The Basics of Dominoes

A domino is a flat thumbsized rectangular block, the face of which is divided into parts, each bearing from one to six pips or dots. A complete set consists of 28 such dominoes. Dominoes are typically matched by their ends and then laid down in lines and angular patterns to form game sets. There are many different games played with dominoes, most of which involve a player scoring points by knocking down as many dominoes as possible in a limited amount of time.

Dominoes are most often made of wood, though they can be made of other materials such as ceramic clay or marble. Some sets are even made of metals such as brass or pewter, although these are usually more expensive than their wooden counterparts. They may be either natural or painted, and can have a variety of designs such as floral patterns, hearts, and stars. Historically, dominoes have also been made from precious or semiprecious stones such as agate and onyx.

There are some games which require a large number of dominoes, and others which can be played with just one or two. Almost all domino games fall into one of four categories: bidding games, blocking games, scoring games, and round games.

The number of tiles required for a particular game will vary depending on the rules and scoring methods used. For example, some domino games include a special type of double that is playable on all sides (called a spinner), while others count only the pips on the ends of the dominoes left in the losing players’ hands at the end of a hand or game.

The word “domino” itself comes from the Italian diminutive of the Latin domina, meaning trough or bowl. It was also the name of a type of garment worn by priests over their surplices, perhaps because domino pieces were often made with black and white faces to contrast with the colors of the clergy’s clothing.

To begin a game of domino, all players draw their hand from the stock. The player who draws the tile with the highest number of pips has first choice of seat. The other players then seat themselves in turn according to the rules of the game being played.

Once all of the players have their hands, the first player plays a domino by placing it on the table and positioning it so that it touches at least one other domino with its pips or dots. This starts a chain of dominoes, or a line, which gradually increases in length as each player adds to it.

When a player makes a mistake with a domino, it is called a misplay and must be recalled. The incorrectly played domino can be replaced by another domino that has its pips positioned correctly. The player who misplayed must then make up the lost points with additional turns until the game is won.