# The Basics of Dominoes

Dominoes are a family of games played with a set of matching dominoes that have a value on one side and a blank or identically patterned other side. The winning player gains points based on the value of the opponents’ remaining dominoes rounded to an agreed number of decimal places.

## Rules

There are many variations of domino, but most fall into four categories: bidding games, blocking games, scoring games, and round games. Almost all of these games involve building chains of dominoes with matching ends. Each end of a domino has a number from zero to six, and each pair of matching ends must touch completely. The resulting chain is known as a domino set.

A player may decide to play a game with any number of players, but the usual way is to draw lots to determine who starts the first turn. Once this is done, the dominoes are shuffled and a boneyard is created. The player begins with a double and then must match one of the other two ends to a domino in his hand or draw from the boneyard until he does so.

If nobody can advance, the winners are awarded the value of their opponents’ unplaced dominoes. However, if the game does not reach this point and the players are tied, it is normal to continue playing until there are no more tiles to play.

## Materials

Over the centuries, dominoes have been made from a wide variety of materials. The most common are plastic, although some sets are carved from ivory or even bone. The individual domino pieces (also known as bones, cards, men, or tiles) are usually twice as long as they are wide, and have a face that is either blank or decorated with an arrangement of dots called pips. The pips represent numbers from one to six, and a domino that has no pips is blank.

Dominoes are great educational toys for children. They help develop their core maths skills by encouraging them to build patterns, and they also encourage artistic expression. They can also be used to develop motor skills, as lining up the dominoes requires precise hand movements.

## Variations

There are many different ways to play domino. Some games involve blocking other players, while others are scoring games. In most cases, the player with the lowest score wins after a number of rounds. However, the exact amount of points scored varies. The winners typically subtract their total pips from the losers’ totals at the end of the hand.

Most domino sets have nine tiles, though some have more. Some sets have extended ends with more pips, increasing the number of possible combinations. The most common extensions are double-twelve and double-nine, which have 91 and 55 tiles respectively.

To begin a game, the players place their tiles in a 4 X 7 grid face down. When a player’s turn comes, they must select two of their tiles and place them so that the numbers on both ends match the numbers at the ends of the chain. If the two tiles cannot be played, they must draw from the bone pile.

## Scoring

A player scores points by counting the number of exposed ends on their tiles. This sum is rounded to the nearest multiple of five to determine the winner. Some game variants also allow for divisors other than five, such as three or seven.

In some games, the players may have a stock of additional dominoes to use as they play. This is referred to as the boneyard. When the bonesyard is empty, the player with the highest score wins. Other versions of the game have a set number of rounds or are played until a specific point limit is reached, such as 150 points.

The word “domino” originally denoted a long hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade. It also was used to refer to a black domino contrasting with the white surplice of a priest. These senses have since merged. Regardless of the name, domino is an excellent way to build a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for the future.