Dominoes are a kind of gaming pieces used to play games of skill or chance, often by matching the ends of two dominoes. The identifying marks on a domino are either blank or identically patterned with one to six dots (called pips) that correspond to the numbers 1 through 6. 28 dominoes form a complete set. When a domino is “set,” played down, or the lead is taken, this begins a chain reaction in which the player must follow with his own dominoes according to the rules of the game being played.
A domino may be played on its face or its opposite side, and is normally twice as long as it is wide. The pips on a domino indicate its value, which is called the rank or weight, and it is this number that determines the order in which the dominoes are to be placed for play. Depending on the game being played, the value of the dominoes is determined from their ranks alone or in combination with other criteria such as color or suit.
Traditionally, dominoes are made from materials such as bone, silver lip oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood like ebony. The pips on a domino are inlaid or painted, and are typically colored white or black. Most modern sets of dominoes are produced from plastic or cardboard, but there are still some available in wood and other material.
While most dominoes are designed to be used as a game, many can also be displayed in a home or office as works of art. They can be arranged in straight lines, curved lines, grids that make pictures when they fall, or 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. There is even a special form of domino art that includes the use of paint.
In addition to displaying dominoes as works of art, some people use them to help them organize and plan their lives. Many people find that a large task or project can be broken down into smaller, manageable dominoes, each of which contributes to the ultimate goal. A good example of this would be creating a financial plan, which can be broken down into several smaller tasks such as preparing a budget, researching investment opportunities, and developing an investment strategy.
The name domino is thought to have come from a Latin word meaning “flip” or “turn.” Dominoes are similar to playing cards and dice, in that they can be used for a wide variety of games. Some of these games are simple, while others are complex and require careful planning. Dominoes can also be used to teach children about math and other subjects through the practice of counting.