This is a variant of the standard draw game, but it has the requirement that a player sets two tiles at a time.
The game uses a double six domino set. The game is best for two to four players.
One player is picked to be the dealer. He distributes the tiles to himself and the other players. Each player gets (8 - the number of players) tiles in his hands. All but one of the rest of the tiles are left in the boneyard. The dealer draws one tile at random and turns it face up on the table.
Tiles are laid end to end by matching the suits in the usual manner. Doubles may or may not be played crosswise as is your custom; they have no significance.
The player to the dealer's left makes the first play of the round. The lead in this hand will be the dealer for the next round and so on around the table.
A player's turn consists of exactly one of these options:
- Playing two tiles on the opposite ends of the line of tiles which was started by the initial tile. This requirement to play tiles in pairs is where the game gets its name. If the boneyard is not empty and he cannot play, he draws one tile and play passes to the extra player around the table.
- If the boneyard is empty and the player has one tile left, then he can set the tile on either end of the line of tiles.
- If the boneyard is empty and the player cannot play a tile, he passes his turn to the next player.
Notice that when the line of tiles has all of one suit inside it and one of the ends of the line of tiles is in that suit, nobody can play on that end, and the game therefore blocks.
Any player can call "blocked game" when they notice it. All play immediately stops and the hands are scored. This convention keeps the scores from getting larger than they would be otherwise. If the game was blocked and nobody noticed this, then players would continue to draw tiles until the boneyard was empty.
The round ends when someone dominoes or when someone calls a blocked game or when every player has passed in his turn.
At the end of the round, each player gets the total number of pips in his hands. The lowest scoring player is the winner and is credited with the sum of the scores of the losers, minus his own total. If there is a tie for lowest score, then nobody gets a score.
The game is played for 100 points in a two player or partnership game, and for 61 points in a three or four handed game. This convention allows a cribbage board to be used for keeping scores.
Comments & Strategy
It is hard to plan ahead in this game because both ends of the line of tiles are changed on each successful play. However, you know what suit will probably not be available on the ends of the line. For example, if the lead tile was [3-4] the first player will probably not have the [3-3] or the [4-4] tile, so you need to be thinking what you can play in the 0, 1, 2, 5 or 6 suit.
Counting suits is very important. The major decision you need to make is when to block a game so as to give your opponent more points than you will get.