Rule rendition by Megan Cytro as explained to her by Louis Perez,
as played in Tampa, Florida and as seen in the film, The Buena Vista Social Club.
Last revised 1/21/00
Over the holidays, I just learned a domino game called Longana. It was taught to me by my husband's grandfather, Louis Perez, who plays dominoes (double nines) every week at the Centro Asturiano in Tampa (with mostly viejos - older Cuban and Spanish guys). We were watching the Buena Vista Social Club film with him and, in one scene, when the musicians are taking a break, they play a game that looked different from double nines or double six. We asked him about the game and he taught us Longana. So it probably originated in Cuba or Spain.
It's a good game for four people (the maximum number of players) and goes quickly once you get the hang of it.
Full disclosure: apparently, the word longana has a second, less innocent, connotation in some Latin American countries...
Longana is played with a double 9 tile set. You'll also need a paper & pencil to keep score.
The players take 8 bones each. No additional bones are drawn.
In the first game, the highest double is played. In subsequent games, the previous games's winner can play any double. If he does not have a double, the next person (counterclockwise) plays his/her double.
Once the double is played, Player 2 (the turns go counterclockwise in Spanish/Cuban domino games) must play on the side of the double closest to him - this will be his zone. If he cannot play, he must pass. [Dominoes are played in typical match fashion - one end of the domino must match the number on the open end of a previously played domino or the doubled number on a double. Doubles are laid crosswise and other dominoes are laid with the matching end abutting the open end of the previously played domino. - ed.]
Player 3 must then play on the side of the double closest to him or, if Player 2 passed, he can play in Player 2's zone.
The turns continue to go counterclockwise. Each player can always play in his zone (the side of the first double played, directly in front of him; if there are three players, there are only three zone, i.e. only 3 sides of the double are played; 2 players, 2 sides, etc.).
If a player passes, any subesquent player can also play in that player's zone. [You probably want to mark passes in some way, perhaps using a small coin laid on the top of the last domino played. - ed.] Doubles can always be played in any zone. When a player passes, on his next turn, he must play a domino in his own zone, in the zone of a player who has passed or with a double in any zone. Once this player has laid a domino down anywhere, then his zone is closed off to other players again.
If two players have passed on the same number (6, for example). Then the person playing a six must play it in his own zone or in the zone of the first person who passed.
The first double can be played on 2-4 sides, depending on the number of players. Subsequent doubles are only played on one side. [?? - ed.]
The round is played until someone plays all of their dominoes. This person gets the points from the remaining players. The game can end at 50 or 100 points.
The prevailing strategy of the game is to line up the best string of dominoes for your zone up front (without alerting the other players to how good or bad your hand is). Then, in order to get rid of the remaining dominoes, you wait to play doubles in other players' zones or for other players to pass so that you can play in their zones. Once everyone gets good at the game, the real fun begins, when you start keeping track of what is being played and passed on and you find ways to block other players from playing their dominoes.
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell