The Basics of Domino


Domino is a game played with rectangular blocks marked with groups of dots. These tiles may be small, about half the size of a penny, or large, up to almost a meter tall. They are placed in a line or other configuration to form a sequence of falls, called a domino effect. They can be used to play many different games. In addition, Dominoes can be made into art, such as curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls, and 3D structures like pyramids.

When the first domino is toppled, it creates a pulse that travels down the line. This is similar to the way a nerve impulse travels along the axon of a cell. The impulse is independent of the size of the triggering domino, but it cannot pass through an obstacle. Similarly, a domino effect cannot be stopped or reversed once it begins.

A domino is a tile with one or more groups of dots, typically in two colors, white and black. Each dot has a value of either zero, one, or two. The number of dots on a domino can vary, but the most common is a double-six set. A standard set has 28 tiles, which are shuffled and formed into a stock, also known as the boneyard. Players draw a hand of seven dominoes from this stock. If a player draws more than seven dominoes for his hand, he must return the extras to the stock before drawing again. This is called an overdraw, and it must be discovered before another player can take advantage of it.

As players make their plays, a line of dominoes forms on the table, which is also known as the layout or string. The pips on the open ends of each domino must match those on the previous tile in order for it to be placed. Eventually, the entire line of play is arranged in a particular pattern. In some cases, the line may be interrupted by a “block” or a domino that is played with its face down.

In most cases, dominoes are played in pairs. The winning players are the partners whose combined sum of all the spots on their remaining dominoes is lowest. Occasionally, a domino may be drawn that a partner can’t play. Then the player must “chip out” (play his last domino) or concede the game. Often, a player who wins the most chips out before the game is blocked, but there are some exceptions.

While it is possible to build a domino line without a scoreboard, most players use one to keep track of their scores and the position of each player’s hand. A scoreboard may be as simple as a piece of paper or as elaborate as a computer program. Some scoreboards are designed for a specific type of game, such as a double-nine game, while others are intended to be used with any game that requires a domino.