Dominoes are a family of tile-based games and puzzles that include many different variations. They are similar to playing cards, but they have a different layout and different pips.
A domino is a rectangular tile with a line that divides its face into two square ends. Each end is marked with a number of spots (also called “pips” or “dots”) and is blank on the back. A traditional European domino set consists of 28 tiles, known as pieces, bones, rocks, stones, men, or simply dominoes, and features combinations of spot counts between zero and six.
There are several ways to play dominoes, but the most common way is with a single player against another. The first player starts by choosing a domino with a certain value from the boneyard, and the second player must then find a domino with the same values to play against them. If one of the players has more dominoes with matching values than the other, they can continue to play against each other until they have all of their dominoes.
In a variation of this game, 5s-and-3s, the first player attaches a domino from their hand to one end of those already played so that the sum of the two faces is divisible by five or three. They then attach another domino to the other end, rearranging the numbers on each end and continuing until either player has all of their dominoes with matching values.
The Chinese version of this game is known as pupai, which means “dice” in Chinese. It is played in a similar manner to the Western version, but the Chinese dominoes have no blank faces. This makes it easier to identify which dominoes have matching numbers of pips and is used for trick-taking games.
To the West, dominoes were first recorded in Italy and France during the mid-18th century. Traditionally they were played in positional games, in which each player places a domino edge to edge against the next so that the adjacent faces are identical or form some specified total. In addition, they can also be used to play a variety of other games, including a game where each player has two dominos and the objective is to place them edge to edge so that the number of each piece in their hand adds up to a particular sum.
In a series of domino rallies, a line of hundreds or thousands of dominos is carefully lined up in order to fall into one another, often in complex and imaginative designs. These are called “domino shows.” They’re a fascinating example of how storytelling works in the real world.