The Basics of Dominoes


Dominoes are a generic gaming device used in a number of games. They are often arranged into rows or squares and used to create lines of dominoes that fall when a single tile is displaced. In addition, they can be used to form shapes and 3D structures. They are also used to teach children about counting and the numbers on each domino.

While Dominoes are most commonly made of clay or plastic, they can be made from other materials including bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), ivory and dark hardwoods such as ebony. In addition, dominoes can be made of metals such as brass or pewter. Traditionally, a domino set was made of natural materials. While these sets are more expensive than those made of polymer, they are often considered to have a more authentic look and feel.

A typical domino is a rectangular tile with a number of dots, or “pips” on either side. The domino’s value is determined by the number of pips, or a combination thereof, on both ends of the tile. The most common double-six set has 24 total pips on two adjacent sides. The values on each end may vary from six to none or blank. The higher the pips on each end of the domino, the higher its rank or weight.

The earliest domino sets were functionally identical to cards. The earliest reference to dominoes in China is from the Song dynasty text Former Events in Wulin, but it is speculated that Italian missionaries brought the game to Europe.

Many types of domino games exist, but the most basic is the block game for two players. In this game, a player draws seven dominoes from the stock and places them in their hand, leaving the rest of the stock unused. Then, one by one, the players extend the line of play with a domino from their hand that matches at least one of the exposed ends of the first tile in their hand. The first player to do so wins the hand.

When a player wins the hand by playing their last domino, they call out, “Domino!” or “I win!”, and the other players pick up all of the remaining dominoes in the bone yard to try to find an opening tile to play. The game continues until all players are blocked and no legal plays remain, in which case the player with the lowest pip count wins.

The word domino is derived from the Latin noun domini, meaning “rule” or “power.” The term has been used in English since 1750 and French a few years later; it originally denoted a long hooded cloak worn by a priest over his white surplice. In the Frost/Nixon interviews, Richard Nixon defended the U.S.’s military intervention in Latin America on the grounds that a Communist Chile and Cuba would be like a red sandwich that the United States could “dominate” between them.