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Subject: Book Review: How to Play Latin Partnership Dominoes rss

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John Farrell
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From the back cover:

The game of Dominoes has several varieties, or modalities, the most exciting of which is the version practiced in the Latin American countries and Spain, which is played between four people divided into two couples, or teams.

This book summarizes, in a progressive manner, all the strategies that can be utilized in Latin Partnership Dominoes. In addition, it presents numerous examples that will gradually illuminate the game's concepts. However, the most rare and difficult moves have been excluded in order to make the book easier to read and to understand.

Dominoes is not a difficult game; however, each player has his own particular style. This book includes the game's two types of style (aggressive and conservative). Each particular move is analyzed in both ways. Additionally, each situation is defined and classified so that players can differentiate between them.


My interest in Latin Partnership Dominoes is only recent, have been inspired by falcala's article describing the rules:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/130653

I could tell from those rules that the game described was much more interesting than regular Dominoes games, being much more like card games such as 500. At about that time my sister visited Cuba and brought me back a very nice set of Dominoes, as that's what they play there. Consequently when I noticed "How to Play Latin Partnership Dominoes" by Gabriel Antonio Tejeira Arias for sale on Amazon, I bought a copy.

The book is a serious work of Dominoes scholarship of the type that we're all familiar with for Chess or Bridge. It will play a role bringing some of the understanding and experience of this game from the Spanish-speaking world into the English-speaking one, maybe contributing to the popularity of this Dominoes game amongst English speakers. However, as illustrated by the back cover blurb quoted above, the stiltedness of the text is a weakness which will frustrate some readers - I found myself spending time deciphering the language constructs as much as pondering the Dominoes strategies. Nevertheless, this is almost certainly the best English-language partnership dominoes book going around.

Chapter 1 starts with some definitions and concepts of the game. There is a rules explanation, but it is somewhat merged with the description of strategic concepts, which I found a little difficult to read. However the concepts described immediately give some insight into the game, and I'll mention a few here to tantalise you:

Hand Without Failure: All 7 numbers are represented on the player's dominoes.

Strong Number: A number occurring on 3 or more tiles in the hand.

Affirming: When only one mixed (non-double) tile can be played at one end. This is called the firm tile, and is the sixth mixed tile with that number. This gives an advantage to the player holding that tile.

Fit: Playing so that the same number is open at both ends of the chain.

Jam: A situation where no player can play. For example, if a player holds the firm tile for the 4, and plays it at the OTHER end of the chain, fitting the game to the 4. This will end the hand with potentially many points to be scored by one side.

Given these concepts, the author then goes on to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various moves for first, second, third and fourth players. Play for the different positions is quite different - as player 1 has the lead he is in a position to play all of his tiles first unless he is forced to pass, so it's player 3's role to help player 1 go out. If player 1 is forced to pass then player 2 will have the lead. Player 4's role is to assist player 2 to be in a position to go out if player 1 passes, and also as the last line of defence trying to force player 1 to pass.

The analyses of play form the bulk of the book, and it is in these chapters that the author has the opportunity to pass on his obvious deep understanding of the game. Sadly the analysis is often shallow and in most cases I didn't understand the examples. In some cases I did, and it was then that I learned things. Consider the very first example, describing how the first player should open play when he holds a double tile:

"A" holds (2;2), (2;3), (2;6), (2;1), (0;1), (4;1), (5;1)

The (2;2) is the accompanied double tile. Also the "2" and "1" are strong numbers and the (2;1) is the mixed tile that contains them both. We propose that "A" start with the (2;2) and avoid starting with the (2;1) (a risky move).

Earlier explanation has mentioned that double tiles are harder to play than mixed tiles, and there's a possibility of a double tile being "hung", i.e. impossible to play. Also, with only one number available there's a higher chance that second player "B" will be unable to play. Hence I have no problem understanding that the (2;2) is a good opening. However I have no idea why the (2;1) might be a "risky" move. It leads two strong numbers and the hand remains without failure... in the end I have no idea whether the word "risky" means exactly that, or whether it is a poor choice of words from an author writing in his second language.

