Italian Dominoes

Introduction

This game has appeared in several German domino books, for example in Reiner Müller's Domino : für Denker und Verspielte (Econ, 1987) and Joe Celo writes that he first saw it described in the 2005 June issue of GAMES magazine in the article Bone-anza - The Domino Effect by Dave Shapiro. We do not know whether it really originated in or is played in Italy. It is an adding game, slightly reminscent of 99, but played with dominoes instead of cards.

Equipment

Double six set and equipment for keeping score.

The Deal

Each player draws a hand of tiles and one player is picked to lead the first round. The lead passes to the left with each new hand.

Players   Tiles per hand
28
37
44
54

The Play

Players have two options in their turn. They may draw a tile from the boneyard or they may discard a tile face up on the tableau. Tiles can be placed side by side to keep the arrangement easier to manage.

As each tile is placed, the player announces the cumulative total of the pips on the tiles. The round stops when the cumulative total is 100 pips or over. There is no penalty for holding tiles in your hand at the end of the round.

Scoring

When the cumulative total hits exactly one of the following values, the player laying that tile is awarded the corresponding points from this table:

Total   Points
301
502
704
1008

The first player to reach or pass 50 points is the winner.

Comments & Strategy

Watch the math! It can be easy to lose track of the cumulative total when you are playing. You might want to jot down the total or keep it on a pocket calculator until your mental math gets better.

Since there is no penalty for drawing tiles, it can be a good move when your hand is weak. You are trading a lost turn to get a better hand.

If you think the opponent can make a scoring total, you can push the total over, but at the risk of helping him get a higher total and thus more points.

As a very rough estimate, the average tile has six pips in the double six set. If play were random, then a total of 30 would be reached in about 5 tiles, and so forth. There are 168 pips in the entire set, so you can expect the tableau to have a lot of tiles before you get to 100.

Variants

  1. There is a variant where a player setting a double gets to set a second tile at the same time.
  2. The four handed game can be played in partnerships.