The Basics of Domino
Domino is a game in which players set up tiles with an identifying number of spots on one side, called pips. They then arrange these tiles in long lines on a flat surface. When a domino is tipped, it causes the other tiles to tip in the same direction and, eventually, all the tiles will topple over. This simple concept allows for very complex designs and games. It also spawned the common phrase, domino effect, which describes any situation that starts with a small trigger and leads to larger consequences.
Like playing cards, dominoes are divided visually into two squares by a line or ridge, and each has an arrangement of spots that identify the tile’s value (ranging from six pips to none or blank). Most dominoes have Arabic numerals printed on both ends in order to make it easier for players to recognize the values of different tiles. The two squares of the domino also have a specific pattern on each end, so that a player can easily tell whether he or she has an empty space to play a new tile or is “stitched up” and must wait until someone else plays a piece with a matching pattern.
In order to begin playing, a player must lay a single domino in the center of the table, matching one of the end numbers on the first tile with an open spot on another tile. The next player must then lay a new domino adjacent to the first and match the other end to part of the first, continuing this process until all the open lines are filled. When all the open lines are full, the game ends and winners are determined by the players who have the least amount of pips on their remaining dominoes.
Most domino sets consist of 22 tiles, but some are larger. These are often referred to as extended domino sets and include double-nine (55 tiles), double-12 (91 tiles) and double-15 (193 tiles). They can be used with the same rules as standard sets, but the number of available combinations is significantly greater.
To determine who plays first, a hand of seven tiles is drawn by the players. The person who draws the highest double goes first. The person who drew the lowest double draws the next tile, and so on.
The word domino itself has roots in both Italian and French, and may have been derived from the Latin domus, meaning house. It was then combined with the suffix -o, which means to go. The name became well-known when a journalist asked Eisenhower to use the principle of the falling domino in explaining America’s decision to aid South Vietnam in their struggle against Communism, and Eisenhower used the expression in his reply.
In addition to traditional domino games, the pieces can be used to create complex art installations. A famous example is the Domino’s Pizza in Beijing, China. The installation was created in 1999 by artist David Shirky and architect Frank Gehry, who wanted to use the city’s unique architecture and landscape to make a modern art piece. The project took four years to complete and cost NT$500 million ($16.5 million).