Domino games

Three Dozen

This is an adaptation for a Western 6-6 domino set of the Korean domino game Tjak-ma-tcho-ki ("pair matching"). Think of it as a version of Gin Rummy.

The goal of the game is to meld a hand of three pairs before anyone else does. The Korean game was reported by Stewart Culin (KOREAN GAMES, Dover Books, 1991, ISBN 0-486-26593-5), but many of his reports are not completely accurate. If anyone can tell me more about the original Korean game, I would appreciate it.


The game uses a double six domino set and two to five players. Each player places an equal stake at the start of the game.

The Deal

A lead player is picked at random for the first hand. Each player gets five tiles for his hand, except the lead who gets six tiles.

The Play

Each player puts an equal stake on the table in front of himself.

If the first player can meld three pairs, he displays those pairs face up in front of himself and collects all the stakes. If he can meld one or two pairs, he displays those pairs face up in front of himself and then discards one tile in the center of the table.

If the second player can meld a pair with the discarded tile, he picks up the last discard and does so. If he cannot use the last discard, he draws a tile from the boneyard, makes any melds, puts it in his hand and then discards one tile into the center of table.

The turn continues around the table with players either drawing the discard or from the boneyard until someone picks a tile that completes his final pair to win or the boneyard is empty. When the boneyard is empty and there is no winner, the discards are re-shuffled and put back into the boneyard. Play then continues.


There are two kinds of pairs.

  1. Both tiles are consecutive doubles, with the [0-0] considered both high and low.

    [6-6] [0-0]
    [5-5] [6-6]
    [4-4] [5-5]
    [3-3] [4-4]
    [2-2] [3-3]
    [1-1] [2-2]
    [0-0] [1-1]

  2. Pairs of tiles whose pips total to 12. There are 34 possible such pairs in a double six domino set, one of which ([0-0] and [6-6]) also counts as a type one pair:
    [0-0] [6-6]
    [0-1] [5-6]
    [0-2] [4-6]
    [0-2] [5-5]
    [0-3] [3-6]
    [0-3] [4-5]
    [0-4] [2-6]
    [0-4] [3-5]
    [0-4] [4-4]
    [0-5] [1-6]
    [0-5] [2-5]
    [0-5] [3-4]
    [0-6] [1-5]
    [0-6] [2-4]
    [0-6] [3-3]
    [1-1] [4-6]
    [1-1] [5-5]
    [1-2] [3-6]
    [1-2] [4-5]
    [1-3] [2-6]
    [1-3] [3-5]
    [1-3] [4-4]
    [1-4] [1-6]
    [1-4] [2-5]
    [1-4] [3-4]
    [1-5] [2-4]
    [1-5] [3-3]
    [1-6] [2-3]
    [2-2] [2-6]
    [2-2] [3-5]
    [2-2] [4-4]
    [2-3] [2-5]
    [2-3] [3-4]
    [2-4] [3-3]

If the third pair is completed by drawing from the boneyard, then the winner collects from all the other players. If the third pair is completed by using the last discard, then the winner collects only from the player who made the discard.

Comments & Strategy

Only the ([0-0], [6-6]) and ([0-1], [5-6]) pairs have to be matched that way. The other tiles all have two or three possible mates to complete their pairs.

If you wish to extend the game to more players, then use a larger set of dominoes and change the desired total of the pairs to the total of the largest double in the set. The math will change a little bit because each tile will have more possible mates. The one thing that will remain constant is that the highest double and the double zero have to pair with each other.

In the original Korean game, played with Chinese dominoes, pairs are made using the Korean pair system and not the Chinese pair system seen in Pai Gow. The identical tiles are paired together, but the "military" tiles are paired as follows: