Tips in Dominoes
Count your opening tiles. Don’t track specific pairs at this stage, just count the numbers where you hold a majority eg (ignoring the rightmost 2:5 tile in d) above you have seven tiles. If those tiles had all been in your starting hand you would count 5x5s, 3x3s, 3x2s, 2x0s 1x4
Play to your majority 5s Start with 5:5 for 10 points (ends total 5+5)
if your opponent replies with 5:6 or 5:1 you respond 5:4 gaining 20pts or 15pts for ends 20 or 15
Else if they play 5:0 they score 10pts. Then if you have 0:0, play that for 10pts …but if you don’t have 0:0 how should you prioritise?
Play another 0 tile if you can rather than your 5s which you can play any time (your opponent would need 2 turns to block both fives). Ideally play toward your next majority number…from above you had 3x3s and 3x2s so 0:3 or 0:2
Now should your opponent play 2:2 or 3:3 in keeping with versatility (doubles are easier to block so dump them when no other priority) you respond 2:5 or 3:5 !! now you score and have 3x5 end points likely your end point control will block your opponent forcing pickup of tiles
Play away from scarcity…if you have only 1 of a number prioritise playing it first hoping to deny your opponent their best majority play
If your opponent then has several more tiles than you, prioritise maximising end points you can use over and above scoring, hoping to pick up bonus points from tiles left in their hand when you go out.
Blocking has been mentioned but sometimes there is an opportunity for Total blocking which occurs if you can block every end-tile by using up the last tiles of one or more numbers. Then your opponent has to pick up every remaining tile before the round ends giving you a potentially huge end-point bonus ! The opportunity is more likely where you have a significant majority in your start hand
If you have more tiles than your opponent try to work out a sequence to grab endpoint control before they can go out, whilst trying to maximise your point scoring with high value first in case they do go out soon
Advanced Tactics (psychological)… your better opponents know all the above too, so just occasionally feed them some misinformation by faking a preference 😉
Speed of play…be careful cos this tactic is rife for misinformation too but if your opponent plays quickly, especially when not scoring, it may mean they had only one choice
If your opponent is close to winning and you cannot achieve end point control it may not be wise to force partial pickups
Likewise, without end point control you can still aim to minimise the range of end point numbers available hoping the remaining numbers are still in the boneyard and forcing opponent pickup
Towards round end check for exact tile pairs as yet unplayed, might help identify blockers or sequences