The Basics of Domino


The word domino is used to describe any kind of game played with a set of matching dominoes. The most common kinds of games are called layout games, and they fall into two broad categories: blocking games and scoring games.

Domino is a game of skill that relies on the careful placement of a tile in order to build up a chain of tiles. The first player to play a tile that shows a number wins the game. Each subsequent player then has to follow that tile with another one that displays the same number, and so on until the entire chain of dominoes is completed or no more numbers are showing.

This game is often played in public houses and social clubs, but it has become very popular in the United States as well. It can be played with a standard double-six set, but many variations are also available. In the United States, a scoring version is popular, in which points are scored by attaching a domino from a hand to an end of a series already played so that the sum of the two end tiles is divisible by five or three.

Players typically begin each hand by picking seven dominoes from the boneyard (a set of extra tiles not being used in a current hand). After a player chooses and plays a domino, it becomes an “opening” double for the remainder of the hand. The remaining dominoes are then reshuffled and the next player begins by choosing from the stock until they find an opening double.

Most domino sets contain 28 tiles, with a maximum of 12 pips on each of the four ends. However, larger sets exist and are commonly used for games involving more than four players. There are also “extended” sets that increase the number of possible combinations of ends by adding more pips to each end. A commonly used extended set is the double-nine, which contains 55 tiles.

In addition to the basic blocking and scoring games, there are other types of domino play that involve a particular theme or a specific set of rules. These include solitaire and trick-taking games, which were once very popular as a means to circumvent religious prohibitions against playing cards.

The word domino derives from the Latin dominium, meaning a “stone of weight,” probably referring to its use as an anchor for a chain or rope. An even earlier sense of the word may have been a reference to a long hooded cloak worn together with a mask at a masquerade or carnival. In fact, the early domino pieces were made of ebony blacks and ivory faces, a motif that may have brought to mind this garment. The term also had an etymological association with the French word for cape, which could have been applied either to the cloak or to the playing piece. The word was adopted by English shortly after 1750, and its adoption seems to have been the trigger for the growth in popularity of the game.