Domino – The Basics


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A domino, or dominoes, is a small rectangular block with blank or numbered sides: 28 such pieces make up a full set. It is used for playing various games.


There are many different rules that apply to the game of domino. Some of these rules are universal, while others are specific to a particular game. Most of the rules are related to scoring. In some games, players count the number of pips left in an opponent’s hand at the end of a play and add that to their score. Other games use a different method of scoring, such as counting all the exposed ends of a line of dominoes.

Traditional domino sets contain one unique piece for each possible combination of two ends having zero to six spots, or 28 unique pieces in total. Some sets are “extended” by introducing additional pips on each end, allowing for more combinations and more tiles.

When a player plays a tile on the wrong side of a domino that is not open, it is known as a bad play or a bogus play. In such cases, the player must stop playing and call a UDL Official to correct the error.


There are many different variations of domino that have been developed over the years. These games range from simple blocking and scoring games to trick-taking and solitaire games. Most of these are adaptations of card games and were originally popular in certain areas to circumvent religious proscriptions against playing cards.

The tiles are normally twice as long as they are wide and can be divided visually into two squares with the ends displaying values ranging from six pips to none or blank, referred to as a “no-pip”. A tile with more pips is considered to have higher rank than a tile with fewer pips, and thus a higher value.

Once the players have drawn their tiles, they are positioned on-edge in front of them so that each player can see their own tiles but not the value of the other players’ tiles. The first player to place a tile (determined either by drawing lots or by who holds the heaviest hand) starts the game.


Many different materials are used to make dominoes. Most modern sets are made from inexpensive plastics, although some are made from more expensive wood. Some sets are even crafted of marble or other natural substances.

The pieces are shaped to be square on one side and blank or marked with a pattern of dots on the other. These markings are known as pips and are similar to those on dice. The pips are usually white but can also be black. The standard set contains 28 dominoes, and larger-sized domino sets exist for more complicated games or to allow more players to play.

Domino manufacturing took a big leap forward in 1855 when a kind of plastic was invented by Charles Lepage. The material was called Bois Durci and was used to make both individual dominoes and large sets of them. The next major breakthrough in domino manufacture came with tinplate in the 19th century. It allowed manufacturers to add their trademarks to the pieces and made them much cheaper to produce.


Dominos are thumb-sized rectangular blocks with one side blank and the other bearing an arrangement of dots resembling those on a die. 28 such tiles form a complete set. Dominoes may be played individually or in partnerships/teams. Some domino games require scoring. For those that do, players subtract the number of remaining pips from their total hand value, rounded to the nearest five.

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The first player places one of his dominoes on the table, matching it to a previous tile. All subsequent players play their tiles by placing them next to or perpendicular to the previous tile (unless it is a double). Domino chains develop snake-like shapes as the pips of successive tiles connect with each other in a variety of ways.