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A domino is a rectangular wood or plastic block with numbers on its faces. Its sides may be blank or have a specific design pattern. Dominoes are usually twice as long as they are wide.
Dominoes are a cousin to ordinary dice and have been used for a wide variety of games. They are often referred to as bones, men, or pieces and can be found in many shapes and sizes. They are also a popular game at family gatherings and in pubs.
There are many accounts of the origin of dominoes, but no single one is definitive. Some Chinese historical accounts, such as the Chu sz yam (Investigations on the Traditions of All Things), say that a statesman invented dominoes in 1120 CE and presented them to the Emperor, who circulated them abroad.
The modern European domino game originated in Italy during the early 18th century and spread throughout Europe, including Britain, probably brought there by French war prisoners. It differs from the traditional Chinese domino set because it includes seven extra tiles, six of which represent the results attained by throwing one die with the other half left blank, or a 0-0 combination.
Players are awarded points for their remaining dominos at the end of a round or when the game reaches an agreed-upon point limit, such as 150. The scoring method depends on the game type and setting and may vary. In most cases, the winning player is decided once all rounds are played.
When a player can’t play a domino, they “knock.” They bang the edge of the domino on the table or tap it with their hand to signal that they cannot continue. Play then passes to the next player.
In some games, the winner of the last hand opens the next. In others, the heaviest domino starts play. Often, this is determined by the highest double in the first hand. In some games, the heaviest single also begins play.
Over the years, dominoes have been made from various rigid materials. Some of the more common materials include plastics, stone and wood. They are also crafted in a variety of styles and colors. In the past, many sets were made from natural materials like bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory and ebony. These sets were often inlaid with contrasting pips or painted to identify the player.
There are two primary types of wood dominoes. One is mass-produced and inexpensive, while the other is high-end and handmade by a craftsman. The latter may be layered in multiple woods and finely finished with layers of lacquer. Most often, they have hefty price tags that reflect their quality and artistry. The domino pieces are usually twice as long as they are wide, and the sides bear a value indicated by an arrangement of dots or “pips” that match those on a dice.
There are many variations to the game of domino. These may include the number of dominoes allowed per player and the scoring method. Some games require more than one player, but the basic rules still apply.
Most domino games involve extending a line of dominoes by matching the pips on the open ends. The resulting chain is called a train and can be continued as long as players have matching doubles.
The most popular version is Draw, also known as the Block Game, and most characteristic domino games are elaborations of it. In this variant, a double-six set of dominoes is used and players draw seven tiles. They then place a domino on the table, starting with the highest double. Players alternately play tiles to this train until the train is exhausted. The winning player then gains points based on the total number of pips in their opponents’ hands.
Many different scoring systems are used for domino. Most of them are based on the value of a domino’s ends, which are called spots or pips. These values are typically rounded to the nearest multiple of five. Some players prefer to subtract the total of all tiles remaining in their opponent’s hands from the previous hand at the end of a round, although this method does not work well with cribbage boards or Holsey and Tidwell’s X’s.
In the Mexican Train variant, players can add to other players’ trains, but only up to a limit of one tile per player. The winner of a round is the player who makes all of their tiles match up, or who reaches a predetermined number of rounds.