Dominoes are cousins to playing cards and provide a versatile tool for games of skill, strategy, and chance. Whether one is a professional domino game competitor or simply enjoys setting them up and knocking them over, domino can be a satisfying way to spend time.
Dominos are rectangular tiles with markings, called pips, that represent the results of throwing two six-sided dice. They can be arranged in straight or curved lines, either in a single line or on overlapping layers. There are many different types of domino sets, with each one having a different number of ends and thus a different maximum number of pieces per end. The most common types of dominoes are double-12 (91 tiles), double-twelve (12 tiles), and double-15 (162 tiles). Larger sets may be possible, but they would not be practical for most games.
The way that the pips are distributed on the dominoes also provides for a wide variety of games. The most simple is the Block game, in which players draw a set of dominoes and begin play with an opening domino called “double-six.” When another player has a matching double, they can add it to the chain by placing it adjacent to the existing tile. This creates a chain of dominoes that grows in length as the players take turns adding to it. The game continues until one player runs out of legal plays or all the players are blocked and can no longer continue. In this case, the player with the lowest domino count wins the hand.
Other games involve blocking the opponents’ play or scoring points by counting the pips on the losing players’ dominoes. One such game is bergen and muggins, in which the goal is to be the first to reach a specified number of points, often 61. Players score points for matching open ends, with doubles counting twice. In addition, a player scores points for any combination of five or three dominoes that is divisible by those numbers.
There are many other variants of domino play, including a variation of the Block game that is popular in some parts of the world and used to circumvent religious prohibitions on playing card games. The Draw game uses fewer dominoes than the Block game and each player starts with only seven. Instead of taking a turn, a player who cannot play passes to the next player.
In this type of game, the pips on the losing player’s remaining dominoes are used to construct a pattern that will result in a domino falling over. This is not a very challenging game for players, and it is sometimes used to teach young children the basic rules of domino. Several different variations of this game are played in a domino tournament, a competitive event that is sometimes televised.