The Basics of Dominoes


Dominoes are small oblong tiles, typically twice as long as wide, that are used to form intricate patterns and engage in games of strategy and skill. Dominoes have long fascinated people worldwide and remain an enjoyable pastime, social outlet, and symbol of camaraderie across cultures. There are countless varieties of domino that vary according to region; the rules may also differ according to locale; however, the basic concepts remain the same across each game variant; please read below for some general rules to help players learn how to play any variant

When connecting two domino tiles together, their open ends must come into contact and touch. When this happens, a chain form between matching ends that forms a snake-line adds to the fun of playing dominoes. Also important in how a domino game should be approached are rules which specify one style or another of play that should or shouldn’t occur during gameplay.

Tiles typically feature an arrangement of dots, or pips, that resemble those found on a die. A domino with more pips is known as “heaviest,” while those with less are considered lighter. When placing new dominoes which match an existing piece’s value exactly, such a move is known as non-doubling” or non-lead.

As each player makes his or her moves, pieces will become organized on the table into what is known as the layout, string or line of play. Generally this involves placing tiles adjacent to one another with matching values (doubles must be placed crosswise across their matching ends), except doubles which must be placed cross-ways across them for stability. At the conclusion of a hand or game any remaining tiles that remain in losing players’ hands at its conclusion are counted and added as points towards scoring total for winning player(s).

When initiating a domino play, the initial tile should be set facing upward to indicate it as the lead tile and indicate who made its initial play in a hand or game (known as setter, downer or leader). After this tile has been placed, remaining tiles may either be stacked upon each other (“passing”) until needed for play (referred to as passing or byeing).

Lily Hevesh has designed numerous domino installations for movies and events (and set a Guinness World Record for most dominoes toppled in a circular arrangement), including creating one for her wedding ceremony in Hollywood. When starting on any large installation she divides a fraction to determine how many pieces will be required to complete it and ensure an accidental knock won’t bring everything tumbling down, as well as helping figure out how to connect sections so they fall in their proper sequence.