# What is Domino?

Domino is a game played by two people. Each player takes turn placing dominoes on the table. As the dominoes are matched and laid, they form a line of play that gradually increases in length.

Each domino placed must touch another so that the matching ends match (one’s to one’s, two’s to two’s, etc.).

## Origin

Dominoes are a type of tile game with markings on each side that represent the results of throwing six-sided dice. These markings are known as pips. The tiles are usually twice as long as they are wide. In the most common variant (double-six), they feature six pips down to none or blank.

Dominoes were first recorded in the early 18th century in Italy and France. They spread throughout Europe and arrived in England late in that period, possibly brought in by French prisoners of war.

The word domino probably comes from the resemblance of the dark markings on the white backs of the pieces to a hooded garment with black and white lining worn by French priests during winter masquerades. Alternatively, it may have come from the Latin phrase dominus, meaning “lord of the house.” Other possible origins include:

## Rules

There are many different games that can be played with domino. Some are blocking games, while others focus on scoring. Regardless of the game, there are certain rules that all players must follow. The first player to get rid of all their tiles wins the game.

To score points in a domino game, the player must play a tile that matches one of the exposed ends on the layout. Generally, the free end must match another domino and the other end must be a double. In some games, a player scores when the total number of open-end pips on all the dominoes in the line of play is a multiple of five.

When a player cannot play a tile, they may “knock.” This means that they bang the edge of the domino on the table or otherwise touch it with their hand to signal that they are taking a pass.

## Variations

There are many variations of domino. Most of them depend on the number and arrangement of the dominoes in a set. The most common is the double-six set that consists of 28 dominoes. These dominoes are shuffled and form a stock or boneyard, from which players draw tiles in turn. The first player begins the game with a single domino that starts the line of play, and players then alternately extend this line by adding a tile that matches one of its ends.

A popular variation is Mexican Train, which requires that each player begin their train with a double. This allows players to add more dominoes to their trains on each turn, and the game ends when a player has played all of the tiles from their hand.

## Materials

Dominoes are flat thumb-sized rectangular blocks, each bearing an arrangement of dots (called pips) that represents numbers from zero to six. Each domino also has a back that may be blank or decorated with a design. A domino is used to create enclosed spaces on a playing surface, and one point is scored for each space created.

Domino sets were originally made of animal bone, but in the 19th century, manufacturers began using basic aluminum and tinplate for bulk production. In the 1930s, plastic was invented, and it became popular for domino manufacture.

In the past, sets were also made from different natural materials including silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and a dark hardwood such as ebony. The most valuable dominoes were made of real ivory, but the trade in elephant ivory was banned after 1989.

## Scoring

The scoring system for domino varies by game, but generally speaking the winning player subtracts the value of his/her remaining dominoes from each opponent’s total. This value is rounded to the nearest multiple of five.

The game is played until one player runs out of dominoes or a specified point limit is reached. The player with the lowest total score wins.

The first player draws a domino from the boneyard and then plays it, positioning it so that its exposed ends match a pair of previously laid tiles (one’s touch one’s, two’s touch two’s, etc.). Afterwards, players can add new tiles to the line by matching the number on the exposed end to the number on the adjacent tile (a double is counted as two). When a player’s dominoes make the total of all open-end pips on the layout a multiple of five, he scores that number.