Domino is the name of a small wood or plastic block with an arrangement of dots resembling those on dice. It is used as a game piece or to form a line of dominoes that can be tipped over, one by one, to create intricate and elaborate designs. It is also used as a symbol of order and structure, and its lines of progression from top to bottom can remind us of the power of cause and effect. The term domino has been adapted to describe a complex sequence of events that can have far-reaching and often unintended consequences, as well as to refer to a particular type of business model.
A Domino Story
In the early 1950s, a domino factory worker named Nick Nicolaus had an idea for a new kind of toy that could be arranged on end in long lines. He set to work using his grandmother’s garage, a workshop crowded with tools such as a drill press, radial arm saw, scroll saw, belt sander and welder. Nick’s aim was to produce a series of toys that were affordable, easily assembled and made from fine materials that would show off his skills as a craftsman.
Eventually, his dominoes were so popular that he began manufacturing them at his own factory. By the 1970s, the domino manufacturing industry was booming. The popularity of the domino as a toy and a game led to the use of the word in more general contexts, such as in the expression “domino effect,” which describes how a single event can trigger a chain reaction with far-reaching effects.
The basic rule of a domino game is that the first player to play a double, which is a tile with two matching dots, makes the first move in the game. The other players then follow suit, with some games requiring that the player who draws the highest double must make the first play. Other rules allow the heaviest tile to be played at any time during the course of the game.
Many different games can be played with a domino set, and the specific rules of a given game will dictate how the tiles are grouped together to form the playing field. Some of the more common games are blocking or scoring games, while others involve trick-taking. There are even a number of solitaire and card-style games that can be played with dominoes.
Most dominoes are printed with identifying marks on one face, known as the “pips.” The pips are arranged in a grid pattern, with some squares filled and other squares blank. Some of the more modern sets of dominoes are produced with a clear or opaque material that allows the pips to be seen. Historically, sets of dominoes were made from bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory and dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on them. These natural materials give the dominoes a more luxurious appearance and feel than polymer-based sets.