Dominoes are a form of gaming device used to play a wide variety of games. A domino set consists of rectangular tiles with a pattern of dots, or pips, on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. The pips on each domino represent a number in a particular order, so that a set can be used to play games of chance or strategy. In addition to the traditional blocking and scoring games, domino can also be used for solitaire or trick-taking games.
Unlike cards or dice, the rules of a domino game are not universally agreed upon and vary widely across the world. Nevertheless, most domino games have extremely similar, or even identical, basic rules. The specific rules of a domino game may be influenced by the type of domino used, the way the tiles are shuffled or dealt, and the order in which hands are drawn. The game’s overall structure is determined by its rules of succession.
Before a game begins, the players shuffle the tiles and thoroughly mix them by passing them with their hands. The player who shuffles is called the setter, the downer, or the leader. This is done in the hope that an uneven distribution of the tiles will favor some of the players, but this can be a dangerous gamble.
Once the first domino is positioned on the table, its potential energy becomes kinetic energy and pushes the next tile into position. The force exerted on the second domino, in turn, causes the third to fall. This energy continues, converting from one domino to the next, until all the dominoes have fallen.
The first player to make a play must establish his or her line of play by matching the pips on each open end of a domino. Then, in a typical domino game, each subsequent player plays a domino onto the table positioning it so that it touches one or both ends of the preceding domino chain (the line of play). The chain then gradually increases in length.
Some games require that all the tiles in a player’s hand be played before the next tile is laid, while others allow a player to “chip out” when his or her hands are empty. In a chip-out game, the winner is the player who has the lowest combined total of all the spots on his or her remaining tiles.
Whether or not the losing players count the pips on the tiles in their hands at the end of a hand or game is usually agreed to in advance. If the counting is done, the number of pips on a double (if any are played) is usually added to the score.
A double is considered to be a spinner if it can be played on all four sides. Some domino games have rules that specify that all doubles played are spinners, while others consider the number of pips on each end to be sufficient to determine if a double is a spinner.