The Basics of Dominoes


Dominoes are a game in which players try to lay down tiles that form connected lines of one or more dots. The game may be played by two or more players, in teams or individually. The first player to completely cover all of their exposed tiles wins. The game can also be played until a specified number of rounds is completed or until one player has a total score higher than the other.

The game can be very strategic, especially in later stages of the game when the boneyard contains few dominoes. The best strategy is to count revealed and remaining tiles and then plan moves based on this information. This requires attention and practice, but it can lead to a domino game that is very much about mathematics and probability rather than luck.

In the early days of the game, there were many different types of domino sets. Some were made of a combination of materials and others had unique features. These sets were used for playing a wide range of games. The most common type of domino is the set that consists of a bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips (inlaid or painted). Some sets combine the top half thickness in MOP, ivory or wood and the bottom half in ebony to create a more modern appearance and a more sturdy feel.

Other types of dominoes are made from other natural materials, such as stone (e.g., marble, granite or soapstone); other woods (e.g., elm, oak or redwood); metals (e.g., brass or pewter); ceramic clay; and other materials. These often have a more organic look and are heavier in weight than the traditional European-style dominoes. They can be a more expensive option as well.

Traditionally, the domino pieces have a printed or engraved image on both sides of the face. These images can include designs, characters, or other symbols. The other side of each piece is blank or identically patterned. The identifying marks on a domino are called pips, and they are usually molded or drilled into the surface of each tile. Some pips are marked with numbers, while other pips are blank. The absence of pips means that a domino has zero points.

Originally, the domino set consisted of 28 tiles that represented all the possible combinations of a pair of thrown dice. The 32-piece domino sets found in the West were developed later. The Chinese sets are distinct in that they use duplicates of some dice and contain no blank faces. The Chinese dominoes also have longer pieces than the traditional European-style ones. The Chinese also used a separate set for military and civil dominoes. In the late 18th century, the game arrived in Britain from France. It seems to have been popular in inns and taverns. The name “domino” probably derives from the French word for a black and white hood worn by Christian priests in winter, which is probably why it became popular with Europeans in the first place.