This game was created by Mark Whitley, but heavily inspired by numerous other "make a row of stones" games. It's a game for 2 players, but 4 people can play as two teams (described below).

Getting Started

Here's the preliminaries before you can start playing the game.


[1] The Board: The first thing you'll need is a 9x9 grid with rows and columns labeled 1 through 9, all inclusive. A sample image is shown at the right. (You can click on it for a larger view and print it if you like.) Note the diagonal line through the board. This is called the 'doubles line', for reasons which will be explained later. The orange stripe on the 5 row & column is just to help break the board up and give a visual aide, there is nothing significant about it.

You can make your own Quincy board by clicking this link and hitting 'print': quincy-board.pdf. If you don't have a PDF reader, you can click the image to the right and print it up. Print up this board and make as many copies as you want. It's public domain, for all I care. Make your own if you like, I'm not gonna sick any lawyers on you.

[2] Dominoes: A standard set of double-9 dominoes is needed to play (55 total in the set). Look at this page for a whole pantload of examples.

[3] Shiny Stones: Two sets of different colored shiny stones are needed (say, blue and yellow). 25 stones tends to be too few, 50 is more than enough. Chessex sells lots of gaming accessories, including a variety of shiny stones that you can use. (Alternatively, you can use the stones out of your old Pente set.) If you don't have shiny stones, little beads, coins, rocks or bits of pasta should do the trick.

Object of the Game

A player wins the game by forming two lines of at least 4 stones each. The lines can each be either vertical, horizontal, or diagonal (either direction). The lines can even intersect each other.

Important: You cannot win with a single line of 8 (or 7, or > 8) stones. You must actually make two, separate lines to win.


Place all the dominoes face down and shuffle them. Then scoot them into a pile by the side of the board. This will be the "draw pile".

Place the board between the players. The more experienced player should let the less experienced player decide which way to orient the board.

Each player places their pile of shiny stones in front of them.

Each player draws 5 dominoes from the pile and stands them up on one edge so their opponent can't see them.


A completed game. Blue has won.

After you're all set up, here's what you need to know to play the game.

Game Mechanics

As mentioned earlier, the object of the game is to form 2 lines of 4 stones each, but you can't just place stones wherever you like. The dominoes in your hand show you what your options are.

Example #1: If you were holding the 5|3, you could place a stone in the square that is on the 5th row and 3rd column, or the square on the 5th column and the 3rd row (the numbers along the sides will help you identify your moves). In this way, you have two choices of where to put your stone.

Example #2: If you were holding the 9|1, you could place a stone in either the upper-right corner (1st row, 9th column) or the lower-left corner (9th row, 1st column). As you can see from these examples, the 'doubles line' could very well represent a mirror that reflects the "mirror image" of where your two moves could be.

Doubles: As you may have already figured out, a "double" (i.e. a [1|1], [2|2], [3|3], [4|4], etc.) is more awkward because it only offers you one choice of where to play it, which will fall along the 'doubles line' somewhere (hence the name).

Blanks: The alert reader will note that there is no "zero" row or column and a standard set of dominoes will include some with blank ends. Any domino with a blank is considered a "wild". For example, if you play the 5-blank, you could put a stone anywhere along the 5th row or the 5th column (along the two orange bands in the image at the top of this page). In like manner, the 9-blank would let you place a stone anywhere along the 9th row or 9th column (along either the bottom edge or far right edge).

There is a different move you can make with blanks: Rather than adding one of your own stones along the given row or column, you can remove one of your opponent's stones along the same, given row or column. For example: the 4-blank would allow you to remove any of your opponents stones along the 4th row or the 4th column.

Caveat to removing stones: Once a player has formed a line of at least 4 stones, that line is considered "unbreakable"; under no conditions can his opponent remove one of the stones from that line.

When a blank is played, you choose if you're going to either [a] add or [b] remove; you can't do both with a single blank. (You can never "exchange" an opponent's stone for one of your own with a blank.)

The Double Blank: The most prized possession of all the dominoes in the draw pile is the coveted double-blank. This domino is totally wild: you can add one of your stones to any square on the grid, or remove one of your opponent's stones from any square on the grid.

What you do when it's your turn

On each turn, a player will do the following:

  1. Discard a domino from their hand, face up so everyone can see it. (The best place to put discards is on your own side of the board, in a nice line so everyone can see the dominoes that have been played.)
  2. Play a stone. This could be one of three things:
    1. Normal case: Set down a shiny stone on a square in the grid that corresponds to the numbers on the domino you picked up.
    2. Blank-Adding: If you play a domino with a blank, you can add one of your stones on any square in the row or column indicated by the non-blank side (or any square, if it's the double-blank).
    3. Blank-Removing: If you play a domino with a blank, you can remove one of your opponent's stones from any square in the row or column indicated by the non-blank side (or any square, if it's the double-blank).
  3. Draw a new domino from the draw pile to replace the one you just discarded from your hand.

Your opponent then does the same and play continues until 1 player has formed 2 lines of 4 or all the dominoes are exhausted.

Edge Cases

The following are some uncommon situations that occasionally come up. Here's how to resolve them when they occur.

Unplayable domino: Sometimes a domino will become unplayable. This typically happens if someone plays a blank to put a stone on the doubles line before the double has been played. (E.g. someone plays the 4-blank to put a stone on the 4|4 square, making the 4|4 unplayable.) It can also happen for a non-double domino, but this is very rare. In the event that a player draws (or through the actions of his opponent, possesses) a domino that cannot be played anywhere, he may discard it and draw another to replace it.

