The Basic Rules of Domino

The game of domino is one of the most beloved pastimes in many countries and cultures, with a rich history that spans millennia. It is a unifying force that transcends linguistic and cultural boundaries, bringing together people from all walks of life in a common bond of community and camaraderie. This is reflected in the fact that it is played in bustling city squares and quiet village homes alike, as well as at the world’s most popular sporting events and in prestigious casinos.

The basic rule of domino is that a player places a single tile edge to edge against another in such a way that the adjacent faces are either identical (e.g., 5 to 5) or form some specified total. Each player, in turn, then plays a tile onto this total, thus establishing a chain of dominoes that increases in length as the game progresses.

Depending on the particular domino game being played, a single domino may be designated a spinner; a domino is said to have a “spinner” when it can be played on all four sides (unlike the other two faces). Often the first double to be played in a game will be a spinner. In some games the entire line of play is counted by examining the pips at the ends of the domino chain as the game progresses. If the first domino played is a spinner, it is often the case that all subsequent doubles will also be spunners for the purpose of scoring.

Once a chain of dominoes has been established, the player who has the highest total score wins the game. However, there are a number of variations to this basic rule. For example, some players may agree to employ a rule in which any time a player plays a double, he is allowed to place another tile on the top of it immediately. This technique, known as tying, is a good way to make a game more challenging.

A final rule variation relates to the order in which a player makes his first play in a given hand. In the standard 28-piece set of Western dominoes, each domino originally represented all possible combinations of the pips on two thrown dice. The traditional Chinese sets, on the other hand, contain no blanks and represent each of the 21 results of throwing two six-sided dice.

The word “domino,” which appeared in English around 1750 and in French shortly thereafter, originally denoted a long hooded cloak worn with a mask during carnival season or at masquerades. The ebony blacks and ivory colors of the domino pieces are said to have reminded people of this type of garment, which was worn over a white surplice. The word also referred to a type of monastic hood, and in the later sense it came to mean a cloak used by a priest over his surplice. These older meanings of the word suggest that it is related to the Latin dominus, which meant master of a household or monastery.