Domino, also known as dominoes or simply doms, is a game that involves building long lines of small rectangular wood or plastic blocks, each end bearing an arrangement of spots, or pips, similar to those on a die. The pips on each domino are often inlaid, painted, or otherwise decorated to enhance the appearance of the tiles. A common feature of most domino games is a special tile called a spinner, which can be played on two or three sides depending on the rules of the game.
When playing domino, each player must position each new tile so that its matching ends touch another piece of the chain or the floor. Depending on the game, this can create chains that develop into snake-like shapes or, due to space constraints or simple whims, may connect at right angles with each other. A tile that is played in such a way that both of its matching ends show the same number is said to have been “stitched up” or “locked up.”
Some games call for each player to draw new tiles from the stock before play begins, and the first player, determined either by drawing lots, by who holds the heaviest hand, or by other means as specified by game rules, makes the first play. Occasionally, one of the players will not be able to make a play on his turn, and in this case the tile is placed to the left of the board in a “pile,” and the next player makes a play on that pile, and so forth.
In some games, a portion of the winning score is taken by counting the total number of pips on all the losers’ remaining tiles at the end of a hand or game, and adding that to the winner’s score. Some games also employ the use of a single “score” for all pips, and in these the losing players are awarded points equal to that score.
While there are many different games that can be played with dominoes, the most popular is probably the twenty-one, a game in which each player attempts to reach his or her goal before his or her opponent. Other popular domino games include domino knucklebones, double-twenty-one, and a variation of twenty-one in which the score is kept on a clock instead of in a pile.