Typically, dominoes are used for positional games. Each domino is a small rectangular piece, with a line in the middle and two groups of spots on one side. These pieces are placed face down on a flat surface, and must be matched up in a certain way.
In a typical game of domino, each player draws seven tiles. After the tiles are shuffled, they are laid out in the middle of the table. Each tile is marked with an arrangement of pips and spots. Each pip counts as either a single or a double.
In most versions of domino, a number of pips on each end of the chain makes up a suit. Several different suits are possible, with some games requiring a certain amount of pips in order to win. Some large sets of dominoes use Arabic numerals instead of pips.
In a basic game of domino, the first player picks a tile, places it face-up in the middle of the table, and then the next player must match it to a part of the first tile. Once the second player has played, the third player plays a tile, which is usually a six-five or a vertical six. The fourth player plays a tile, which is a five-five or a horizontal five.
Alternatively, players can lay tiles in an endless line, in which case the chain is not marked. In this type of game, each tile is played into a trick. The total number of pips is then added to the number of tricks played. For example, a five-five is worth seven points, and a six-five is worth eleven.
A number of other domino games exist. These include Mexican train, chicken foot, and matador. There are also variations of the game, such as those in which a person chips out and re-draws a tile after each turn. These versions are popular in Texas.
In these games, the goal is to create a tower that is precarious enough to fall for the next player. If a domino falls, a chain reaction begins and the game is over. The first domino in the line will fall, causing the next domino to fall, and so on. If the domino does not fall, the chain is not finished and the game continues.
Another type of domino game is called concentration. In this game, the total pips counted are twelve. In this game, each player is paired with two other players, and the winners are the partners with the fewest pips. This type of domino is played with a set of double-six dominoes.
The game of dominoes originated in Italy in the early 18th century. It spread to France, and then to England in the late 1700s. French prisoners of war brought the game to England. In the United States, dominoes were introduced by the early 19th century.
In Europe, dominoes are traditionally made from ivory or dark hardwoods, such as ebony. The backs of the dominoes are decorated.