Domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic with one side bearing identifying marks and the other blank or marked with an arrangement of dots similar to those on dice. It is used for playing games that require the domino to fall in a particular pattern. There are many variants of this game, and the basic rules are different for each. Some of these games have been around for centuries, while others are more recent.
A domino may also be referred to as a “pip.” Its identifying marks are an arrangement of dots called spots that are in the shape of a circle, a rectangle or a triangle. The number of spots on the domino’s face determines its value. A double has two dots; a single has one. Some sets of dominoes have one or more additional kinds of ends, called spinners, which can be played on all four sides. These are usually considered to be more valuable than a normal double.
Like a physics experiment, when you pick up a domino and place it upright against gravity, it stores energy in the form of potential energy. As the domino falls, much of this energy is converted into kinetic energy and causes the next domino in line to topple as well. Physicist Stephen Morris explains the principle using an example: if you juggle three balls, each time you drop one, you cause the rest to tumble in the same direction.
Domino is typically played on a large table. Each player draws the number of tiles he is permitted to take, according to the rules of the particular game being played, and then places them on the table. He may then either play the tile he has drawn or pass it to another player. The last player to make a play wins the game. In some games, a player may buy tiles from the stock, but this is governed by the specific rules of that game.
After a player makes his first play, he is said to have “set” or “downed” a domino. Depending on the game, the person who made the first play may be referred to as the setter, the downer or the lead. The next player then plays a tile on top of the lead, or in some cases, the winner of the last play makes the first play.
If a player cannot play any of his own tiles, he can draw from the stock (called byeing) and add that to the tiles he already has in his hand. This is a way to get more tiles for his turn and increase his score. Whether or not a player byes, the remaining tiles in the stock are then added to the winner’s total at the end of the game.
Most domino games are scored by counting the total of all of the pips on all of the tiles in the line of play, from the open end of the last domino played to its closed end. However, some games count the pips only on the open ends of the dominoes in the line of play. This type of scoring is often used in competitions for higher scores.