The Basics of Dominoes

A domino is a small rectangular wooden or plastic block with a number of dots or markings on one side. It is normally twice as long as it is wide. Dominoes are used to play games involving matching up pairs of matching ends or to form chains with specified totals. Each end of a domino has a value that ranges from six pips down to blank or none. The values are called the ranks and the pips are often referred to as points or chips. The number of pips on a domino can be an indication of its rank, its weight or its power.

A pips count for a domino may also be helpful in choosing the right strategy for a particular game. A higher pips count means that the domino is more powerful and has a greater chance of landing on the desired squares, such as a ten or twelve. A domino with a lower pips count is less likely to land on the desired squares, and is therefore more vulnerable.

As a result of this phenomenon, many people are inclined to place their chips or points on the highest numbers. However, a better strategy for winning a game of domino is to be sure that the highest possible total is achieved before adding more chips or points. In this way, the player who has the most points will be the winner.

Each player must in turn place a domino on the table positioning it so that it touches either an end of the line of play or a free end of a previous tile played. Each time a tile is played on its own or positioned to touch another domino, the line of play increases in length and becomes more serpentine in shape. The position of the ends of the line of play are indicated by the terms set, down and lead.

The rules of domino can vary significantly among games, but most of the most popular fall into one of four categories: blocking games, scoring games, round games or paired games. In a pairing game, each partner takes turns playing a single domino on the table with the intention of making their opponent’s hand as small as possible.

When a player plays out of turn, it is important that they realize this before the next player makes his play. If the mistake is realized, that player must recall the tile he has placed and may not place it again.

In some games, a player is allowed to bye tiles from the stock when he has no play in his hand. In this case, he draws the number of tiles that are permitted for his hand according to the rules of the game. If he is able to play the drawn tiles, he must do so. Otherwise, he must “knock” or rap the table and pass his turn to the other player. If he cannot play any of the tiles that are in his hand, then he must draw a new hand and start a new game.