There are many different ways to play domino. Some of the most popular games are bidding, blocking, and scoring games.
The players begin the game by drawing tiles for their hand. Then, the player who draws the heaviest tile plays first. The remaining tiles go in the middle, called the stock or boneyard.
The earliest known domino set was found in the tomb of the Egyptian King Tutankhamen. However, dominoes probably came from China and were spread to the West during Marco Polo’s travels.
Domino games appeared in Europe during the 18th century, when they were first recorded in Italy (Venice and Naples). The European game adapted the traditional Chinese form to suit Western culture. The European domino sets were rectangular and had contrasting black dots on a white background, which resembled the winter hoods that French priests wore, hence the name domino.
The early European sets did not use suits or duplicate combination tiles and were limited to twenty-eight pieces. Later, the sets were extended to include double nine and double twelve dominoes. Larger sets such as double 18 are rarely used.
When playing domino, each player takes turns to place a tile on the table. Each tile has a unique arrangement of pips, or dots, on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other. When played, these pips create a chain of dominoes that increase in length as each player places tiles in the line of play.
The first player begins by placing a domino face up on the table. Afterwards, each player takes turns adding additional tiles to the line of play, matching them to the ends of other dominoes in the line of play. The resulting configuration is called the layout, string, or line of play. Depending on the game, some doubles may be allowed to be joined to all four sides. This is known as a spinner and is used to help calculate the score for some games.
The modern mass-produced dominoes are made of a wide variety of materials. These include plastics, metals, stone and wood. There are also specialty materials such as foam used in some yard domino sets.
Dominoes are flat, thumb-sized rectangular blocks whose sides are divided into squares that bear numbers or blank. The number of pips (also called spots) on each side indicates the value of the piece.
The dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide, making them easy to stack. Historically, the pieces were made of bone or ivory, but nowadays most are made from plastics. A few high-end sets are still carved in real wood and often feature inlaid, multi-wood pieces. These are considered works of art and command much higher prices.
There are many variations to domino games that focus on the positional aspect of the game. The rules for these games are very similar but some differ slightly from one to the next. In most positionsal games players take turns placing a domino edge to edge with another domino so that the pips match or form some other total.
A domino with a value on both ends is called a spinner and can be added to the line of play. When this is done, new tiles are played on either side of the spinner. Matador and muggins are examples of games where this is done.
In these games the player with the highest double begins play. Otherwise, the heaviest single is chosen. Generally, when a player cannot play a tile, they must draw from the boneyard until a suitable tile is found.
In a straight domino game, players score points by reducing the total number of pips on exposed ends of the line of play to a multiple of five. Depending on the rules, a double played to a domino chain may be placed square to its end (the opposite side to which it matches) or cross-ways across it, known as a spinner.
A player can add to their own train in each turn, though at a maximum of one tile per train. The game continues until one player clears their hand, scoring accordingly. This version can be played on a cribbage board and works well as a four handed partnership game. It is also a good way to practise basic math.