What Is Domino?

Domino is a generic gaming device, like playing cards or dice, that can be used to play a wide variety of games. One of the most popular games is a variation on Concentration that involves using dominoes. Another is a sort of pattern-making exercise that can be done with the pieces, either as stand-alone toys or in long lines that can be tipped and set in motion to produce elaborate chains of dominoes. The idea is to start with a single tile, ideally one that has a number on one end and a blank or identically patterned other end. A player takes turns placing tiles on the table positioning them so that one of the matching ends is touching the end of a domino already on the table. This creates a chain that can grow and shrink at will depending on the placement of other dominoes in the chain.

Dominoes have been made in a wide variety of materials and shapes. In addition to the traditional European-style dominoes that have a silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (MOP) or ivory face with a dark hardwood such as ebony for contrast, sets have also been produced from stone; metals such as brass and pewter; ceramic clay; woods including acacia and mahogany; and even frosted glass and crystal. Each has a unique look and feel. The most common type of domino today is the polymer resin set with black or white pips that can be found in most toy stores. These are a good value, but many people prefer the look and feel of the traditional sets that are often made from ivory, MOP, or a combination of both.

There are many different rules for how a domino is played, and the games are generally designed to provide entertainment while demonstrating the principle of domino effect – that a small action can have large and dramatic consequences. These effects are most evident in the games that involve stacking the dominoes on end in long lines. Each domino is able to tip the next domino in the line over, which then tips a sequence of more and more dominoes until all the tiles are toppled. This can lead to a complex and decorative design.

In writing, the concept of domino is a useful metaphor for the pace and structure of a story. Each scene can be thought of as a domino that advances the hero either closer to or farther from the story goal, just as each domino in a long row of dominoes is able to cause more and more to fall. Likewise, scenes in a story must be spaced out so that they are neither overly long (heavy on detail or minutiae) nor too short (making the hero seem sluggish in reaching the goal).

The word domino, in turn, has an ambiguous history. Its meaning in English is derived from a French word that may refer to a long hooded cape worn together with a mask at a carnival or masquerade. A much earlier sense of the word denoted a black domino that a priest might wear over his surplice when performing mass or celebrating an important event.