The Basics of Dominoes


A domino is a small rectangular block, often made of wood or plastic, with a design on one face and blank or marked with an arrangement of dots resembling those on dice. It is usually a set of 28 tiles, though larger sets exist for use in games that require longer domino chains or for those who prefer to play with physical objects rather than electronic devices. A player can play a number of different games with dominoes, and they are also used as teaching aids to help children learn numbers, letters, or shapes.

Dominoes are generally played by placing the tiles edge to edge against each other so that their adjacent faces match either identically or form some specified total (for example, fives touch fives). The first player to play a domino in this manner starts a chain of chains that continues to grow in length until some player plays another tile with a matching end to one already on the layout. The resulting string of dominoes is then scored by the players who then have an opportunity to place additional pieces to the chain, if they wish to continue scoring points.

Stacking dominoes on end in long lines is popular among children and adults, but more complex designs can be created. This activity has led to the phrase “the domino effect,” which refers to a series of events that begins with one simple action but ultimately leads to much greater–and sometimes catastrophic–consequences. For example, Jennifer Dukes Lee began making her bed each day, and it became a habit that eventually led to other healthy habits like eating more vegetables and exercising regularly.

When playing domino, it is best to do so on a hard surface to minimize the chance of tripping over the tiles. It is also useful to have a scorekeeping sheet to keep track of the scores in each game. A score sheet shows all the dominoes a player has in a particular round and may include the rules of the game.

There are several types of domino sets available, but the most common is the double six set, which includes 28 tiles. There are also extended sets with more tiles that feature higher numbers of pips on the ends. These larger sets are often used for games requiring longer domino chains or to play with multiple players.

Each domino has a number of pips or dots on the front and back, which determines its suit. Most domino sets belong to one suit, but some are of mixed suits. A domino with no pips on the front belongs to the zero suit, and a domino with all of the same color on all four sides belongs to the ace suit.

In addition to plastic, dominoes are also traditionally made from natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or dark hardwoods such as ebony. They are usually painted or inlaid with a contrasting color such as black or white. Some of these natural materials have a more unique look and feel than polymer dominoes, and they can be considerably more expensive.