Dominoes and the Domino Effect

Like a domino, a person or situation can have a profound effect on others. One small act, such as an unexpected setback or a rude encounter, can send ripples through a network of relationships. The word “domino” can also refer to an intricate design created using dominoes. Some of these designs take several nail-biting minutes to fall, displaying impressive feats of engineering and physics.

Dominoes are rectangular blocks of varying sizes and weights, each bearing an arrangement of dots or spots on one face and blank or identically patterned on the other. The identifying marks on the domino’s surface are called pips. The number of pips on a domino varies from set to set. The smallest domino is marked with just one pips, while the largest has twenty pips.

While some games can be played with as few as two players, most domino sets are designed for four or more. These larger sets are sometimes referred to as “double-nine” sets or double-12, though other terms for them are “longer” and “extended.”

The most common materials used to make dominoes include wood and polymer (a type of plastic). Some sets use a different material for each face, giving them a more textured or natural feel than polymer sets. Many older sets, however, are made from stone (e.g., marble, granite, or soapstone); other types of wood; brass and pewter; ceramic clay; and frosted glass or crystal.

After a domino is set down, it must be covered by the next tile. The first player then makes a play on this new domino. If a player does not make a play within his turn, the tile remains exposed until another player takes his turn. If a domino is exposed and no play is immediately made on it, the exposed domino is known as a misplay.

In some games, players keep track of their scores by counting the pips remaining in their hands at the end of a hand or a game. If a player wins, he subtracts the score of the losing players from his total. When counting pips, players may agree to employ this rule variation: When playing a double, count only one end of the piece.

The most popular domino games are bidding, blocking, and scoring games. In these games, a player’s goal is to place all of his tiles in a line on the table before his opponent can do so. The rules for these games typically include basic instructions on how to make the initial line of play, which is often called the Line of Play. Players may also have other rules regarding how to play the specific game they are playing. Some of these additional rules apply to all games and some may be unique to individual games. For example, the Line of Play rules for a particular game might dictate that a player must play a domino with all of its pips matching those on the Line of Play.