The History of Dominoes

dominosWhat kinds of games do your children play? The answer might include several different types of video games. Or, it could be that your kids like to play the kinds of games that have been enjoyed for centuries. Domino games are among the ones that your ancestors may have played. It is still played today.

Dominoes are small, flat, blocks of wood (or plastic) that are rectangular in shape. In the past, some were made from ivory. They are described as a “generic card game” because there is more than one way to play with dominoes (just like there are many games that one can play with a deck of cards).

They are actually based upon dice. It is easy to see the similarities between dice and a standard domino set. Each domino is segmented by a line. This created two box shaped (or square) parts. Each of those parts can contain one, two, three, four, five, or six dots. This is similar to a die that has a different number of dots on each of its sides. One difference is that dominoes can have a portion that is blank. Dice do not have that!

Many types of domino games start by placing all the dominoes face down on a table. The dominoes are then mixed up. The purpose, of course, is to mix up the dominoes in a way that is quick and easy to do and that will prevent players from being able to predict what the next domino will have on it.

Each player gets an equal number of dominoes. There are versions of the game that start every player with seven randomly selected dominoes. The players are to keep their dominos secret, so the other players will not know what anyone else holds.

One player must place one of his or her dominoes onto the table. Some versions of the game suggest that the oldest player gets this honor. The next player must try and match one of his or her dominoes with either portion of the domino that the game started with. If that player finds a match, he or she slides their matching domino across the table so that it touches the portion of the starting domino that it matches with.

For example, if the starting domino has one dot on one side, and two dots on the other, the next player must put down a domino that has either one dot or two dots on it. That player can keep going if he or she finds a match between the dominos that are on the table and ones that are still in their hand. When a player can no longer match dominoes, it becomes the next player’s turn to try.

The way to win at dominoes is to match all of the seven dominoes that you started with to dominoes that have been placed on the table. You want to be the first to run out of all your dominoes.

How did it get the name dominoes? The black dots on a white background reminded people of a “domino”, which is a kind of hood that Christian priests wore. The game of dominos, however, originated in China.

Image by Phillip Taylor on Flickr.

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* Children’s Games Your Ancestors Played

* Send Free Vintage Postcards as E-Cards

* Free Vintage Frames

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