Domino is a fun and challenging game of skill, strategy, and chance. It is usually played by two or more players, but can also be enjoyed by a single player. Dominoes are small, rectangular blocks of wood or plastic with either a blank side or a surface bearing from one to six pips or dots. A complete set of dominoes has 28 such pieces. The term domino also refers to any of the many games played with these small blocks.
Generally, the rules of a given game specify that the first player to make a play begins the game. However, some games allow the winner of the previous game to open play, and other games require that a specific tile, such as a double, is played in order to start the play.
Most domino games are played in a line of play, with each subsequent tile playing to a previously played tile. This is done if the pips on the exposed ends of the domino match (e.g., a 1-5 is played to a 6-6). The result is a chain of tiles that develops into a snake-like shape. The laying of each successive domino may be determined by a number of factors, such as the type of game and the amount of time remaining before the game is to be finished.
The basic goal of most domino games is to score points by laying a series of matching dominoes end to end. This is typically done by counting the total of the exposed dots on each domino’s two ends. If all exposed pips are multiples of five, the player scores those points. If the exposed pips are multiples of three, the player scores those points instead. The points scored are then added to the player’s total.
As the lines of play develop, each player must be careful to position his or her tiles so that they may be matched up by other players. For example, a domino played to a double must be placed so that the two matching ends are adjacent or touching each other. A tile played to a double must be placed perpendicular to the line of play (not diagonally).
In most games, the last player to make a play wins. However, in some games, the player who has the most points at the end of a round is the winner. In some cases, the game ends in a tie, and the winner is determined by drawing new hands from the stock.
A few variants of the game of domino exist, including a solitaire version where only one tile is used and trick-taking games that are adaptations of card games. These types of games were popular in some areas as a way to circumvent religious proscriptions against playing cards. Also, a number of variants exist of the traditional blocking and scoring games. The rules of these variants differ from the main game variants. However, they still allow players to express their individual skills and creativity in the midst of this ancient and fascinating game.