What is a Domino?


A domino is a rectangular tile made of either wood or bone. They are often marked with spots or pips, and sometimes blank ends. The domino is a gaming piece, and can be used for a variety of games. Some examples are trick taking, solitaire, and concentration.

A traditional European domino set contains all possible combinations of spot counts between zero and six. In some cases, a larger set may contain Arabic numerals instead of pips. These larger sets are popular in board game settings.

Most Western dominos are primarily used for positional games. Each of the pieces in a set has a specified number of spots. The lead piece has the highest total pip count. Generally, the value of the side with the most spots is the most valuable. Similarly, the side with the least spots is the least valuable.

Traditional European dominoes are commonly made from bone, ebony, or ivory. However, there is an emerging trend of plastic dominos. Other materials are used, too.

One common type of domino game is called block and draw. Players take turns placing their tiles edge to edge against each other. After all the tiles are in place, the next player takes their turn. This type of game is generally played by two to four players.

Another common type of game involves toppling. Specifically, when the first domino in line tips, the next domino falls on top of it. At this point, the chain reaction begins. It is not uncommon for a domino to tip over several times before it topples completely.

One interesting aspect of the domino game is that the pieces resemble a priest’s cape. While the exact origins of the domino are obscure, they are believed to have originated in the early 18th century in Italy. That was the time when a priest was reputed to wear a domino as a disguise.

The first recorded mention of the name “domino” is in the 1771 Dictionnaire de Trevoux. Two later meanings of the word include “men” and “cape.”

During the mid-18th century, the game started spreading in France. Soon, it became a fad. By the 1860s, it appeared in the U.S. and in American literature.

Traditionally, European dominoes were made of bone, ivory, or mother of pearl oyster shell. Unlike Chinese dominoes, which use a single tile in a set for every possible combination of suits, European sets have unique pieces for each possible combination of two ends with zero to six spots.

One of the most important lessons to learn about dominoes is that the best game depends on your ability to play. If you have little skill, you may be at a disadvantage. For example, you could be forced to play the Concentration variant, in which each player draws the largest number of pieces. Likewise, you could be unable to beat the record-breaking score of a high-class player.

A final lesson to learn from the domino is that the value of each tile is less than the sum of its spots. Because of this, it is not surprising that the traditional domino set is one of the least expensive.