we’re just going to call it 42.”

“Hopefully, the New Mexico championships can become an annual thing,” he added.

Whitney moved to an area with a thriving corps of 42 fans. Bill Myers is the current president of the Curry County 42 league, which included 10 teams in the Clovis/Portales area. Each team has 10 players apiece.

Originally formed as the Curry County men’s 42 league, Myers said the group’s first tournament dates back to 1953.

“It was started back then by some railroaders and farmers who didn’t have much to do in the winter time,” he said.

Myers, who also was initiated to the game through his parents, added that 42 is different from a regular game of dominoes — especially in the fact that players are grouped into teams of two.

“You’re just trying to get a particular amount of points and 42 is the maximum amount you can get on any particular hand,” Myers said.

Most of the members of his league are around his age, said Myers, 61, but that there are younger players as well. Drawing new competitors into the fold is tough, though, in light of the many different entertainment options of today.

“My family played it when I was little and I was just raised around it,” Myers said. “Back then we didn’t have TV and barely had radios and had to create something to do.”

Whitney said he created an opportunity to pre-register for the state tournament, with the incentive of a $5 discount per team. Twenty-two teams took advantage, although Whitney feels like additional teams will enter the day of the tourney and pluck down the required $40.

Same-day registration on Saturday begins at 7:30 a.m..

“I’m expecting a lot more people than that, because they’ll come and pay at the door,” Whitney said. “A lot of people don’t care about the five extra dollars. They’ll just wait to see if something better will come along and then they’ll come.”