Block Dominoes

Introduction

This is the simplest and probably the most common domino game. Most of the tiles are dealt to the players, and the tiles that remain in the boneyard are not used. There are any number of variations on the game and I will try to give a representative set of rules.

Note: Four-player games in which all dominoes are dealt and there is no boneyard have now been moved to other pages: Partnership Dominoes, Caribbean Dominoes, Gallinazo.

Equipment

The game uses a double six domino set, but other sets can also be used when you have more players.

The Deal

The size of the hand varies with the number of players:

  • 2 players get 7 tiles each
  • 3 players get 5 tiles each
  • 4 players get 5 tiles each

The rest of the tiles stay in the boneyard and are not used in the round.

The Play

The four handed game can be played in partnerships or as individuals. The players draw for the lead and take turns placing tiles on either end of the train. Doubles are played across the line, but are not spinners. A player who cannot play passes. The round stops when one player dominoes or when nobody can play. The lead for the next round passes to the previous leader's left.

Scoring

At the end of the hand, each player gets the total number of pips in his hands. The lowest scoring player is the winner and is credited with the sum of the scores of the losers, minus his own total. If there is a tie for lowest score, then nobody gets a score.

The game is played for 100 points in a two player or partnership game, and for 61 points in a three or four handed game. This convention allows a cribbage board to be used for keeping scores.

Variations

Variations include:

  1. Different numbers of tiles in the hands.
  2. Drawing for high tile to determine the lead in the first hand, then rotating the lead for the following hands.
  3. Drawing for high tile to determine the lead in the hand after a blocked round.
  4. Determining the lead by requiring that the highest double be lead first.

In Britain, some clubs change the scoring

  1. If the winner dominoes with a tile that could have been played on either end of the train, his opponent's scores are doubled.
  2. The opponents points are doubled if the winner dominoed with a double.

Comments & Strategy

The best play is to set your strongest suit, preferably with a double, so that you will have more options for further plays when it is your turn again. This also tells your partner what your strong suit is so he can play to it.

The better control you have of a suit, the more you should try to leave that suit on the ends of the train.

In a partnership game, you can assume that your partner's lead is his strongest suit and play to it.

Other Web Pages and Software

There is a separate page with details of the Indonesian Block Domino game Gaple and a separate page for Austrian Dominoes, often played as a block game with 36 tiles (an [8-8] set without doubles).

Four-player partnership domino games in which all the tiles are dealt - seven to each player - are covered on the Partnership Domino page and the Caribbean Dominoes page. Gallinazo is a four-player game with all tiles dealt in which each player plays for himself.

Rules for Block Dominoes can also be found on the Domino Plaza site.

Domino Software and Online Games

Game Colony offers head to head Block Dominoes games and multi-player tournaments, which can be played free or for cash prizes.

The Dominoes On Line web site enables you to play dominoes live over the Internet.

Rubl.com offers a two-player online block domino game for prizes.