Dominoes Tutorial with Gonk and Hetty

We were recently taught to play fast, fun and stylish dominoes by George’s mother and father.

dominoes_george_leura    dominoes_betty_rose_leura

There are plenty of ways to play and score a game of dominoes but the following instructions (provided by your friendly hosts Gonk and Hetty) are the way we were taught.

Getting started

Meet Gonk (George) and Hetty (Betty-Rose). They play dominoes to win. You will need a set of twenty-eight dominoes.The dominoes that Gonk and Hetty will be using are an original 1950s “fine quality” professional set from the UK . Hetty has her eyes on a bakelite 1940s set from America. You can however just use the kids set that you will find stuffed in the back of the ‘bits and bobs’ drawer. You will also need a pen and paper for scoring if you are of a competitive nature like Gonk and Hetty.


Setting up

Turn all the dominoes face down and give them a generous stir. To work out who goes first, select one domino each. Add up all the dots (or “pips”) on your domino. The person with the highest score gets to go first.  Hetty’s domino adds up to five and Gonk’s only adds up to four (note that if there are no dots on the domino then that end equals zero). Hetty is happy to go first.


Now put those dominoes back in the pile and give another generous stir. Select seven dominoes each. The remaining dominoes (or “bones”) get pushed aside (into the “boneyard”).  If you cannot go at any time, you pick up a domino from this pile.



You basically add up the dots on either end. If the score is divisible by a three or five, that’s the score you get. If the score is not divisible by three or five you get big fat nothing. If you can’t go you score zero (and pick up a domino from the remaining pile or just miss a go if there are none left). Set a pre-determined overall score for example – the first player to 100 points wins.  Keep reading to see how the scoring works in action.

Start play

Hetty puts down her first domino. She adds up both ends – six plus zero = six. You then check if this score is divisible by a three or five – six divided by three = two. So Hetty scores two points.


Gonk must follow by putting down a domino that matches either the six dots or the zero dots. If you can go you must go (even if you can’t score). Sometimes you will have a few options. Take your time to work out what the best play might be.

Gonk chooses to put down a double six. This is an excellent score. Note how you put down a ‘double’ in a length-wise position. Also note that when you put down a ‘double’ you add up all the dots plus all the dots on the other end. So Gonk’s turn adds up like this – twelve plus zero = twelve. And twelve divided by three = four. So Gonk gets four points Well played Gonk!


Are you getting the idea? Let’s see what Hetty does next.

Oh my word. Hetty has just made the classiest move ever and she looks so cool about it. Let’s work out the score. Adding the two ends – twelve plus three = fifteen. Fifteen divided by three = five. Oh and wait for it – fifteen divided by five = three. You guessed it – Hetty scores a wopping eight points.  The ‘no mercy’ policy now applies.


So what will Gonk do next? He looks quietly happy.

Twelve plus six = eighteen and then eighteen divided by three = six. Pow. Right back at you Hetty.


And so they play on. Friends gather as the tension builds.


Hetty makes the final play. Her final score is calculated thus – ten plus two = twelve and then twelve divided by three = four. She also gets a bonus point for being the first to lay all her dominoes. So her final score is  – four plus one = five. This ends Round 1.


And remember that winning isn’t everything. However it is lucky that Hetty won as she would have otherwise gone off in a big huff.

Gonk and Hetty share a celebratory drink and encourage you to give dominoes a go.


Best regards, Betty-Rose


4 responses

  1. Must be the best informative way of playing dominoes well done

    1. Thanks for your feedback Bob and thanks for teaching us how to play. We will have to get together for another game very soon!

  2. i sense that behind the sweetness lies a significant competitive edge to this game. I didn’t know about scoring in this game. I only knew about the need for celebratory drinks throughout!

    1. The scoring definitely adds a competitive edge to dominoes. If you really want to win, I recommend abstaining from celebratory drinks until the end (whilst keeping your opponents glasses topped up during the game).

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