Domino is a game played with a set of small rectangular wood or plastic blocks, each bearing from one to six dots resembling those on dice. The dominoes are placed edge to edge on a flat surface and the player makes plays according to the rules of a particular game.
Each time a domino is laid down, the force of gravity causes other pieces to topple, which triggers even more play, and so on. In this way, a chain reaction builds until the entire surface of the table is covered with dominoes. The basic rules of any domino game are the same worldwide, although local variations in the number and arrangement of the pips may exist.
As the dominoes are set down and arranged in lines and angular patterns, they can also be used to make art. For example, some artists create curved lines or grids that form pictures when the dominoes fall, while others build 3D structures like towers or pyramids. Some of the most intricate works of domino art are made by combining different colors and types of tiles to produce elaborate patterns.
There are a great many different kinds of domino games, some of which are used as learning tools in schools, while others are played for pure entertainment. Some of the most popular are block and scoring games, while others involve a race to finish a line of dominoes. Still other games are solitaire or trick-taking games, which are adapted from card games and once were popular in some countries to circumvent religious proscriptions against playing cards.
The word “domino” is derived from the Italian noun domina, which means “flag” or “flagpole.” In English, it became a name for the game, and in French for the set of tiles. The word had earlier been used in both English and French for a long hooded robe worn with an eye mask at carnival season or at a masquerade.
Depending on the rules of a given game, there are a few different ways to determine who will make the first play. This is sometimes done by drawing lots, but it can also be decided upon by seating arrangements or by beginning with the heaviest domino. After the order of play is established, each player will take turns making plays until all players have finished a turn and are ready to begin another.
The heaviest domino is often referred to as the lead, and the person who plays the first tile in a given hand or game is often called the setter or downer. When a double is played, it is called a spinner if the pips on both ends match; when only one end matches, it is known as a non-spinner.
A common scoring method in domino is to count the total number of pips in the losers’ hands at the end of a hand or game, and add this to the winner’s score. However, some players choose to use different scoring methods, such as counting only the pips on the open ends of a domino.