How to Play Dominoes

Dominoes are a fun toy for kids, but they also can be used to create intricate designs. They can be lined up to make curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, or even 3D structures like towers and pyramids. There are many different games that can be played with dominoes, and they are a great way to teach children the value of perseverance and teamwork.

The word domino, meaning “little one,” comes from a Latin word for a small rectangular block used in gaming. A domino set consists of a large number of these blocks, usually 28 in number, and they are marked on each end with either numbers or blanks that resemble those on dice. The values represented by the ends are called pips. A domino that has a number on both ends is referred to as a double, and a tile with the same number on each end is called a triplet. The sum of the pips on both ends is called the domino’s rank or weight.

When playing domino, the first player, determined by drawing of lots or by who holds the heaviest hand, places a domino on the table in such a way that it sits adjacent to other tiles with matching numbers or with the same number in both ends. The other players then place their tiles edge-to-edge against the first tile so that their pips add up to the specified total. The game continues until all the tiles have been placed or a specified total is reached.

In the past, domino sets were made from natural materials such as bone (either real or ivory), silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), and dark woods such as ebony. In more recent times, polymer plastic has become the most common material for domino sets, although some sets are still manufactured from other natural substances. The most expensive domino sets are made from metals, marble, granite, soapstone, or a combination of these and other materials. The pips on such sets are inlaid or painted.

Dominoes are typically twice as long as they are wide, which makes them easy to re-stack after use. They are often made from hard, sturdy materials such as wood or bone and may have a smooth or textured surface. They are sometimes glazed to increase durability and/or shine.

Dominoes are a type of mathematical chess puzzle, but there are a variety of other games that can be played with them. In addition to the traditional pips-on-ends style of dominoes, there are also variants that involve spinners, doubles, and multiple colors.