The Basics of Dominoes


A domino is a small, rectangular wood or plastic block with one side either blank or marked with dots that resemble those on dice. It is one of several types of gaming pieces used to play a variety of games. A complete set of dominoes consists of 28 such blocks, although some games use more. The word “domino” is also a verb meaning “to knock over or destroy.” A domino effect describes a chain reaction that builds and collapses in a controlled way, as the result of the push of one domino on top of another.

Dominoes are sometimes called bones, cards, men or pieces. They are normally twice as long as they are wide, which makes them easy to stack. Each domino has a line in the middle to divide it visually into two squares, each bearing from one to six pips or dots (on most sets, the top half is colored ivory, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell, mother-of-pearl or dark hardwood such as ebony).

The first player to play all of his or her dominoes wins. Until then, each turn begins with a player choosing a domino from the boneyard and placing it on the table. The second player then plays a domino that is matched to the previous domino played. This continues until the players cannot play a domino or a player decides to chip out, in which case the next player takes their turn.

Dominoes can be made from a variety of materials, including polymer, ceramic clay, marble, stone and wood. Polymer dominoes are the most common, because they are inexpensive and durable. They can be purchased at most toy stores and discount department stores. In addition, many hobbyists make their own custom sets. Some even create three-dimensional structures, such as towers and pyramids.

Some domino builders compete in domino shows, where they attempt to build the most elaborate domino effect or reaction before a live audience. These shows can be spectacular and educational, as they demonstrate how a sequence of carefully chosen dominoes can lead to a complex and satisfying conclusion.

If you’re interested in dominoes, try making your own. Draw a design on paper, and figure out how many dominoes you need. Then, experiment with the dominoes you have on hand. Place them on the board and, starting with a single domino, gently tap it. Observe the results to learn about how different dominoes fall differently, and how the position of each domino can influence the direction in which the rest of the set falls. This knowledge will help you plan out a domino track and, if necessary, modify your layout to accommodate the shape of the structure you’re creating.

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