Most domino tables are the size of small card tables and have folding legs. Some are legless tops designed to rest on flat surfaces. Perhaps the most famous domino table is the crate that trapped Chilean miners used in 2010 for games that helped them stay sane during 69 days underground. In the Caribbean, where domino tables are common sights in island parks and plazas, passion for the game rivals that of professional sports.
No regulation-size table exists for domino competitions. However, ads for one Miami company's 38-inch-square, molded plastic table tout it as being used by the International Domino Association for professional play. Similar to most domino tables, regardless of size, it has four cup holders and domino trays built into the table top. This is because games involving two teams of two players each are popular. One common size measures 28 inches square. Whereas legless domino tables are available online for less than $50 and molded tables with legs cost less than $100, Cuban-style tables made of carved, decorated wood may cost hundreds of dollars.
The inventor of dominoes and the country where the game began are unknown. Although most popular in Latin America, the game probably developed in China during the 12th century. However, evidence also points to Arabia or Egypt as other possible points of origin. The rectangular game tiles -- sometimes referred to as "bones" -- were originally made from ivory and evolved from dice. They are divided into two halves on one side with blanks or dots on each half. The dots on a standard domino set reflect the numbers of a six-sided die from 1 to 6. On each turn, a player tries to match the number of dots on the last tile laid down.
Devotion to Dominoes
While dominoes is a simple counting-and-matching game for children, adult play can be highly competitive and involves complicated strategies -- similar to card counting -- for guessing the tiles in each player's possession. Particularly in the Caribbean, play is so intense that games may last until well past midnight. Competitions are serious pursuits, such as the October 2011 countrywide tournament that lasted two weeks in Guyana. In Jamaica, the BBC reports, the game is so important that proponents are striving to make it the country's national sport. Jamaica's government is lobbying the International Olympic Committee to qualify dominoes as an Olympic sport, according to the BBC.
On August 5, 2010, 33 miners were trapped 2,300 feet underground when a gold and copper mine collapsed. Seventeen days later, the Chilean government identified the part of the mine where the men all were. Rescuers began by drilling fragile, narrow holes down to the men's dark chamber. In addition to food, water, medicine, communications and a video camera, the government lowered sets of dominoes through the holes to help keep the men from getting depressed. All survived and were rescued 68 days after the cave-in.
- Domino-Games.com: The History of Dominoes
- Kaieteur News: Countrywide Two-Week Dominoes Tourney Starts Next Monday
- BBC News: Jamaica's Dream of Olympic Dominoes
- Bloomberg: Chile Taps NASA for ‘Unheard of’ Trapped Miner Rescue
- The Telegraph: Chile Miners -- New Video Shows Workers Singing to Keep Spirits Up
- Photo Credit Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images