How to Play Domino


Domino is a family of games played with rectangular tiles called dominoes, bearing from one to six pips or dots. The tiles are placed edge to edge in a row, creating a chain of dominoes that can be counted. Various games use the pieces in different ways. Some involve drawing dominoes, arranging them into lines and angular patterns, and then laying them down. Some games are played only by two players, while others can involve more.

A domino is a small tile with pips on it, usually a square, but sometimes an oval, or any other shape. A domino set contains all the dominoes needed to play a game, though some players choose to use only certain tiles.

Each player draws the number of tiles required for their hand, according to the rules of the particular domino game being played. These tiles are then arranged in front of the player so that the other players can’t see the pips on them. The first player to draw a domino begins play. This player may be known as the setter, downer, or leader.

Once the players have all drawn their hands, the dominoes are sorted into the stock and the boneyard (also called the trey). The heaviest tile in each player’s hand determines the order of play. The first player to play a domino must place it on the table, positioning it so that its end matches one of the ends already played. If the domino is a spinner, it must be played on all four sides. If it is not, it must be played on three sides.

A score is made in many domino games when the count of the ends of the line of play reaches a certain point, usually a multiple of 5, for example. The first player to reach this point wins the game.

If a player cannot play his or her last domino, they “chip out.” The chips are added to the winner’s total. If the game ends before a player chips out, the winners are the partners whose combined total of all the spots on their remaining dominoes is the lowest.

We’ve all seen domino shows, where builders construct impressive domino effects and reactions before a crowd of admirers. They’re amazing to watch, with the carefully arranged dominoes toppling in a rhythmic cascade that can be controlled to create an almost-impossible design. You can see this same principle at work in narrative, when a writer carefully builds up a complex structure and then gently tips it just so. When this happens, the reader is overwhelmed by a series of events that unfold in an order that isn’t necessarily predictable. This is called the domino effect, and it can be used to great advantage in your writing.