Chapters 6 and 7 contain less of the positional analysis of the earlier chapters and focus on more generally useful moves, e.g. discussing what you'd consider when you had the option of jamming the game. I found these chapters interesting as I could see some of the strategic thinking of the game and so gained a greater understanding. Many of the examples in the earlier chapters only confused me.

In summary, there is a great deal of information in this book. Not all of it is accessible to the novice player like me. Some of it is though, and I hope the contribution this book makes to the game is to start to show English-speaking players some of the reasons why this game is so popular in Latin countries.
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JM G
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I used to think that dominoes was just a game of pure luck, and could not understand why it was so popular in my country and all the Caribean. It puzzled me that so many grown up people was having fun for what looked to me as a children's game. "If there was some strategy and depth into that game, then there would surely have someone somewhere to have writen about it" I thought. So I went googling for a good book about dominoes and that the one that came up.

I have studied carefully the book and it definetely changed my opinion about dominoes. It is very clearly writen, with a lively style, still always focusing about the real playing strategies. After reading the book I found myself hungrily searching for latin dominoes players... unfortunately people in my island do not play partner (which is the main interest for latin dominoes).

BTW, there should be much more entries on BBG about dominoes variations (like there are for dices or cards games).

Great book. The best I owne about dominoes, I wholeheartly recommend it!
 
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Ian Stanley
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Excellent book
 
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Bernard Hopkins
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I recently became interested in Latin Partnership Dominoes so set about looking for a book to teach me the basics of tactics. I came across this review and after searching elsewhere I thought that Gabriel Antonio Tejeira Arias’s book was the only one devoted to Latin Partnership play.

I bought it, skimmed over it and have read the first few chapters. I agree it can be hard for a beginner to understand and you can tell he’s not writing in his mother tongue. There is a lot to learn from this book but you are going to have to decipher it first.

I then came across ‘How to play better dominoes’ by Miguel Lugo. The picture on the front of the book doesn’t resemble Latin Partnership Dominoes and that put me off buying it at first. Then I saw some reviews saying it was a great for Latin Partnership play. I ended up buying it, skimmed over it and read the first few chapters. This is the book I was looking for. It is easy to understand, goes over everything step by step with lots of clear examples and wordy reasoning on why everything is done and lots of strategy advice. While it doesn’t seem quite as detailed as Gabriel’s book, it makes up for that with clarity.

So if you’re looking for a beginners book on Latin Partnership Dominoes I’d give 'How to play better dominoes’ by Miguel Lugo some serious consideration too.

You can see a preview of the book here...

http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/How_to_Play_Better_Dom...

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p55carroll
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Arctic Jack wrote:
‘How to play better dominoes’ by Miguel Lugo.

I have this book, and I agree it's a good read. I wasn't particularly interested in Latin Partnership Dominoes, but I read it anyway and enjoyed it. The author clearly loves the game, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Even if you play some other form of dominoes, you'll get something out of this book.
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JM G
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Friendless wrote:


"A" holds (2;2), (2;3), (2;6), (2;1), (0;1), (4;1), (5;1)

The (2;2) is the accompanied double tile. Also the "2" and "1" are strong numbers and the (2;1) is the mixed tile that contains them both. We propose that "A" start with the (2;2) and avoid starting with the (2;1) (a risky move).


Friendless wrote:
"
I have no idea why the (2;1) might be a "risky" move. It leads two strong numbers and the hand remains without failure... in the end I have no idea whether the word "risky" means exactly that, or whether it is a poor choice of words from an author writing in his second language.



I think I can understand what the author means. You have two strong suits there; the 2s and the 1s, so you may be tempted to play the 21. But if you do so, you may end up with the 22 stuck in your hands after each of your other 2s has been covered on the table. Therefore, this move can be qualified as "risky".

Hope it clarifies

PS: I have just noticed that the book I was refering to as excellent is "How to Play Better Dominoes", by Michel Lugo. I don't know your book. blush
 
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