The Basics of Dominoes


A domino is a small rectangular block used as a gaming object. A domino set contains a number of these blocks, variously called bones, pieces, men, or tiles. Each domino has an asymmetrical face with either blank or marked pips that resemble those on dice. When a domino is knocked over, it triggers a chain reaction in which the rest of the dominoes fall over. The resulting layout may be straight or curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, 3D structures such as towers and pyramids, or anything in between. A professional domino artist can create amazing displays that take several nail-biting minutes to fall.

Dominoes are also often used in science education to demonstrate principles of physics. For example, a student could use a long piece of string to create a line of dominoes and see how the first domino affects the next one and then the ones after that. Another example is explaining how a domino’s dots can be arranged to make a pattern that represents an electrical impulse in the body’s nervous system.

The game of domino began in Italy during the 18th Century and became a fad in Europe. By the late 18th Century, France was producing domino puzzles which had a variety of patterns and required the players to place tiles on the pattern based on the arithmetic properties of the pips. The first player, usually determined by drawing lots or by who has the heaviest hand, starts the game by placing one of his or her dominoes on the table. This domino is then “matched” by a tile with matching ends (one’s touch one’s, two’s touch two’s, etc). Then additional tiles are placed on the exposed ends of the existing tiles if their pips match. If all matching ends are covered, the first player is “out” and a new game begins with the other players.

Most games have rules governing how to connect and play the dominoes. The most common type of domino is a double-sided tile that can be placed on the edge of a “boneyard” or on the table. These tiles have both black and white pips, but the rules of most games require that only the open ends of the dominoes be used for connection. The remaining closed or non-matching ends must be kept away from other tiles and are known as the “boneyard.”

In addition to playing dominoes for fun, some people use them as a tool for planning their life. They may break down large, complicated tasks into a series of smaller tasks, each a domino that has a positive impact on the outcome of the whole. Good dominoes are usually challenging and require a large chunk of time and focus to complete, but the reward is the impact they have in the future. Examples of good dominoes include outlining a financial plan and executing that plan.

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