Domino is a flat, thumb-sized rectangular block bearing a pattern of from one to six pips or dots on its face. It is blank on the other side. A domino set contains 28 such pieces. The term domino also refers to any of the various games played with them. These games are usually characterized by matching the ends of adjacent dominoes or arranging them in lines and angular patterns. They often involve a sequence of events that starts with a single domino and leads to greater—and sometimes catastrophic—consequences, thus echoing the common phrase, “the domino effect.”
Most domino sets contain two suits, each consisting of tiles bearing an identical arrangement of dots or pips. The suit of a particular tile is determined by counting the number of the pips on its two outer edges and subtracting from the total of all the pips on the dominoes in play (a domino in a line of play). If a player holds an open-ended tile—one that may be added to on any of its sides—in the game being played, it is called a spinner.
In addition to the traditional blocking and scoring games, dominoes can be used to make 3-D structures like towers and pyramids. In such constructions, each piece must be perfectly positioned to ensure that the entire structure remains stable when completed. Many builders use a domino layout, a diagram that shows how the pieces will fit together, to plan their builds. The layouts are then used as a guide when building the actual structures.
Dominoes are also used to create art in a variety of forms. These include straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, and stacked walls. The artist may also choose to use different colors or patterns for the individual dominoes. The artist may also draw arrows on the paper showing how the dominoes will fall, which can help them to visualize their design and determine whether it is feasible.
A person with the name domino is someone who always keeps in mind the consequences of every action. The word’s etymological roots—in Latin, dominus and domini—are related to the ancient blocking game, which required careful planning of each move. The term has also come to apply to a masterful commander who always thinks two moves ahead and is aware of the gravity of each decision.
The most popular domino games are called layout games, and they typically fall into two main categories: blocking games and scoring games. In blocking games, players add a domino edge to the end of another in such a way that the adjoining faces match either each other or some specified total. In scoring games, the total is counted as the lines of play are built.
The first step in a game is to draw the number of dominoes specified in the rules of the game being played. The player holding the highest double then begins play. If no players hold a high double, the winner of the last game plays first.