How to play Dominoes

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Dominoes is a game of playing a sequence of dominoes so that the ends of adjacent dominoes match, hence forming a continuous line.

The original set of 28 tiles contained only the number from one to six on each tile. For some sets, the double number four was not present. The more elaborate sets have two numbers on each tile, one on each face.

In some sets it is possible for any player to count the value of the dominoes in their hand and announce “dominoes”, or play all dominoes from their hand onto the table without disturbing other players’ hands.

The idea behind how to play is that each player needs a certain amount of dominoes in order to cover the amount that they have after someone says “dominoes”. For instance, if a player has 7 dominoes in their hand when the other players say “dominoes” then he will need to match the end of one of his dominoes with another domino and cover it before the next player starts their turn.

To play, each player places their dominoes face down on the table. The first player will then say “dominoes”, and each subsequent player must put down one of their dominoes adjacent to another domino that has already been played. Players need not play the entire set of dominoes they have in their hand unless a player calls “dominoes”, at which time the next player must play a domino if they have one.

In some variations, a player may lay only the double of whatever tile he or she chooses, but this is often considered an advanced technique and not allowed for beginners. Also, in many regions where the game is played, the double-six is the highest number in the game, so when playing with a double-six tile it may be played as any number from one to six.

At the end of each turn, players add up the values of their dominoes on the table and score them based on certain criteria:

Players score points equal to the sum of the pips on the dominoes they collect. Thus, a player finishing with seven tiles scores 49 points (7×7).

If a player does not have at least as many points as the value of their lowest played tile there is a penalty. In most cases, this means that any players who have less than 21 points must deduct all the points they have from their score. In some cases, the number may be higher or lower than 21.

In some variations of dominoes, a player must play all of their dominoes in order to expose them and count them as valid points. However, in other variations it is possible to lay out dominoes on the table and leave a set of dominoes without matching the ends later, so it is possible to play a certain number of points and hold on to some points for later. This can be advantageous if playing with multiple rounds, but disadvantageous if enough players are holding back points that no one ever gets 21 or more points during normal play.

In some parts of the world, such as South America and Spain, this rule is applied in such a way that if you get to 21 (or close to it) on your turn, you can stop playing dominoes and count up your score. If you get over 21 points, subtract the number of points that exceeded 21 from the score. If you score 0, the turn is skipped and it’s the next player’s turn; if you get under 21 points, they are subtracted from your score.

In most cases, a person with at least as many points as their lowest played tile is allowed to stop playing with no penalty (other than losing any points they may have had at the time they chose to stop). However, in some cases if a player does not have at least as many points as their lowest tile, all players must subtract all the points they have from their score.

In most variations of dominoes that include this rule (e.g., Mexican Train), when playing doubles they may be played as either the double of whatever tile is desired, or the number indicated on the double itself. Some domino games that include this rule usually do not allow doubles to be played as numbers (e.g., Classical Train).

In some rulesets, it is possible to combine different types of points. For instance, if one has played a six and four, and the next player puts down an eight, the first player scores 28 instead of 14 for having reached 24 points exactly. The same thing can happen with certain types of runs, which are called “marriages” or “pairs” depending on what kind it is.

Some variations of dominoes include these additional rules:

To play a variation of dominoes, both players must agree to the rule changes before playing. The alternative variations given above are just some of the most common variances in the game.

The doubling and 21 points scoring rules shown above are almost ubiquitous to any dominoes set used in English-speaking countries. However, some regions use different or additional rules for their domino games. For example:

The game of French dominos had many regional variations in its history. At the start of the 20th century it was described as being played “with almost infinite variety”. Some French dominos had more than 28 tiles (with double-12 and double-blank tiles), and some had fewer than 28 (double-6 or double-blank tiles instead of double-5). Additionally, games were sometimes played with different scoring rules. A game for two players was often called “dominó de deux” or “double domino”.

The game of Italian dominos is still played in Italy. During the 1970s, Italian dominos were sometimes played on an abbreviated 28-tile “International” set that lacks double-5s.

A longer Italian domino set is used in Sicily, which has 33 tiles including doubles six through nine (no tile can be a double of another) and some unique tiles like the Sicilian cross (the double-blank tile with the number 0).

A player’s score is tallied at the end of each hand after reaching a certain number of points. The game played in Sicily is sometimes called “Scopone scientifico”. Other names for this game are Scopone or Sciòponi.

So this is how to play Dominoes.


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