Dominoes are small, flat rectangular blocks used as gaming pieces. They are also referred to as bones, men, pieces, or tiles and have a number of dots or pips on either side which determine their value. Traditionally, a domino has a square center to divide it visually into two equal parts. The values of each part range from six pips down to none or blank. A domino is normally twice as long as it is wide to facilitate stacking.
There are many variations of the game of domino. Some of them involve more than one player, others are solitaire games. Regardless of how many players are involved, a basic set of instructions must be followed in order to make a play. These are generally known as the Line of Play or Layout. In addition, some of the games have rules that require a specific sequence of plays to occur.
Before the first game of a session, each player should shuffle his dominoes thoroughly by moving them through his hands. He may choose to shuffle before every game or only at the beginning of a session. In the latter case, he would draw a hand from the stock to begin play. Depending on the rules of a particular game, he may open with the highest double or with the heaviest single.
In some games, a domino is known as a spinner if it can be played on all four sides. A double that can be played only on two sides is called a non-spinner. Some games allow a player to play only a spinner for the lead or some other function, while other games require that any double be played.
When a player plays a tile that matches the pips on the open end of a domino already in the line of play, it is joined to the previous piece by matching the pips on its opposite end. This is often referred to as “setting” or “putting down.” In some games, a player must put down the new tile before any other player can make a play on it. This is usually called setting a turn.
Dominoes that have been set down but not joined to the line of play are sometimes referred to as dead. This means that if another domino is placed on top of it, there will be no way to continue the line. This may cause the game to end in a tie or it may result in a winner being determined by counting the pips on the losers’ remaining dominoes.
In some games, a player may count the pips on all the dominoes in his hand at the end of a hand or game and then add them to his score. The winner is the player whose total sum is the lowest. Other games use other methods to determine the winner, such as the number of pips on the winning player’s remaining tiles. Some of these methods may also require that the losers draw additional dominoes from the stock.