Domino is a game with many different variations and rules. The basic rules shown here apply to most domino games but the specific rules may vary from one game to another. It is not uncommon for a game to have almost identical name and rules in different parts of the world.
A domino is a tile with either a square or rectangular shape and typically features two matching ends. Each end of a domino is marked with a number of dots or spots that represent its value. The values of a domino range from six pips up to none or blank. The number of pips on a domino is sometimes referred to as its rank or weight. The most common set has 91 dominoes; larger sets are often “extended” to increase the number of possible combinations of ends.
The word domino derives from the Latin domini, meaning “heaven.” A domino is a type of tile used in a game to determine the winner of a round or match. The most important thing to remember when playing a domino game is that each domino must be placed so that its matching ends touch. This enables the formation of a chain of tiles that develops a snake-like pattern on the table. The way in which a chain is formed is usually up to the players and may be influenced by the seating arrangement or the game’s rules.
Each player must play a domino in turn. The first domino played is called the lead. The leader is then able to make additional plays on his double if he has the appropriate number of adjacent sides and if the number of pips on the open end of his domino matches that of a previously played tile. In addition, a double played to another double must be placed perpendicular to it.
To decide who plays the first domino, some games allow players to draw lots or simply seat themselves. Most of the most popular domino games fit into four categories: bidding games, blocking games and scoring games.
As each domino is played, it creates a line of tiles that may be called the layout, string or line of play. Some games are designed so that the entire line of play is a specific color or theme.
In some domino games, a player may place a tile on the table without touching it to its matching end. This is called a misplay and must be corrected by the player before making the next play.
The speed at which a domino falls depends on its position, but also on the amount of energy it has. When a domino is stood upright, it stores potential energy, but when it falls, much of this is converted to kinetic energy as it moves through the line of play. Stephen Morris, a physicist at the University of Toronto, has suggested that the kinetic energy of a falling domino is analogous to the pulse of nerve impulses firing in your body.