# The Basics of Dominoes

A domino is a small rectangular block marked with two groups of spots on one side. It is used for playing various games.

The spots, or pips, are arranged in rows like those on the face of a die. The dominos have a blank or identically patterned other side. They are usually made of ivory, bone, or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted. They are also made from other materials such as frosted glass, ceramic clay, and polymer.

When played correctly, a line of dominoes can be built up to a height of many feet. This is called a domino sculpture or a chain reaction, and it may take several nail-biting minutes to fall over.

Dominoes can be used to create patterns such as straight lines, curved lines, or grids of pictures and words. They are also used to make 3-D structures such as towers and pyramids. Dominoes are popular with children and adults.

They are also used in educational settings to illustrate concepts such as probability and strategy. A number of software programs have been developed to teach students the fundamentals of dominoes and how to play them.

In a game with multiple players, the order of play and seating arrangements are determined by lot. The player who draws a domino with the highest number of pips has first choice of seats, then the next higher, and so on. In a game with a double-twelve or double-nine set, the player who holds the highest domino takes the seat directly to his left. In some games, ties are broken by drawing additional tiles from the stock and adding them to the players’ hands.

When more than one person is playing a domino game, the rules for scoring are generally agreed upon by the players. A typical method involves counting the pips on the tiles that are left in the losers’ hands at the end of a hand or the game and then adding that number to the winner’s score. Some games allow for a different method of scoring by counting the pips on all but one end of a domino (e.g., 5-5 counts as only four points).

After the dominoes have been shuffled, each player draws a tile from the stock. The player who draws the first tile plays that domino at the beginning of a turn, or play, and places it down on the table. The other players then take turns placing their tiles on top of that domino.

The domino sets that most people have in their homes are made of plastic, resin, or another type of polymer. But there are also sets of dominoes made from natural materials such as ivory, bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell, or a dark hardwood such as tiger wood with a contrasting color of ebony. Such sets have a more elegant appearance and feel heavier in the hand than those made of polymer.