# Dominoes

A domino is a tile that is identically patterned on both sides and contains an arrangement of spots or numbers. It is marked by a line to divide it visually into two squares, called ends. Each end has a value of spots or pips.

The player who makes the first play is known as “the setter,” “the downer” or “the lead.” This is determined according to the rules of a particular game-variant.

## Origin

The game of domino is a board game played with small rectangular blocks that have numbers or dots on each side. Its name comes from the Latin word dominus, which means lord or master. The game itself may have originated in Africa or Asia, though it is now primarily associated with Cuba and Mexico.

There are many accounts of its invention, but most are legend and cannot be taken as true. Michael Dummett dates the introduction of dominoes to Italy, Venice or Naples, in the 18th Century.

The thirty-two piece traditional Chinese domino set was designed to represent all the possible combinations of two thrown dice and thus contains no blank faces, unlike the twenty-eight-piece Western sets created in the mid-18th century. It also does not divide the pips into military and civil suits, as does the European set.

## Rules

There are many different games that can be played with domino. Some are blocking games and some involve scoring. The most common scoring game uses a standard double-six set, although other games using extended sets are also popular. A player scores points by laying tiles in the line of play, ensuring that the exposed ends match (e.g., one’s touch ones or two’s).

After the dominoes have been shuffled and a number of players have drawn their tiles, the first player makes a play. Then, each player adds a tile to their train. The game continues until a player can’t make a play or when a player clears his hand. The player with the lowest negative score wins the game. Scoring may be done by counting the pips on losing players’ remaining dominoes or using a different method (e.g., counting one or both sides of a double or count only the end of the train).

## Variations

In most domino games, each player draws the number of tiles he is permitted to take according to the rules of that game. He adds these to the tiles he has in his hand and then plays them. The rest of the tiles remain face down in a stock called the boneyard.

Some domino variants, such as Five-Up played with multicolored tiles, use doubles as spinners that allow the line of play to branch. Others, like Matador, have unusual rules for matching.

The Draw game is similar to the Block Game, but players must choose a pair of sleeping dominoes when it is their turn. If they cannot place one, they must pass their turn. This prevents bloated hands and is an important aspect of strategic play.

## Materials

Dominoes are small, flat, rectangular blocks made of rigid material. They are also known as bones, cards, men, or pieces. Each domino has a face with an arrangement of dots or blanks that identify its value. A domino is usually twice as long as it is wide and is thick enough to stand upright on its edge.

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## Scoring

Dominoes can be arranged in a variety of ways to form different games. Some are blocking games, while others involve scoring. The most common domino sets contain 28 tiles, but larger sets exist for more complex games and players looking for long domino runs.

Each tile features one or more dots (called spots). The value of a spot is represented by its suit, from the smallest (three) to the largest (nine). Dominoes also have a color code for the different suits.

A player earns points when he or she can add to an existing domino train. A running total score is often kept on a cribbage board. In some variations, the player who wins a round gets a positive score while losing players subtract from their hand totals.