domino-play How to play...  



This is a card-type domino game, in which the object is to win tricks from players' hands of tiles.  It is played by four players as two partners of two, with two reduced Double-Six domino sets and a score sheet.


Before play, all the tiles bearing the blank suit on either end are removed from the two Double-Six domino sets. The first shuffler is selected by drawing lots.  The dominoes are then shuffled, facedown, by the shuffler and then each player draws 10 tiles that only they can look at, with two remaining tiles left which are not used during the play of a hand.

The object of the game is to win tricks of tiles, scoring points for each one taken.  However, players must bid for the number of points they think they can win.  The hand begins with a single round of bidding starting with the player to the shuffler's left and then with players in turn announcing a higher bid if they want until the bidding reaches the shuffler. If a player can't or doesn't want to make a bid of at least 50, or a bid higher than the previous bid, then the bidding turn passes to the next player. If all four players pass, then the dominoes are returned and the role of shuffler passes to the next player in turn, the tiles are reshuffled and a new hand is played. The lowest bid is 50 points and the highest bid is 80 points which means the player who bids this thinks they can win the bid total of points together with their partner. Because each player has drawn 10 tiles, there are ten possible tricks players can win. Players score two points for each trick taken and may also score extra points for certain scoring "count" tiles played. So there are 20 points possible for the 10 tricks, plus an additional 60 points possible for the scoring "count" tiles, giving a maximum possible score and bid of 80 points for a hand.

The player who made the highest bid declares a "trump" suit. This suit ranks higher than all the other 30 dominoes regardless of the other tiles' pip counts. If a player holds three tiles all bearing the same suit, then this is considered a potential bidding hand and that particular suit would be declared trumps. If they also hold two doubles, then this is considered a very strong bidding hand. Starting with the bidding player, players then in turn play a single tile to the centre of the playing area and the player who played the highest ranked tile, wins the trick and only one player of the partnership places the played tiles to one side next to themselves, side by side and face-up for ease of clear scoring. The lead player may play any tile of their choice and doesn't have to play a trumps tile. Tiles rank with the suit of trumps highest and then in descending order starting with the double-trump highest, then according to the trumps tile's other end's suit ranking from 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. If no trumps are played, then the first tile's highest suit must be followed if possible, with the played tiles ranking with trumps, then doubles highest then followed in descending order according to the first played tile's highest suit and then its other suit. Payers must follow suit if they can, which means if they hold a tile bearing the highest ranked suit first played by the lead player, then they must play it. If a player holds more than one tile bearing the lead suit, then they may play any one of their choice. If a player doesn't hold a tile bearing the lead suit, then they may play any tile, including a trumps tile, if they wish. The winner of a trick plays first in each new round.

Tiles bearing a total of 5 or 10 pips are the scoring "count" tiles. There are four tiles bearing a pip total of 10: two 5-5s and two 4-6s. There are also four tiles bearing a pip total of 5: two 1-4s and two 2-3s. The total of all the scoring "count" tiles is 60 points. Partnerships score the pip total of all the 5 and 10-point "count" tiles won in any trick and also score 2 points for each of the 10 individual tricks won in a hand, but these scores aren't recorded on the score sheet unless the partnership made their bid. Each partnership keeps their combined scores recorded on the score sheet. If a partnership scores their bid total or higher, then they score the total points they made, on the score sheet and the other partnership scores any points they made with any tricks they won . However, if they fail to reach their bid total, then the other partnership scores the bid's total points on the score sheet as well as any points they made with any tricks they took.

The role of shuffler passes to the next player in turn for each new hand played.

A number of hands or rounds are played as before and the first partnership to score 250 points, wins the game. If both partnerships score 250 points or over in the same round, then the partnership who made the bid in the final round wins the game regardless of the scores.


Scoring may be simplified so that partnerships score one Mark for each hand won, with the first partnership to score 10 Marks, winning the overall game.

Nel-O is a variation in which a player may make a bid that he will lose every trick. He believes that the tiles in his hand are so low that his opponents will be unable to force him to win a trick. If a player wins the bidding with a bid of Nel-O, then in this event the bidder's partner turns all their tiles facedown and takes no further part in play of this round.  The winning bidder who called Nel-O leads the first tile in the first trick which is played with no trumps.

Sometimes doubles are counted as a separate suit ranking from double-6 (the highest) to double-blank.  If a lead player plays a double then the other players must play doubles if possible.  A lead of a non-double means subsequent players must play a tile bearing the lead tile's highest suit if possible.





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