What is a Spinner?

What is a Spinner?

This is a question I get asked many times a week.  You ask me if I want spinners on my dominoes or not and I have no clue what they are.  How is a person to decide?

The answer is simple or somewhat simple.  There are actually two definitions for Spinners within the game of dominoes.  There is a physical spinner which appears in the center of some dominoes as small brass divot and there is also a game piece spinner which refers to the center double numbered tile that has to have more than two tiles played from it in order to begin the round.

This post is mainly on the physical kind.  The spinner which is the little nail-head looking thing in the center of the domino.

  • Why is it there?  Back when dominoes were made of two materials that were pieced together to make a single tile or bone (yes, one of the material was usually bone) there needed to be a way to join these materials together so they did not just fall apart over time.  Along came the small nail in the center.  
  • What is the purpose of it today? There is no need for it with the way that dominoes are manufactured today.  However many people still love them because they have historical significance or they like the way that the game plays with them.
  • What can I do with them? Simply flip the domino on its face and give it a whirl.  If this seems over simplified, think about when you are shuffling/washing the dominoes and some are rotating around.  If someone is trying real hard to keep an eye on a particular tile – good luck with all the extra movement.
  • Will spinners damage the table? Any domino can damage the table if slammed hard enough or the table has a surface that is easily marked.  When playing a domino, you are playing it face-up.  So even if you slam it on the table it should not do any more damage than if you were playing with one that did not have spinners.  
  • Do all dominoes have spinners?  No they do not.  Over the years of selling personalized dominoes we have seen trends of majority of people wanting spinners, then not wanting spinners, then wanting them again.  For a while we had a very hard time finding sets without spinners.  There are even some sets like the marbleized acrylic ones that cannot have spinners because of the way they are manufactured to make the swirl pattern – the spinner insertion would cause breakage issues.

Whether you like spinners or not is purely a personal preference.  I have heard from players who cannot live without them and also those who cannot stand to play with them.  Whether you play with them because your Grandfather did, or you do not want them in your house because you fear your friends will slam a domino face-down on your custom table is personal.  As we always say “your game is personal, your dominoes should be too”