Traditionally, European dominoes are made of dark hardwoods such as ebony, with ivory faces. They have a distinctive line in the middle dividing the piece into two squares. They are usually marked with the number of pips on each side. However, some have no identifying marks, or are blank on one side.
The game originated in Italy in the mid-18th century. It soon spread to France and Britain. French prisoners of war brought dominoes to England. In the 1860s, dominoes made their way into American literature. The popularity of dominoes spread worldwide by 1889. Some of the most popular domino games today are party games designed for larger sets.
When playing, players pick a domino or a combination of dominoes from a stock. Then, players alternately extend the line of play. They can also add tiles to any line. The goal is to reach a set number of points. For example, the target number is usually 61. If a player plays a domino with a multiple of five dots, it counts towards his or her total.
Dominoes can be grouped into two main types, Western dominoes and Chinese dominoes. Western dominoes are usually used for positional games. In order to score, players award pips on the opposing player’s tiles. Chinese dominoes are a variant of the game that does not require matching. The game has similar rules to the Western game, but the dominoes do not have the Chinese suit distinctions.
European dominoes, on the other hand, are not considered to have Chinese origins. They are usually made of bone or ivory. They lack the Chinese suit distinctions, but are often used for positional games. They are also considered illegal to import due to the ivory trade ban. The most common sets are double-six and double-nine. Depending on the game, players may draw seven or nine tiles.
The simplest Western dominoes variant is a block-and-draw game. This game can be played by two players or by four. In block-and-draw games, the first player draws the lead piece and then shuffles his or her hand. The player who shuffles draws the last hand. The winner is the player with the least spots in their hand.
The first tile played is usually double-six. The second is to the right of the 6-6, while the third is vertically. The fourth and fifth tiles are 4-6 and 5-5. Players can also play dominoes to the right of 6-6. A tile with three pips on one side and five pips on the other side is called a 3-5 domino.
In the simplest Western game, the winner is the player who has the least spots in his or her hand. If a player is unable to play a tile, he or she must pick a domino that is sleeping. Then, play continues as normal. When the player cannot continue, the game ends. Alternatively, the player may choose to chip out a tile. If the player chip outs a tile, the player must draw from the remaining tiles.