Mexican Train is a domino game designed to be played by up to eight people. Because it incorporates the idea of a train, it appeals to people of all ages. Some Mexican Train sets even come with a train whistle. It is advertised as a party game. Really, its inspiration has nothing to do with Mexico. Instead, it derives from Chinese domino games.
Mexican Train was developed by two people from Newport Coast, California. Roy and Katie Parsons copyrighted the rules for the game Train in 1994. After it became more widely known, the Puremco Company purchased the rights. Now this company produces and sells the Mexican Train game.
The game uses a set of double-twelve dominoes. In all, there are 91 tiles. Its goal is for the players to get rid of their tiles. Starting with the highest double tile placed in the middle of the table, which is the station, each player creates a line of dominoes. This is their train. Another train, the "train at the station," can be played on by anyone if they cannot place a tile on their own train. In the event that a player cannot play at all, even after drawing a new tile, she must place a marker (little colored plastic trains come with the game) on their train which blocks the others from playing on her train temporarily.
Mexican Train comes from a Chinese Domino game called Pai Gaw. This game is played with 32 tiles. After rolling dice to determine who goes first, players try to beat the banker's hand using both the numeric and a symbolic value for their dominoes. This game is available to be played online and is also a popular casino game.
Another Chinese domino game also inspired the creation of Mexican Train. Tien Gow is also called Heaven-Nine. This game is for four players has been a favorite since it became standardized in 1120 AD. It is also a casino game played for money. Tiu U and Kap Tai Shap are two other Chinese domino games that may have led to the creation of Mexican Train.
Mexican Train includes some just for fun train-like features. Whenever a player starts his train, the whistle blows. When a double is played, hit two tiles together like the signal made by two trains passing on a double set of railroad tracks. As soon as one player is out of dominoes, the other players add up the value of their remaining tiles. At the end of the evening, the player with the lowest score is the winner.
Lesley Barker, director of the Bolduc House Museum, authored the books "St. Louis Gateway Rail—The 1970s," published by Arcadia, and the "Eye Can Too! Read" series of vision-related e-books. Her articles have appeared in print and online since the 1980s. Barker holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Washington University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Webster University.