Eleven Point Black Tile

Introduction

This game is an adaptation of the Hearts family of card games. It is a trick taking game with negative point scoring (i.e. the idea is to get the lowest score to win) based on a special suit having value and no trumps. There are also variants with 21 points and 30 points.

Equipment

The game uses a double six domino set and needs three or four players.

The Deal

The size of the hands varies with the number of players.

  • Three players get 9 tiles each.
  • Four players get 7 tiles each.

The Play

The first player for the first round is chosen by drawing dominoes from the boneyard. The highest total of pips plays first; ties are settled by drawing for highest total again. The lead and play both then rotates to the left.

After each player is dealt his hand, he picks three tiles from it and sets them face down on the table in front of himself. This stack of three tiles is passed to the player to his left. Each player picks up his stack of new tiles and puts them in his hand after (and only after!) he has placed his stack of old tiles face down and passed them to the player on his left.

After inspecting his hand, the play with the lead can elect to pass the lead to his left also. The player who gets the lead has no choice but to place the first tile of the round.

The seven tiles of a suit are ranked from the double of the suit (high), followed by the pips in numerical order (the 0 and suit tile would be low). There is also a suit of doubles, which is made up of all the doubles and ranked by the total pip count on the tiles. That is, 6-6 is high and 0-0 is low.

The player leading the trick places a tile on the table and announces which half of the tile is the suit for the trick. In the case of a double, he must announce if he is playing it as a tile from the doubles suit or as the highest card in its own suit.

A player must follow suit when he is able -- remember this means playing a double is the suit was doubles. A player not able to follow suit must still discard a tile, but it can be any tile he wishes.

The highest tile in the suit lead takes the trick. The winner of the trick leads the next round. The game continues until all tiles are played.

Scoring

Points are based on taking tricks with certain special tiles in them. These tiles are called "counters" or "count dominoes" and are made up of:

  1. The double 0, worth 4 points
  2. All seven tiles of the 3 suit, worth 1 point each.

The game takes it name from the fact that there are 11 possible points in a round.

However, if a player can take all 11 points, called "shooting the moon", he gets 0 points and the other player each get 22 points.

A game is 61 points, making it easy to score with a cribbage board.

Comments & Strategy

Since only the 3 suit has point value, you might consider painting the pips of those tiles a different color from the rest of the set. Red, like hearts in a deck of playing cards, comes to mind.

The basic strategy is the same as in the card game Hearts.

Variants

In The Domino Book, Frederick Berndt gives the target score as 110 rather than 61. The first lead does not rotate. Rather, in the second and subsequent deals it is the player who has the highest cumulative score of penalty points who leads in the next hand. In case of a tie, tiles are drawn again before the deal.

Barndt also describes a variant for four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite. Partners add their penalty points together for a team score. Shooting the moon only requires the partnership to win all the scoring tiles, not necessarily one individual player: the opposing team is given 22 points.

21 Point Black Tile

This variant is described in The Domino Book by Frederick Berndt. The equipment, deal and play are the same as in 11-point Black Tile but the penalty tiles are different. One point is scored for each tile with a total of 5, 6 or 7 pips. There are ten of these: [6-0], [6-1], [5-0], [5-1], [5-2], [4-1], [4-2], [4-3], [3-2], [3-3]. In addition the double blank [0-0] is worth 11 points for a total of 21. The target score for the game is 210 points. It is not stated, but presumably when a player shoots the moon, the other players should be given 42 points each rather than 22.

30 Point Black Tile

In this variant, reported by Howard Fosdick, again the equipment, deal and play are the same as in 11-point Black Tile. As in the 21-point game, all tiles with 5, 6 or 7 pips are worth 1 point and the [0-0] is worth 11 points. In addition to the, the [1-1] is worth 9 points, for a total of 30. However, the target score for the game is still 210. We are not sure about the score for shooting the moon: since the target score is 210, maybe shooting the moon should be worth 42 points as in the 21-point game - or it could be increased to 60 (twice the number of points in the game).