Dominoes are the small, rectangular blocks used in games of chance or skill. Each has a face divided into squares, each bearing an arrangement of dots or “pips” similar to those on dice; the remainder of the piece is blank. Each domino has a set of matching sides, and a domino chain is formed when a tile is played so that its matching side touches one of the ends of a previous tile (or “pip line”). Most dominoes have a numerical value assigned to each of their matching pairs of sides; the player who first plays a tile with a number showing at one end of the pip line starts the domino chain. The value of a domino can change as the game continues, depending on how the players position and move the pieces.
A game of domino is a great way to spend an afternoon with family or friends. It can also be a way to exercise mental and motor skills, or to practice concentration and timing. The rules of each game vary, but most are designed to involve strategic planning and tactical decision-making. The most common Western domino games are block-and-draw games for two to four players. The pips of the dominoes are arranged to give each player different numbers to choose from; each must take the highest number of tiles available, or “take the lead.” A tile played to a double must be positioned so that its matching side is touching it fully unless it is a zero.
If the initial domino falls, it passes its potential energy to the next domino, causing that domino to fall, and so on until all the pieces are down. This is the source of the expression “the domino effect,” which describes a chain reaction that begins with one event and causes other events to follow suit.
The word domino, in addition to referring to the game itself, can also refer to other things:
1. a long hooded cloak worn with a mask at a masquerade.
2. a turban worn on the head to protect the head from cold.
3. A set of dominoes, usually 28 in number.
4. A person who is in control of a company or group.
5. A slang term for the ecclesiastical garment worn by priests over their surplices.
6. a costume consisting of a hooded robe and a mask for use at masked balls and other events.
Dominoes are made from various materials, including bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and a dark wood such as ebony. They are often painted or inlaid with contrasting black or white pips. More recently, sets have been produced from other natural materials such as stone (e.g., marble or granite); other types of wood; metals; ceramic clay; and frosted glass. These sets generally have a more unique look and feel, but are typically much more expensive than those made from polymer materials such as plastic.