Domino – A Game of Chance and Strategy

Domino is a game of chance and strategy in which players place domino pieces, called “tiles,” edge to edge on a flat surface so that each domino has an end with a number or an empty space that corresponds to the value of the piece. Each domino also has a ridge, called a pip, in the shape of a circle or triangle that distinguishes it from other domino pieces. Each pips is a different color to indicate its value. The total value of all pips on a domino is called its rank or weight.

There are many types of domino games, some involving luck and others requiring skill. Some of the rules for these games may vary slightly from one region to another. Despite these variations, some games share very similar characteristics. Dominoes can be arranged to form very complex designs, and some of these shapes can be quite large. For example, one physicist was able to set up 13 dominoes that were each about five feet long.

Most of the popular domino games are played with a single- or double-six set. This is because a double-six set has 28 tiles, which is enough to allow for four players and plenty of variety in play. Some of the more challenging dominoes use progressively larger sets, up to double-nine or even higher, though it is very rare for such a set to actually be used in a game.

Each player draws a hand of dominoes, and then, in turn, places a tile on the table so that it touches the end of another tile that has its number showing or is blank. Each time a domino is placed on the board in this way, it creates a domino chain whose length increases with each subsequent piece played. The first domino to touch an ending in the chain is said to have established its ranking or weight, and it is the rank of that tile that determines how early or late a player can play his or her next tile.

The most common domino game involves placing all of the tiles on the table and then taking turns playing them to make a line that extends across the board. When the line of play is complete, it is often marked with a score or point count (known as the count) for each player.

A domino’s inertia, its tendency to resist motion until a force overcomes it, is what makes the initial domino that starts a chain of movement so powerful. The tiny nudge that it receives from the first tile unlocks its potential energy, which in turn causes that first tile to push on its neighbors and so forth.

The fact that dominoes can be set up to make such complicated and large structures shows how powerful their effect is. In the video above, University of Toronto professor Stephen Morris demonstrates how one simple action can trigger domino effects that are much greater than its individual parts.