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What Is Dominos?

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A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block with one side bearing an arrangement of dots like those on dice and the other blank or identically patterned. It is distinguished from playing cards by the fact that the identity-bearing face of a domino is divided by a line or ridge into two squares, each half being marked with an arrangement of dots or “pips” different from one another. The value of each domino is determined by the number and arrangement of pips on each half. Dominos are used to play a variety of games, most of which involve blocking and scoring points by placing tiles end to end. The first player to score all of his or her tiles wins the game. The dominoes may also be stacked on top of each other to create very intricate and beautiful structures that are often the center of many children’s play areas.

In addition to the many games that can be played with dominoes, the pieces are often used as building blocks for artistic creations. They can be arranged in lines or a circle to form structures such as houses, castles and pyramids. They can also be used to make a variety of shapes including hearts, letters, flowers and butterflies. A common activity is to build “chains” or rows of dominoes, where one domino is tipped over, causing all of the others to tip over in a cascade of rhythmic movement. This is the origin of the term, “domino effect,” a reference to an action that triggers other actions with greater–and sometimes catastrophic–consequences.

The most commonly used domino sets consist of 28 tiles with double-numbered ends, although larger and smaller sets are available. These sets are normally twice as long as they are wide, which makes them easier to stack and re-stack. Some games, particularly those in which the players try to place their tiles so that their ends match each other, are best played on a hard surface to avoid accidental spills and make for a more pleasing arrangement of the dominoes.

Some domino sets are made of natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and ebony with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on. Such sets are much more expensive than polymer or wooden versions of the same game but have a more traditional and elegant look. Other more unusual and beautiful sets of dominoes are made from stone (usually marble); metals; ceramic clay; or even frosted glass or crystal. These sets tend to have a more novel appearance and feel heavier in the hand than those made from polymer or wood. They are frequently used for display and are a good choice for gifts.

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