Dominoes – The Basics


Domino is a game where the players compete to score points by placing tiles end to end. Each tile must touch another domino that shows a number (i.e., one’s touching one’s and two’s touching two’s).

Watch this video to see a domino artist who uses science to create incredible setups. She explains that gravity is key to her projects because it pulls each domino toward the ground, setting off a chain reaction.


Dominoes are one of the most popular games worldwide. They are especially common in Latin America, where they serve as a form of entertainment for those who cannot afford more expensive forms of entertainment.

There are many theories as to the origin of dominoes, but most agree that they originated in China in the 12th century. Some historians claim that a Chinese soldier named Hung Ming invented them to help keep his soldiers awake during nightwatches.

The game spread to Europe in the early 18th century, and appeared in Italy first, then France. It was eventually introduced to Britain, where it became a popular game in family parlors and pubs. The name “domino” likely derives from the contrasting black dots on the white pieces, which resembled the hoods worn by French priests during carnival season or at masquerade balls.


Domino rules are designed to ensure that the game runs smoothly and prevent possible cheating occurrences. They vary between different domino variants, though the basic principles are the same. Typically, a player begins their turn by drawing a tile and placing it on the table. They must then draw another if that tile cannot be played. Then they play a domino that matches one end of the exposed chain or to a double.

Any exposed ends that match a domino are scored, though blanks are counted as zero points. When a hand is over the total value of all the remaining dominos held by all players is calculated. This is then added to the winner’s score. Alternatively, the game may be played until one player is out.


There are a number of different domino games, each with its own rules. Generally, these games require players to match the pips on both ends of a tile (except for doubles, which may have one or two open ends) and place them in a line that gradually grows in length. The player with the lowest hand at the end of a round wins.

Some games also involve the use of a boneyard, where players draw tiles from a stock and place them in their train. Depending on the game, some of these tiles can be bought, adding to a team’s score. Alternatively, players can pass their turn when they cannot play a domino. This is called blocking. Players also may use a “spinner” domino, which is played at a right angle to the rest of the line.


Dominoes have been made from many different materials over the years. They are typically twice as long as they are wide and are thick enough to stand upright on their ends. They usually feature a line down the center and each end bears a number, from 0 (or blank) to 6.

A domino set is usually sold in a cardboard or wooden box. It may contain a cribbage board built into the lid for keeping score.

There are two kinds of wood dominos. The first is inexpensive and mass produced for classroom use or for applications where low cost is critical. The second type is high-end and handcrafted by true craftsmen, often using multiple woods and featuring fine lacquer work. These can be considered works of art, and they carry hefty price tags to reflect their quality.


In domino, points are scored when a player plays a tile that touches both ends of another tile in the chain. The exposed ends of the two tiles must have a matching value. The value is normally a multiple of five. If the ends match, the players add up their dots and declare a winner.

A large set of matched tiles is called the boneyard. Before a hand starts, the tiles are shuffled. The player who draws the highest double goes first. Each player then draws a hand of seven tiles.

Some players may also keep a number of dominoes in their hands, known as their train. These can be added to on each turn, but at a limit of one piece per train.