How to Play Dominoes


Dominoes are small, flat blocks that players arrange on a table to form long chains. They have a pattern on one side that indicates their identity and are blank or identically patterned on the other. The ends of domino chains are marked with an arrangement of spots, called pips, similar to those on dice.

Domino art can be as simple or elaborate as a player desires. The most common types of domino art include straight and curved lines, grids that create pictures when they fall, stacked walls, and 3D structures such as pyramids and towers. Artists may use a pencil and paper to plan out their designs or they may work directly with the domino pieces.

The most popular game with a set of dominoes is a variation on the game of draw-and-pass, in which players alternately take turns drawing and playing tiles until the chain of all played tiles has come to an end. Often, a player will choose to play a tile that has a number showing at both ends of the domino chain, allowing them to advance the chain further. This practice is sometimes referred to as “stitching up the ends.”

A player’s choice of which tile to play is dictated by the rules of the particular game being played. Once a player has decided which domino to play, he draws the number of tiles he is permitted to take from the stock. If he draws more than he is allowed to, this is a misplay and the extra tiles must be returned to the stock before another player plays them.

After a player has drawn his required number of tiles, he must decide where to place them on the domino table. The most commonly used method is to place the first domino on the left of the table, followed by the rest of the line of play. This arrangement can be changed by players who choose to use different seating arrangements or a counter-clockwise rotation.

If a player is unable to make a play, he can call a halt to the game by declaring that he has blocked it. In this case, the remaining dominoes are awarded to the players whose combined total of all the spots on their remaining dominoes is the least.

The word domino is derived from the Latin verb dominium, meaning “to dominate.” It is thought that the name was inspired by a hooded robe worn with a mask during a masquerade. The earlier sense of the word also denoted a cape worn by a priest over his surplice. In the latter sense, this is perhaps an allusion to the black domino piece contrasting with the white of the surplice.