# The Basics of Domino

Dominoes are rectangular tiles that stand on end and can be stacked. They have identifying marks on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other.

Rules for domino games often state that the player holding the heaviest double begins play. In the event of a tie, new hands may be drawn to break it.

## Origin

Domino is one of the oldest tools for game play and can be used to create a wide variety of games. These games can be classified into two types: blocking and scoring. The markings on the domino tiles, known as pips, represent the results of throwing a pair of six-sided dice. The first domino set was made in China in the 12th or 13th century, and it was not until the early 18th century that they were introduced to Europe.

It is not known what prompted the Europeans to name their game “domino” but it may have been inspired by the word for hooded capes with black and white lining worn by priests. The earliest written accounts of the game date from around this time.

## Rules

Dominoes are small rectangular pieces bearing an arrangement of spots, resembling the dots on a die, on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. Most domino games are blocking games where players attempt to empty their hand while simultaneously blocking their opponent’s. Depending on the game, the player who scores the most points in a certain number of rounds wins.

The game begins with each player drawing seven dominoes. The person with the highest double starts (this may be determined by drawing lots, or by whichever player holds the heaviest hand). Players take turns placing dominoes in a line, joining to matching ends. Doubles can be joined on the sides or the ends, but they cannot overlap each other. The remaining dominoes form the boneyard.

## Variations

While the basic rules of domino are generally the same, there are many variations. These can affect how the game is played, who plays first, and how the tiles are seated at the table. For example, a player may choose to seat himself according to the heaviest double or the winner of the last hand.

Another variation is that players draw the number of dominoes they are allowed to take and start their train with them. They then place a marker on their train, making it public and preventing opponents from adding to it. Once a player is unable to play a domino from their train or the boneyard, they pass. Usually, the player with the highest score wins. However, some games have tiebreakers.

## Materials

Over the centuries, dominoes have been made from a variety of materials. The most common are plastic and wood. Some sets are painted to give them a more interesting color or finish. Other specialty sets are made from stone, metals, or ceramic clay.

In the 19th century, craftsmen used vegetable ivory (the Tagua nut) to make dominoes and dice. This material is a natural product that is close-grained, hard, and very durable. It also has the same appearance as mammal ivory. Later, dominoes were produced from tinplate and Bakelite, a form of plastic invented in 1907 and manufactured until the 1950s.

Plastic dominoes are lighter than wood, which makes them more convenient to handle. They are also more consistent and better-suited for building different types of lines, fields, and structures. They also have a slightly rough surface for an improved grip.

## Scoring

In scoring domino games, each tile is divided visually into two squares, called ends. Each end has an arrangement of spots or pips that indicate its value. A player scores points when the sum of the pips on his or her own tiles and the total number of pips in the other players’ ends is divisible by five or three.

The resulting score is added to the players’ hands and the winner is declared when all of a player’s dominoes have been played or the number of points in one of the players’ hands exceeds a predetermined point limit. Depending on the game type and setting, rounds may be predetermined or played until one player cannot add any more points to his or her hand.