The Dominos

Thursday, February 1st 2024. | Popular Traditions

Walking around any of the Cuban neighborhoods youd certainly find a noisy group of a contagious joy, placed around a table with four rustic chairs or simple boxes, and people playing the Cubans preferred game: the dominos.

The dominos have acquired essential characteristics of the Cuban identity, as the phrases, the gestures, the tone of the voice and the sayings. The earliest reference of this game came from China, where it probably was created, 1120 years B.C.. It is said that in the western world the Italians were the first to play it, in the Venetian and Neapolitan courts.

The way it arrived to Cuba is not well defined yet. It could have been through the Asians or the Spaniards, who have learned it from the Italians who have incorporated it from the Chinese. Perhaps, it came through the Americans, who learned it from the British, the latter are responsible for the apogee of the dominos in Latin America, particularly in the Caribbean and Cuba.

The dominos
have generated a whole typical terminology. For instance the classic “me pegué”, victorious voice of the player who puts his final domino pieces on the table at the end of the game.

Other popular phrases are: “me quedo ahí”, ( when a neutral play is made placing a double domino piece on the table), “agacharse” (unforgivable egoism of you partner when he/she decides not “to kill” a piece that you could not follow), “dar agua” (operation made by the losers, consisting in turning the domino pieces down and removed them on the table to began the next play)… Either for men or women, elders or youth, the dominos are more than a simple table game.

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