Challenge

This is a game derived from the commercial game UBUFF adapted to two double six domino sets. The UBUFF game is available from the D&L Company (Box #7996; Porterville, CA 93258), who markets it under a license form Greg S. Blasingame. It uses a deck of special playing cards instead of dominoes.

Equipment

A pair of dice, dice cup and two double six domino sets. The game will work for up to seven players, but is best for five or six.

The Deal

Each player receives a hand of eight tiles and the rest of the tiles are left in the boneyard; in this game the boneyard gets bigger instead of smaller. The dice are passed around the table clockwise and each player makes a toss in his turn.

The Play

When a toss has been made and seen by all the players, they can put a single tile or a pair of tiles face down in front of themselves, but are not required to do so. This is called a claim. Each player putting down tiles is claiming that his single tile exactly matches the throw of the dice (i.e. it is not enough to have the same total; the two ends must match the two dice) or that his pair of tiles form a train whose ends match the throw of the dice.

For example, if 3 and 4 are thrown, the [3-4] tiles match it, but so would the pair [0-3] and [0-4].

If no player decides to make a claim, the dice pass to the next player in turn and the next player tosses them.

The right to challenge a claim starts with the player who tossed the dice this round and moves to his left. The challenge is announced against one other player. Once a challenge is made, it must be resolved.

  1. If the claimant was bluffing and had laid down a non-matching tile or pair of tiles, then the claimant returns the exposed tile or pair of tiles to his hand and the challenger passes the claimant the same number of tiles from his (the challenger's) hand without exposing them to the other players.
  2. If the claimant was not bluffing and had laid down a matching tile or pair of tiles, then the challenger puts the exposed tile or pair of tiles in his hand and the claimant passes him the same number of tiles from his (the claimant's) hand without exposing them to the other players.

A player in his turn can announce that he passes and the turn moves to the next player at the table.

A player who has passed the first time can elect to challenge any remaining claims on the table when it is his turn again. Play continues in this manner.

The round ends when there are no claims on the table, or everyone passes. If everyone passes, the tiles in all the remaining (unchallenged) claims are placed in the boneyard, unexposed.

Scoring

The first player to empty his hand and call "domino" is the winner. The player who is left with the most tiles in his hand is the loser for the round. The loser of this round becomes the dealer and first person to toss the dice in the next round.

The game can be played for chips either by having each player put up a stake in the pot which goes to the winner, or by having each losing player pay the winner a fixed amount for each tile left in their hands.

Comments & Strategy

The [0-0] tiles cannot be discarded either as singletons or pairs, so you must get rid of them in a successful false claim or by passing them to another player. Do it as soon as possible. If the other players know you hold one or both of the [0-0] tiles, they have a good idea of when you are bluffing or not.

Constantly mix your tiles to hide their location in your hand, since the other players have knowledge of the tiles which they gave you after a failed challenge.

It is easy to form trains at the start of the game, but when you have only one or two tiles left, it is much harder to actually match the toss. You should challenge the player with the smaller hand more often later in the game.

The player who can count tiles has a huge advantage in spotting a false claim. Here are some simple strategies.

If two players lay down a singleton claim and you have one of the matching tiles, you know that at least one of them is bluffing.

If two players lay down a singleton claim and you have both matching tiles, you know that they both are bluffing.

If a player lays down a pair, it is much harder to tell if he is bluffing or not at the start of the game. Given a toss of (x,y), you can make a train with any tiles of the form [x-n] and [n-y], where n is between zero and six. That means that there are seven pairs in the set of tiles which would work. If you hold some of the seven pairs, or if you remember what the claimant has in his hand, then you have an estimate of how likely this claim is to be a bluff.

As the round progresses, the successful player's hands will become smaller and your knowledge of all the tiles in play will become stronger. At the end of the round, a bluff will not work as well as at the start.

This is a bluffing game, so the usual techniques apply. Look like you are bluffing when you are not, and vice versa. Figure out the psychology of your opponent. Etc.