# What is Domino?

A domino is a small block of wood or plastic with a face divided into two areas and marked by dots resembling those on dice. It is used to play a variety of games.

To begin a game, the players must draw their hand of dominoes. The player who draws the highest double goes first.

## Origin

The precise origin of domino is obscure. It may date back as far as 1120 AD in China. It certainly became popular in Europe in the 18th Century when it was first recorded in Italy. It soon spread to France where it was probably brought by French prisoners of war, and then throughout the rest of Europe and England.

It arrived in Britain in the late 18th Century, probably brought by these French prisoners, and quickly became a very popular game in traditional inns and drinking taverns. The name domino may have derived from Latin’s ‘dominus’, or possibly from the black half-masks worn by priests in the Middle Ages.

Dominoes are rectangular blocks, usually of wood or ivory, with one side bearing a number and the other being blank. They are used to play games of chance or skill. The most common sets contain twenty-eight tiles.

## Rules

There are many different types of domino games, with each having slightly different rules. The most common are bidding games, blocking games, and scoring games. Some of these games are played in rounds, with the winner scoring the difference between the opponent’s and their own total points in unplaced pieces.

The number of tiles each player has to play depends on the game, and each round may have a set limit on the number of tiles a player can use. The player with the highest pips-valued domino starts the first hand.

In some games, players buy additional dominoes from the stock (or bone yard) as they pass their turns. The amount of money spent in this manner is based on the rules of the specific game.

## Variations

Dominoes, also called bones, cards or men, are rectangular tiles twice as long as they are wide. They feature a line in the middle that divides them visually into two squares, with each side having a value represented by dots or pips. The values range from six pips to blank or 0 (no pips). Dominoes are used in various games of chance and strategy. Many of these games are blocking or scoring and involve multiple players.

The most basic domino variant is the Block game for two players. A double-six set is shuffled to form the stock, and each player draws seven tiles from it. The first player places a tile on the table to start the line of play, and players alternately extend it with one matching end. A player who cannot extend the line passes.

## Materials

Over the centuries domino has been made from a variety of materials. A modern set is most often mass produced from plastics or metals, but wood, bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and even stone are also used.

Each domino, also called a tile or bone, is a flat thumbsized rectangular block with a side bearing an arrangement of spots (also known as “pips”) and the other blank or with a zero. It belongs to either the suit of one or six, which determines its value.

A typical domino set contains 28 double six tiles in a sleek leather box for convenient storage. Larger sets are available for games involving more than two players or for those who enjoy playing domino for hours at a time.

## Scoring

In many domino games the pips of tiles that are left in players’ hands at the end of a hand or game are totalled and added to the winner’s score. When counting the pips of the ends of the exposed sideways doubles, one end only is counted (unless the domino is a spinner).

When playing in straight domino, points are awarded when a player makes a chain with matching ends touching (1s touch 1s and 2s touch 2s). One point per open end is awarded when a number on the adjacent tile is a multiple of five.

When playing block Domino, the goal is to block other players’ turns. Each time a player plays a domino they must add to their teammates’ trains at a rate of no more than one tile per turn.