A domino is a small rectangular block made of a hard, rigid material such as plastic, wood, or bone. Its square shape and white or black spots make it suitable for games. It is also used in the study of nerve cells.
A domino game is played by setting up a chain of tiles that are marked with pips. The player who has the fewest pips wins. Players play dominos face down on a table, and the goal is to knock down as many of the tiles as possible.
The game has been popular in some parts of the world for centuries, but its origins are somewhat obscure. The word “domino” first appeared in 1771 in the French dictionary Dictionnaire de Trevoux. The word was originally a term for a long hooded cloak worn by priests. Later, the name came to be used for a group of crude woodcuts on paper. In the 18th century, the game spread to England, Italy, France, and Austria.
Most domino sets are comprised of 28 pieces, although some larger sets are based on Arabic numerals instead of pips. Most dominos are divided into two squares called ends. In one end, the tiles are arranged in a pattern and the other is blank. Each piece of the domino has a number ranging from zero to six. In addition to the pips, each domino has a line down the middle.
To play a domino game, you need to choose a number of tiles, place them on the table, and then take turns placing them. Dominos can be played in a variety of ways, but the most common are positional and scoring games.
Unlike playing cards, a domino can be set up in a row or in a random pattern. The rule of thumb is to set up your dominoes so that two matching ends are on top of each other. There are many different nicknames for dominoes. Some people call them stones, men, bones, tickets, or spinners.
Some players may only play the tile that has the number on one end of the chain. Other versions of the game require that both partners chip out. Depending on the version, players may only have to take a single domino or can pick more than one.
There are various types of domino sets, such as double-18, double-12, double-9, double-15, and double-19. Some of these are made of hard wood, while others are made of ivory or ebony. All of them have a number of tiles, though some have more than one suit. Most Western dominoes have no distinctions between Chinese suits. However, European style dominoes are traditionally made of dark hardwood such as ebony or mother of pearl oyster shell.
A domino game can be very complex. It can also take a long time to learn. Typically, two or three players play a domino game. In the beginning, the player draws less dominoes than he or she needs. If the players cannot place a certain domino, they will take one that is “sleeping” – meaning that there are no pips on it. The player must then choose a sleeping domino, which runs out when the players can’t move any more.