Gaple

This popular Indonesian game is a form of block dominoes with several variations. The following description is based on information from Leo Isen and Riza Purwo Nugroho.

Players and Equipment

A Western style double-six set of 28 dominoes is used.

Four or five people can play. When there are four players there are two variations:

  • each player takes a hand of six tiles, leaving four tiles face down in the middle of the table;
  • each player takes seven tiles, leaving none in the middle.

Four can play as individuals or in teams, partners facing each other.

When there are five players, each takes a hand of five tiles leaving three face down on the table.

The Play

This is a "single train" game. Tiles are played end to end in a single line on the table. At your turn you can add one tile to the line, at either end, in such a way that the touching ends of the tiles match.

In the four-player game with seven tiles each, the first hand is begun by the holder of the [0-0], who must play this tile to the empty table. Subsequent hands are begun by the winner of the previous hand, and this player must begin with a double. If the player who is to start has no double, the right to begin passes on to the next player in turn who has a double.

In the four- or five-player game where not all the tiles are dealt, one of the tiles left in the middle of the table is turned face up to begin the layout. In the first player the starting player is chosen at random, and thereafter the winner of each hand starts the next.

Play continues in rotation with each player in turn adding a matching tile to one end of a layout. A player who is unable to place a tile (having no tiles that match either end of the layout) must discard one tile face down. This "dead" tile can no longer be used but will count against the player in the final scoring.

Variation: There is another version in which a player who cannot play does not discard a tile but simply passes.

Play continues until either a player runs out of tiles or no more tiles can be played.

Scoring

Players counts the total number of pips on their unplayed tiles (including dead tiles that were discard during the game, if any). For example [4-4] counts 8 and [0-3] counts 3.

Some play that the [0-0] counts 25 points if the player has no other unplayed tiles with blanks. But a player who had for example [0-0] and [0-5] unplayed would count just 5 points (nothing for the [0-0]).

The winner is the player with least points. If players tie for least points, the winner is the one holding the single tile with the lowest pip count. If these are also tied the winner is the one whose lowest tile has the lowest end.

Examples:

  • Player A has [1-1] and [1-3], player B has [1-5], player C has [2-4] and player D has [2-3]. Player D wins, having only 5 points while the ohers have 6.
  • Player A has [1-1] and [1-3], B has [0-6], C has [2-4] and D has [3-3]. Everyone has 6 points, so player A wins because he has the lowest single tile - the [1-1].
  • Player A has [2-2] and [1-5], B has [1-3] and [3-3], C has [6-4] and D has [0-5] and [2-3]. Everyone has 10 points, and both A and B have a 4-point tile. B wins because the [1-3] has the lowest end.

Sometimes the game is just played to find a winner of each deal. When playing in teams the winning team is the team to which the winner belongs (even if the winner's partner has more points than the losing team have in total).

Alternatively, when playing for money or chips, the players may settle up according to their points, each player paying each other player according to the difference in their scores.
Example: Player A has a total of 12 points, player B has a total of 5 points, player C has 11 points and player D has 7 points. Player B, who has the lowest score, collects (12-5 = 7) chips from A, (11-5 = 6) chips from C and (7-5 = 2) chips from D, winning 15 in total. The next lowest player is D, who collects (12-7 = 5) chips from A and (11-7 = 4) chips from C for a net gain of 7 (since he has paid 2 to A). Player C collects (12-11 = 1) chip from A and thus has a net loss of 9 (having paid out 10 to A and B) while D has paid out a total of 13 to the other players.