Domino is a type of game played with a set of small rectangular tiles with a matching pattern on each face. These tiles have a number of spots or “pips” on them which resemble those on dice. Dominos can be made from wood, clay, metal, and other materials. They can be either square or curved, and they may have a grid that forms pictures when they fall, or they can be stacked to form towers or pyramids. The pieces can also be printed with different designs or even pictures of people and animals. Domino is a fun way to spend time with friends or family and can provide hours of entertainment.
The most common domino sets have 28 tiles; each tile has one side that shows a number and another side that is blank or has an identical pattern to the other side. Traditionally, dominoes were made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony, with pips inlaid or painted in black and white. Sets of dominoes have been made from other natural materials as well, such as marble, soapstone and granite; other woods, including hickory and oak; and metals such as brass or pewter. The sets were traditionally held in a wooden box. More recently, plastic, cardboard and other polymer materials have replaced the traditional hickory, ivory or ebony in many countries.
The rules of most domino games involve playing a domino tile onto the table so that it touches the end of a chain already in play, forming an endless loop. A player must then play a tile to the end of the chain so that its own number is displayed. Each additional tile added to the chain must match its own number if possible, although there are exceptions to this rule. A double can be placed cross-ways in the layout straddling the long side of the previous domino. This allows more tiles to be played to the chain from both directions.
There are a great many types of domino games, and each one differs in the way that players win and lose. Some domino games are blocking games and allow no moves to be made by opponents. Others are scoring games, such as bergen and muggins, in which the total points are determined by counting the pips on the losing players’ remaining tiles.
Some games use a single domino to determine victory. Other games allow players to pass their turn when they cannot play a domino. These are often variants of card games, which were originally developed to circumvent religious proscriptions against playing cards. In some cases, these games are used to train children in counting and mathematical skills. They are also used to teach them social skills. Domino has been used to help people in troubled situations regain control of their lives. One example is the occurrence of “domino effect,” in which one event causes other events to follow, such as an outbreak of infectious disease in a hospital.