The chicken foot game

Chicken Foot is the latest craze in dominoes, I have received mails mentioning it in (of course) Texas, Mexico and more northern states in the USA. These rules are provided to you courtesy of Aron Wall, who mailed me the rules. Further additions by Dick Fisher (TX), and Eric Simon.

Number of players
The game is for 2 or more players, but seems best with 4 or more.

about 10 minutes

The game is best played with one of the larger sets, such as the double nine or the double twelve.

Object of the game
The object of the game is to score as few points as possible. Play goes to a predetermined (large) total, first player to reach this total loses, the player with the lowest score wins.

The deal
All bones are shuffled face down. The number of dominoes dealt to each player depends on the number of players, and 7 seems like a good starting point for a mediocre number of players like 4 or 5. The remaining bones are left in the middle and are the stock, usually called chicken yard. To start the player with the double nine puts it in the middle. This double is called the spinner. The turn then rotates to his left. If you cann't play to the double, you must draw once. If it plays, you can put is down immedeatly. If it is not the double sought for, the next player draws, and so on. In the second game the play should start with double 8, the third game with double 7, and so on. The game ends when double zero has been the starting double.

The rules

  1. All bones played must be played to a free end and must match numbers.
  2. The initial double is played to all FOUR ends, like this:
  3. If a player can not legally play a bone, he must draw from the boneyard once. If this tile can be played, he may do so at once.
  4. Doublets are placed crosswise as usual. When a double is played, the player must declare it 'chicken foot'. The chicken foot must be filled with 3 more dominoes before the game may proceed elsewhere.
  5. It should look like this when it is complete:
        |    <-- the domino played on
        -    <-- the double (chicken foot)
       /|\   <-- 3 dominoes completing the chicken foot.
  6. After the chicken foot is completed, the game may proceed anywhere.
  7. All 3 toes may be played at.
  8. When a player has one domino left, he must announce this by saying UNO. This is courtesy, there is no penalty.

The end
The game ends when one player goes domino (plays his last bone) or when all players have consecutively passed (the boneyard is empty). Points are rewarded:
- player who went out ...... 0 points
- other players ................. dot total
- double blank ................ 50 points
Points are bad. Play many rounds and add up the scores. The first player to reach some large number loses, lowest score wins.

Small variations

  1. Eric Simon mailed a small variation:
  2. The 0:0 counts as only 25 points.

    Dick Fisher also mentions two small variations:
  3. The first double played is played to with three bones on each side, thus forming a double chickenfoot.
  4. If the double that is needed to start the hand with a "double chickenfoot" is in the "chicken yard," you may go to the next double, or reshuffle the tiles and replay the hand.
  5. Not much of a variation, but we play it the way Dick Fisher does - a double chicken foot is built on the spinner before play continues, though we do pull from the bone yard if the starting double isn't in anyone's hand - Russell G. Richter.
  6. Pete Zakel mailed the following variation: 1. We use a double-12 set (everyone's set is a Mexican Train set, but we haven't played Mexican Train yet).
    2. For 3 people we draw 16 bones, for 4 12 bones, for 5 10 bones, etc. I assume for a 2 person game each would draw 24.
    3. The initial spinner is only played 4 ways, not as a "double chickenfoot".
    4. The person to play the spinner also takes the next turn.
    5. If a chicken foot has not had all the chicken toes played when a player dominoes, play continues until the foot is "satisfied". If the player that dominoed is forced to draw and then cannot play, then play continues until someone dominoes again or until all bones are drawn from the boneyard (or chicken yard) and no plays can be made.
Cicken foot score sheet: - with special thanks to Fay Castelic and David Schafer.
#     Player    Player  Player  Player
7                                            When a spinner has been played,
6                                            circle the number to the left
5                                            Keep a running total of scores,
4                                            the player with the lowest score
3                                            wins.


  1. I must confess I have not yet played the game sufficient times to decide on a 'best stategy'. Obviously it is a good idea to play a double when a fellow player declares UNO.
  2. It also seems natural to play double 0 whenever possible.
  3. Mr. e krabbenhoft mails: I've only played a little, but I have observed one strategy. The players who do best seem to watch which doubles have not been played and try to save one of each kind if they can - just in case.
  4. Colette Solpietro adds the following suggestion: Since the purpose of the game is to NOT get points, when possible you should block the blank tiles so that the double blank cannot be played.

Further suggestions welcome.

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