How Dominoes Are Played

Dominoes are a family of gaming tools that allow for a wide variety of games. A line of thousands of dominoes is often set up in a careful sequence, and when the first one is tipped just right, it causes all the others to fall in a rhythmic cascade. Similarly, a novelist may think of the scenes in a story as individual dominoes that fit together and influence each other, creating a domino effect.

Domino, like the game itself, is a great way to pass time, but it can also teach important life lessons, such as taking turns and being fair to competitors. It is not uncommon for a domino to be tripped, either by accident or intentionally, and the results can be catastrophic, as the woman in this case found out. This incident was just one of many that have tripped legal and social dominoes that aren’t yet fully settled.

As a game, domino is simple and easy to learn, but it can be played in many different ways. Generally, dominoes are twice as long as they are wide and are stacked with one end touching a single matching side of another domino, or, more technically, its “double.” Each domino is marked with an arrangement of spots (or, if the domino is blank, none) called pips. The number of pips on a domino is usually referred to as its rank or weight, as it indicates how much power a domino will have when it’s placed.

For example, a double with three pips would have more rank than a double with only two pips. Likewise, a domino with more pips on one side than the other is heavier and can be placed to push an enemy domino into its corner.

When playing a game of domino, it’s usual for players to take turns selecting a domino from the stock and placing it on the table. Depending on the game, it may be necessary to place the highest domino in the hand before proceeding, in which case that domino is known as an “opening” double and is called out by name, for example, “double-six.”

Unlike playing cards, which are made from polymer, dominoes are typically made from bone or ivory; dark hardwoods such as ebony; marble, soapstone, or granite; or other natural materials. Some sets are even made of ceramic clay or frosted glass for a unique and more substantial look.

While dominoes are mostly seen in homes or at parties, they’re also used in public displays and as part of Rube Goldberg machines. The world record for the longest domino chain was held by Finnish acrobat Salima Peippo in 2011, who built a 315-piece chain in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, and then toppled it with an electric motor. A large-scale set of dominoes was set up at the World Trade Center Expo Hall in Berlin in 2009 to mark the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and was toppled by former Polish president Lech Walesa.