Curse of the Doublet (aka Flaken's Frustration)
Invented by Howard Fosdick © BestFreeNewGames.com
This game is very easy to learn, yet it can be
difficult to prevail against a skilled opponent. It's easy to play and tough to win.
Players and Equipment:
players use a standard set of 6-6 dominoes.
To win the hand
(or deal) by being the first player to domino
(go out). To win the Game by being the first player
to accumulate 11 points across hands.
All tiles are placed
face down and shuffled. Each player takes 11 tiles. The remaining 6
dominoes are placed aside face down and are not used in the game.
For the first hand,
flip a coin to determine who goes first. In subsequent hands, the
loser of the prior hand dictates who goes first.
The first player leads any
tile from his hand face up as the foundation tile or the set
The set is laid vertically between the two players in the playing
area. The player who plays the set only
plays that one domino in his turn. Then his opponent takes his first
Each in his turn, a
player plays one or more tiles from his hand to the developing layout.
If he cannot play any piece, he says "pass". A player is required to
play a domino if he has a valid one to play.
Play a tile to the layout by matching one of its ends to one of the
four open ends of the layout. Play develops four directions off the
set, like this:
The set has two open
playable sides for each of the two numbers on its face. In this
example, the 1-5 set has two open positions for tiles with 1's and two
open positions for tiles having 5's (as shown above).
A doublet set requires all four tiles played against it to have the
same connecting number. For example, setting the 4-4 requires all four
tiles played against the set to have a four-pip on the side adjoining
Play proceeds in four directions off the set. There are no
requirements or restrictions on playing tiles to the layout other than
that the tile connect to and match an open end of some tile already in
the layout. (For example, play might proceed rapidly in one direction
off the set, while play doesn't even start in some other direction.)
If a player plays
a domino that creates a new matched open end
with any of the other three branches of the layout,
he gets to play another tile in that turn. Here's an example:
A player continues playing dominoes in his turn as long as he plays
tiles that create new matched open ends in the formation. Then he ends
his turn by playing one domino beyond his last matching play. (Thus,
each domino played in the series except the last one must create a new
matched open end.)
If a player plays a domino that creates a matched open end, but then
does not have any further valid domino to play, he says "pass" and his
If a player cannot create a matched open end by his play, he plays
exactly one tile in that turn.
A player cannot create a matched open end involving the set. That
is, only matches against open ends other than those of the set itself
count for extra plays.
example turn to illustrate. The set was the 2-3, and say this is the
The open ends of this formation are 0, 4, 5, and 3 (off the set). In
his turn, a player must play a connecting tile to one of these open
ends if he can. Otherwise, he says "pass". He can keep playing tiles
as long as he creates new open end matches.
Let's assume a player has the 3-4, 4-4, 4-5, and 0-2 dominoes in his
hand. Here's what he plays in his turn:
First, the player lays down the 3-4 tile. This creates an open end
match (between the 4 on the 3-4 just played, and the 4 on the 4-2
tile. So the player wins the right to play another tile.
Next, he places the 4-4 domino to the layout. Again, the player has
created an open end match, this time between the 4 on his doublet 4-4
and the open 4 on the 4-2 tile. So he gets another play.
For his third tile of the turn, the player lays down the 4-5. This
creates an open end match with the 2-5 tile based on the matching 5's.
The player again wins the right to play another domino. (Note he might
alternatively have played the 4-5 off the 2-5 tile, which would create
an open end match between the 4-5 and both the 4-4 and 4-2 bones.
There is no advantage to creating more than one new open end match in
a single tile placement. The player lays the 4-5 domino where he
believes it might do him the most good in future turns, and his
opponent, the most harm.)
As his last move, the player adds the 2-0 tile to the layout. Its open
end, a 2, creates no new open end match with any other branch of the
layout, so this ends the player's turn.
The hand ends either
when either player goes domino
(empties his hand by playing all 11 of his tiles to the layout), or
when both players are forced to say "pass" back-to-back.
If a player goes out
or dominoes, he wins the hand and scores 1 point for each domino left
in his opponent's hand. If a player creates a new matched open end
with the domino on which he goes out, he scores 1 extra point.
If neither player goes out (the game ends blocked
because the two players said "pass" back-to-back),
then neither scores any points in the hand. The hand ends tied with
the final score: 0 - 0.
Game is won by the first
player to attain 11 points across hands.
Tips for Play:
The goal is to create as many new matching open
ends in series as possible in order to play more dominoes in one's
turn and go out more quickly. Think carefully about how to create such
a series before playing a tile.
Doublet tiles can be difficult to play, especially later in the game,
since they require a single specific open end on the layout. Hence the
name, "Curse of the Doublet". Unless one has an appropriate connecting
tile in hand, it's often best to play doublets early in the game
before your opponent conjectures which you might hold. He might well
try to block you from playing any doublets he suspects you hold.
Defence is as important as offence. For example, playing a tile off
the domino your opponent just played may prevent him from "setting up"
for an open-end match in his next turn. Good players block the game
late in play if they are behind or in difficulty. This secures a draw
rather than a loss.
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