# The Basics of Dominoes

Dominoes are small rectangular blocks with identifying marks on one side and blank or matching patterns on the other. Each domino has an open end that may be used for playing other dominoes.

During game play, dominoes are joined in a line that is known as the layout, string, or line of play. Generally, the player who holds the heaviest double begins play.

## Rules

In a domino game, each player draws seven dominoes for their hand. Each domino has identifying marks on one side, and the other side is blank or identically patterned. Some dominoes have a spinner on their end, which may be played from any side. This is an exception to the general rule that a domino cannot be played from both ends.

In most games, a player starts with the highest double in his or her hand. The player then draws the number of tiles for his or her hand according to the rules of the game, adding them to the pieces in his or her hand. If a player draws more than he or she is permitted to, the extra tiles are returned to the stock.

The game continues until a player is blocked and no longer able to make a play, or the player reaches a target score. The winner of the game scores the difference between the player’s and opponent’s points in unplaced pieces.

## Variations

Dominoes (also known as bones, men or pieces) are normally twice as long as they are wide and feature a line down the middle to visually divide them into two squares. Each side is marked with an arrangement of dots called pips. The sum of the pips may be referred to as the rank or weight of a domino.

Domino games usually involve a domino chain that is extended with matching tiles as players make their plays. This chain is referred to as the Line of Play. There are a number of different domino game variants, but they are all based on the Line of Play.

Some players choose to use a double domino as a spinner. This allows the player to place a tile anywhere on an open side of the line, thereby speeding up the process of placing new tiles. In most domino games, once a player can no longer add to their train they must remove the marker from that train and leave it open for other players to complete.

## Materials

Dominoes are small, flat, thumbsized blocks of rigid material that are used as gaming objects. They are also known as bones, cards, men or pieces and can be made of plastic, wood, bone, ivory or stone. They are divided into two sides, each bearing an arrangement of dots or pips: blank or zero sides; and numbered sides. A complete domino set contains 28 of these pieces.

In the past, domino sets were made of natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory and dark hardwoods like ebony with contrasting white or black pips. There are also sets which use a variety of metals, ceramic clay and stone to add a more novel look and feel.

Modern mass produced domino sets are usually made of polymer materials, although some high-end wooden ones are handcrafted and feature a number of woods. These can be quite expensive and are considered works of art.

## Scoring

The score for a domino game is accumulated as the players make plays. Depending on the game-type or setting, this may be done by adding up the numbers of exposed ends of the domino chain or by summing the number of dots in each player’s hand. The winner is decided by the player who has the most points at the end of a hand.

In a game of straight domino, points are scored for each time that the total number of pips on the exposed ends of two adjacent tiles is divisible by five or three. In other games, the number of dots in each player’s domino is summed and rounded up to the nearest multiple of five.

A double that can be played from both sides is called a spinner, and may be used to create chains that sprout off either end of the first tile. This is a common feature of a scoring game of 5s-and-3s, which is played in many British pubs and clubs in competitive darts and domino leagues.