The Basics of Domino

Domino is a game of skill that can be played by two or more players. The game requires a set of dominoes, a table, and the rules of the particular domino game being played. The rules of domino vary with the game being played, but most games can be categorized into four categories: positioning games, blocking games, scoring games, and round games.

The physics of domino is similar to that of firing neurons in the brain: each domino has inertia, a resistance to motion, and it takes a great deal of force to knock over one. However, when a single domino is pushed past its tipping point, it becomes a source of potential energy. This energy is used to push the next domino, and so on, down the line.

While the number of dominoes in a set varies with the game being played, a standard double-six set has 28 tiles. The dominoes are shuffled and formed into a pile called the stock, or boneyard, with each player drawing seven tiles from the stock at the start of the game. The remainder of the tiles remain face down on the table to form a “line of play.” The player who draws the first tile is known as the setter or downer, and he begins the line of play by placing his domino in the center of the line.

Once the dominoes are in place, each player in turn plays a tile onto the table, positioning it so that the open end of the domino is touching one end of the line of play or the other. Depending on the particular game being played, this can be done by counting the pips on both ends of the domino, or, as in some positional games, by playing a double that is a spinner (i.e., can be played on all four sides).

When a player has a number showing on his domino, he may either place it on the table or “pass” it and draw a new tile. In the latter case, he must inform the other players that he has passed and may not make another play until the other players have each played their tiles.

The winning players are the ones whose combined total of all spots on their remaining dominoes is the lowest at the end of the game. The most common way of scoring this is to count the pips on the losing players’ dominoes, although the number of points taken can also be determined by other means.

In some games, the value of a domino is determined by the color or pattern of its pips; this is known as “pip value”. These are most commonly white or black, but they can be made of other colors and materials such as ivory; silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell, or MOP; ebony; or natural woods such as cherry, maple, or oak. More recently, dominoes have been made of synthetic polymers such as plastic and resin, as well as wood veneers. In addition, some sets have been fashioned from natural materials such as stone (e.g., marble or granite); other types of wood (e.g., ash or oak); metals (e.g., brass or pewter); ceramic clay; and even frosted glass.

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