# The Basics of Dominoes

Dominoes (sometimes called bones, cards, tiles, men, and spinners) are pieces of a game that look like dice or playing cards. They have identifying marks on one side and are blank or identically patterned on the other.

Some children like to use dominoes to play games that involve lining them up in long lines. These patterns are called domino toppling, and they can make some pretty cool designs.

## Rules

The basic rules of domino apply to most variations of the game. Regardless of the variation, the goal is to be the first player to play all of your dominoes in a round or by making the open ends add up to a multiple of five.

Players match tiles to either an open perpendicular side of the starting double domino or the open end of a domino line. If a player cannot match a tile, they must draw from the boneyard until a match can be made.

During a turn, each player makes a chain of dominoes, beginning with the first player and continuing clockwise around the table. Each tile played must have matching pips on its open ends (ends not touching any other domino) to count for points.

Many players use a strategy known as blocking – playing a domino into the middle by matching its open end number with a tile in their hand. This can be a very effective tactic in a game that has a lot of numbered dominoes, as it can quickly lead to a large number of points.

## Variations

Dominoes are rectangular tiles made of metal, plastic, wood or stone. They are often sold in sets, and they can be found in both inexpensive and high-end versions.

The most common domino set is the double-six variant, consisting of 28 tiles. Each tile has a value on either end, from six pips to none or blank.

Players use strategy to place their tiles so that they match a number on one or both ends of the domino chain. This is called “stitching up the ends.”

In some games, such as the Trains family of games, a puck or marker is passed around to indicate a special status for a player. For example, one is “bank” or has the last double played in the game.

Another variation is 5s-and-3s, a British public house game that involves adding dominoes from your hand to the end tiles you have already played so that the sum of those numbers is divisible by five or three. A single point is awarded for each time a domino that has been added to the end tiles can be divided by five or three.

## Materials

Dominoes are small, rectangular-shaped game pieces that are usually twice as long as they are wide. They are made of various materials, including wood, bone, ivory, and stone.

They are characterized by an identity-bearing face and a dividing line or ridge to visually divide the piece into two squares, each marked with an arrangement of spots or “pips,” like those on a die. The values of each side vary; in most common variants, they range from six pips to none or blank.

In the past, dominoes were typically made of ivory, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (MOP), or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted onto the surface. Today, however, they are often made of a less-exotic material.

The most common domino sets are made of wood, plastic, or aluminum. These sets are generally cheaper than those made of exotic materials, and can be used by kids to have fun playing dominoes.

## Scoring

In the world of dominoes, there is a wide variety of scoring systems. Some games are won by a player or team by scoring the highest number of points; others award first place based on the lowest pip count.

To start a game players draw one of five (5) tiles from the pool and play off in a clockwise direction. The winner is decided after all rounds have been played and the scores are tallied.

There are many different ways to score a domino game; the most common is to count the number of pips on each of the numbered tiles. This is usually done at the end of each hand and added to the winning player or team’s total.