Dalesman February 2013 – Domino Theories

An evening with Northallerton and District Domino League


When my children were young, their friends’ Mums couldn’t come out on a Thursday night because it was ‘Doms Night’. Husbands were in the pub, playing dominoes, and Mum had to stay home to mind the children.


I’ve not played dominoes since playing ‘match the picture’ dominoes in playschool, so when I met Norman Skinner of the Northallerton Dominoes League, the first step was to be initiated into the rules.


‘Dominoes’ involved shuffling the deck of dominoes, each player taking six at random, then
carefully holding them so that no-one else could see what he had.


Norman explained that the dominoes had to be laid out on the board, numbers matching numbers. Each player lays in turn, and the winner is the one who lays all his dominoes first.


When it’s your turn, if you don’t have a domino with a number matching one of the two places where you could lay a domino, you can’t go, and you knock.


So the object of the game is to try to work out what numbers your opponent has, block his play, and lay your dominoes first.


To make it more complicated, you play with a partner – picked out randomly, and you have to guess what your partner has too, in order to support his moves.


Then there’s ‘fives and threes’, where the score is the sum of the two numbers in play, divided by five or three. If the sum’s not divisible by five or three, the score is nil.


It’s a mathematical workout! And, warns player Dianne Hustwick, “Being able to calculate the score is very different to working out the strategy.”





The mental work-out, it seems, is addictive, as members of the league have been in it for years. And with the pub buzzing with bonhomie, as men and women all play ‘doms’ together, let’s hope they continue to enjoy it.


To join Northallerton Dominoes League, phone Norman Skinner on 01609 770929


Read more about the joys of dominoes, in print only, in Dalesman Magazine.