Interesting Sports, Outdoor & Backyard Games
yard dominoes

How To Play: Yard Dominoes

Yard Dominoes is a variation of a family of games played by two or more people that feature 28 rectangular tiles each of which is divided by a line creating two square ends. Each end is marked with dots (also called pips, nips, or dobs) or is blank. The dots are featured in combinations of counts between zero and six. So a domino tile may have one dot on one half and two dots on the other or three dots on one half and five dots on the other, etc. The patterns of the dots on the tiles resemble the patterns of dots on the sides of dice, which first appeared some time earlier. The tiles make up a set also called a deck or pack with all possible combinations of numbers appearing in the set. One domino is a generic playing piece like a card in a deck of playing cards or dice. Each tile can be used in various ways depending on the rules of the particular domino game you are playing. The games are commonly played on a table or flat surface.

Giant tiles are used in Yard Dominoes.


It is widely believed that the Chinese invented the game in the 12th Century. However, there are some who claim that Egypt gave birth to the concept during the reign of King Tutankhamen around 1355 BC because the earliest domino set was found in Tut’s tomb in Thebes and the earliest known Chinese set wasn’t discovered until 1120 AD.

Dominoes first appeared in the west in the early 18th Century in Italy. It is believed that a deck arrived there via trading route from the Far East. It then spread through Europe and then French prisoners of war brought it with them to the United Kingdom where it became a popular game in pubs and inns at the time. From there it migrated to the Americas.

Constructing Your Own Yard Domino Tiles

Since Yard Dominoes is played with larger tiles, many who play the game like to construct their own deck.

Materials necessary to construct the tiles include:

  • 28 feet of 1×6 wood boards
  • Measuring Tape
  • Table Saw or Chop Saw
  • Hole Punch
  • Clear Acrylic Sealer of Polyurethane
  • Marker or Pencil
  • Cardboard
  • Hole Puncher
  • Stain
  • White Indoor/Outdoor Paint
  • Sanding block and 100 or 120 grit sandpaper
  • Damp Cloth
  • Three-quarter inch Spouncers (Circle foam “brushes or dabbers)
  • Gloves>

Cut 28 wood rectangular pieces 1-foot in length and 6-inches in width. Sand each piece with sandpaper, and then stain them.

It is your choice to either leave the tiles a natural color or stain them. If you opt for stain, wear gloves and use a rag to apply the stain. Stain one side and all the edges of each tile, and then let dry, then stain the second side.

Create a template for each dot pattern on to cardboard and use the puncher to make holes.

Paint the wood tiles and then the dots after the stain has dried. Dab the paint through the template onto the tile with a three-quarter inch spouncer (a round sponge brush) to make the dots. Paint one tile for each combination of 0-6 on the 28 wood pieces.

If creating your own yard dominoes isn’t your thing, you can always purchase a set of jumbo dominoes. Most giant dominoes you can buy are around 7 inches x 5.5 inches.

yard dominoes

Rules Of The Game

The most popular type of play is the layout games that include two categories –-blocking and scoring. Two or more can play.

The goal of players in the blocking game is to empty their hand while blocking the opponent’s moves. When the game is over, the winner receives a score totaling the number of dots or pips in the loser’s hand.

The 28 tiles are shuffled face down and each player draws seven tiles. The remaining tiles are stock. The tiles are placed on edge in front of the player. This allows each player to know how many tiles are remaining in each contestant’s hand.

The game begins when a player lays down the first tile. Players then rotate in turn and place a tile that matches the dot pattern of a tile in play. The players alternately extend the line of tiles with one tile at one of the two ends. If a player does not have a tile in his or her hand that matches the dot pattern of a tile in play, then he or she must select a tile from the stock until he or she can. The player who places his or her last tile wins. If no player can place a tile, then the player with the fewest tiles wins. The dots on the remaining tiles of the loser are added up and the winner receives that number in points.

In a scoring game, players collect points for certain configurations, moves or when he or she empties their hand. If the player who is laying a tile does not say “domino” before laying the tile, then another player can call out “domino” after the tile is laid and the first player must pick up an extra tile.

In a draw game that is either blocking or scoring players are allowed to draw as many tiles they wish from the stock before playing a tile. They are not allowed to pass until the stock is nearly empty. The winner receives a score equal to the number of dots or pips on the loser’s remaining tiles as well as the number of pips on the tiles in the stock.

Andrea H

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