The Many Uses of Dominoes


Dominoes are small, flat, rectangular blocks of wood or cement with a numbered surface that can be lined up together in long lines to create elaborate shapes. They are used for games of chance or skill and often are the subject of art pieces. They are a symbol of luck and fate in many cultures. They are also a great way to have some fun with friends and family.

In the West, dominoes are most commonly used for playing positional games. Each player in turn places a domino edge to edge against another so that the adjacent surfaces match – a single one’s top face touches a double’s bottom and a set of two matching faces touch each other (one’s to five, two’s to seven and so on). If the players’ remaining dominoes form some specified total then points are awarded.

Dominoes come in many different sizes and colors. They are usually printed with numbers on both sides, or a number on the front and a suit on the back (a suit being either the number one’s through five’s or the numbers zero’s through nine’s). The most common domino sets are the standard “double-six” and the double-nine sets (each with 28 tiles). The two most popular games that can be played are the Block Game and the Draw Game.

When a domino is tipped, it causes the other dominoes in the line to tip over and eventually they all fall. This gives rise to the phrase, “The domino effect,” meaning that one action leads to a series of larger and more significant consequences.

It’s possible to build huge structures of dominoes and, in fact, some people compete on TV shows by building complex and imaginative domino formations in front of a live audience. The most impressive constructions are created using a system called a spinner, which is a wheel that contains a row of dominoes, each with its own set of numbers. The spinner is placed on the floor and, when a domino is tipped, the numbers are set in motion and the rest of the chain falls into place.

While the most well known uses of dominoes are for games, they can also be used to make interesting shapes and even to help with organization in the home. For example, when Jennifer Dukes Lee started making her bed every day, she found that the simple act of laying her domino led to a habit of keeping the house neat and tidy.

Dominoes are also used in educational activities to teach basic math and counting skills. They can also be used as a tool for teaching the concepts of probability and physics. Students can be challenged to predict how a domino will fall when it is tipped or try to make their own designs of domino chains. They can even be used to illustrate the principles of chemistry and physics, including gravity, acceleration and momentum.