A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block with either one or two sides marked by dots or blanks that resemble those on dice. It’s typically twice as long as it is wide, and a domino can be stacked on end in long lines. When a single domino in the line is toppled, it sets off a chain reaction that causes every other domino in the line to tip over. This is the basis for many popular domino games and also gives rise to the phrase “domino effect,” which refers to a series of events that have far-reaching, even catastrophic consequences.
A typical domino set has 28 tiles with different colored dots, and each tile is labeled with a number from 1 to 7, or 0 if it has no markings. A player may choose to purchase an extended set of dominoes with additional ends, such as double-nine, which increases the maximum number of possible combinations by three.
When a person makes a play, he places his domino on the table. This first domino is often called the set, down or lead, and it determines how the rest of the line of play will proceed. Depending on the game, it may be necessary to place the domino on a particular spot in order to make it a valid play.
In the game of domino, players must make sure to keep track of the number of pips on each end. These numbers correspond to the values of each domino, and a domino with more pips is considered heavier or ‘heavier’ than a lighter domino with fewer pips. In addition, the number of pips on a single end can be used to determine which player must make the first play in the chain.
Once a player has determined which domino to play, he draws a hand of tiles from the stock, or ‘draws and pays’ as it is sometimes known. Depending on the rules of the specific game, the heaviest domino or the winner of the last game begins play.
Throughout the course of the game, players add up their points. Usually, each player has his own scoring system, but the basic score is based on counting the pips left in the losing players’ hands at the end of a hand or the game. The winner of the game is then awarded that number of points.
While the basic rules of domino differ from game to game, most involve placing a domino edge-to-edge on the table, and matching the pips of each open end with the corresponding numbers on the other ends of the line. Some domino games also require the use of spinners, which have a designated pattern of dots and act as markers on the line. These can be added to the end of a line to create patterns and increase the complexity of the game.