The Basics of Dominoes

A domino (plural: dominoes) is a small rectangular block, usually wood or plastic, with either a blank or dotted surface that bears a number of spots or pips resembling those on dice. A domino may also be referred to simply as a tile or a bone. Dominoes are used to play a variety of games, each with slightly different rules. Most domino games are grouped into four categories: blocking games, draw games, scoring games and round games.

Typically, a domino is twice as long as wide, although there are exceptions. Most dominoes feature a line down the middle to divide it visually into two squares. The numbers on each side of the domino range from six to none or blank, and are called pips. The sum of the pips on both sides of a domino is called the rank or weight. A higher rank or weight is considered “heavier” than a lower one.

Most domino games are played by more than one person, with each player sitting at a table. Before the game begins, a domino set is shuffled and each player draws to determine who will lead. The leader plays first, generally starting with the heaviest piece. The players then take turns placing their tiles on the table, positioning them so that each domino touches a previous tile, which then becomes the end of a chain. A player cannot place a tile that has no touching tiles on both ends; this is a misplay and results in the opponent taking the piece.

Many domino games involve the use of a scoring system and are scored by counting the number of matching ends on the tiles in a domino chain. Depending on the particular game, a domino can have either an open or closed end; the open ends are counted, while the closed ends are ignored for scoring purposes. Often, a tile with a spinner is included in the count; for example, a double tile with an open end of 3 and a closed end of 5 would be scored as 4 (3 + 1).

The most basic Western dominoes are set-up and draw games for two to four players. After the dominoes are shuffled, the players draw for the lead, which is then played to the left of the remaining stock or boneyard. The next player then plays, and so on.

Dominoes have been used for educational purposes, such as to teach sequencing and order of operations, as well as for creative projects. For instance, artist Lily Hevesh used dominoes to create elaborate scenes for movies and events, such as a music video for pop singer Katy Perry. Other uses of dominoes include creating a timeline, developing an organizational chart and illustrating the law of causality in a business context. For example, when a company’s employees start dropping like dominoes, it is often because of an unsatisfactory work environment, and the solution to this problem may require some reorganization of the workplace.