A domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic with one side marked with dots resembling those on dice. Its other side is blank or contains a number of pips (markers) that indicate its value. A domino is normally twice as long as it is wide, allowing it to fit easily on the edges of other dominoes when stacked. In a game of domino, the first domino to fall begins a chain reaction that causes the others to topple in sequence according to their values.
The most common type of domino is made from a composite material such as polymer, although some sets are produced in natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood like ebony, with black or white pips inlaid or painted on them. These sets have a more traditional look and feel to them, but they are usually heavier in weight than the polymer types.
There are many different games played with domino, and the rules for each vary somewhat from place to place. However, there are also a number of general guidelines that apply to most domino games.
For example, in most domino games that involve more than one player, the seating arrangements are determined by lot. After the tiles have been shuffled and arranged, each player draws a single domino from the stock and seats himself at the table according to the number of pips on the drawn tile. In some games, the highest ranking draw chooses the seat to his left and the players continue to sit in a clockwise fashion, though this is not always the case.
Dominoes are used to build a variety of structures, such as straight lines or curved lines, a grid that forms pictures when the dominoes are stacked together, and 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. Creating these structures requires planning and calculation. Some builders plan their designs on paper, using a ruler or pencil to carefully mark out the layout of each individual domino, before constructing them with actual dominoes.
Another important principle is that a domino must be placed so that its two matching ends are adjacent. This is important in order to keep the chains of dominoes from becoming tangled and unusable. The pips on each end of the domino indicate its value, and a double is considered to have two matching ends if it is a “spinner,” meaning that it can be played on all four sides.
A good understanding of the rules of a particular game will help you to enjoy it more. If you’re new to domino, it’s a good idea to start with the basic instructions on this website and then learn more about the rules of specific games. The more you play, the more you’ll be able to appreciate the skill and artistry that goes into the construction of each game.