Glossary of Domino Terms

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[0-0]
1) Bar of Soap, Texas slang.
2) Bingo, this term appears in several games.
3) "la caja de muertos" (the dead man's box) in Spanish.
4) Saturday Night.
5) Chucha (Puerto Rican)
[1-1]
1) Snake Eyes. This term is taken from the dice game Craps.
2) Double Aces.
3) Grandma's peepers.
[2-2]
Double deuces.
[2-3]
Banker's set. Texas slang, the name comes from the fact that the [2-3] cannot be scored upon by adding a tile to bring it to a total which is a multiple of five.
[3-3]
1) Poison Ivy.
2) Spanish curse.
[5-5]
Gold nuggets. Texas slang.
[6-6]
1) Boxcars. This term is borrowed from the dice Craps.
2) "la caja de dientes" (box of teeth) in Spanish.
3) "the centipede" in parts of Texas.
4) Hairy belly. Texas slang.
5) Jaws. Texas slang, probably taken from the Spanish "la caja de dientes"
[9-9]
In Cuban Dominoes, this is the "la caja de muertos" (the dead man's box) in Spanish.
Ahorcado
(Puerto Rican) A hanged double. A double that can no longer be played because all the other dominoes in that suit have been played.
Back
The broad surface of a tile which doe not contain the pips and bar. The backs of some dominoes might carry a design stamped into their surface in the case of cheap wooden tiles. The goal is to have all the back in a set of dominoes look alike, so that a player cannot tell what tile he is drawing from the boneyard.
Bar
Also called the "divider" or "center line". The line that divides the face of the tile into two halves.
Blank
The half of a tile with no pips on it. Also called "zero".
Blocked game
A situation in which no player is able to play or draw from the boneyard.
Boneyard
A pool of face down tiles from which players draw their hands. No tiles are stacked on top of each other. This is the most common way of handling tiles in Western domino games. Each player can draw any tile he wishes from the boneyard and is not obligated to pick a particular tile in his turn. Tiles are also drawn one at a time. See woodpile.
Capicú
(Puerto Rican) When the winning tile can play on either open end of the layout.
Chicken Foot
This term comes from Texas and the American Southwest. A chicken foot is a spinner in which the tiles are arranged like the prongs of a fork or the toes on a chickens' foot away from the center of play. The reason for this arrangement is to avoid long lines of tiles that would into each other if the arms of the spinner were played at right angles.
Chip out
(Britain) Verb meaning to play the last tile of your hand - in most versions this ends the game, though some partnersip games such as Fives and Threes end only after both partners chip out.
Chuchazo
(Puerto Rican) When the winning tile (the last tile played by the player who goes domino) is the double-blank (la Chucha!).
Cut [a suit]
A verb meaning play all of a suit except the double. The goal of such a move is make sure that the opponent holding the double cannot domino.
Dancing Girls
Texas slang for the seven tiles of the fives suit in Fives family games.
Deck
A set of dominoes
Domino
A verb meaning to play all the tiles in your hand. This usually stops play in the round in most games. Contrary to popular usage, it is not the name of an individual tile.
Dominoes
This is the name of the game. Contrary to popular usage, it is not the name of the tiles.
Door
The last unplayed tile in a suit; playing it closes the door.
Double
or "doublet", a tile with the same number of pips on both halves.
Double (n)
A domino set of ((n2 + 3n + 2)/ 2) tiles which have all the combinations of zero to (n) pips on their faces. These odd sized sets are usually built from a Double Six, Double Nine or Double Twelve Domino set. It is best to pick the smallest set just larger than the value of (n), so that you will have the largest pips on the tiles. The largest commercial set is the Double Fifteen domino set from Cardinal Industries.
Double Nine
a domino set of 55 tiles which have all the combinations of zero to nine pips on their faces.
Double Six
a domino set of 28 tiles which have all the combinations of zero to six pips on their faces. This is the most common set in use.
Double Twelve
a domino set of 91 tiles which have all the combinations of zero to twelve pips on their faces.
Down
The first tile played in a round; also called the "set" or "lead".
End
a) The smallest surface of a tile. Tiles are aligned in most domino games by touching their ends or sides together.
b) One of two halves created by the bar on the face of the tile.
c) One of the halves of a tile in a line of tiles which can be played upon (also "open end").
Exposed tile
a tile whose face is shown in error and therefore subjec tto a penalty in many games.
Face
The broad surface of a tile which contains the pips and bar.
Game
(1) a competitive activity done with a domino set and two or more players.
(2) A collection of hands in which a player or partnership obtains a winning score. See also round, hand and the note at the end of the definition of match.
Hand
(1) the tiles dealt to and held by one player. Their faces are usually hidden from the other players and they can only be used by the player who was dealt them.
(2) The cycle of rounds played with those tiles as part of a game. See also round, game, match.
High End
The half of a tile with the greatest number of pips. Also called the heavy end.
