Cyprus requires a double nine set of dominoes and is not a scaled up version of a game originally meant to be played with a double six set. The opening tableau is unique to this game.
The game uses a double nine domino set and four to ten players. The game can also be played with a double twelve set of dominoes, with the [12-12] and the twelve suit used as the center of the tableau.
The size of the hand varies with the number of players:
- For 4 players, hands are 9 tiles
- For 5 players, hands are 8 tiles
- For 6 players, hands are 7 tiles
- For 7 players, hands are 7 tiles
- For 8 players, hands are 6 tiles
- For 9 players, hands are 6 tiles
- For 10 players, hands are 5 tiles
R. C. Bell gives a different table of hand sizes in DISCOVERING DICE & DOMINOES (Shire Publications Ltd.; ISBN 0-85263-532-X; 1980) for games with four, five and six players.
- For 4 players, hands are 13 tiles
- For 5 players, hands are 11 tiles
- For 6 players, hands are 9 tiles
The player holding the [9-9] begins the hand by setting it in the center of the table. After he has played, the next player going clockwise around the table must place another tile in the nine suit on the [9-9]. Each of the following players is so obligated until there are eight tiles around the [9-9], making it an eight-bladed "super-spinner" or star from which the tableau grows.
A player not able to play a tile in the nine suit must draw a tile from the boneyard. If the drawn tile can play, he sets it; otherwise, the tile goes in his hand and the turn passes to the next player.
If the boneyard has one tile left, no player can draw it. A player who cannot play from his hand or draw from the boneyard passes his turn.
Once all eight arms of the star are completed, each player can add a tile to the end of any of the arms in the usual manner. Other doubles are played in line.
When one player dominoes, he receives the total of the pips on the tile in the other player's hands as his score.
If the games blocks, then the player with the lowest total is the winner. He scores the totals from the other players and then subtracts his own score from that total.
The game is played for 60 points, or more points by agreement.
Comments & Strategy
Notice that there are ten tiles in the nine suit. This means that nine of them will be in the center of the table when the opening tableau is completed. When the remaining tile in the nine suit is played, it will block that arm of the tableau.
The opening tableau will have almost all the other suits (zero to eight) on the arms of the tableau, so you can watch the other players to see when they draw from the boneyard and this will tell you what they do not have in their hands.
In a game with a large number of players you need to form shifting alliances with other players to block the player who is short in one suit and force them to draw extra tiles. Remember that the more tiles other players hold, the higher your score will be when you domino or hold the lowest hand when the game blocks.
The strategy is different when the game is played with the double twelve domino set. There are thirteen tiles in the twelves suit, so when the tableau is complete, there are four remaining members of the twelve suit which can be used to block off an arm of the tableau.