Domino is a large rectangular tile with markings on each side, like the spots on a die. One of these markings, called a pip, is arranged in the shape of a circle. The domino’s other side is blank or patterned identically to the pip side, but with different colors or patterns. There are many ways to play with dominoes, but the most common is Block Game, in which players take turns placing one or more tiles on top of each other until they build a chain. The player who has the most dominoes at the end of the chain wins the game.
Another popular domino game is Draw Game, which works similarly to Block Game but requires more skill. In this game, each player begins with a fixed number of dominoes. When a player cannot place a domino, he or she passes and the next person takes a turn. The player who wins the most turns by placing all of his or her dominoes wins the game.
The word “domino” also refers to a series of events or effects that build upon each other, often in unexpected or unpredictable ways. For example, a canceled concert might trigger other concerts and more cancellations, creating a domino effect that eventually leads to fewer musicians touring or even performing altogether. In business, a domino effect may be the result of a company’s decision to close or sell its stores. The subsequent closures of other retail chains can have a similar domino effect on customers.
A person who has a knack for setting up mind-blowing domino setups, sometimes in front of live audiences, is called a domino artist or a domino wizard. Some of these artists even compete for the best domino reaction or display before a crowd. To create a domino set, the artist follows a version of the engineering-design process, starting with a theme or purpose and brainstorming images or words that might relate to it.
The word domino has a long history. It’s uncertain exactly when it first appeared, but historians think that it came to English from French in the 1700s. The earlier sense of the word was a long hooded cloak worn together with a mask at carnival season or at a masquerade. The earliest sense of the word in France, however, was a cape worn by a priest over his or her white surplice. This may explain why the game’s pieces originally featured black pips and ivory faces. Today’s dominoes are generally made of plastic or molded ceramic clay, although they can be made from other materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), and ivory. The pips are inlaid or painted. Some sets are also composed of mixed materials, with the upper half thickness in mother-of-pearl or ivory and the lower in ebony. Larger dominoes can be constructed from an extended set by adding additional ends with more pips. Typical extended sets include double-nine, double-12, and double-18.