The Basics of Dominoes

A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, marked with dots or stripes like those on dice. A domino set includes the tiles and a game board on which they can be laid. When one of these is knocked over, it triggers a chain reaction that ends with the last tile falling. Dominoes are a popular pastime and have also been used as an aid to learning and retention in school settings.

Dominos can be used to build straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls, and 3D structures like towers and pyramids. The possibilities for domino art are limited only by the imagination. This type of art has been practiced for centuries, and it can be a very calming activity.

It takes a lot of patience and skill to make a domino track that works. The tracks must be lined up correctly to create the desired pattern, and there are many different ways to make a domino fall. Some people have even used their domino skills to create intricate pieces of art that are displayed on the walls of their homes and businesses.

The most common domino sets include double-sixes, which have 12 tiles with alternating numbers of dots. These are the smallest and most basic set that can be played with two or more players. In order to play games with more than four players, the game is extended by introducing ends with larger numbers of spots. Common extended sets include double-nine (55 tiles), double-12, and double-18. These larger sets allow more tiles to be played in a turn, and the most important rule of the game is that only one player may lay a domino at a time. If the first player cannot lay a domino, he or she must “chip out” and pass the turn to an opponent.

When a person chips out, the opponents must try to match their remaining dominoes. If they do, the winning pair is the partners whose combined sum of all the spots on their remaining dominoes is the lowest. The players continue playing this way until no more turns can be made, at which point the winners are the partners whose dominoes have the least number of total spots.

The word domino is also used to describe a set of small changes in behavior that lead to a larger change in someone’s self-image. For example, when Jennifer Dukes Lee started making her bed each day, she was starting a domino effect by establishing a new behavior and forming identity-based habits.

Another way in which dominoes are used is to help explain the physics of electrical impulses in the brain. When a nerve impulse fires, it travels at a certain speed, is independent of the size of the initial triggering signal, and can only move in one direction, like a domino falling down a row. A domino model is a simple way to show this phenomenon in a classroom setting.