Idiot's Delight
Texas slang for a lead of [0-5] in a Fives family game. It is not a good play, since the [5-5] and [0-0] can be played against it, thus letting another palyer determine the spinner.
Jam
To play the last tile in a suit and leave that suit exposed on all ends of the tableau. This blocks the game.
Kickers
Texas slang for the tiles in the Fives suits and the [1-6] in a Fives family game. They have the power to raise the toal on the board to a multiple of five and thus score.
Low End
The half of a tile with the smallest number of pips. Also called the light end.
Match
a collection of games needed for a player or partnership to win. See also hand, round and game. To make the definitions clearer, a match is made up of games, games are made up of hands, hands are made up of rounds, and rounds are made up of plays.
Muck
A verb meaning to cheat by palming tiles. This is a term borrowed from playing cards.
Napoleon
From Cuban Dominoes; the situation where the two exposed ends on the line of play are a 1 and a 9.
Pips
The spots on the face of a tile. See "suit".
Puerta
(Puerto Rican) The last tile remaining for a particular suit. i.e. When on one end of the layout you can only play a 3, and there is only one 3 left, the player holding that 3 is said to have la Puerta del 3.
Renege
Failure to play when the player has a playable tile and was required to do so by the rules of the game.
Repeater
In the Fives family games, a tile who play on a tableau that has scoring values does one of three things: (1) does not change the total of pips on the table (2) increases the total by five and hence scores (3) decreases the total by five and hence scores . For example, putting the [3-6] on an arm that ends with the [3-3] in Five Up.
Round
A cycle of play in a game in which each player places a tile on the table, draws from the boneyard, passes or takes some other option as his turn in the round. See also hand, game, match.
Row
A line of tiles placed face up and laid side to side on the table. This is in contrast to a train, which is end to end. Asian domino games tend to use rows, while Western domino games tend to use trains. See "Train".
Set
Verb, to place a tile face up on the table.
Shuffle
to mix the tiles face down on the tabletop torandomize the hands which will be drawn from the set of tiles. The term "wash" is used in Asian games.
Side
The second smallest surface of a tile. Tiles are aligned in most domino games by touching their ends or sides together.
Skeleton
The two ended train in a game without spinners (South American term).
Sleeper
(Britain) One of the undealt tiles in a block domino game - a boneyard tile that cannot be drawn.
Snake Eyes
The [1-1] tile. This term is taken from the dice game Craps.
Spinner
a) Also called a pivot. A metal pin or nail head in the middle of the dividing line on the face of a tile in a Western domino set. Spinners are more popular in European domino sets than American domino sets.
The purpose of spinners nowadays is to allow the tiles to be mixed more easily. However, their original purpose was to hold the white face (ivory or polished bone) to the dark back (ebony or dark stained wood). The best Spanish domino sets imitate this double construction in plastics today (see Llorca Industries).
Spinners do not exist in Chinese domino sets because they are played from a woodpile and the spinners would prevent the tiles from stacking.
b) A double which is turned sideways in the line of play. It has the addition property that other tiles can be played from its two exposed ends and the open side. The lines of tiles that radiate from the spinner are called its arms. See "chicken foot".
Square
To make both ends of a train show the same suit.
Suit
a) The number of spots on the face of a tile, considered as a group and referred in the plural -- i.e. "the fours", "the fives", "the sixes" and so forth. See "pips".
b) The half of a tile which is played as the suit in games which involve taking tricks (see also "suit number"). The other players usually have to play a tile in the same suit, as in following suit in card games. For example, [1-6] and [2-6] are in the Sixes suit.
Suit Number
The half of a tile which is not used as the suit in games which involve taking tricks. See "suit". For example, [1-6] and [2-6] are in the Six suit and their suit numbers are one and two respectively.
Tableau
a) The arrangement of face up tiles in the middle of the game upon which plays in the game are made. Also called a "layout" or simply "the table".
b) The arrangement of tiles, some face up and some face down, in solitaire game upon which plays in the game are made.
Tiles
Also called "bones", "men" and "bricks". The term "rocks" is used in the Southwestern United States. The term "stones" is used in Italy. The term "boxes" is used in Spanish speaking countries. The term "cars" and "engine" are sometimes used in the Trains family of domino games, following railroad terminology. The term "cards" are sometimes used in domino games derived from playing game games. Likewise, other games may have their own terms for the tiles. Contrary to popular usage, the tiles themselves are not properly called dominoes.
Train
A line of tiles placed face up and laid end to end on the table. The term comes from the Trains family of domino games, following railroad terminology. Joe Celko finds it handy and uses it in many of his game descriptions as a general term. See "Row".
Trancado
(Puerto Rican) A blocked game. The last tile played before the game got blocked is called the Tranque.
Woodpile
A stack of tiles from which players draw their hands. This is the most common way of handling tiles in Chinese domino games. Tiles are usually drawn from the woodpile in some order and are often dealt in smaller stacks one tile wide by some height. Many Asian games use dice to pick a starting point for distributing stacks of tiles from the woodpile (see Pai Gow). See boneyard.