The Basics of Dominoes

A domino is a flat, thumbsized block divided visually into two parts and bearing from one to six dots or pips. It is normally twice as long as it is wide. A standard set of 28 such blocks forms a complete dominoes set and is commonly used to play games which involve blocking, scoring, or laying the pieces down in lines and angular patterns. Dominoes are also known as bones, cards or pieces and can be made of a variety of materials: bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, dark hardwoods such as ebony, or metals such as brass.

The term domino, which means “little one,” has been in use since the early 1900s. It has been applied both literally (a series of actual physical collisions) and metaphorically (causal linkages within systems such as global finance or politics). The idiom domino effect is the name for a scenario in which one small trigger can start a chain reaction with far-reaching consequences.

Hevesh makes a point of testing each individual section of her dominoes to ensure they work properly before she begins assembling them together. She then uses a slow-motion video camera to evaluate the results and make adjustments. This method helps her to create the exact dominoes she needs, and to prevent mishaps that might otherwise cause a major setback.

While some of the most common domino games involve lining up matching ends, other types of dominoes include the classic domino block game, the double-nine, and the Mexican train. Several different rules govern these games, and each has its own unique set of tiles.

Most people are familiar with the game of domino. The most basic rule is that a tile with a number of pips on one side must match a tile with the same number on both sides. If there are no matching tiles, the first player draws another tile from his or her hand to place on the board. The player must then add a new tile to the end of the row, and the row must be completed before the end of the game.

Some games require that the next tile placed be a double, which can only match with the top or bottom of a previous domino. In these cases, the tile is usually placed cross-ways in the layout, straddling the end of the previous domino. This way, the pips are always visible and the other players know that it is an open end and is available for play.

When a domino is matched with an open end, it becomes a “wild” and can be assigned any value. Some people choose to make all of the dominoes with blank sides wild, meaning that they can be paired with any other domino. The blanks are also useful for keeping track of the score, and this is especially important if multiple players have the same hand.