Originally, dominoes were a type of masquerade mask or a long hooded cloak. This is because the pieces are made of ivory, dark hardwood such as ebony, or bone. In some games, the pips of the dominoes are marked with an arrangement of spots.
The game of dominoes was first played in Italy in the 18th century. It spread to France and England by the mid-18th century. In the United States, the domino game became popular in the 1860s.
When playing a domino game, a player draws seven tiles. He or she must then place each tile so that it will either be on the table or in a row. The player then chips out or knocks the tile down. In some versions of the game, both partners chip out. The winner is the partner with the least number of spots on his or her dominoes. In the most common variation, the number on each tile is one of six.
The game of dominoes is also played as a trick-taking game. The players try to score by chipping out their opponents’ dominoes. The first player to knock down a tile starts a chain reaction. Each tile in the chain counts as one point, but the total of the tiles in the chain – including the one knocked down – is counted as 42 points.
There are many different types of domino games. The most popular are those that are scoring games. For example, in the 5s-and-3s game, a player is trying to score by dividing five or three into two tiles. In a game that is played with four players, the first player tries to beat his or her opponent by playing a tile that matches the other person’s end.
Other domino games are adapted from card games. For example, the game Tien Gow, played in China, is similar to the card game Spades. In this game, the highest-value piece has six pips on each end. The other player’s best piece has no pips. In this version of the game, the tile played by the other player must be perpendicular to the double touching at the middle.
Other variations of the domino game include ones that involve a single player or group of players. These are usually adaptations of games that are known in other countries. For example, in the 1860s, the domino game appeared in Austria and southern Germany. There were also variants that were developed in the 1860s and 1890s, which were popular in Europe.
Traditionally, the European-style dominoes are made of dark hardwood or bone. The mother of pearl oyster shell is also used in some sets. However, the traditional dominoes are not marked with Chinese suit distinctions.
Unlike the Chinese domino set, the Western set has no duplicates. Instead, the blank ends are used to form the seven faces. The European set is most commonly played in positional games.
A typical domino set has 28 tiles. Some larger sets are made with Arabic numerals rather than pips.