Domino is a small, flat, rectangular block used as a gaming object. The pips on a domino are usually inlaid or painted, and the blocks can also be made from other materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and dark hardwoods like ebony. In addition to the traditional domino, other variants exist, such as a tile game in which each player draws and places dominoes that have different values on each end. The pieces are often called bones, men, or stones. Dominos are played with one or more players, and the game is won by the first to place all of his or her tiles in a line without interruption.
Dominoes are a popular table game that is based on the principle of domino effect: one event can trigger a series of events that will continue indefinitely, leading to a cascade of consequences. This is the basic idea behind many domino games, and the term has been used to describe political scenarios as well, such as when President Eisenhower warned that America’s aid of South Vietnam would lead to Communism spreading throughout Asia. The idiom is still in use today, and can be applied to any situation in which a small cause leads to a large effect.
The earliest evidence of the game dates back to about 1750, when it surfaced in Italy, Austria, and southern Germany. The game quickly spread to France, where the name domino emerged. The word’s origin remains obscure; it may have been a play on words referring to the long hooded cloak or mask worn by a priest in carnival season and at masquerades, or perhaps a reference to crude woodcuts of domino players formerly popular in French peasant communities.
A traditional set of dominoes consists of twenty-six double-sided tiles with matching numbers on both ends. The numbering is arranged so that the highest value is at the left and the lowest at the right, as shown in the image below. Each domino is referred to by the number of dots on its end, which are sometimes called pips, and the lower value is always listed first. Thus a domino with two sixes on one end and five on the other is referred to as a “double-six.”
Other than standard plastic dominoes, sets can be made of a variety of natural and manmade materials, including stone (such as marble or granite); other types of wood, such as ebony or walnut; metals; and ceramic clay. Some sets are designed to have a more unique look and can be more expensive than polymer dominoes. In addition to playing with them, people can display them as works of art. The largest sculptural dominos are typically inlaid with gold or other precious metals. Many domino enthusiasts collect and trade their collections. Some have specialized in building structures and other works of art using their dominoes, and many make videos of their creations to share with others.