Dominoes Explained


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A domino is a small rectangular wooden or plastic block that has one or more square faces, each with a number of spots or dots resembling those on dice. A domino may be blank or marked with numbers indicating its value; the more spots it has, the higher its value. A domino can be placed edge to edge against another domino, or it may be stacked to form a larger structure such as a tower.

When the first domino is tipped ever-so-slightly, all of the others follow in a neat, rhythmic cascade. This effect, often called the domino effect, can occur in a wide range of activities. For example, a woman who starts making her bed each day will soon find that she is more likely to keep up this habit, which can lead to other lifestyle changes. Likewise, a business that listens to its customers will find that it can create a chain reaction of positive effects, including more satisfied employees and increased profits.

In addition to the traditional set of 28 dominoes, which is commonly used in games, many different sets of dominoes are available. Each set is made of a different material and may differ in the number of dominoes that it contains. Some examples of different types of dominoes include European-style dominoes, Chinese dominoes, and double-nine dominoes.

Before a game of dominoes can begin, the tiles must be shuffled. Traditionally, this is done by turning the dominoes upside down and moving them around in a random way without flipping any of them over. When the shuffle is complete, all of the dominoes should be in the same place. A collection of shuffled dominoes is sometimes referred to as the boneyard.

Dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide, which makes them easier to stack. The most common type of domino has a line in the middle to divide it visually into two equal squares, each with a number of spots or pips, ranging from six pips at the top to none or blank at the bottom. Dominoes with a single row of pips, called a railroad, are also sometimes used for certain games.

In terms of their physical appearance, dominoes are typically made from either bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), or ivory, with a black or white background on the domino face. Some sets are made from other natural materials such as stone (e.g., marble or granite); woods such as ebony or maple; metals; and even ceramic clay. These natural materials can add to the aesthetic of a set, but they are often more expensive than polymer materials such as resin or PVC.