The Basics of Dominoes

A domino is a small, rectangular tile with either one or six pips (or dots): 28 tiles make up a full set of dominoes. A player can play a variety of games with these dominoes, most of which are either blocking or scoring games. However, the rules of these games vary from place to place.

A small amount of potential energy is stored in a standing domino, and this energy can be converted to kinetic energy when the domino is knocked over. As a result, many people enjoy using dominoes to create art, either on the floor or in 3-D structures such as towers and pyramids.

Dominoes are also popular as a tool for teaching children the principles of science and math through the simple action of placing one domino on top of another. These activities are often used to illustrate the principles of gravity and the force of acceleration, as well as the concepts of time and space.

In some cases, the rules of a game may permit players to draw extra tiles from the boneyard, adding them to their hand as they play. This can increase a player’s chance of winning the game. However, if a player draws more than the number of extra tiles permitted by the game’s rules, this is considered a “misplay” and he must return his new tiles to the stock.

Many domino games are played with a limited number of dominoes, usually two to four. A double-six set contains 56 dominoes, and this is often the smallest number needed for most games with more than one player. Larger sets are sometimes “extended” by introducing ends with more pips; a common extended set is double-nine, which contains 91 dominoes.

The most common dominoes are made of ceramic clay or polymer plastic, although other materials have been used. For example, some sets have been made of silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting white or black pips; these materials are usually more expensive than polymer dominoes.

Historically, dominoes have been carved or inlaid from various natural materials, including stone (e.g., marble, granite, or soapstone); other woods (e.g., oak, ash, or redwood); metals; and even frosted glass. Such sets are generally more expensive than polymer dominoes, and they may be heavier because of the use of solid materials.

Nick used the tools in his grandmother’s garage to make his dominoes – a drill press, radial arm saw, scroll saw, belt sander, and welder. Despite the limitations of his workshop, he developed a method for creating dominoes that were simple enough to be manageable in his small workspace, yet detailed enough to demonstrate his skill as a craftsman and to demand respect from other amateur woodworkers. His method became known as the Domino Effect. It is now commonly used as a metaphor for any situation in which one small trigger can start a larger cascade of events.