Domino is a generic gaming device, similar to playing cards or dice, with which a wide variety of games can be played. The domino is a small, rectangular tile with one or more identifying marks on each of its sides. Most commonly, a domino set contains 28 tiles with one side marked with an arrangement of dots (called “pips”) like those on the face of a die. The other side is blank. There are many different types of domino sets in use all over the world and a great number of games that can be played with them.
Most people are familiar with the simple games where one domino is tipped over, which causes the next domino in line to tip over and so on until all the dominoes have fallen over. These games are sometimes used to train children’s motor skills and spatial awareness. More complex domino games can be played by building up long lines of the little tiles and then knocking them over. Some of these can involve elaborate patterns that can be quite beautiful to behold.
The most important thing to understand about domino is that each one has potential energy. When the first domino is tipped over, that energy is converted to heat and sound, which in turn can cause more and more dominoes to fall over. This is called a chain reaction, and it’s what makes the game so exciting when it happens in person.
A person who is skilled at domino can set up hundreds or thousands of dominoes in a careful sequence and then simply nudge them over. These builds are often featured in domino shows, where builders compete to see who can create the most spectacular domino effect or reaction in front of an audience.
Dominoes have been around for a long time. The earliest ones were made from wood or bone, but most now are plastic or polymer. In some cultures, they are also made from other materials such as stone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on them. In addition to the traditional pips, some modern sets are printed with a variety of designs and themes, from fantasy scenes to contemporary art.
Dominoes are most widely used for positional games, where each player places a domino edge to edge against another in such a way that the exposed ends of the two dominoes match up with each other, matching one’s to one’s or two’s to two’s. When this happens, the players score points based on the total of the number of exposed pips on each end of the dominoes. Most of these games are played with a standard 28-tile domino set, although some can be played with a double-twelve or even a double-nine set. The games are usually played by four players, with each player choosing a number of tiles from the start.