The Basics of Dominoes

Dominoes are the game pieces used to play a variety of games. Each domino has a number, either in the shape of a circle or an arrow, engraved on one face and is blank on the other. The engraved side of the domino also contains an arrangement of dots, like those on a die. The pips are often colored in contrasting black and white to help distinguish the different sides of a domino.

Traditionally dominoes have been made from bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted. More recently, domino sets have been made from other natural materials including stone (e.g., marble, granite, or soapstone); other woods including birch, oak, and redwood; metals such as brass and pewter; ceramic clay; and even frosted glass or crystal. While these sets are less common, they can add a decorative touch to a game table.

The origin of the word domino is not known, but it may be related to the French word domino, which originally denoted a hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade ball. The word eventually came to refer to the playing piece itself as it appeared in Europe shortly after 1750. The game itself, however, seems to have come from Asia via the Indian subcontinent and is thought to have been introduced to England in the late 18th Century by French prisoners of war who were serving there at that time.

As the name implies, dominoes are a game of strategy and chance, but it is important to remember that each play you make will affect the outcome of the entire game. The goal is to make a sequence of plays that will ultimately lead you to winning the game. In order to score points a player must place the domino in a position where its ends touch each other (i.e., one’s end touches two’s and so on). Then the total of all pips on both exposed ends is counted.

Once the game reaches a point where nobody can make another play, players must count the value of all the remaining dominoes they have and the player with the lowest total is declared the winner. Usually the winners will then mix and shuffle their dominoes for the next round of play.

A game of Domino is not only a great way to pass the time, but it can also teach kids basic math skills. Whether you’re playing a scoring game such as Bergen or Muggins or a blocking game such as matador, chicken foot, or Mexican train, it’s a great opportunity to practice counting and matching numbers. You can even use a set of Dominoes to help your children learn the alphabet and their colors. To do this, simply take a large sheet of paper and color it with the selected domino tile colours. Then ask your child to place the domino against the correct colour on the paper.