The Basics of Domino

Domino is a small, thumb-sized rectangular block that may be blank or bearing from one to six pips (or dots): 28 such dominoes form a complete set. It is used in many games played by matching the ends of dominoes and laying them down in lines and angular patterns.

Make a domino fall several times and observe its effect. It acts much like a firing neuron in your body.

Rules

There are many different ways to play domino. However, most games fall into one of four categories: bidding or auction games, blocking and scoring games, and rounds games. The winner of a hand is awarded points equal to the total number of pips on his opponents’ remaining tiles in their hands.

The first player to make a play sets down the first tile in a line of play, which can be any domino he chooses. Each subsequent player places a tile on the open ends of the lines of play, which may be perpendicular to, parallel to, or intersecting with the first domino placed.

If a player cannot place his turn’s tile, he draws from the boneyard until he finds a playable tile. The game continues until a player can’t place any more tiles, which is called a blocked game. The winner of the blocked game is the player who has the highest double. If no player has a high double, the person with the second-highest double starts the next hand.

Variations

Several different variations of domino are played. One variant is called Draw, where players pass their turns when they cannot set a domino. The winner is awarded points based on the value of the other players’ remaining dominoes rounded to multiples of five.

Another variation is Block. In this game, each player starts with seven dominoes. During each turn, a domino is set so that its exposed ends touch an adjacent domino (ones touch two’s, etc.). When a player wins a round by dominoing, the winning player scores all of the other players’ remaining dominoes.

There are many other ways to score, as well. For example, in Matador and Muggins, the goal is to make a line of dominoes with open ends that show a certain number. Often, a double is used as a “spinner,” which allows the line of play to branch. In some games, such as Bendomino, which uses curved dominoes, all sides of the spinner must be occupied before players can continue playing elsewhere.

Materials

Over the centuries dominos have been made from a variety of materials, including wood, bone, and ivory. Modern sets are usually made from synthetic materials, such as ABS or polystyrene plastics, or Bakelite and other phenolic resins. Some of these sets approximate the look and feel of ivory while others use colored dominoes to make them easier to identify.

Most sets come with a cardboard or vinyl snap lock case to hold the tiles, although wooden cases are also available. Some companies even make cases that include a cribbage board in the lid.

A basic set of dominoes contains 28 tiles, but larger sets are also available. Some of the larger sets are used in games involving scoring, while others are mainly used for blocking games. Larger sets are also used to play layout games, which involve the arranging of dominoes in a row. To keep track of score in a layout game, players often use a special sheet of paper or a computer program.

Scoring

There are a large number of domino games available. However, most games fall into one of four categories: bidding games, blocking games, scoring games, and round games.

When a player plays a tile, it must be positioned so that the matching ends touch (ones to each other or twos to each other). This creates a chain of dominoes with a growing amount of length as more tiles are added.

The resulting line of dominoes are then counted. If all exposed ends of the dominoes are multiples of either five or three, a player is awarded points for that turn.

The player with the highest domino value at the end of a round wins. He or she subtracts the total value of all other players’ dominoes rounded to the nearest multiple of five. The winning player may then open the next game. The heaviest double is also used to determine the starting player in subsequent rounds.