The Basics of Domino

Domino is a game where players place tiles edge-to-edge on each other in order to make a chain of matches. These chains can be arranged in a variety of ways. They can be a snake-line, parallel to the other players’ hands or form some sort of total.

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The rules of domino vary greatly from game to game, although most games fall into one of four categories: blocking games, scoring games, or round games. A basic rule is that a domino must touch another domino on all sides, except for the open end (the side that doesn’t face any other tiles). A domino is scored when the pips on its open end are a multiple of three or five.

After the tiles have been shuffled, players draw their hands. Generally, the player who draws the highest double goes first. If no one has a high double, the player with the heaviest single begins play.

When a player has no more tiles to play, they “chip out.” When play comes to a stop, the winner is determined by counting the number of pips on opposing players’ remaining dominoes and adding that number to the winning player’s score. This is called a “chipping count.” In some cases, players may also be permitted to bye tiles from the stock, depending on the game.


The basic rules of domino apply to most games, but there are many variations. Most feature a line of play, which is formed when players play tiles that match the pips on their open ends. The line of play typically extends to one or more other players, who may then add a tile to their train.

There are also some games that do not have a line of play. In these, each player draws a hand of tiles and may begin their turn as they choose. Depending on the game, there are different rules for adding to trains and scoring.

Block domino starts much like the other blocking games, with a double-six set of 28 tiles shuffled face down to form the boneyard and each player drawing a number of dominoes, usually seven. A player then takes turns laying a domino halves end to end, scoring whenever the open ends of all dominoes add up to a multiple of five.


Various materials have been used to make domino pieces over the years, although today plastics are the mainstay for most mass-produced domino sets. There are also some high-end wood sets that often have a hefty price tag as they are made by true craftsmen with many layers of fine woods and are intricately carved with recessed pips.

Domino pieces are small rectangular blocks, each divided into two squares and bearing a number of spots that resemble those on dice. There are typically 28 of these pieces in a complete set. Each domino has a specific identification marking on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other.

Historically, dominoes were often made from bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or dark hardwoods such as ebony. These were usually painted or inlaid with a pattern of white or black dots to distinguish them from other dominoes. The use of engraved stones as dominoes gained popularity in the 19th century as they were able to pass for ivory and could be made more inexpensively than actual ivory.


There are many different scoring systems for domino. Some use a total value of each player’s tiles, while others count the number of pips in each opponent’s hand. The winner is determined by who has the most points at the end of a round. In the case of a tie, each player receives the same amount of points.

Another common method of scoring is to add the value of all the dominos in a player’s hand, rounded to multiples of five. The first player to do this wins the game. Some games also have a target score, such as 150 points.

Muggins is an American two-player domino game in which players score for making the ends of the layout add up to a multiple of five. This game is a member of the Fives family of domino games and can be played with or without a spinner. The earliest double played in the chain is known as the spinner.

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