# How to Play Dominoes

Dominoes are cousins of playing cards and dice, but they can offer many different kinds of games. Some involve blocking the opponent’s play, while others count the number of pips in the losing player’s hand.

When a domino is knocked over, it releases energy that travels down the line. This is similar to how nerve impulses travel along a nerve pathway.

## Rules

Although many domino games go by different names, the basic rules are similar across them. Moreover, most of them can be played with a single set of dominoes. Generally, each domino has two ends arranged with spots from one to six (like on dice). Each end also has a blank face. These are called the pips of the domino.

In most domino games, each player places a domino on the table in a line that extends the domino chain. The first player plays a domino in his or her turn by putting the tile on the table so that it touches an exposed end of the previous tile and is not touching a double.

At the end of a hand, the player scoring the most points earns a victory. The number of points scored is based on the total value of the remaining dominoes in the other players’ hands rounded to the nearest multiple of five.

## Variations

Dominoes are flat thumb-sized rectangular blocks that are blank on one side and bear from one to six pips or dots on the other. 28 such dominoes make a complete set. The pips determine the value of each tile.

In most games the first player begins by playing a double of his choosing. This double serves as an “opening” domino and is used to establish a line of play. The players then take turns drawing and playing tiles to this line.

There are numerous variations of this basic game, including muggins, matador, and Chicken Foot. There are also games such as domino solitaire that do not involve other players. Some games use curved dominoes that cannot be played square to another, and some require special rules for matching. For example, in a two-player game using a double-six set, pairs are defined as any two tiles whose pips sum to 12. Doubles must be played perpendicular to each other or to a “double” domino that is already crossed by the forming chain.

## Materials

Over the centuries dominoes have been made from a variety of materials. Most modern mass produced sets are molded from plastics. Other popular materials include metals, stone and wood. The high-end, wood dominoes crafted by true craftsmen, often using multiple and intricately layered inlays of different woods, are considered works of art and command a premium price.

Domino pieces are typically twice as long as they are wide and feature a line down the middle visually splitting them into two square ends with values indicated by an arrangement of dots, called pips. Each side of a domino is represented by a suit, namely the suits of one to six and the suit of blanks or zero.

The 19th century saw a breakthrough in domino manufacture with the invention of Bakelite, developed by Leo Baekeland. This was followed in the 20th century by the development of polymer (from petroleum) plastics, which eventually overtook Bakelite.

## Scoring

Dominoes are small rectangular blocks with a line visually dividing them into two square ends, each bearing from zero to six spots or pips. Each end must match a piece in the chain that it is linked to, and any doubles are counted twice when calculating the value of a placed domino.

A number of different games can be played with the dominoes, most of which involve scoring points in a layout of dominoes. Some of these include blocking games such as bergen and muggins, in which the players try to block opponents’ play and score points in each “end”, while others involve counting the pips in one’s own dominoes and adding them up.

The scoring system for these games varies depending on the game and the set used. A common set has 28 dominoes and is a double-six set. The first player to get rid of all their dominoes wins the hand, and a running total is scored on a board or on an individual score sheet.