Domino is a game of chance or skill where players place domino tiles in a line to create a chain of matched numbers. Each domino is marked with a number of dots or blanks, from one to six, and 28 of these little rectangular wood or plastic blocks make up a complete set. A domino is “matched” when a tile placed to its right or left has a number showing on both its top and bottom faces. The first player to place a tile with all matching sides shows their number, and the chain of numbers develops in a snake-line shape at the whim of the players and limitations of the playing surface.
Domino arrived in Britain in the late 18th Century from France, where it had become a popular pub game. The word may also refer to the hooded garment worn by Christian priests in winter, which could explain the game’s other nickname – “Domino”.
Traditionally, European domino sets were made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips, inlaid or painted. More recently, sets have been produced in a variety of natural materials such as marble, granite, soapstone and even crystal. These are more expensive than polymer sets, but they look and feel more substantial.
The most popular domino games are Block and Draw. They are typically played with a standard domino set of 28 tiles, although a double-nine or double-twelve set is often used in British pubs. When play stops, the winners are those partners whose combined total of all the spots on their remaining dominoes is the lowest.
A domino is an interesting object to arrange, since the physics of gravity can be used to create some quite dramatic effects. Watch this video of a talented domino artist, Hevesh, creating some truly mind-blowing installations in a circle and then letting them fall according to the laws of physics. Her biggest 3-D sections can take several nail-biting minutes to fall, and she usually tests each section individually before putting them all together.
Hevesh says that her main inspiration comes from watching nature and animals. She often finds the patterns in nature reflected in her domino setups, and she’s especially interested in how gravity affects the pieces. She also loves working with the shapes and colors of different types of dominoes.
Some people have also adapted the basic rules of domino to create other games that are more challenging or require more skill. For example, some people have created domino puzzles where players must try to match up adjacent pairs of numbers without any open ends. These puzzles are not easy to solve, and can be a challenge for even experienced players.
Domino is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s an excellent way to exercise your brain, as you’ll be using your logic skills to figure out how the next tile should be placed.