Dominoes is a popular parlour game, where at least two players take it in turns to place their pieces next to each other in such a way that the tiles with the same number of spots are touching. The winner is the first player to use all of his or her dominoes. The most common version, "double-six dominoes", features tiles split into two squares bearing numbers from nought to six. A blank square signifies nought, while the other numbers are indicated by dots, like on a die. One set contains twenty-eight dominoes.
One popular activity with domino tiles is to lay shapes. Like in a game of dominoes, tiles with the same number of dots have to touch. The players usually limit themselves to symmetrical patterns.
Dominoes – history
There are many legends surrounding the origin and history of dominoes. Supposedly, the game was invented in China centuries ago and brought to Europe by Marco Polo. It is then supposed to have faded into obscurity before eventually being rediscovered in Italy or France. The first reference to Chinese dominoes, however, dates back to the twelfth century. In Europe, it was not until the eighteenth century that double-six dominoes caught on. Today, dominoes is found all over the world. It is also a popular children's game featuring pictures instead of numbers.
Dominoes – mathematics
The game's mathematical interest lies in combinatorial questions, such as determining the number of possible chains. This question was posed in the mid-nineteenth century and answered by Michel Reiss (1871) and Gaston Tarry (1886).
The French mathematician Edouard Lucas was especially interested in quadrilles – compact shapes composed of all twenty-eight tiles, where every 2x2 square has the same number of dots. According to Henry Auguste Delannoy, there are thirty-four different solutions for the most commonly considered version, excluding those arising through the permutation of the numbers and symmetries.