11 Point Black Tile

Written by Howard Fosdick © BestFreeNewGames.com

Overview: Here's the dominoes equivalent of the popular card game Hearts. But be forewarned... with dominoes, it's an entirely different game! Hearts players might like to try this game for a refreshing change. That dominoes are all members of two suits -- instead of one, like cards -- gives this game an entirely different feel.

Following the basic game, we'll describe a scoring variant, 21 Point Black Tile. You might also like to read our article on all domino trick-taking games.

Players and Equipment: 3 or 4 players use a standard 6-6 set of dominoes.

Objective: Avoid taking the any 3-suit dominoes, and the 0-0, in tricks.

Deal: From the shuffled, face-down set of dominoes, 3 players each draw 9 tiles (one tile is left face-down and is not used in the game). 4 players each draw 7 bones.

Suits: There are 8 suits, each of which consists of 7 tiles. The doublet is the highest tile in each suit. The Doublets themselves comprise a suit, with the 6-6 tile as its highest member:

The Suits: 11 Point Black Tile uses the common dominoes suit system:

‹––high    Members    low––›
6-6  6-5  6-4  6-3  6-2  6-1  6-0
5-5  5-6  5-4  5-3  5-2  5-1  5-0
4-4  4-6  4-5  4-3  4-2  4-1  4-0
3-3  3-6  3-5  3-4  3-2  3-1  3-0
2-2  2-6  2-5  2-4  2-3  2-1  2-0
1-1  1-6  1-5  1-4  1-3  1-2  1-0
0-0  0-6  0-5  0-4  0-3  0-2  0-1
6-6  5-5  4-4  3-3  2-2  1-1  0-0

Each tile is thus a member of two suits. Singlets are members of the two suit numbers on their faces. Doublets are members of the suit number on their face and the Doubles suit. Blanks on tiles are considered zeroes in this game.

Passing: Before playing to the first trick, pass three dominoes face down to the player on one's right. The recipient cannot view those tiles until he has set face down the bones he is passing to the player on his right. In the second hand, pass three tiles to the player at left. If three play, hold dominoes and do not pass in the third deal. If four play, in the third deal pass tiles to the player opposite, and in the fourth deal, hold all dominoes (no passing).

Play: A randomly selected player leads any tile to the first trick. He announces which of the numbers on the tile represents its suit. Others must play a tile of this suit if possible, otherwise, they can play any tile.

If the lead is a doublet, the first player announces whether the suit is the number on the tile, or the Doubles suit. If it is the Doubles suit, others must follow suit by playing a doublet if they have one. Otherwise, they can play any tile.

The highest tile of the suit led wins the trick, and the trick-winner leads a tile to the next trick. The hand ends after all tiles have been played to tricks.

Scoring: Each of the seven tiles of the 3's suit score 1 point against the players who capture them in tricks. The 0-0 scores 4 points against the player who wins it. There are 11 points out in each deal, hence the name Eleven Point Black Tile. The player with the least total points wins the hand.

Winning Across Hands: Lowest total score across a series of hands wins the game. Rotate the dealership (and lead player) clockwise every hand. Play a number of hands evenly divisible by the number of players. Thus for four players, before starting play you might agree that either four, eight, or twelve hands comprise a game.

Shooting the Moon: If a player wins all the point tiles (all 3-suit bones and the 0-0), he scores 0 points, whilst his opponents each score 22 points. The contestant who attempts to shoot the moon tries to hide his actions and does not mention this to his opponents. If a player attempts to shoot the moon and fails, scoring is as per usual.

Variants: Some play that the game ends when one player reaches 61 points or more, at which time the player with the least accumulated points wins the game. This variant makes it easy to keep score on a cribbage board.

Some play if there are three players, the winner of the first trick also wins the face-down tile that was leftover from the deal.

Tips for Play: This is a very different game than Hearts with playing cards because each tile is a member of two suits. That dramatically affects your calculations on how to estimate what tricks you can win or lose. Plus, there are many fewer tiles in play than the 52 cards in a standard deck.

The leader to a trick has great power because he can specify either of two suits for his lead. That, plus the shorter suits and fewer tricks means that moon shots are more common than in the Hearts card game.

Possession of the 0-0 tile is important. You lead it as high (in the 0-0 suit), or as low (in the doublets suit). Thus holding the 0-0 tile helps whether you're intent on avoiding tricks or shooting the moon.

Be careful when passing. Beginners often pass doublets and high tiles, thinking that they'll win tricks with penalties. But you could be setting up the recipient of these bones for a successful moon shot.

If you feel an opponent might be shooting the moon, connive to let one of your other opponents stop him (and pay the price). Hold back your "best stopper" to use only as a last resort.

21 Point Black Tile

The equipment, deal and play are the same as in 11-point Black Tile. The only difference is that the penalty tiles are scored differently.

One point is scored for each the 10 tiles having a total of 5, 6 or 7 pips:

0-5, 1-4, 2-3, 0-6, 1-5, 2-4, 3-3, 1-6, 2-5, 3-4

The double blank, or 0-0 tile, scores 11 points. There is thus a total of 21 penalty points.

If a player successfully shoots the moon, he scores 0 points while each opponent scores 42 points. If a player attempts to shoot the moon and fails, scoring is as per usual.

Winning score for a game is 210 points.

This variant is described several places, most notably by Frederick Berndt in The Domino Book.

Sources: These rules were compiled from several internet sources that describe this game, then cross-checked against each other. You might also like to read our article on all domino trick-taking games.

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License: Feel free to print, copy, and distribute these rules, so long as you retain this paragraph. Written by Howard Fosdick © 2023, distributed under Creative Commons License BY-ND.      HOME