# The Art of Domino

Domino is a game where, after the first piece is tipped ever-so-slightly, the rest fall in a rhythmic cascade. Some people take this art form to the next level, creating intricate and mesmerizing domino constructions.

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## Rules

There are many different ways to play domino, but most involve forming lines of dominoes. These chains are sometimes called a layout, string or line of play and provide much of the fun of the game. When a player places a tile on the table it must touch both ends of the line. This allows the chain to develop a snake-like shape.

The first player to place a tile starts the game. Usually the player who holds the highest double (like double six) begins, but there are other methods to determine who starts. In partnership games the partners may choose to establish seating arrangements by lot or by having each player draw a domino that he sits next to.

A player should shuffle the tiles before each game. This process is sometimes done by hand or using a special shuffler. The player who shuffles should also be the last to draw his hand for the game. The player who wins the round collects the total number of spots on his opponent’s remaining dominoes.

## Variations

There are a wide variety of domino games. Some are simple, such as “block,” where the goal is to place a single domino before your opponent. Other games involve special rules, such as matador, where the player tries to play a number that totals seven or muggins, where the player tries to make the sum of the open-end pips on the layout a multiple of five.

In many domino games, a line of tiles forms as players take turns laying tiles on the table. The line of play is based on the pips on each domino’s open end. These pips are normally arranged in a set of values, from six to zero or blank.

Some games use a double domino as a spinner, allowing new sides to be added to the line of play as the player takes turns placing the tile. For example, the game Mexican train is played with a double-twelve or double-fifteen set and each player starts their own private line or “Mexican Train” of dominoes that extends out from a central station.

## Materials

Over the centuries, dominoes have been made of many different materials. Today, they are most commonly made from plastics or metals, although wooden dominoes are still available.

Each domino is rectangular in shape, with a face that bears identifying marks and a back that is blank or identically patterned. The identity-bearing faces of the dominoes are usually marked with an arrangement of spots resembling those on dice, called pips. Dominoes may also have a suit designation, indicated by an absence of pips that is represented as a zero.

Each set of dominoes comes with its own storage box. These boxes vary in size, but are often a cardboard or vinyl snap lock case. Felt surfaces are sometimes used to play on, especially for games that involve tricks or captures, as the felt will protect the tiles’ faces.

## Scoring

The scoring system in domino depends on the game-type and rules. In most games, a player scores by counting the exposed ends of the dominoes. A double with two exposed ends is scored as eight points. A double with three exposed ends is scored as six points, etc. A domino with four exposed ends is scored as two points. A game is considered won by a player who has a maximum score.

Some games have a fixed number of rounds and are played until one player has reached this maximum score. In other games, the winner is determined when a player clears his or her hand. These games are sometimes called blocking games or scoring games. The winner gains the score of all the remaining tiles in his or her opponent’s hand. A scoring game requires more skill than a blocking game. Players must be careful to avoid a double. This will increase their chances of winning.