The Basics of Dominoes


In most domino games, the first player draws a hand of tiles. The player with the highest double begins by playing it. The next players play on the sides of this tile. A spinner is a double that can be played on all four sides.

Most domino sets have a maximum of nine pips on each end. The pips may be inlaid or painted. They can be made of different materials, including bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and ebony.


Traditional games are an integral part of many cultures around the world. Dominoes, which are direct descendants of ordinary six-sided dice, are one such game. The first set of dominoes appears to have been made in China, although the exact date of this is unknown.

However, the game didn’t make it to Europe until the early 18th century. It arrived in Italy, possibly brought there by French prisoners of war, and spread throughout the continent.

It eventually reached England in the late 18th century and became very popular in traditional inns and drinking taverns at that time. The name “domino” may have been derived from the black domino half-masks worn by Christian priests in winter. The word also may refer to the Latin “dominus” meaning master or leader.


Dominoes are rectangular domino pieces with an arrangement of spots on one side, similar to those on a die, and blank or identically patterned on the other. Each piece has two ends and each end is assigned a value by the number of pips it displays, from zero to six. The total value of a domino is its sum of the values in both squares, or pips, and a double has two matching pips on each end.

Before each game begins, players shuffle the tiles and determine who starts. Each player draws a domino and then plays it, positioning it so that it touches an end of the domino chain and adds to its length. The winner of a hand scores the total value in the chains unplayed by his or her opponents.


Dominoes, also known as bones, men, cards or pieces, are usually twice as long as they are wide and feature a line down the middle that divides them visually into two squares, called ends. Each end has a value, from six pips down to blank or 0, that may be referred to as the rank or weight of a domino.

Generally speaking, the highest double in any player’s hand will be used as the starting domino. However, some games use a random start to determine which player will begin.

Typically, the domino that has an open end is referred to as a spinner and new tiles are added onto it until the chain reaches its full length. Then, the next tile is played on its exposed side.


A domino is a flat thumb-sized rectangular block that is either blank or bearing from one to six dots, called pips. It belongs to a suit of numbers that range from 0 to 6.

Most modern mass produced dominoes are made from plastics, metals and stone. However, there are still some makers who make high-end wood dominoes. These are often crafted by skilled craftsmen and have hefty price tags to reflect their superior quality.

In the 19th century, Bakelite was invented and became the dominant material for making dominoes until it was replaced by basic aluminum in the 20th century. More recently, ceramic clay and frosted glass have been used for some sets. These materials offer a more novel look and feel to the pieces, and they tend to be heavier than polymer-based versions.


A domino is a rectangular piece with a variable number of dots, or spots. Each spot is worth a different amount of points, which are normally divided into two squares. Each piece has a value on both sides. The values of the squares in each end of a domino must match when a new tile is placed on the chain. Dominoes with a value of two or more are known as doubles.

Some games of domino are scored by adding up the total pip value of all the tiles left in each player’s hand, rounded to a multiple of five. This scoring system is easy to read but can be difficult for beginning players to master.

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