Dominoes are a type of game played with black, rectangular tiles that have anywhere from 0 to 6 dots. They are commonly used for playing the games called dominoes or ping-pong, but there are many other types of games that use them.
The earliest form of dominoes were found in Italy, though they may have been introduced into Europe during the Middle Ages or earlier. The modern form of the game dates from the mid-18th century, when it was widely circulated in the European empires.
A domino set is a group of dominoes with a common design and a set number (called the “rank” or “weight”) of pips on each. The number of pips on each end of the tile (known as its “ends”) ranges from zero to six in the most common variant, known as a double-six set. Larger sets of dominoes have a greater number of unique combinations of ends, increasing the rank and weight of each tile.
There are several kinds of games that can be played with dominoes, including block, draw, and trick and trump. There are also variants that involve placing dominoes in specific configurations and scoring by matching the numbers of pips on the tiles.
Block is the most popular domino game in the Western world. Players take turns placing one of their tiles on the table to start a line of play, and then alternately extend that line with a matching tile at each end. When no more matching tiles can be placed, the players stop playing. The player who can “chip out” (play their last domino) wins.
Drawing is a domino variant that is popular in British pubs and sports bars. Each player draws seven tiles from the stock. The rest of the hand is kept to play with later in the game.
A skillful version of the game is played with pairs or fours, where the goal is to be the first player to exactly reach a certain number of points in each round. The total number of pips at the open ends is then counted. The first player to match the total exactly scores one point.
The dominoes in a set are usually twice as long as they are wide, making them easier to stack. They have a horizontal line in the center that divides them visually into two squares, which are called their ends. Each end has a value, ranging from pips to none, with the higher-value pieces having more pips than lower-value ones.
Most standard domino sets contain a single unique piece for each possible combination of two ends that have zero to six spots on them, which is called a double-six set because the highest-value piece has six pips on each end. In some larger sets, the highest-value piece can have as many as seven pips on each end; however, the maximum number of unique combinations is relatively small, and a single larger set would be difficult to use.