Dominoes are used to play games by stacking them on end in long lines. When one domino is tipped, it causes the next domino in line to tip and so on until all of the dominoes have fallen over. The fact that one simple action can cause a chain reaction of events has led to the common phrase, “domino effect,” to describe a situation where the smallest change can have far-reaching consequences.
Each domino is a rectangular tile with a line down the middle to visually separate it into two squares, with each side having a number of spots called pips. The number of pips on a domino determines its value, with doubles having six pips and singles having zero or blank sides. A domino’s value may also be determined by the way it is played.
The most common domino sets are made of plastic, but they have been manufactured in a variety of other materials. For example, dominoes are often crafted of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or dark hardwood such as ebony. A set of dominoes crafted from these natural materials is sometimes considered to have a more elegant look than a polymer-based set.
Some domino games use matching the numbers of pips on the ends of two dominoes as a method for scoring. Other methods involve counting the total number of pips in the losers’ hands at the end of a hand or game and adding that to the winner’s score.
The order in which a player makes the first play is determined by the rules of the specific game being played. The person who makes the first play is usually referred to as the setter, the downer, or the leader.
Once the player has decided who will make the first move, he or she draws tiles from the stock to form a hand and places them in front of him or her, according to the rules of the particular game being played. Depending on the rules of a given game, some dominoes in a hand remain face down and may be used later in that game.
After the player has drawn his or her dominoes, he or she must decide what to do with them. If the player holds a double, he or she must place it at the end of the line of play. A tile must be placed adjacent to a double unless it is a double itself, in which case it can be placed perpendicular to the double.
A common strategy for winning domino is to concentrate on the most important task in a day and work on it until it has been completed. This strategy has been credited with helping Bethlehem Steel become the largest independent producer of steel in the world. The idea of focusing on the most important task each day is known as the “domino principle” and has also been applied to other fields such as project management, business, and education.