The Basics of Dominoes

A domino is a small wooden or plastic block with a pattern of spots or dots that resembles those on dice. Depending on the game, the other side is either blank or marked with pips.

In most games, the player who drew the highest domino goes first. He/she then places a domino of his choice. Then, the succeeding player must match its side to a previously placed tile.


There are a number of rules that govern domino play. The first rule is that all players must always play a domino touching one end to another, or as close as possible. This is called blocking. Usually, the player with the least number of dominos left to play is declared the winner.

Each player has a certain amount of time to complete their turn. If they do not, they must call a UDL Official and explain why. In addition, if a player notices that another player has misplaced an exposed domino they must immediately play it on the correct end.

If a player cannot play a domino when it is their turn, they must “knock,” which means to bang the edge of the domino on the table or otherwise tap it with their hand to signal that they can’t proceed. The next player then takes their turn. The same procedure applies to a tied game.


There are many variations of domino. However, nearly all of them fall into one of four categories: bidding games; blocking games; scoring games; and round games. The winning player is the one who scores most points in a given number of rounds. In some games, the winner is also awarded the sum of all pips on the opponent’s remaining dominoes. The winner may even take his opponents’ dice and count them.

The first players are determined by drawing lots or by who holds the heaviest hand. The dominoes are then shuffled and placed on the table to form the stock, which is known as the boneyard. Afterwards, the players draw seven tiles each from the stock.

The resulting layout is called the board or tableau. Each player plays a tile to an open end of an existing domino and adds more tiles to the open ends. When a domino is played to a double, it must be positioned cross-ways with its matching side touching fully.


Dominoes are flat, thumbsized rectangular blocks with a line down the center and ends that bear from one to six dots or pips. A complete domino set consists of 28 such pieces.

Historically, dominoes were made from animal bone or ivory inlaid with ebony. Craftsmen shaped the bones and then affixed the ebony pips using thin pieces of the same bones. This produced dominoes that were white on one side and black on the other.

Modern dominoes are most commonly made from common plastic, wood and metal. Foam and stone are also used to make some specialty types of dominoes. There are several brands of dominoes that are made in North America. These include H5 Domino Creations, Maria Lamping and Mr. Domino. These dominoes are of higher quality than those from other companies and are well suited for building all types of lines, fields and structures. The dominoes are textured to provide a good grip. However, the glossy dominoes often reflect light in unexpected ways.


A player scores points by matching his/her tiles to those of his/her opponent. The number of pips on the opposing tile(s) determines how many points are awarded. For example, a tile with a 2 on one end and 5 on the other counts as 6 points. The first player to clear his/her hand wins the game.

In the classic version, each domino is played so that its matching ends touch (one’s touching one’s, two’s touching two’s, etc.). Then, play continues from either of the exposed ends of the first double – that is, from both sides of the same tile – so that the chain grows in a lengthwise fashion.

The resulting chain, which can continue indefinitely, is called the “domino.” Each domino toppled creates a pulse that travels down the line, just as a nerve impulse moves across a brain cell. These pulses occur at a constant speed and travel in only one direction, just like the firing of a neuron.