A domino is a small wooden or plastic block, usually rectangular and marked with pips resembling those on dice. It can be stacked on end to form long lines. If the first domino in such a line is tipped over, it causes the next domino to tip over, and so on. This chain reaction can be used to play a variety of games. In addition, dominoes can be used to make artistic and creative arrangements, a phenomenon known as the Domino Effect.
A single domino isn’t particularly exciting to look at or to tip over, but a sequence of events that begins with one domino and leads to much larger–and sometimes catastrophic–consequences is quite captivating. That’s why the term “domino effect” is so common, even if it’s not a perfect description of what happens.
While there are a number of different ways to play domino, the most common involves positioning tiles edge-to-edge on a table so that each end of the resulting chain shows a certain number. A player then scores points by playing a tile that adds up to the number shown at either end of the chain. In this way, each player’s score builds up as the chains lengthen.
Some domino sets are designed so that a player can only place one domino per turn. Others allow players to play two or more dominoes on a turn. The latter type of game is generally more prone to disputes over how the scoring system should work, as it can be difficult for one player to play all his or her dominoes before the opponent chips out.
The most common materials for dominoes are bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl or MOP), ivory, and dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips. Polymer dominoes are also available, but they tend to be more fragile. For a more traditional feel, some people opt for natural materials, such as marble, granite or soapstone; metals such as brass or pewter; ceramic clay; and glass or crystal.
Before a game starts, the dominoes are mixed up. Each player then draws a number of tiles, and the player with the highest double goes first. If a player cannot play a tile, he or she passes. When a player has all his or her tiles, he or she wins the game.
Most domino games involve the use of a set of dominoes, which are traditionally 28 pieces in size. The pieces can be arranged in many ways, but they’re most commonly grouped into rows or columns and then topped with a plastic or cardboard disc. This allows for the formation of long, straight lines that can be tipped over to begin a chain reaction.
As the dominoes are tipped over, the potential energy of each becomes kinetic energy, or the energy of motion. Some of this energy is transmitted to the domino it touches, which in turn gives a push to the next domino, and so on. Eventually, all the dominoes in a row will fall over.