Domino (also dominoes or domino) is a type of game played with small rectangular blocks, each bearing from one to six dots or pip marks. A complete set of dominoes consists of 28 such blocks. Dominoes are played by matching the ends of adjacent pieces, arranging them into lines and angular patterns, and then placing them down in order to form chains. When a chain is complete, the last remaining tiles are removed from play, and the winning player is awarded points according to the rules of the game being played.
The word domino is derived from the Latin for “falling block.” The first domino to fall releases a pulse of potential energy, which travels down the line until it’s finally stopped by another, knocking over the next piece. This process is similar to the way a nerve impulse travels down a neuron. The result is that a domino effect can have dramatic, even devastating consequences.
A neologism coined by computer pioneer Alan Turing, the term “domino effect” refers to an occurrence in which a single event has a ripple effect, causing a sequence of events that eventually leads to a major change. A domino effect can be seen in everyday life, from the unexpected death of a loved one to the collapse of an entire industry or nation.
There are many different games that can be played with a domino set. Some involve blocking other players from making a play, while others focus on scoring points. Some of these games are adaptations of card games, which were popular in some areas to circumvent religious proscriptions against playing cards. Others are entirely new.
When a domino set is being used for scoring purposes, the number of points awarded to the winner can be determined by counting the total number of pips on all the dominoes left in the losers’ hands at the end of a hand or the game. Some games also employ a simpler method of counting, which involves only counting the pips on one side of a double (i.e., 4-4 counts as only four points).
Before a game begins, the dominoes are arranged into a stack called the stock. Each player draws a domino from this stack, and the player who draws the heaviest tile takes the first turn. If the stack becomes depleted, new tiles may be drawn from the stock to replenish it.
The heaviest domino in a particular line of play is called the spinner. When a player plays a tile that makes the spinner the same as an existing end of a domino chain, that player is said to have “stitched up” the ends. For example, if the domino chain has the 3-5 tile and the 5-5 tile, the count is 4 (3+1). This method of counting is often employed in a game where each tile must touch the open end of a previous tile. This is known as a “chain”. In addition, some games allow players to buy and pass their turns.