The Basics of Domino Games


A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, the face of which is blank or marked with from one to six pips or dots: 28 such pieces form a complete set. A domino set is the basis for many different games, which involve placing and arranging these tiles edge to edge in lines and angular patterns. Some games are competitive, while others are cooperative and educational. The most popular domino games fit into four categories: bidding games, blocking games, scoring games and round games.

The most basic domino game involves two players with a double-six set. The tiles are first shuffled and placed in a pile, called the stock or boneyard. Each player chooses seven dominoes to draw for his hand. The player who draws the heaviest domino makes the first play. If he cannot play, he passes his turn to the player to his right. Then the other player may make a play by selecting a domino from his hand that has the same number of pips as one end of the domino played by the previous player (the “count”). Some games require that all tiles in the line of play be “spinners,” while others allow only certain types of doubles to be spunners.

As the dominoes are played and arranged, a chain reaction occurs that results in the toppling of one domino after another. A domino can have as few as one or as many pips as is desired, but the more pips a domino has, the faster it will fall when struck. Each domino has potential energy based on its position, and when it falls, most of that energy is converted to kinetic energy.

While many people enjoy playing domino, some create elaborate designs using the tiles. Domino artist Hevesh says that the most important physical phenomenon for creating her intricate setups is gravity. “Gravity is the main thing that allows all my domino sets to work,” she explains in a video. “When a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy that’s stored up against the force of gravity. When a domino is knocked over, that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy.”

The most common domino sets contain a maximum of eight doubles. However, more than eight are necessary for some games, and domino sets can be extended by adding more doubles with varying numbers of pips. There are also several additional kinds of ends that can be added to the dominoes, including the rarer types of a double-nine and the more common double- twelve. These specialized dominoes allow for more complex games and greater variation in the pattern of lines that can be created with a given set. These additional types of dominoes are not essential for most domino games, but they can add more variety to the play. Whether you are an expert or an amateur, the art of domino can be entertaining for hours at a time. Whether you play for fun or to win, it is always good to have a good strategy in mind.