The Basics of Dominoes

Dominoes are a fun way to build structures and lay them out to make interesting shapes. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, there are always new challenges to conquer and tricks to learn. Dominoes are very powerful and have been shown to knock over objects one-and-a-half times their size.

The name “domino” comes from the Latin dominum, meaning a block or base. The earliest known dominoes were made of wood, bone, silver lip oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and ebony. More recently, they have been made of plastics and other durable materials. Many domino sets have different designs on each face, which distinguish them from each other. Each face also has an arrangement of spots, or “pips,” similar to those on a die. These pips identify each domino as part of a set and indicate the order in which the pieces should be played.

A basic domino set consists of 28 tiles, which are shuffled and formed into what’s called the stock or boneyard. Each player draws seven tiles for his hand, and then begins placing them on-edge in front of him. The first tile placed is referred to as the set or down, and the player who makes this play is known as the setter, the downer, or the lead.

The next domino played is then placed on top of the previous tile, which is referred to as a slash or tiling. The slash or tiling must match, or be paired with, the previous domino to form a chain or line of play. When a slash is not matching, or a tiling is not pairable with a slash, it is known as an off center tiling and must be corrected before the play continues.

In some games, there are rules that allow players to buy additional tiles from the stock, as explained in “Order of Play,” above. Other games require the tiles in the stock to be numbered, so they can be identified and counted. When the count is complete, it is added to the winner’s score.

It’s also possible for the players to draw more tiles for their hands than they’re allowed. This is referred to as an overdraw. The excess tiles are taken by the player to his right and returned to the stock. Depending on the game, the overdrawn tiles may be redrawn or byed later in the same turn.

One of the most important aspects of any good game of domino is its strategy. By using strategy, the player can minimize his losses and maximize his winnings. In addition to understanding the rules of the game, he should also be aware of what each type of domino is capable of. For example, a double-six is capable of playing on only four ends, but it can be extended to a triple-nine by adding two more doubles. This increases the number of unique combinations of ends and the total number of pieces that can be used.