The Basics of Domino


Domino is a game in which players take turns laying down dominoes in a line. When one domino topples, it initiates a chain reaction that causes other dominoes to fall. The game has many variations, and is played throughout the world by children and adults.

In addition to being used for games, dominoes can be arranged in art projects, or used as decorations. Several types of domino art are available, including straight lines of dominoes that form pictures when they fall, curved lines, grids that form patterns, and 3D structures like towers and pyramids. Some people even use dominoes to create patterns and designs in their yards.

The individual pieces of a domino set are called dominoes, although they have other names as well. The name derives from the Latin word domini, meaning “heavy,” and is also a reference to their shape. They are usually made of a material such as wood or bone and are rectangular in shape, although they can be square, round, or any other shape. A domino has a face on one side that is marked with an arrangement of spots, or “pips,” similar to those on a die, and a blank or identically patterned opposite side. The number of pips on a domino depends on the game.

A typical domino set contains 28 tiles, which are usually labeled with numbers from zero to nine. This set is sufficient for most domino games, but larger sets are available to allow for more complicated rules and scoring. There are also specialized dominoes for specific games, such as dice-shaped and colored.

When a player begins a game of domino, the order of play is determined by the seating arrangement or by drawing lots to determine who will make the first play. If there is a tie, the player holding the heaviest domino may begin play. Some rules for specific games call for the winner of a previous game to open play in the current game.

Counting the pips on dominoes left in the losing players’ hands at the end of a hand or game is a common method for calculating scores. Some rules require counting only the lower half of a double, and some rules specify that each end of a double must be with the line of play.

Gravity plays a role in dominoes, according to physicist Stephen Morris of the University of Toronto. He explains that when you stand an upright domino, it stores potential energy because of its weight and position. When the domino falls, much of this potential energy is converted into kinetic energy because the pieces are moving. This change of energy is what causes the domino effect that enables one domino to topple and initiate a chain reaction. The same phenomenon is the reason why a nerve impulse in your body can travel down a line of cells without losing energy. If you think about it, this makes sense: the energy of a domino that is pushed down a row of cells is all-or-nothing.

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