What is Domino?

Domino is a small, flat rectangular block used as gaming object that can be either played against an opponent or in a cooperative game. Its value is determined by the number of dots (or pips) on its ends, which vary from six to none or blank. Dominoes are also called bones, cards, men, pieces or tiles. They are normally twice as long as they are wide, allowing them to be easily stacked together and separated after use.

A domino’s end may touch another domino’s end only when the dots on both touching ends total some multiple of five. Each domino placed in this way (called “an open end”) then scores points based on the number of exposed dots. When a player has no more playable dominoes in his hand, he “chips out” and play passes to the other players. A player may not hold back a domino for strategic reasons, but must play when his turn comes up.

The name “domino” derives from an earlier sense of the word, denoting a long hooded cloak worn with a mask at a carnival or masquerade. The piece’s design also reminded many people of a priest’s black domino contrasting with his white surplice.

In a traditional game of domino, each player starts with seven dominoes in his or her hand. The first player to place a domino in a line of play is awarded points. The earliest players then try to prevent each other from scoring. If one or more players have no more playable dominoes in their hands, the winner is the person whose total of all the spots on their remaining dominoes is the lowest.

Some games of a very different character are played with dominoes, such as solitaire or trick-taking. These are often adaptations of card games and were once popular in certain areas to circumvent religious proscriptions against playing cards.

Dominoes are a great tool for writing scenes that run counter to what most readers expect to be logical. For example, when a character acts in a totally unexpected way that seems completely out of character, it can help explain the situation by showing how the character became in that position.

In a more playful manner, dominoes can be used to build spectacular displays and set a record for the largest number of dominoes toppled in a row. A domino artist named Hevesh has amassed more than 2 million YouTube subscribers by creating intricate and imaginative displays using hundreds of thousands of dominoes, which can take several nail-biting minutes to fully complete. In domino shows, builders compete to create the most complex domino effects and reactions before a live audience of fans. It’s a remarkable sight to see, and demonstrates how a domino effect can have both a visual and narrative impact on readers. It’s a bit like a movie’s ending, in fact. And that’s exactly how a story works, too.