# The Basics of Dominoes

Dominoes are a game of skill, chance and strategy. They are made of clay, ceramic or plastic and feature raised pips that indicate the number of points they are worth. The pips are usually printed in white or colored, and are sometimes engraved into the surface of the domino.

The most basic set of dominoes is called a double-six set. It is the smallest set that can be played with two players. The tiles are shuffled to form a stock or boneyard and each player draws seven dominoes from this stock. The player who draws the heaviest tile makes the first play. If a tie exists, new dominoes may be drawn from the stock until a winner is determined.

Unlike most games of chance, the outcome of a domino rally is not predetermined. The way the chain develops is based on the decisions of the players and the limitations of the playing surface. This is what makes the game so entertaining.

When a domino is placed, it must be joined to the previous domino in a line that forms a snake-like shape. The chain is completed when a tile is played to a double. A double can be played squarely or cross-ways, but both matching ends must touch fully.

There are many different ways to make domino chains, and the resulting arrangement is an artistic work of its own. Whether it is a single line, a grid that forms pictures when the dominoes fall, or even 3-D structures such as towers and pyramids, the possibilities are endless. A master domino artist can make the most complicated arrangement seem easy, and a novice is just as likely to create beautiful art using these small pieces of clay.

The scoring system in many domino games is based on counting the total of the open ends of each domino. Some games, however, are scored by counting the number of pips in the losers’ hands at the end of a hand or game. Whether or not this count is taken into account in the winner’s score depends on the rules of the game.

In some games, the open end of a domino can be a “spinner.” A spinner is a double that has pips on all four sides, and it may also have matching halves. If a match is made with the 3-5 and 5-1 tiles, for example, the count is 4.

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