How to Play Dominoes

If someone asks you how to play dominoes, they are most likely asking you about a game made up of a domino set (also called a deck or pack). Domino pieces were originally developed in France around 1120 A.D. The dominoes you see today, however, are of Chinese decent. You may see these little blocks on TV or in magazines as people line them up and topple them over, creating what is commonly known as the domino effect. But those little blocks were created to play a game that has been fun for centuries

The Dominoes

Dominoes come in many shapes, sizes and materials. Traditional dominoes are made from ivory with ebony “pips” laden into them on one side of the domino. Newer, modern dominoes are made of plastic as this makes them more affordable for the casual player. Competition dominoes are made of ivory or wood. They are rectangular in shape, and are usually two inches long by one inch wide. Dominoes have a line drawn down the center, splitting the rectangle into two squares. On each side of the square there are varied numbers of pips ranging from zero to six. However, in more advanced and far less common versions, there can be as many as 18 on one square.

Domino Rules

To play dominoes, you only need to acquire the standard domino pack and understand the domino rules. A domino pack can be found at many stores throughout the world. Most packs will come with 28 dominoes with a total of 168 pips. The object of the game varies depending on which version you’re playing.

Dominoes Block Game

Begin by placing all 28 dominoes face down on the table or floor in front of you and the other players (up to 4). Each player draws 7 tiles from the pile. The extras are not used in this version. One player begins by playing one tile. That player that plays first is generally decided by who has the highest number of pips on one tile. This tile starts what is known as the “line of play”- a series of touching tiles going out in opposite directions in a straight line from the first tile.

Each tile must match the tile it is touching by having the same value inside of the same square it is touching. For example, a series could look like this: (6-1)(1-3)(3-5)(5-1). The players will alternate turns, elongating the line of play with one tile at a time. If you cannot play, you pass your turn. The game is over when one player finishes playing all of their tiles or if neither player has any tiles they can play. The winner is the player who played their last tile, or in the event of a blocked game, the player with the least number of pips left in their pile is declared the victor.

Dominoes Draw Game

How to Play Dominoes

How to Play Dominoes

In the draw game, you will start out the same as the block game but each player is allowed to begin their turn by drawing as many tiles as they want from the community pile. They are also not allowed to pass before the stock is “empty” (two tiles left must remain in the pile at all times, therefore, two tiles left is considered empty).

The score of the game is the amount of pips in the losing player’s hand in addition to the number of pips remaining in the main pile. This game does not have an individual winner for each round. Usually, games are played in a series with seven or eleven games being the most common number.

Common Variations on Dominoes

Some adaptive variations have been developed to make the game a little different. One basic variation is called the spinner variation. In this game, you play the game as normal but the line of play is altered so as not to be only a straight line. Doubles, or tiles with the same number in both squares such as (6-6) or (2-2), can be used to alter the line. So, for instance, if you have a straight line ending in a two and you have a double two tile, you can place it sideways so that the original two is intersecting the divider line on your tile. Following that, you can branch out from either side of your double two tile, creating something of a maze with the tiles.

Another simple variation to make the game last longer is to use multiple sets of dominoes. The games will take longer and longer depending on how many sets you use and can also allow for the addition of more players to the game.

dominoes was invented as a game of casual play. However, it has transformed into a much larger game. There are professional leagues and even teams available to the advanced player. There are numerous organizations and clubs around the world designed for gathering dominoes players together to play and harness their skills.

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