Equipment and Preparation
A double twelve set of dominoes is used. This
contains all possible pairs of numbers from 0 (blank) to 12, giving 91
pieces in all. In addition some markers are required. Traditionally,
coins were used: one penny for each player and one nickel, but some
players use markers representing locomotives.
The dominoes are shuffled and each player takes a number of
dominoes and stands them on edge so that their faces are visible to the
owner but not to the other players. Up to 4 players take 15 dominoes
each, 5 or 6 take 12 each, 7 or 8 take 10 each, and 9 or 10 players
take 8 each. The remaining dominoes are left face down in the boneyard.
Number of players
6 to 10 players may easily play. However, if less than 6 people are
playing, it is recommended that only the double blank through nine (or a
set of Double 9 Dominoes) be used.
For playing with a good sense of strategy players should be teens. (See strategy
section). If not several years younger.
Time to play
With 4 people who know the game, we would estimate an average playing time
to be between 3 or 4 hours. (we take longer because we do not smoke in the
house) And several times throughout the game we stop for a "desert break".
- Place the dominoes face down on the playing surface and move them around
to shuffle them.
The shuffle rotates to each player, clockwise around the table with each hand.
- Determine the number of dominoes
to be drawn by each player:
2 to 4 players - 15 dominoes
5 to 6 players - 12 dominoes
7 to 8 players - 10 dominoes
9 to 10 players - 8 dominoes
- The remaining dominoes are
set aside to be drawn as needed by the players. This is called the
“draw pile” or “bone yard”. For players convenience,
there may be more than one “pile” on the table; however, each players
is free to make his or her draw from any of the “piles”.
- The game begins with the double
12 and each hand thereafter uses the next lowest number (first hand double
12, second hand double 11, etc.) until a hand has been played to correspond
with each double.
- The first round begins with
the player having the double 12 in their hand placing that domino in the
center of the table. If no one has the Double 12, each player draws
a domino from the “pile”. If the Double 12 is not drawn by
any player in the first round of drawing, a second round of drawing
occurs. The drawing rounds continue until a player has located the
Double 12 and play can begin (See variation #3).
Note: Succeeding hands use the same procedure when no player has the
Double 11, Double 10, etc. in the initial draw.
- When the double for the round
has been found and placed in the center of the table, each player then sorts
their dominoes by matching numbers to form a personal train. Each
player’s train must begin with a domino that matches the double in the
center of the table. Your next domino must match the other end of the
first domino (Example: double 12 in the center - you arrange your dominoes
12-5; 5-3; 3-11; 11-7; etc.). Line up as described above until all
possible dominoes in your hand are used. The remaining dominoes that
do not fit into your “train” are called “slough” and
are to be played off on the Mexican Train or other player’s trains whenever
- Play begins as soon as all
players have assembled their hold trains (dominoes they have drawn and are holding in their hands). Radiating from the center Double,
each player has their own space on which to play their train. No other
player may play on another player’s train until a player has been unable
to play and has placed a marker (a penny or other) on their last played domino or their assigned
spot, if they have not yet played any dominoes. Once may play on the
other player only as long as the marker is out to indicate the train is available
for others to play on.
- The separate Mexican train
runs around the table and may be played on by any player in turn. It
must begin with the same number as is on the center double (example:
double 12 in the center, the Mexican train begins with a 12; a double 10
requires a 10, etc.).
- The player who played the double
in the center starts the play, continuing clockwise around the table.
The first player may play on the center double or start the Mexican train.
If the first player does not begin the Mexican train, the train may be begun
by any of the ensuing players when their turn arrives. The following
players may then play on the Mexican train by matching a domino to the number
on the “off” end of the domino (example: train begins with
a 12-5, the next player then plays a 5-7; then 7-3; etc.). Each player
has the option of playing on their own train or the Mexican train, using
the Mexican train to “slough off” the dominoes that do not fit
into their personal train.
- When a player cannot play
on their own train, the Mexican train or a “marked” train of another
player, then they draw a domino from the boneyard. If they cannot play
that domino on the board, then they place a marker on the last domino of
their train (penny or other marker). All players may then play on this
player’s train as their turn arrives. If this player can play
anywhere on the board at their next turn, the marker is then removed and
no other player may play on that train.
- If a player plays a double
during play, they must then play another domino somewhere on the board -
their train, the Mexican train, or a marked train. If a play is able,
they may play doubles in more than one spot - on their train, the Mexican
train, or a “marked” train. Even though two or more doubles
have been played, only one additional domino must be placed somewhere on
the board. If a player cannot follow-up the double with another domino,
they draw and Rule #9 is followed.
EXCEPTION: A player may go out with a double without having to play another domino.
- As play proceeds, any player
who is down to one domino must give notice to the other players. This
is usually done by tapping the remaining domino on the table. This
rule applies even if the player realizes that their domino will not be playable
at their next turn. Failure to notify other players, by tapping, before the next player lays down results in a penalty draw of one domino from the boneyard.
- When one player has played
all their dominoes, the other players must add up the total of their remaining
dominoes and give that total to the scorekeeper. Double blank count
0. (Example: remaining dominoes in your hand - 3-5, 11-12, 10-7
- As soon as the first round
is completed (double 12), the next round begins with the double 11, the next
with double 10, etc., with the last round being the double blank.
- The player with the lowest
total score after all rounds is the winner.
- A player placing the double may follow-up their double with a play anywhere
on the board. If they do not play on the double, the next player must
“satisfy” the double through use of a domino from their hand or
by drawing. If this second player cannot “satisfy” the double,
they place a marker on their train and the next player must attempt to
“satisfy” it.. This procedure is followed until the double
has been satisfied.
If more than one double has been played, the rule above applies to the
first double placed on the board being “satisfied” first, and the
second double “satisfied” second.
If a player must place a marker on their train when not able to
“satisfy” a double, they may remove the marker as soon as they
are able to play anywhere on the board during their next or subsequent
- Same as variation #1 with the
following exception: A player may remove their “marker” ONLY
when able to play on their personal train.
- Instead of drawing to locate
the necessary double (double 12 for the first round, for example) the players
may choose to use the highest double available in the players drawn hands
that has not already been played. Thus, if the double 12 or 11 are
not in the players hand, but the double 10 is, then the game begins with
the double 10 and the scorekeeper make note that the double 10 has thus been
used. The double 10 will not be played again.
- To speed up the game, before
turning the dominoes over to “shuffle”, the double to be used to
begin the next hand may be held out and placed in the center after the players
have drawn their hands. With this method, the player who “went
out” on the preceding hand, begins the play.
- In scoring, the Double blank
- Note: Domino dots may
be painted to make them more recognizable as follows:
11 - Red
10 - Blue
9 - Yellow/Gold
8 - Green
7 - Silver/White
We are very good at playing 'cut throat'; i.e. Placing a double domino down (On
the Mexican Train) and then not satisfying it. Therefore, making the next player
satisfy the double from the middle of their hold train (dominoes in their hand).
(Of course, this action has a re-action from others who do not play this
type of strategy. This re-action can result in harsh words, bruised body
parts, and men sleeping on the couch!!)