Dominoes are two-sided pieces with a line in the middle to divide them into two squares, each of which is marked with an arrangement of spots, or “pips.” Like playing cards, dominoes are usually twice as long as they are wide and are commonly made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony. Some sets are made of frosted glass or crystal or ceramic clay, and some are even made from polymer materials.
The Origin of Domino
In English, the word domino first appeared in 1750, derived from French domino, which means “a cape worn over a surplice,” perhaps referring to the long hooded capes that were popular during carnival season or at masquerade parties. In French, the word also denoted a priest’s long cloak, which was often worn over a white surplice during church service.
The game of dominoes is played by stacking tiles in a chain, with the goal of knocking over a single domino. There are several different variations of the game, but most versions include a double-six set consisting of 28 unique pieces. Each piece in a domino set has one of three values: six, zero or none.
Players must choose seven pieces of their own to begin a game, and the other player must choose seven from their own stock. Then, each player places a domino next to the one that they just played. If the end of a domino has the same number of pips as the end of one that they just played, it is considered a match and can be played.
Some dominoes have blank ends. These are often used in some special domino games, such as Concentration. These can be difficult to identify, as each end has a different number of pips and is therefore difficult to read.
A domino is usually stacked with the pips facing up. This makes it easier to see what you are doing.
Traditionally, a domino has the same number of spots on both sides, but the most common version is double-six, with a piece with six spots on each end. However, there are also some variants with fewer or more pips on each side.
The Rules of the Game
A double-six domino set consists of 28 pieces, each with a different number of pips on each end. Each domino is twice as long as it is wide, making it easy to re-stack after use.
The first player picks a domino that has the same number of pips on both sides, and the second player must choose another domino that has the same number of knuckles on either side. The player must then play both dominoes in a straight line, which is called a “rally.” This rally must be completed without missing a tile.
When a domino is knocked over, its potential energy becomes available to push on the next domino in the chain. Much of that energy is converted into kinetic energy, the energy of motion–the same energy that causes falling dominoes to slide and bottoms to slip against surfaces.