The Basics of Dominoes


A domino is a type of tile marked with an arrangement of spots, or “pips,” that look similar to those on a die. Dominoes are used to play a variety of games, including some that involve scoring points or creating a line of dominoes that can be knocked over. The term domino is also figurative, and may be used to describe the spread of ideas or events that stem from one initial action.

The most common domino game involves drawing lots to determine who will make the first play of a game. In some cases, a player may choose to begin the game by setting a particular double. This method is usually referred to as “the set,” “the down” or the lead. In some cases, players may agree to change the order of playing from the usual clockwise direction to a counter-clockwise direction, as is often done in Latin American countries.

Depending on the rules of the game, a player may draw additional tiles for his hand from the stock after making a play or byeing a tile. If he draws more than the number of tiles he is permitted to, he must take the extras and return them to the stock before anyone else makes a draw.

Once a player has a full hand, he begins the turn by placing his first domino on the table. Then he draws another tile from the stock and places it in front of him so that other players cannot see the pips on the domino. He continues to draw tiles for his hand until he reaches the amount of tiles he is allowed to have in his hand, or a point is reached.

Some games allow players to bye dominoes from the stock, adding them to the tiles already in their hand. In other cases, the player must draw all of the remaining tiles from the stock to be able to continue play. Depending on the rules of the game, these tiles may be placed anywhere on the table.

Physicist Stephen Morris, who studies the behavior of complex systems, says that the domino effect is due to gravity and energy. Standing a domino upright gives it potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. When the domino falls, much of this energy converts to kinetic energy, which is transmitted from one domino to the next, providing the push needed to cause the other dominoes to fall.

While many people enjoy playing domino, it is also an intriguing way to illustrate how the chain reaction of a single action can cascade into a larger pattern. For example, if a soccer team wins against its biggest rivals, it can create a domino effect of goodwill within the community. Similarly, if a writer writes a compelling story, it can create a domino effect by encouraging other writers to write their own stories as well.