Known as the “men,” “stones,” or “cards,” dominoes are small rectangular blocks used in gaming. Each domino is about twice the size of a regular playing card, and bears a number of identifying marks on one side. These marks include a line on the middle of the tile, which divides the tile into two squares. The game is played by placing the tile edge to edge against other dominoes, which are also placed edge to edge.
Players take turns drawing tiles from a stock of dominoes. If a player does not have any dominoes, he or she must draw from the unused tiles. The number of rounds that can be played is predetermined. If a player reaches the target score before the round ends, he or she wins. If a player draws a tile that does not have the necessary number of pips to reach the target score, the player loses. A player can also block his opponent’s play, which can be an important tactic.
Dominoes are primarily used for positional games. They may also be used in duplicate card games, such as Pai Gow, or in games where points are awarded based on the number of dots remaining in the opponent’s hand.
Traditionally, dominos are made of dark hardwood or bone. In the West, they were first recorded in the mid-18th century, in France and Italy. They were then brought to England by French prisoners of war. They were also introduced to America by the 1860s. In Europe, dominoes are often made from ivory, mother of pearl oyster shell, or bone. They are usually made from dark hardwood, such as ebony.
The heaviest domino that a player can lay down is double-six, which is the first tile that is laid on the table. The player may choose to lay the first tile horizontally or vertically. However, if the player is playing in a positional game, he or she must choose to lay down the first tile perpendicular to the line. Alternatively, the second tile is played to the right of the first tile, which is a double-5. If the player has a double-6, he or she may choose to lay the first tile to the left of 6-6.
The game can also be played with two players. Using a double-six set, each player draws seven tiles. If the number of players is more than two, the game is played with a double-nine or double-twelve set. The number of players should be between two and seven.
For two players, the simplest version of the game is the Block game. A double-six set is required for this game. Traditionally, these dominoes were made of dark hardwood, but they have also been made from plastic or bone. However, most modern dominoes are made of a rigid material.
The game can also be played with three or four players. In this game, the goal is to make a tower that can fall to the next player. Each player adds tiles to the platform until the tower is stable. The tower will fall if the tower becomes too unstable for the next player to knock it over.