A domino is a rectangular tile with a number of dots on one face. The other face is blank or identically patterned. Each domino is also divided, by a ridge or line, into two squares, each of which is marked with an arrangement of spots, or “pips,” like those on dice, except that some squares are blank (indicated in the listing below by a zero). The dominoes in a standard set of dominoes all have the same number of pips on both halves of their faces. This allows players to match them up and play them in a chain, whereby a single domino can set off a sequence of other dominoes falling over one by one.
Dominoes are often used to create intricate, eye-catching displays. For example, in the domino shows that are popular on television, builders set up a sequence of hundreds or even thousands of dominoes, all toppled with the careful nudge of just one. These impressive displays are made possible by the laws of physics, explains Hevesh, who has created her own domino show in which she sets up a massive domino display and then lets it fall according to the rules of physics.
While this type of domino effect is impressive, it’s not the only way in which a domino can topple something. A more powerful domino effect involves a physical phenomenon called gravity. Gravity is the force that pulls a fallen domino toward Earth and causes it to knock over everything around it. Physicist Stephen Morris demonstrates this domino effect in this video.
To play a game of domino, players take turns placing tiles on the table. Each tile must be played against another so that the ends of the matching pieces touch. The ends of the dominoes must also be aligned if they are doubles. The chain formed by these touching ends then gradually increases in length. Eventually, the players are out if they cannot continue playing to the end of a chain that has reached their side of the table.
The most common domino sets have 28 or 55 dominoes, but larger sets are available for more players or for longer chains. The most common extended domino sets have more pips on the ends of the dominoes, increasing the number of possible combinations of ends and thus the amount of pieces in the set.
Most of the games that are played with dominoes involve laying out the tiles to form a chain or a pattern. These chains are then scored to determine the winner of the game.
Dominoes can be played in many different ways, and the rules of each game vary widely. For example, in the Draw game, each player begins with four dominoes and must play adjacent to the first doublet that is placed so that the two matching sides of the tile are touching. The next tile played must then be placed perpendicular to this second double, and so on.