How to Play Dominoes

Domino is a tile-based game of chance and skill. The word comes from the Latin dominium, which means “a domino” or “a line of dominoes.” Domino games are played with two or more people and usually involve the use of a set of double-sided domino tiles with matching pips on all four ends. Players make their plays in sequence, according to the rules of the particular game. When the first domino is tipped over, it sets off a chain reaction that continues until all the pieces have fallen. The resulting pattern is similar to the way that a nerve impulse travels along an axon, from its point of origin to its destination at the end of the cell body.

When a player makes a play, he places his domino on the table and then adds another tile with its matching pips to one of the free ends of the tile that has just been placed. The other free end must be either with or across the line of play, depending on the particular game being played. If a player plays his tile out of turn, it must be recalled before the next player can place his domino.

The way that a domino chain develops can also provide part of the fun in playing these games. Dominoes that are stacked on end in long lines can be tipped over to create some stunning and creative works of art. Some of these can include straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, and even 3D structures like towers and pyramids. Dominos that are arranged in complex patterns can also serve as inspiration for other types of artwork and furniture.

Many domino games are played with a fixed number of tiles, such as those in a double-twelve or double-nine set (91 and 55, respectively). Other games, however, can be used with an extended set by using the same basic rules but adding a few rules specific to the extended set.

Before the game begins, players should draw a number of tiles from the stock (see “Order of Play” above) to determine who will start the game. Each player should also determine whether or not he will play his own tiles or pass and bye (see “Passing and Byeing” above).

After the initial draw, each player must place one of his dominoes on the table in a position that will match its pair of matching pips with those of an already-played tile, unless specified otherwise by the rules of the game being played. Then, the other players take turns adding tiles to the line of play. The tiles must always be matched to an open end of a previously-played domino, with the exception of a double: these may be placed perpendicular to the line of play, but not touching each other.

In addition to the aforementioned rules, the basic rules for a given game also depend on the type of tile that is being added. A single tile can be played to a double by placing it square with the domino, but a double must be placed in a cross-way across the line of play.