A domino is a small rectangular block used as a gaming object. A game is played with a set of these blocks, generally 28 in number. A domino is usually made of rigid material such as wood or bone and is often decorated with pips (markings resembling those on dice) or a picture. The word domino is also used to describe a game or a sequence of events that follow one another as though by natural law, such as the collapse of a city or nation following an act of war or terrorism.
There are many different games that can be played with dominoes, and many people like to create artwork using them. Many of these pieces involve arranging the dominoes in straight lines or geometric shapes. Others include stacked walls, or 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. Creating a domino art requires careful planning, as the dominoes must be arranged to make sure they fall in the desired pattern.
Dominoes are traditionally made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl) or ivory with contrasting black or white pips. More recently, sets have been made from a variety of other materials, such as metals; ceramic clay; stone, including marble and granite; soapstone; and various types of wood, including ebony and walnut. In addition to varying the look and feel of the tiles, some of these newer sets are designed to be lighter in weight than traditional European-style dominoes.
The individual tiles that comprise a domino are referred to as bones, cards, men, or pieces and are normally twice as long as they are wide. Each tile features a square face that is divided into two identical rectangles, called ends. The ends may be marked with a number of spots or pips, indicating its value. A piece with more pips has a higher rank than a piece with fewer or no pips, and is therefore considered “heavier.”
In most domino games, each player must play a tile to a double end. This causes the ends to connect and form a chain. Normally, the next tile must be played perpendicular to the double touching at its center, but this is not always the case. Occasionally, the ends of the chains develop a snake-like shape.
The first player to reach a set score wins the game. This can be accomplished by a specified number of rounds, or by accumulating points scored by the opposing players. Points are awarded based on the numbers of pips on the opponent’s tiles, and rules vary about which pips count as which values. For example, a double-blank could be worth either zero or 14, depending on the game’s specific rules.
The fact that a single domino can be used to topple many larger and more complex ones is the basis for the theory of the Domino Effect, an idea described in the book Influence by Robert Cialdini. The Domino Effect is the principle that if someone commits to an idea or goal, even just a little bit at a time, they are more likely to honor it than to abandon it.