Domino is the name of a game played with square blocks, known as tiles, that are arranged on end in long lines. By tipping the first domino just slightly, all the others are set into motion to fall in a graceful and rhythmic cascade. This phenomenon gave rise to the popular phrase, “domino effect,” which refers to any action that causes subsequent events to be influenced in the same way.
Dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide, but some games are played with smaller or larger tiles. Each tile bears a number of spots or dots (sometimes called pips) on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other. Typically, the pips are arranged in a square, but they may be arranged in a circle or other shape. Dominoes are usually made of some type of ceramic, porcelain or plastic, and they may be colored to add a visual element to the game.
Most domino games are played between two or more players, and the goal is to be the first player to complete a chain of tiles reaching across the table from one end to the other. Each player takes a turn placing a domino on the table and positioning it so that its matched end touches another domino that already has its paired end touching it, forming a chain of tiles that gradually increases in length. When the chain reaches a point that no player can proceed, play stops. The winners are the players who have the least total number of pips in their remaining tiles.
Although the basic instructions for most domino games involve multiple players, there are also a number of solo games that can be played. These are often adaptations of card games and were once popular in some places to circumvent religious prohibitions against playing cards.
The most common domino sets are made of plastic, but some sets are made from natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory and ebony. These are often thicker and heavier than polymer sets, but they give the game a more unique look and feel. They are also more expensive.
For a real treat, consider buying a set of authentic European-style dominoes, which are traditionally made of ivory. These are generally of a much higher quality than polymer sets, and they can be extremely valuable if in good condition.
The most sophisticated domino constructions are elaborate setups that may be used to promote movies, television shows or events such as an album release by a pop music star. Some of these domino effects are filmed in slow motion, which allows for precise corrections if the first domino doesn’t fall exactly as planned. The resulting videos can be seen on YouTube and other video-sharing websites. These artistic domino structures are usually built by professional domino artists. Lily Hevesh is a renowned domino artist who has done setups for movie premieres and TV shows, as well as for singer Katy Perry. Hevesh’s domino YouTube channel has more than 2 million subscribers.