All dominoes exhausted: Once the draw pile has been exhausted, play continues until all the dominoes in each player's hand are played out. In the event that all 55 dominoes are played out and there is still no winner, the game is a "wash"; nobody wins. (The intent of this rule is to encourage players to use their blanks to form their own lines for a win, rather than just removing their opponent's stones to prevent him from winning.)

Lengthening an unbreakable line: When a line of four is formed, it becomes "unbreakable", that is no stones making that line can be removed. In the event that additional stones are added to the line continuing in the same direction, it simply extends the unbreakable line (to say a row of 5 or 6); none of the additional stones can be removed either.

Winning in one move: It is possible to form both lines of four with a single play (as is the case when you have two lines of three with a common square at their open end). In such a case, the player that completes both lines at once, wins.

Advice & Stuff


The central squares are more valuable than edges or corners because there is more room for expansion in the middle. It follows that dominoes that place your stones in the middle are more valuable as well.

It is usually a good idea to play your doubles early, just to get them out of your hand and make way for better dominoes. The second-most awkward choice after doubles is dominoes whose ends differ by one (the 6|7, 3|2, 9|8, etc.). Dominoes that put your stones in the corners (e.g. the 9|1, 8|2, etc.) are pretty awful, too.

If you don't see an obvious strategy emerging from the dominoes in your hand, try to form a "cluster" of your own stones by playing a lot that are close together. After a few more draws, you should be able to put something together.

Don't play your blanks right away. Save them for when you can [A] form a line of your own, or [B] prevent your opponent from winning (in that order).

When you're spending a blank to stop your opponent from forming a line, it's better to block than to remove. The reason for this is simple: when you block, you're adding one of your stones to the board that you can use to build on later. Contrapositively, when you remove one of your opponent's stones, you're just hurting his cause without helping yours. There are some occasions when you need to remove, though, such as when your opponent has an unbounded line of three stones, because you couldn't block both ends with a single move (and a single move may be all he needs to win).

It is easy to form diagonal lines that run parallel to the 'doubles line', but hard to form diagonals that cross it.

After you've formed your first line, try to have your second line intersect it somehow. Now that the first line is "unbreakable", it will make it harder for your opponent to remove stones to prevent you from making the second line.

If your opponent forms his first line before you do, you may need to play more defensively, spending your blanks to block his lines (or even remove his stones). If you have a line formed before your opponent, you can play more offensively, creating new threats for him to worry about.

Adapting for Four Players

This game is playable by four players by making 2 teams of 2 players each. Each player on a team should sit on opposite sides of the board (a la Bridge) and use the same color of stones. Each player has a hand of 5 dominoes that they hide from everyone else (including his teammate), but players on the same team can assist each other in forming lines or stopping their opponents from doing the same.

Aside: This kind of setup works well when you have, say, two adults and two children playing. Each team can consist of 1 adult and 1 child to help even the teams.

Strategy in a Four Player Game

Four player games (two teams of two) usually run much more quickly because four hands are dealt out, rather than just two. As a result, whichever team goes second usually needs to play more defensively. Also, it is better to dive right in for the center as quickly as possible in a four player game to maximize your advantages early on.


The following are some alternate rules that you could try playing with.

Parting Words

My favorite kind of games have the following traits:

I think Quincy possesses all of those traits. I like playing it, and I hope you like it, too. If you decide to try it, email me and let me know what you think.

About Quincy

Quincy was invented by Mark Whitley in September 2005. Mark is a big Pente fan and wanted to find a way to introduce an element of luck into the game. Mark is also a big Dominoes fan, so there you go.

As for the name, the original objective of the game was to get a single line of five stones, a la Pente (hence "Quincy", as in "quintet", "quintuplets", etc.) In early playtesting, it was discovered that (a) games went too short, and (b) the double blank had too much power. We tried playing with an objective of making two lines of 4 stones instead and it ran much better. By that time, however, the "Quincy" name had already stuck.

Part of my motivation in making the game was to teach my daughters how to read a Cartesian grid. It seems to have worked.


This game (and humble web page) is dedicated to veteran character actor Jack Klugman who played the crime-fighting coroner "Quincy" on the TV show of the same name, which aired for 8 seasons from 1976 to 1983. Quincy didn't just put in his hours like the rest of the pencil-pushers in the precinct, he possessed an uncommon attribute we call "dedication". Quincy didn't just gloss over subtle anomolies in the corpses that were dragged in by Lt. Monahan and Sgt. Brill, he saw things they didn't and he put the pieces together, too. And when the rest of the beat-walkers were ready to call it a day and head for the doughnut shop, Quincy kept on pushing, sleuthing, and solving the crimes that the other so-called "detectives" were getting paid to do. He drove those coppers, too -- hard like a crooked log through a sawmill. For the other cops at the station, Quincy was an ever-present thorn in their side, but for the victims' families, he was a folk hero.

Or so I hear. I never watched a show all the way through.


Summary for Quincy on MysteryNet.com

IMDB entry for Quincy

TV.com's episode guide for Quincy.

Entry for Quincy on RetroJunk.com

In loving memory: Jack Klugman: 1922 - 2012