Dominoes (also called bones, cards, men or pieces) are rectangular wooden or plastic blocks marked with a special arrangement of spots, like those on dice. They are generally twice as long as they are wide and feature a line down the middle to visually divide them into two squares. The squares are usually marked with a value of pips, from six pips to none or blank. The pips are the dominoes’ identifying marks, and they indicate their rank, or weight, as well as how they fit in with other dominoes.
As a toy, the dominoes are great for introducing young children to the concept of a chain reaction, while at the same time providing them with an engaging way to spend time. They also serve as an excellent tool for teaching the concepts of addition and subtraction. In fact, many teachers incorporate dominoes into their classroom lessons to help students develop the skills needed to perform complex math equations.
The simplest domino game is played by placing a double edge-to-edge against another piece in a sequence until the whole set has been lined up and then falling over. The first player to make a play sets down the highest-ranking double in his or her hand. If there is a tie, the winner may choose to draw new tiles from the stock. Some games allow players to draw only a specified number of dominoes for their hands.
There are many different games with dominoes, but they all have very similar, and sometimes identical, rules. Some games are played with one domino, while others involve several dominoes laid out in a line, with each domino having its end positioned against an adjacent end of another. There are even some domino shows, in which builders create elaborate lines of hundreds and thousands of dominoes that are then toppled over in a carefully arranged and timed sequence.
Besides being fun to play, dominoes can be used to create beautiful works of art. Some people use dominoes to create curved lines and grids that form pictures or shapes, and they can also be used to make 3D structures like towers and pyramids. They can be displayed on walls, in boxes, on desks, or in other creative ways.
In the context of literature, domino can be a metaphor for plot. In fiction, plotting a novel often comes down to asking the question: “What happens next?” By considering how different events might affect each other, and how those effects could be magnified by the domino effect, writers can craft a story that is both intriguing and believable.
In the real world, the term domino effect describes any situation in which one small trigger can lead to a series of larger consequences. For example, if a country adopts communist policies, it is likely that the other countries in the region will follow suit. Dwight Eisenhower coined the phrase during a press conference to explain his belief that Communism would spread throughout Indochina just as the falling dominoes of Rome had done.