Domino is a game of matching up the ends of domino pieces and laying them down in long lines or angular patterns. When the dominoes are spaced properly, they can be tipped over, triggering the next domino in line to tip over and so on until all the dominoes have fallen. This phenomenon led to the term “domino effect,” which describes how one change can affect many other changes in a similar way—like a domino falling and causing the rest of a chain to tumble down.
There are many different types of games that can be played with domino, and people have used the pieces for centuries in both home and public arenas. The most common games involve the use of the numbered pieces as the basis for a series of calculations that determine how many more dominoes are required to complete a particular pattern or sequence. Other popular games are those that involve the logical placing of dominoes so they form shapes and other structures. Children often enjoy lining up the dominoes on their end in long rows and then knocking them down. In some cases, the children may even use the dominoes as building blocks to create castles or other structures.
In addition to the traditional plastic game pieces, there are sets made of other natural materials. These sets have a more elegant look and can be quite expensive; for example, some of the European-style dominoes are made of bone or silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on each piece. Other sets are made of woods such as ebony, cherry, or mahogany; metals including brass and pewter; ceramic clay; or glass. The woods and other natural materials also tend to be heavier than the plastic dominoes, so they are more substantial and sturdy.
A domino set typically contains 28 pieces. The simplest set has two kinds of dominoes, each bearing an arrangement of spots on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. The pips resemble those on a dice, with numbers from one to six. Some dominoes have additional markings, such as a diamond or circle, on the faces.
When playing a domino game, the players draw and play their pieces in turns. The person who plays the first piece must match the value of the pips on his or her remaining dominoes to the number displayed on the other player’s dominoes. The player who cannot match the value of the pips loses. If there are no more matches, the player chips out and the next player starts the round.
The most basic Western domino games are block-and-draw; after a player draws and plays his or her piece, the other players draw from a stock, sometimes called a boneyard, until one or both players have no more pieces to play. The players who have the fewest remaining pips win.