What is Domino?

Domino is a word that describes a chain reaction, or series of events, that starts with one small action and leads to larger-and sometimes catastrophic-consequences. A common example of a domino effect is the way a lone robber can start a spree that ends with banks and credit unions being shut down by the law enforcement authorities. Another common example is the way a small earthquake can trigger a series of chain reactions that eventually lead to the collapse of buildings and other structures.

Domino also refers to the game in which players try to build lines of dominoes, or tiles, that touch on both sides. Each domino has a number of dots on one side, and a blank or identically patterned side. The dots are often called pips and they are used to identify each domino. Most sets of dominoes have a standard number of pips, but some of the larger sets have more. Most of the games played with dominoes are blocking and scoring games. In some cases, dominoes are also used to play card-style games that were once popular in places with religious prohibitions against playing cards.

A domino that is set up so that it cannot be matched with another tile, or that has only a single or double-pip on either of its ends, is considered to be “wild.” Some players choose to make the wild side of a domino a particular color, such as red, or they may treat it as having no value at all.

In a domino game, the player takes turns placing dominoes end to end. Each time a domino is placed, the exposed ends of the domino must match: for example, a domino with a number of dots on one end and a number of blanks on the other must be paired with a matching domino. The first person to complete a full row wins the game.

Larger sets of dominoes are often made from natural materials, such as bone or silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood like ebony. They may be carved, inlaid, or painted. These sets are generally more expensive than those constructed from polymer materials. Some dominoes are even made of wood that has been turned into a solid block and then cut into individual pieces.

Some larger domino sets, such as the double-nine, contain 55 tiles. These sets are very popular for games involving more than one player. More recently, extended versions of these sets have been produced that increase the maximum number of pips on each end to three. The most common extension is to a double-six set. These sets allow for a much larger variety of game options, especially in games where the goal is to build long domino chains that can be tipped over without stopping the game. Some extended sets also include more readable Arabic numerals instead of the traditional pips. Some players prefer this option for clarity.