The Game of Dominoes

Dominoes are a board game based on laying out tiles with numbers on them. The rules vary widely but the game is played by two or more players.

The first player begins the game by choosing a domino and placing it in the center of the table or on the floorboard. The succeeding players then place matching tiles onto the table.

Origin

The earliest known forms of dominoes originated in China during the Yuan Dynasty. They are also referred to as ‘pupai’ in Chinese history, and were sold by peddlers during the time of Emperor Xiaozong (1162-1189 AD).

European dominoes were first made in the early 18th century, and are shaped from sheep or cattle bone with shallow holes drilled into the bone to make the dots, or pips. They were then adorned with thin pieces of ebony.

The white faces of the dominoes were probably designed to resemble the dark markings on masquerade ball masks, which would have been popular during this period. The game is a popular family activity, with versions of it being played in many countries around the world.

Rules

The game of dominoes is a popular board game for all ages and is a great way to learn about the number system. It is also an excellent opportunity for children to build their spatial awareness and logical thinking.

The standard game of dominoes is played with a 28-tile set, shuffled and face down. These tiles form the boneyard or stock, and each player draws seven tiles from the stock.

Players take turns playing a domino, and the line of play moves clockwise around the table. On a turn, a domino must be played into the middle by matching one end of the domino with the free end of a tile in the center of the layout.

When a player can’t match a domino, play passes to the next player and that round is blocked. At this point, the winner of the round is determined by whoever has the lowest pip count on dominoes still in their hands.

Variations

There are many variations of domino, each with its own rules and nuances. Some of them focus on shedding dominoes, while others are geared towards scoring.

Initially, players draw tiles from a stock (bone yard), usually made up of a double-six set of dominoes, shuffled and face down. The first player places a tile which starts the line of play, and the players alternately extend it with one matching tile at one of its two ends.

This basic domino game can easily be enlarged to include more players, by using a larger set or by introducing an extended set. For example, a common extended set is a double-nine set, which has 55 tiles.

Materials

Historically, dominoes have been made from a variety of materials. Back in the 18th century, Western dominoes were often made from ivory while Chinese dominoes were made from bone.

Alternatively, they have been made from stone (e.g., marble or granite), woods, metals and frosted glass or crystal. Such dominoes have a more distinctive look and feel and are usually much more expensive than polymer sets.

Modern commercial dominoes are typically made from synthetic materials such as ABS, polystyrene or Bakelite plastics. They are also often colored or translucent to achieve a more contemporary look. Most modern dominoes have pips on the ends of each tile that indicate the value. For example, one-spot dominoes have black pips and two-spot dominoes have green or red pips.

Scoring

In domino, the scoring system is based on the number of open-end pips on each tile. If a player can place a piece that makes the sum of the open-end pips on that piece a multiple of five, he scores the resulting total.

Similarly, if the leader can place a piece that makes the sum on one end of that piece a multiple of six, he scores the resulting total. In the British public house and social club game of “5s-and-3s”, players are scored by attaching a domino from their hand to one end of those already played so that the sum of those tiles is divisible by five or three, thereby scoring points.

This strategy can be a powerful way to maintain the initiative and increase the chances of winning more games. However, it requires careful planning and a good understanding of the rules and the game variant.