The Basics of Dominoes


A small rectangular block used as a gaming object, the domino is marked with an arrangement of dots or blank spaces resembling those on dice. The two ends of a domino are typically either identically patterned or blank (indicated in the table below as “double”). When played properly, a series of dominoes can form a long, snake-like chain.

Dominoes are usually made from wood or a rigid material, although they can also be constructed of plastic, metal, or clay. Various rules govern how the dominoes are placed to create a specific effect, but the basic concept is the same: one tile can trigger a sequence of events that can result in many more tiles falling over.

In a game of domino, players draw seven or more dominoes for their hands and play them in turn. The player who draws the highest double or the highest domino wins the round. A player who cannot play a domino from his or her hand must leave it face down on the table (the “boneyard”). The players continue to score until one player has reached a target number of points for a given number of rounds.

Most games of domino are positional, in which each domino is placed edge to edge against another in such a way that its exposed ends match (one side touching a matching end of the other, or one side touching a double). A tile with an exposed dot pattern has a suit; every domino that features this dot arrangement belongs to that suit. The suits of dominoes are illustrated in the table below.

The first step of any domino game is to determine which piece will start the chain, and which suit it will belong to. Then, each other domino in the chain must be matched to this particular domino. The domino that has been matched is the winner of the round.

In addition to allowing players to score points by laying dominoes side to side, the game of domino can be played in various ways, including block and scoring games. The most popular commercially available set of dominoes contains 28 dominoes, although larger sets are available for multi-player games and for people who like to make long domino chains.

Despite the fact that no domino is ever exactly like any other, the game’s simplicity and popularity have led to numerous variations in the rules and techniques of play.

For example, the traditional 32-piece European domino set does not include the military and civil suit distinctions of Chinese dominoes and lacks duplicated numbers. The domino effect is an important idea for writers to understand, because it shows how one action can have a chain reaction that leads to other actions. This is the basis of the plotting process in fiction and can help an author develop his or her story. For example, a character’s motivation to write may be prompted by an event that in turn inspires the actions of other characters.