# How to Play Dominoes

Dominos are rectangular pieces of clay or plastic with a pattern of spots or numbers on one side. They are used to play games of chance and skill by stacking them edge-to-edge in long lines and knocking them over. Dominoes are also a favorite plaything for many children, who enjoy arranging them into intricate designs.

There are numerous domino variants, but the most basic game for two players requires a double-six set. The 28 tiles are shuffled and formed into a pile called the stock or boneyard. Each player draws seven dominoes from the stock. The open end of each domino must match the pips on one of the ends of a domino played previously. If it matches, that domino becomes part of the line of play.

The word domino comes from the Latin term for “fateful.” In ancient times, the domino effect was commonplace. A single event, such as the knocking over of a domino in a line, would cause the whole line to fall. The same is true today, when a domino in fiction or nonfiction can serve as an illustration of a larger theme or point.

Dominos can be played in many different ways, from a simple match of color or number to complex track layouts and grids that form pictures when the dominoes fall. Some people even use them to create 3-D structures, such as towers and pyramids. Dominoes can be used to illustrate a wide variety of subjects, from history and science to sports and music.

When a person begins to play domino, he draws the number of tiles specified by the rules for the specific game he wishes to play. Then, he places the rest of his tiles, face down, in front of him. The player may not see the pips on his opponent’s tiles, and he must match the pips on the open end of each tile with those on the closed end of a previous domino played in the line of play. This configuration of the line of play is often referred to as the layout, string, or line of play.

Once the line of play is established, each player plays a domino in turn. If the opening domino is a double, it must be joined to the line of play by matching its open end with that of a previous tile played in the same way. Depending on the rules of the game, the domino may be played lengthwise or crosswise.

Some games use a special type of domino, called a spinner. A spinner is a double that can be played on both sides and has a number of spots on each side equal to the number on one of the ends of a previous domino played in the same way. This may be used as an alternative to the standard method of scoring, in which the total number of pips left in the losing players’ hands at the end of the hand or game is added to the winner’s score.