The Basics of Dominoes

A domino is a small rectangular piece of wood or plastic with a surface that’s blank or marked with dots that resemble those on dice. It is a key component in many games of chance and strategy. It is also used as a design element in the creation of 3D structures like towers and pyramids.

There are several different types of domino games and rules, but they all involve placing one tile at a time on the edge of a table. The tiles are then arranged to form either a line of play or a grid that can be manipulated into various designs. These structures can then be set up to fall, creating a chain reaction of tiles that can be as simple or complex as the designer wishes.

The domino is normally twice as long as it is wide and has a line in the middle to divide it visually into two squares, each containing a number of dots (or “pips”). Each domino has an open end that is intended to be placed against another, matching domino, so that they can be joined together to form the line of play. The value of a domino is determined by the sum of the numbers of its pips. A domino with more pips is ranked higher than a domino with fewer pips.

Dominoes are commonly made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell, ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony, and may be engraved with black or white pips. Some sets are also painted or laminated with a contrasting color. A domino’s pips are traditionally molded or inlaid, but a domino can be manufactured with plastic or other materials.

When a player places his or her first tile on the table, he or she must decide what to do with it. In most games, he or she must play it to a line of play that has already been formed on the table by previous plays. These previous tiles are called the stock, and the rules of the game determine whether these tiles can be passed or bought (see Passing and Byeing below).

After a domino is played, it may be replaced on its spot in the line of play by a new tile that matches the shape and pips of the new tile. The pips on the old domino must be aligned with those of the new tile, so that both ends match. Dominoes can be joined with doubles to a line of play either lengthwise or crosswise, depending on the rules of the particular game.

A game of domino requires concentration and planning, as each move can affect the rest of the structure. For this reason, it’s a great way to practice concentration and mental discipline. When planning, the key is to break down larger goals into good dominoes that contribute to achieving the goal and are manageable. For example, the process of creating a financial plan could be broken down into good dominoes such as setting up a savings account, establishing a budget, and developing a spending strategy.