# How to Play Dominoes

Dominoes are a classic game that is played everywhere from backyard parties to big money tournaments. Almost all domino games fit into one of four categories: blocking, bidding, scoring and round games.

A basic set consists of 28 dominoes, which are shuffled to form the “stock” or “boneyard.” Players then draw seven tiles each. Each player in turn extends a chain of dominoes by placing a tile with matching ends on the existing chains.

## Origin

Domino is a game that requires skill and calculation. The game has a long history and is popular in many cultures. The word domino is an Italian variant of the Latin dominus, and it appears to have been adopted by English and French around 1750. It earlier denoted a black hooded cape worn with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade.

The oldest known domino sets are Chinese, and they date back to the 12th century. Each domino originally represented one of the twenty-one results of throwing two dice. Chinese sets also use different rules than European ones and have no blank faces.[1]

## Rules

After the dominoes have been shuffled and arranged on the table, each player draws seven dominoes for their hand. The player who draws the heaviest domino makes the first play. If there is a tie, it is broken by drawing additional dominoes from the stock. The players then place their dominoes in a row in front of them. If a player cannot make a play, the game ends in a block. The winner counts the total value of the dominoes left in his opponents’ hands and adds it to his score.

Each player then plays a domino, positioning it so that it touches one end of the line of play and extends it. This arrangement is called a layout or string. In many games, a player may only join the line of play with a tile that has a matching number showing at both ends.

## Variations

There are many variations of domino games, but the basic rules are similar. Most games require players to make a chain of tiles by playing one tile at a time positioning it so that it touches a previous domino with its corresponding end value or pips.

Each domino has two values, called ends, ranging from six to zero or blank. The higher the value of an end, the more valuable it is.

Some game variations include matador, where players try to play a number that totals seven, and muggins, in which the score is calculated by adding up all of the open ended pips on the layout. Most games are played until a player runs out of tiles or the total score is a multiple of five.

## Materials

The domino block is made of a rigid material, usually wood or plastic, and is marked with an arrangement of spots, called “pips,” on one side and blank on the other. The value of a domino is determined by its number of pips.

Dominoes are often used in educational settings to develop numeric pattern recognition, strategic thinking and fine motor skills. Some sets also include a spinner to help protect the face of the domino as it is spun around.

Many sets of dominoes are available in department stores, but there are also high-end wooden dominoes that are carefully crafted by craftsmen and often have hefty price tags. These dominoes are generally much heavier than those made of polymer materials, making them more stable for constructions and less likely to fall over accidentally.

## Scoring

Players must keep track of their own tiles and the number of pips in their opponents’ hands. When they play a tile that extends a line of dominoes, they add to the score for each time the total of the ends is divisible by five or three.

Each domino has a different number of pips on each end, ranging from six to none. This is referred to as the rank or weight of a tile. A tile with a higher rank or weight is “heavier” than one with fewer pips.

The player who holds the heaviest double, such as a double-six, begins play. The winner of a hand plays his or her last domino, and scores the number of pips remaining in the losing player’s hand.