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Dominoes Games

Dominoes games seem to have originated in China and came to Europe in the eighteenth century. The domino tiles represent all the possible throws of two dice, this is why the standard English dominoes are a double six set. The custom of adding blanks to the domino set is a European one. The set of double twelves which is popular in the USA today is first desciribed by Hoyle in a book of 1812 which in the history of games makes them very young indeed. Double nine dominoes and double fifteen dominoes are now also popular sets.

In the last few years the game of Mexican Train dominoes has really taken off in this country. It is mainly played with a double twelve set because it is an American game. We find that many people have been on holiday to the US and played it there, or been sent sets by relatives and that is how it is becoming popular here.

Rules to Mexican Trains

Number of Players: 2-8
Game Duration: 60 mins
Players Aged: 12+
You will need: A set of double 12 dominoes (91 tiles) or 2-4 players can use a double 9 set (55 tiles); a personal marker for each player; a double marker.
The markers could be coins, poker chips or coloured counters as long as they are all unique.

Before play
Deal out the bones as follows:
With a set of double twelves:
2-4 players, 15 tiles each
5-6 players, 12 tiles each
7-8 players, 11 tiles each
Remaining tiles form the boneyard.

With a set of double fifteens:
2-6 players, 15 tiles each
7-8 players, 13 tiles each
9-12 players, 11 tiles each

A 'bone' or 'tile' is an actual domino.
A 'pip' is a spot on the bone, so the double six has twelve pips.

The Play
There are two stages to this game; building trains, and the playing stage. Play moves clockwise in both stages.
Building Trains
The double 12 is placed in the centre of the table. This is the engine. The remaining dominoes are shuffled face down. The first player then builds a train, a sequence of matching dominoes. The train must start with a twelve (so it can be coupled to the engine). The dominoes will match according to their number as in a standard dominoes game.
Player 1 lays their whole train leading from the double twelve out towards them. The aim is to lay as many tiles as possible so you have less to get rid of later.

After Player 1 lays out their whole train it is Player 2’s turn to lay their train. If any player doesn’t have a 12 in their hand then they must keep all their dominoes and wait for the playing stage. They have no train of their own.

So at this stage most, if not all, the players will build their own train, a personal playing area. The trains will lead out from the engine towards the player that laid them. This formation is known as the roundhouse.

Eventually it will be player 1’s turn again.

Each player, in turn, places a tile to make the trains longer and to try and empty their hand.
• When you cannot go you must draw one domino from the boneyard unless the boneyard is empty.
• If you can play, you must place a tile.

It is at this point that the markers are used. The double marker rules are explained below. If there is no double marker in play then you have three options.

1) Lay on the end of your own train. If you cannot lay from your hand you can draw from the boneyard and can lay that tile if it matches. If it doesn't match you place your personal marker on the end of your own train. This opens it to other players. When a player has laid a domino on the end of your train, take your personal marker back.

2) If you cannot lay on your own train but somebody else has their personal marker in play then you can lay on the end of that train.

3) You can also start the Mexican Train. It must start with a twelve so that it can be coupled to the engine. You lay just this first domino. From then on it is open season on the Mexican train, anyone can lay on it at any time. Only one Mexican train is allowed per game, but you can start this one Mexican train at any time in the playing stage.

So when the game is in full swing you can lay:
• On another player’s train which has a personal marker showing.
• On the Mexican train
• On your own train.
If you can’t go for any reason then you put your personal marker on your own train.

A player that could not build a train in the building trains phase of the game is stuck without one. They must pass until a Mexican train is created or until double and personal markers are on the table. If a twelve comes into their possession from the boneyard then they can start a Mexican train.

If a player lays a double at the end of a train then the double marker is put there.

That player must also lay another domino in that go. If they can't they draw from the boneyard. They can lay on the same train on which they put the double. In this case the double marker is removed. They can also lay on any other train, in which case the double marker remains in play.

The next domino must be laid at the end of the train showing the double marker. If you cannot lay against the double you must pass. If you pass put your personal marker at the end of your train. When a domino has been laid on the train with the double the marker returns to the engine until it is needed again. Remember:

As long as the double marker is in play you must lay on the double, or pass.
If you pass on a double you must place your personal marker at the end of your own train.

If you have several doubles in your hand you may place them in one turn, on different trains that are in play , i.e. a 5-5, a 3-3 an 8-8 then to end the go a 5-4. If you go like this then the double marker stays on the 8-8. You can also place your last tile against the double you have just laid. So if the last domino in this go was an 8-6 placed on the 8-8 then no double marker would remain in play.

The end of the play
The last domino in your hand must be announced. If another player notices that you have one tile left and have not announced it then he can make you draw two tiles from the boneyard, unless it is empty. If play goes round the circle and returns to you with nobody noticing that you have not announced then you have got away with it and can lay that tile.

The round finishes when one player has no more tiles to play or when the game is blocked.

After you have played this round you play 12 more rounds, the next starting with the double 11, then double 10 and so on down to the double blank. There are thirteen rounds in a game of Mexican trains and you score cumulatively.

A player that empties their hand scores 0. At this point all the other players score the total number of pips on the dominoes left in their hand. The lowest score after thirteen rounds wins.







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Last updated: Feb/2016 phone: 07930 997155 email: