The Basics of Domino

Domino is a game in which players place domino pieces edge to edge on the table, positioning them so that each end of the chain shows a different number. The first player to play a piece that has its corresponding end showing a particular number starts the chain. The other players then in turn must follow the lead by playing their own tiles in a way that adds to the chain. The player who finishes the chain wins the game, and the number of pips on the winning tile is awarded to that player or team.

Dominoes are typically rectangular with a line down the center that divides them visually into two squares. One of the squares is patterned with an arrangement of dots, called “pips,” similar to those on a die; the other side of the domino is blank or identically shaped, depending upon the type of domino being played. The value of a domino is determined by its pips and by the position of the corresponding end of the chain.

A domino can have a number of markings that are used to identify it, and it may also be painted or decorated with designs or symbols. The most common color is white, although a domino can be produced in many other colors and even some translucent or transparent varieties. Some domino sets are made from natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and dark hardwoods such as ebony. These sets generally have a more luxurious appearance and feel to the touch, and they may be more expensive than polymer dominoes.

Traditionally, dominoes have been used to play a wide variety of games. Some, such as bergen and muggins, are scoring games in which the number of pips on the opposing players’ tiles is awarded to the winner, while others involve blocking other players’ play or duplicate card games. There are also a number of domino games that teach children number recognition and counting skills, and other variants of the game have been developed to help students with special needs practice their socialization skills.

The domino effect can refer to either a series of real-life physical collisions between objects, or to the concept of causal linkages within systems such as global finance or politics. The mechanical domino effect can also be exploited as components in Rube Goldberg machines.

The largest dominoes are used for artistic and other decorative purposes, but they can also be used in creative and challenging ways to build structures that must be toppled by hand or with a machine. The art of domino building can be as simple or as elaborate as the artist chooses, and can include straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, or 3D towers and pyramids. Some artists set up huge displays of dominoes to attract and entertain audiences.