How Dominoes Are Played
Throughout history, dominoes have been used in a wide variety of games. The earliest documented reference is from 13th century documents in China, but the game has been around for hundreds of years. They are cousins of playing cards and represent one of the oldest tools used for game play. It is also a test of patience and skill.
During play, a player must position a tile so it touches one end of the domino chain. Then, the next player must match one end of the domino to part of the first tile. When this is done, the play proceeds clockwise. In some games, the player can add tiles to any line. In others, all four sides of the double are considered open.
Each domino has a number on each end. These numbers are used to score. A domino with three or five pips on one end counts as one point, while a domino with six or seven pips on the other counts as two points. When a player loses, the game counts the pips that are in the loser’s hand. If the player’s hand has fewer than the number of pips needed to reach a specified score, they lose the game.
Dominoes are generally made of bone or ivory, but some are made of silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell or ebony. Some European-style dominoes have a dark hardwood finish, while others are made of bone and ivory.
When playing a game of skillful dominoes, each player draws tiles and tries to reach a specified number of points. The target score is usually 61, though other sets are designed to reach a different number. The first tile is usually a double-six. The second is a 6-6 and the third is a vertical 5-5. The last tile is usually a 5-6. The winning team can play any domino in their hand.
Western dominoes have been recorded in mid-18th century France, Italy and Spain. The game was also introduced to Britain by French prisoners of war. It became a fad in the mid-18th century. It is believed that these dominoes were brought to Europe by Italian missionaries and by French prisoners of war. Eventually, the game spread to southern Germany, Austria and France, where it was renamed “Dominoes”.
Some domino games are played with a single domino or tile. These games are usually played in pairs or teams. Each partner takes turns picking dominoes from stock. If the hand has more than the number of tiles needed to reach a specified score, the player must draw from the stock.
The player who has the highest double leads the game. He must lead by placing a double-four or a double-five at the beginning of the line. In some games, the doubles are placed cross-ways. Depending on the game, the doubles are counted as one or two points. In other games, all four sides of the double are considered “open”. The player who has the highest double leads the next tile.