A domino is a small rectangular block marked with two groups of spots on one side. It is used for playing a variety of games.
The most common set consists of 28 double six-sided tiles, although larger sets are available for more elaborate games. Dominoes can be made from wood, ivory, bone, a combination of these materials, or even frosted glass or crystal. They are normally colored black or white, and some feature a number of different colors on each face. The spots are usually painted, but they can also be inlaid or engraved.
Dominoes can be played on a table or other flat surface, although some players prefer to play on an irregular surface such as an old floorboard or a rug. Typically, the first player to touch a tile starts the game. Then each player moves their pieces to create a line of play that extends in one direction across the table. This line is called the layout, string, or line of play. When a tile is knocked over, it falls into the space that was occupied by the previous tile and then triggers the same reaction in all adjacent pieces.
This sequence of events is called a domino effect, and it can be very dramatic when the results are displayed in a room full of spectators. It can be especially thrilling when the line of dominoes is long, and the effects are accelerated by the fact that all of the dominoes are in contact with each other and able to interact in parallel lines.
The rules of domino vary by game, but most involve some form of chipping. The winning player is the player whose combined total of all the spots on the tiles left in his or her hand at the end of a hand or the game is the lowest. Some games require that the losing player “chip out” (play his or her last domino) before the winner is determined, while others allow the losing player to choose whether to chip out or not.
In addition to blocking and scoring games, many people enjoy arranging dominoes into intricate patterns. This type of domino art can be as simple or as complicated as the artist desires, from straight lines and curved lines to grids that make pictures when they fall, to stacked walls and 3D structures. In all of these projects, the key is to understand how gravity and the laws of physics can affect the domino arrangement.
For example, a domino has an open end on either one of its sides. In a line of play, this end must match the open ends of all other tiles in that same line. Also, a domino cannot be placed next to another domino with both of its open ends matching. This is because, just like the pulse of a nerve impulse in a brain cell, dominoes have an all-or-nothing effect.