# How Dominoes Are Used

A domino is a set of small, oblong, rectangular pieces marked on one side with an arrangement of spots, called pips, that match those on a die. Like a deck of cards or dice, a domino set may be used to play many different games. Some games involve matching a domino to another with a value indicated by its open end. Others involve scoring points by being the first to reach a specified total, often 61 points.

A long line of stacked dominoes can be tipped over to create a pattern of lines or shapes, or to form 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. Such a chain reaction is commonly known as the domino effect, a term that originated from the idiom that one event can cause many other events to occur.

Dominoes are also used to make art, with people creating curved lines and grids that create pictures when the pieces fall, or more intricate designs such as castles and bridges. One popular way to display domino art is to create a track for dominoes, with arrows showing the direction the dominoes should fall.

To determine who will make the first play in a game of domino, players draw hands according to the rules of the particular game being played. The player holding the heaviest double begins play (this is sometimes referred to as being the leader or the downer).

As players match and play tiles, they form a line of dominoes that is referred to as the layout, string, or line of play. The number of tiles in the line of play that are open at any given time is referred to as the count. The player who plays the last tile in a row is called the winner.

Some variants of the game have specific rules for how the count is determined, with the most common being that each open end must be matched with a domino of equal or greater value. The total number of pips on the open ends that are not already matched is then added up and a score is given to the winner.

The heaviest double may be substituted for the first domino in some games when it is not the winnerâ€™s turn to begin play. In addition, some games allow players to buy tiles from the stock. The player who draws an overdraw must take the extra dominoes from his or her hand without looking at them and return them to the stock before anyone else can use them.

Some games have specific rules for when a player may buy a tile from the stock, while others specify that only certain types of tiles can be bought. In general, a player may only buy a tile that matches one of the open ends on an existing piece in the line of play.