Domino is the name of a game in which players compete to build chains of domino tiles that touch each other. The first tile to touch another, either by its end or side, triggers a chain reaction that causes other tiles to fall and touch each other, creating a cascade of action that continues as more dominoes are added. A player’s success depends on the speed at which he can complete his chain of play, as well as the skill and luck of the other players in the game. A number of rules and variations of the game are in use.
One of the most basic rules of domino is that the player must draw all of the tiles in his hand before he can make his first move. When he draws more than he has permission to take, these extra tiles are called an overdraw and the player to his right takes them without looking at them and returns them to the stock. The stock must then be reshuffled before the next player draws his hand.
When a player makes his first play, the other players at the table may chant or say words of praise such as “the set,” “the down” or “the lead.” This is a way of determining which player will be the first to make a move and is done by drawing a domino from the stock according to the rules for the particular game being played.
In a line of dominoes, the two matching ends of each domino must be adjacent to each other to form a double. A tile played to a double must also be placed perpendicular to it unless the double is a spinner, in which case it can be played at any of the three ends.
Physicist Stephen Morris says that standing dominoes upright gives them potential energy based on their position. When a domino falls, much of this energy is converted to kinetic energy, which causes other dominoes to topple. The speed at which a domino falls is independent of the size of its triggering tile and, like a nerve impulse traveling down a nerve cell, travels in only one direction.
While most modern domino sets are made of polymer, there are a variety of other materials from which these game pieces can be manufactured, including bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory and ebony. Many sets feature a combination of these natural materials to give them a more distinctive and classic look.
Some of the most popular domino games are derived from traditional Western domino, which was first recorded in Italy and France in the mid-18th century. These games often involve scoring by counting the pips on the dominoes left in the losing players’ hands at the end of a hand or game. Alternatively, the total pips on all the tiles in the stock can be counted and added to the winner’s score.