The Basics of Dominoes


A domino is a small rectangular block with a line down the center and either blank or with numbers (known as pips) resembling those on dice. It is generally twice as long as wide, making it easier to stack the tiles together. The most popular domino set contains 28 tiles, with each tile displaying one of six different values. Each side of the domino has a value, and the number on both ends is added up to produce the total value of a domino.

A single domino can be flipped over by a slight nudge, and the other side will immediately start to slide against it, creating friction. The resulting energy is converted from potential into kinetic, and as more and more of these small blocks are pushed over, they generate enough force to cause more and more to fall over, like a chain reaction. This phenomenon is the basis for the popular game of domino, in which players try to build chains of tiles that can knock over other dominoes with a minimum of effort.

Dominoes are most often made from polymer, but they have also been fashioned out of wood (e.g., mahogany and oak), bone (including silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell, also known as mother of pearl), ivory, and ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on them. In the past, these natural materials were typically more expensive than polymer sets.

Historically, the first player to draw a domino begins the game by placing it on the table, positioning it so that its exposed end touches another piece of the domino. Then, the players each take turns placing a new domino so that its exposed end touches the edge of another domino, starting a new chain. The player who plays a domino that has a number showing at both ends of the chain is awarded points by other players.

These dominoes can be placed in rows to form a pattern of squares, octagons, or circles. They can also be stacked on top of each other in lines to create shapes such as a house, castle, or pyramid.

Dominoes can be used to teach children about probability, and they can be used to demonstrate how mathematical principles relate to real-life events. The concept of dominoes as a representation of chance is particularly appealing to children because it allows them to use their own imaginations to predict what will happen when one event influences another, rather than forcing them to accept a predetermined outcome.

In fiction, the domino effect helps writers plot their stories. A story isn’t about action so much as it is about reaction, and the domino effect allows writers to build a compelling story by laying out scene dominoes that will automatically lead to the next scene. Whether you’re writing a novel off the cuff or carefully planning an outline, using this concept can help you ensure that your plot is well-structured and easy to follow.