Dominoes are small rectangular blocks with a pattern of dots on one side. They are used for a variety of games and can be stacked on end to form long lines. When a domino is tipped over, it triggers a chain reaction that continues until all the pieces have fallen. Depending on the type of game and the rules followed, some of these sequences can be complex and even dramatic. The word “domino” has also come to refer to a person who controls such a chain reaction, with the effect of one domino triggering more than just its immediate neighbors.
A common way to play domino is to use a basic set of 24 square dominoes with matching ends (doubles). Each end has an arrangement of spots, called pips, that correspond to the numbers on a die. There are different rules for how these pips are arranged and how many dominoes can be placed on an edge.
When players place a domino, they must always be careful to make sure that both matching sides are touching. If the next domino to be played is a double, it must be placed in such a way that it sits perpendicular to the domino that touches at its center (this is called placing cross-ways). A player must also be careful to note whether the domino that they are about to place is an odd or an even number. In addition, each end of a domino is different from the others.
Stacking dominoes on their ends in long lines creates a fascinating visual. But the real fun comes when a series of simple dominoes are tipped over, causing the rest of the line to fall. This is how dominoes are able to create the kind of stunning arrangements seen in some of the world’s largest domino shows.
For example, a large domino show at the International Domino Festival in Japan features hundreds of thousands of dominoes that are toppled together with the nudge of just one person. Some of the displays take several nail-biting minutes to complete, but a skilled builder can usually make the entire display work in the time it takes for the final domino to hit the ground.
Dominoes are also used to play positional games, where a player places a domino edge to edge against another in such a way that the adjacent faces match or form some specified total. This type of domino game is often played in school classrooms as a way to teach children math and strategy skills.
Dominoes are popular with kids, but adults can also use them to improve their mental agility and problem-solving skills. A favorite activity is a game of Fives and Threes, which involves setting up the end of a line of dominoes with points scored each time five or three can be divided into the sum of the two end tiles. This game can be found in British public houses and social clubs, where players compete to see who can set up the most impressive dominoes.