Domino is a game of chance and skill, in which players compete to build the highest chain of dominoes. There are many different games that use domino, each with its own set of rules. The earliest known dominoes were made of wood and bone, and some of the oldest sets are still in existence. Later, dominoes were made of silver lip oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), ivory and dark hardwood such as ebony. More recently, dominoes have been produced in plastic and other synthetic materials.
In a game of domino, each player begins with the same number of tiles as the others. The tiles are arranged in a square, with two matching ends called “ends.” Each end of a domino is marked with a number, from one to nine, and these numbers indicate the value of the tile when placed next to another domino with the same markings. A domino with a number on both ends is called a double. The end of a domino with no number on it is called a blank or “no-number.”
The first player places his or her first tile onto the table, positioning it so that it touches one of the ends of an existing chain or a new line of tiles being built. This starting tile is sometimes referred to as the set, down or lead. Once the domino is played, the other players must follow a sequence of rules depending on the game being played. The result is a chain of dominoes whose length increases as more tiles are added to it.
Domino is a fast-paced game that demands quick thinking. When a player places his or her first tile, the other players must quickly make their decisions. The result is a dynamic, exciting game of chance and skill that can be enjoyed by players of all ages.
When a player is allowed to draw more than the number of tiles permitted for his or her hand, this is called an overdraw. This extra domino must be removed from the hand and returned to the stock, where it is reshuffled before the next player draws for his or her hand.
While the exact origin of domino is unknown, it is believed that the word may come from the Spanish term “domino,” which originally denoted a long, hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade. In French, the word also referred to the black domino contrasting with the priest’s white surplice.
Lily Hevesh’s large-scale domino projects take several nail-biting minutes to fall. But despite the complexity of her creations, Hevesh says there is only one physical phenomenon that makes them possible: gravity. The force that pulls a knocked-over domino toward Earth is the same force that pushes it into a line of other dominoes and triggers the reaction that creates a domino rally. This is the same principle that governs nerve impulses in the human body, which also travel at a steady rate without loss of energy and only in one direction.