A domino is a rectangular block of wood or ivory with a line in the middle. It is used for many games, ranging from solitaire to trick taking. The earliest records of the game date back to the 18th century in Italy and France.
The origins of the name are not entirely clear, but the first recorded use of the word in French was in 1771 in the Dictionnaire de Trevoux. Originally it referred to a long hooded cloak worn by a priest. Later, the word became associated with the woodcuts popular among French peasants.
In the early 18th century, a game of dominoes was first played in Italy, France and Austria. French prisoners of war brought the game to England in the late 1700s. However, dominoes were not widely adopted until the mid-18th century. They were often made of bone or dark hardwood, such as ebony or ivory.
There are several types of dominoes, including the European and Chinese varieties. Those of the European variety are generally made of mother of pearl oyster shell or dark hardwood. Unlike their Chinese counterparts, these have no blank faces.
These can be set up in rows or in long lines. Most domino sets are divided into two squares called ends, and each domino has a number of spots on it. Each spot is worth a certain number of points. If a domino has the same number on both ends, the player is said to have “stitched up” the ends.
Other versions of the game have the players chipping out their pieces. Some variants also require the use of a sleeping domino, which is the same as a non-playing tile. For example, if one player can’t play a tile, he or she must pick up a sleeping domino and place it in the empty space. When this is done, the next player in line may tip over the first one, starting a chain reaction that results in the fall of all of the dominoes.
Dominoes are typically twice as long as they are wide, with each tile having a different number of pips. As the set size increases, identifying the pips becomes increasingly difficult.
Unlike dice, the domino is not played with the aim of making a score. Instead, the player must position the tile so that it touches the one end of a long chain of dominoes. Once a chain of dominoes is finished, the game stops and the player with the fewest pips wins the game.
There are two basic types of Western games based on the domino. Block and Draw games are the most basic, with two to four players competing. Alternatively, Concentration is played with a double-six set. This game has an extra rule: the total pip count must be twelve.
Although these are the most common domino games, there are numerous variations. Players can choose to create a fun, custom course using a single tile or even using other objects as dominoes.