Hungarian Dominoes

Introduction

Hungarian dominoes is described in several late 20th century German books. We do not know whether it is really played in Hungary or originated there. It is a member of the Trains family, and within that family is unique in not having a boneyard or allowing more than one train to be built in the game.

Equipment

The game uses a double six domino set and two to four players.

The Deal

For two players, each draws twelve tiles and the four extra tiles are discarded from the hand.

For three players, each draws eight tiles and the four extra tiles are discarded from the hand.

For four players, each draws six tiles and the four extra tiles are discarded from the hand.

The Play

The first player is determined by lot. He then makes a train of tiles in the usual manner of matching the ends. When he cannot play any further tiles, the next player then adds to the train until he can no longer play.

The round ends when nobody can play. The lead rotates to the left for the next hand. All the tiles are reshuffled, including the four which were set aside.

Scoring

The players score the total of the pips remaining in their hands. Whoever reaches 100 points first loses.

Comments & Strategy

The missing four tiles obviously have a strong effect on strategy. The game will block sooner than you might think because of not having those tiles in play.

Organize your hand into trains. As the tiles stand vertically in their tile rack, you can see matching pairs on the top and bottom rows. This lets your eye follow a "squared wave" pattern can to construct the longest possible train or trains.

If your hand has one train in it, then your best strategy is to domino immediately. This is not often possible; if it was, the game would be pretty dull.

If your hand has two or more trains, then try to play as many pips -- not necessarily tiles -- out of your hand as possible during each turn. This means counting the pips for each train and splitting them up in your hand the way that a card player organizes his hand into suits.

If a player cannot empty his or her hand, then they are holding tiles whose ends do not match either end of the train. This means that they are waiting for the other players to provide them with an opening. This tells everyone else what they are missing in their hands after their turn is finished. If you can leave the two ends of the train set to those numbers after your turn, then they will be unable to play. if you can make two trains that end in each of those suits, then you can domino.

Consider a sample two player game with the following hands:

Discards: [0-1], [2-2], [3-6], [5-6]

Player A: [0-0], [0-2], [0-3], [0-6], [1-2], [1-4], [1-6], [3-3], [3-5], [4-5], [4-6], [6-6]

Player B: [0-4], [0-5], [1-1], [1-3], [1-5], [2-3], [2-4], [2-5], [2-6], [3-4], [4-4], [5-5]

The first turn, player A makes the ten tile train:

    [4-5], [5-3], [3-3], [3-0], [0-0], [0-6], [6-1], [1-4], [4-6], [6-6]

which leaves him holding:

    [0-2], [1-2],

This leaves player B with openings for a 4 and a 6. With a little inspection, he can make an 11-tile train that ends in 6 and 5:

    [6-2], [2-3], [3-1], [1-1], [1-5], [5-5], [5-0], [0-4], [4-4], [4-2], [2-5]

which leaves him holding:

    [3-4],

The train now has 4 and 5 on the ends. Player A cannot play. Player B can play his [3-4] and then the game is over. Player A gets 5 points ([0-2] + [1-2]) and Player B gets 0 points (no tiles).