Domino is a family of games played with a set of flat, rectangular tiles marked with dots in two equal columns. Known also as bones, cards or men, dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide and can be stacked on end in very long lines. When the first domino in a line is tipped over, it causes the next one to tip and so on until all of the pieces have fallen. This simple action led to many different domino games, and it also inspired the phrase “domino effect,” which refers to a chain reaction that starts small and leads to much larger – and sometimes dramatic – consequences.
Dominoes can be used to make straight and curved lines, grids that form pictures or 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. They can also be used as tools to create patterns, and they are often displayed as art in public spaces such as museums and libraries. The art created using dominoes can be as simple or as elaborate as desired. Some popular examples include stacked towers, walls, or pictures of people or animals. The size of the design may also be limited only by the number of available dominoes.
A standard domino set includes 28 tiles marked with the numbers 1 through 8. Each tile has two ends, with a number of spots or pips on each end. The numbers on the ends range from six pips down to blank or zero, and each end of the tiles is assigned a value, which is called its rank or weight. Each rank is a part of one of four suits, namely the suit of threes, the suit of nines, the suit of twelves, or the suit of blanks (or the 0 suite).
The most popular type of domino play is known as layout games and falls into two broad categories: blocking games and scoring games. During the course of a game, each player places tiles on the table, positioning them such that their matching ends are adjacent. The resulting chains of dominoes can be very long or short depending on the rules of each game. Each matched pair of dominoes is then awarded points according to the scoring system used in that game.
When playing a blocking game, the first domino placed is typically designated by drawing lots or by determining which player holds the heaviest hand. Then the players alternately play a domino onto the layout with the goal of removing any other dominos from the field. Each new piece that is placed must match a domino already present in the layout, either on an open or closed end. When a double is played, additional tiles can be placed against its open side only (if it is a single, the additional tile must be perpendicular to that side).
The most common layout games are designed such that all of the dominoes have four sides that can be played against. This gives each turn a total of four matching pairs of tiles to work with, which makes the games more complex and exciting.