How to Play Dominoes

Dominoes are cousins to playing cards and offer a wealth of games, challenges and tests of skill. From professional domino game competition to simply setting up a line of dominos and nudging them over, dominoes can inspire all sorts of creativity in people young and old.

Like playing cards, of which they are a variant, each domino has an arrangement of markings on one side (usually referred to as pips) and is blank or identically patterned on the other. The pips were originally meant to represent the results of throwing two six-sided dice. Some sets of dominoes also include seven extra pips that indicate the result of rolling a single die.

The dominoes are typically placed on-edge, so that each player can see all of the pips and their values on the tiles in his hand. The first player (determined either by the drawing of lots or by which person holds the heaviest set) starts play by placing the first tile on the table. It is often the domino with the lowest value, a double-six for example. A new tile may then be played to the left or right of this, and its pips must match those of the previous tile.

Players continue to place tiles, in sequence and in careful order, until the entire row has been completed. Then, the players compete to score points by laying the next tile in such a way that it makes a line with the last domino placed. The player who scores the most points wins.

Dominoes can be made of all sorts of materials, including polymer clay, metals, wood and even ceramic, but most commonly they are constructed from bone or silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, dark hardwood such as ebony, or a combination of these. They are usually painted or inlaid with contrasting black or white pips. They can be made with a full range of colors as well, allowing for many different patterns.

Some of the most amazing dominoes are found in a special arena called a domino show, where builders create massive chains of domino effects and reactions before live audiences. The builders are able to make hundreds, even thousands, of individual dominoes appear at the same time, arranged in carefully calculated lines that are all brought to life with just one nudge.

It’s an incredible sight to behold, and a great reminder of just how powerful the domino effect is – one thing knocking over another can bring something much bigger down, too. For this reason, it’s important for us to remember that the same applies to our own projects. Every little step can add up to something big, so think before you do, and keep nudge-ing that chain of plot beats into shape.