# The Basics of Dominoes

Dominoes are squares with an arrangement of spots, or pips, on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. They are used in games of chance and skill.

When the first domino falls, much of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy and pushes the next tile over. This process continues until the last domino topples.

## Rules

There are many different games that can be played with domino. The rules vary from game to game, but they usually share similar basic principles. Generally, each player tries to empty his or her own hand while blocking the opponents’. A scoring method may be employed based on counting the pips in losing players’ hands or adding the number of dots to a winning player’s score.

In some games, a player who draws a domino that cannot be played must pass (or “knock”) instead of playing it. The other players must then draw new hands, if possible, and play according to the rules of the game.

In partnership play, the partners with the lowest combined total of spots on their remaining unplayed dominoes are the winners. This is sometimes referred to as chipping out. It is also possible for the game to become blocked, at which point no one can make another play and it must end.

## Variations

There are a number of different domino games. The basic rules are based on blocking and scoring, but the game is highly adaptable to many different strategies. The most characteristic domino games are the Draw and Block games, but there are many variants of these.

Some domino games use different rules for matching adjacent tiles, or use a special tile called a matador. Matador is usually a double-nine or double-twelve, and is used as a wild card to match any end of the line of playing dominoes. Other variations include muggins, where the goal is to make the sum of the open-end pips on the layout a multiple of five.

In the Bergen family of games, players score whenever the line of play has two equal ends. Other games like Bendomino are more complex because the tiles are bent into a 90-degree curve, allowing one side of the line of play to be blocked for geometrical reasons.

## Materials

Dominoes can be made out of a wide variety of materials. The most common material used for domino sets is plastic, though some companies make them out of wood or other more exotic materials. Some modern sets also use a color code for the different end values (one-spots might be black, two-spots might be green, and so forth) to help players identify them more easily.

The most popular domino set is the one from Maria Lamping, which is similar to those used on the television show Domino Day. This set is smoother and more consistent than other types, which makes it easier to build lines and fields. It also has a slightly rough surface for better gripping.

Some other manufacturers produce domino sets out of metals and stones, which are more visually striking than traditional plastic pieces. However, these are generally more expensive and can be difficult to play on uneven surfaces. They also tend to have a more complicated construction process and can be more unstable.

## Scoring

There are many different scoring systems for domino games. One way to score is by counting the pips on the players’ remaining domino tiles at the end of a hand or game. A player can also earn points by adding the value of an opponent’s open ends to his or her own, such as adding a four at one end and a five at the other to make nine.

Another method of scoring is to count the total number of dots on a single domino, known as a spinner. This can be done in a variety of ways, including having the winner of the last game play first or drawing lots to determine who starts.

A number of games are played using a domino set that is double-six wide, with 28 tiles. These are shuffled to form the boneyard and each player draws seven. The player who draws the highest double goes first. Other rules vary between variants of the game.