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The Basics of Domino


Domino is a small rectangular block used for gaming. The pieces are often called bones, cards, men, chips, or tiles. They can be stacked on end to create long lines of dominoes. When a single domino is knocked over, it triggers the others to fall. This is the famous domino effect, which led to the game’s name.

Dominoes can be made from a variety of rigid materials, such as bone, silver lip oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and a dark hardwood, such as ebony. They are typically painted black or white, although some sets have colored squares. The most common domino set consists of 28 tiles. It’s not unusual to see larger sets, which are used for games with many players or for those interested in a longer domino chain.

In domino play, the goal is to win by laying the most tiles of your color down first. Each tile has two ends, each bearing a number or blank side. The number on each end of a domino is known as its value, and the values on each of the four sides are known as suits. Each suit contains the same numbers, but they differ in their ordering. The most common domino set is the double six, which produces 28 unique tiles.

The two most popular types of domino play are blocking and scoring games. Blocking games, such as chinese checkers or backgammon, require the players to place their dominoes so that they touch the adjacent edges of other dominoes. The matching pairs of ends are then counted to determine the winning players.

Unlike most Western dominoes, which have a number on each end, Chinese dominoes do not feature any numbers and instead are divided into suits based on the combinations of pips on the faces of two dice. The two different sets of 32-piece dominoes, which are referred to as military and civil, contain the 21 possible results of two thrown dice. In the military suit, each domino features all the pips from one die, while in the civil suit, each domino features half of the pips on one and the other half of another.

While creating domino chains can be a challenge, the beauty of the art is in watching them tumble according to the laws of physics. For example, an artist named Hevesh uses a technique known as “domino juggling.” This involves placing dominoes in a circle and then pulling the center to make them fall.

Hevesh has created intricate displays involving hundreds of thousands of dominoes, but she insists that one physical phenomenon is key to the process: gravity. She says that when a domino is placed upright, it’s lifting against the pull of gravity, which stores energy in its position until it is tipped over. When that occurs, most of the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, which causes the dominoes to fall in a cascade. This allows Hevesh to build dominoes that are often more than 30 feet long.