Tableaux and Advanced Tableaux
Invented by Howard Fosdick © BestFreeNewGames.com
Here are two modern, positional domino games based on numeric
relationships among tiles. Winning relies more on intellect than
chance. First, we'll describe Tableaux, then we'll tackle it's more complex sibling,
Players and Equipment:
players use a standard set of 6-6 dominoes, where the length of each
tile is double its width. Also, a cribbage board for easy scoring.
To win the Game by being the first player to score
121 points across as many hands (deals) required.
All tiles are placed face down and shuffled. Then each
player draws 4 tiles to start. Remaining tiles become the face down
drawing stock, or boneyard.
Select one tile from the boneyard as the starter
. Place it
face up vertically between the two players, in the playing area or tableaux.
Players decide who goes first by a random event such as a coin toss or
die roll. Following the first hand, the winner of the previous hand
always goes first.
In his turn, a player must play at least one tile to
the tableaux. If he cannot play a tile, he must pass and scores -3
A player can continue to play dominoes in his turn as long as each
domino scores points.
Play of any doublet also allows a player to continue his turn if he
can (regardless of whether the doublet scores points).
If a player is able to play and score all 4 dominoes in his hand, he
draws 4 more from the boneyard and continues playing tiles as long as
each one scores (or is a doublet). Playing all 4 tiles in this manner
is called a play-through
After a player completes his turn, he draws tiles from the boneyard so
that he holds 4 tiles for his next turn.
There are only 3 legal plays in this game.
Each is based on the positions and numbers on the tiles in the current
1. The Side Play
The side play involves placing a tile at staggered side position to a
tile already in the tableaux. Numbers must match as in these examples:
Examples #1 and #2 - The side play tile may be placed on either side
of the 4-2 (at the player's option), but it must be staggered relative
to the 4-2. The connecting numbers must match (here that connecting
number is a 2).
Example #3 - Any matching tile can be used in the side play (here it
is a 2-6).
Example #4 - This side play connects to the digit 4 on the 4-2 tile.
A side play scores 0 points, but it does fulfil the requirement to
play at least one tile in a player's turn (thereby avoiding the -3
point penalty for passing).
2. The Corner Play
For two staggered
tiles in the tableaux, there are two positions where a corner play
is possible. In this example, X and Y mark these two positions:
Thus, a corner play means positioning a half-tile next to two tiles
already in the tableaux. The half-tile thus positioned must equal
the sum of the two half-tiles at its flush right angles.
Given the two tiles
above, any tile positioned at X would have to be a 5 spot (since it
must equal the sum of the two flush half-tiles, 2 + 3).
position at Y would have to be a 6 (since it must equal 4 + 2).
Here are five example corner plays:
Example #1 - Placing the 1-5 tile makes a corner play. The 1-5 meets
the requirements because its 5 matches the sum of the two flush
right half-tiles (2 + 3).
3. The Centre Play
Any 5 suit tile would
work for this corner play. It scores the player a number of points
equal to the total of the matched pips: 5 points.
Example #2 - The
corner play tile may be placed in either of two physical positions,
whichever the player desires.
Examples #3 and #4 -
These examples show a corner play off the Y corner. The 6 on the 6-4
equals the sum of 4 and 2, the flush right adjacent numbers. This
play scores 6 points.
Example #5 - This
shows how the player might add another tile to Example #1 for a
second corner play. Adding the 3-6 scores 3 points.
For tiles in this formation, a centre play means inserting a valid X-Y
The tile played in position X-Y must fulfil either of two conditions:
(1) The number X equals the sum of the 3 half-tiles at flush
right angles to it.
Examples of Case 1:
In the example above, X must equal 1 + 2 + 3 = 6
(2) Both numbers on tile X-Y added together must equal the sum
of the 3 half tiles at flush right angles to it.
In the example above, X + Y must equal 1 + 2 + 3 = 6
As you can see, any tile having a value of X = 6 completes this centre
play. This scores 6 points (X points).
Examples of Case 2:
The first two examples show a centre play completed by inserting the
1-5 tile. The third case shows that any tile with pips totalling 6
will be playable and score here (in this case, the 0-6 domino). Each
of these centre plays score 6 points (X + Y points).
Playing any doublet allows a player to continue his
turn if he can (even the doublet scored 0 points for a Side Play).
A doublet scored for a Corner Play or a Centre Play scores double
points. This Corner Play example scores 10 points, double the normal
score, because a doublet 5-5 was played:
And this Centre Play scores 12 points, double the normal score,
because a doublet 3-3 was played:
Blanks or 0's:
Blanks function as 0's (zeros) in this game.
Playing the 0-0 tile allows a player to continue his turn, the same as
playing any other doublet tile.
Played in a Corner Play, a blank
scores 0 points. This example continues the player's turn but scores 0 points:
End of Hand:
with a Doublet
|Points equal to the sum played
|Points equal to the sum played
|Corner or Centre Play
|Double the normal points
After one player goes out and there are no more
tiles in the boneyard, the 2nd player gets one final turn if he wants
it. Then, the hand ends.
It's also possible for a hand to end when the boneyard is empty, and
neither player can play. (Players are not assessed the -3 penalty
points for their final hand-ending "pass".)
Tiles the players have left in hand when the hand ends are not scored.
End of Game:
It's convenient to use a cribbage board to track
scores during play. The first player to achieve 121 points across
Tips for Play:
challenging game rewards forethought. The highest scores result from
stringing together a series of scoring plays. Playing through all 4
tiles in hand leads to high scores, as does optimal play of doublets
for double scores.
Place your corner plays flush to existing tiles to deny your opponent
a corner play on his turn.
*** The Finer Points ***
As long as you fulfil the requirements for a
valid Side, Corner, or Centre Play, it is perfectly ok if you play
tile a that touches flush against a non-matching half tile:
Side Plays are not permitted in any location
where a Corner Play is possible, nor are Corner Plays permitted in any
location where a Centre Play is possible.
These two examples illustrate. Positions A, B, C, and D allow Side
Plays. Positions X and Y only permit Corner Plays. Position Z can only
be a Centre Play:
Corner Play and Centre Play positions are never playable. This is
because the sum of the half-tiles at the flush right angles is too
Position X is not playable in these Corner Play and Centre Play
scenarios because no domino can fulfil the necessary conditions to
make the play:
Tableaux 99: The Advanced Game --
Seeking a greater challenge? Try Tableaux with a 9-9 set of dominoes.
Only two Tableaux rules change:
- Each player's hand contains 5 tiles (instead of 4)
- First player to 361 points wins (3 traverses of a 120-peg cribbage board)
Feel free to print, copy, and distribute these rules, so long as you retain this paragraph. Invented by Howard Fosdick © 2023, distributed under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND