The Fun of Dominoes

Many people enjoy playing games with dominoes, which are rectangular pieces of plastic or other material that have black and white dots. They can be stacked on end in long lines, and when one is tipped over, it causes the next domino in the line to tip as well. The result can be a spectacular display of dominoes that can lead to some fun and creative designs.

Domino is also a term that can be applied to figurative events that start out small but create large and often unexpected consequences. For example, when a student achieves success in a subject that was challenging for her, it can lead to more challenges that propel the student into an even greater level of achievement. This is often referred to as the “domino effect,” where a single action leads to many more, and in turn creates even more, positive results.

The word domino can be traced back to an earlier sense of the term, which denoted a hooded cloak worn over a priest’s surplice. The hooded cloak was often decorated with contrasting blacks and whites, which resembled the color scheme of domino pieces.

Today, dominoes are manufactured in a variety of materials and can be found all over the world. They are used for a number of different games, including the standard Block and Draw game that is popular in most Western countries. Some domino sets are made from traditional materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl or MOP), ivory, ebony, and other dark hardwoods. These sets are generally more expensive than those made from polymers, but the natural materials give them a richer look and feel.

There are numerous games that can be played with dominoes, and the rules for each vary slightly. However, most have the same basic structure. Each domino has a distinct identity-bearing face that is marked with a pattern of dots or pips, similar to the arrangement on the dice. Usually, the domino’s other face is blank or identically patterned. Each domino has a particular value, based on the number of pips on both its identity-bearing and blank sides. A domino with one pips on both its ends is called a double, and a domino with two pips on both its ends is called double-blank.

During gameplay, each player in a domino game takes turns placing one domino into the layout. Each tile placed must have matching, or “open,” ends that can be connected to other dominoes in the chain. Depending on the game, a domino may be placed cross-ways in a layout, straddling the end of another domino, or it may be placed squarely, perpendicular to a double. As the domino chains grow, they develop into snake-lines that are shaped by the players’ decisions and the limitations of their playing surface.

When a player cannot continue to place tiles, she passes her turn to the other players. The players then take turns selecting a sleeping domino from the layout and adding it to their hand, and the process continues until each player has seven or more dominoes in his or her hand.