Have you ever played dominoes? Some children like to play games with dominoes, while others prefer to stack them on end in long rows to see them fall. Regardless of how you use them, dominoes are fun to play with!
Each domino is a rectangle that is divided with a line down its middle to separate its ends into two squares. Each end is either blank or has a number of spots — called pips. Dominoes are like dice or playing cards in that they can be used to play many different games.
Traditional domino sets have one unique piece for each possible combination of numbers from one to six spots. These sets are often called “double six" sets because the piece with the highest value has six spots on each end. Other sets with more dominoes are available, up to “double 18" sets that contain 190 dominoes.
Dominoes got their name from their resemblance to Italian carnival masks — called domini — that were white with black spots. These masks got their name because they looked like French priests' hoods that were black on the outside and white on the inside. The name ultimately comes from the Latin word dominus, which means “lord" or “master."
One player begins the game by playing one of his or her dominoes. The other player will then try to play one of his or her dominoes by placing it next to the first domino. The catch is that it has to have an end that matches the same number of pips as one end of the previously-played domino.
If the second player does not have any dominoes with matching values to the one already played, he or she must choose another domino from the boneyard until a domino that can be played is chosen. This pattern continues until either one player wins by playing all of his or her dominoes or neither player can play.
Of course, this is just one simple game using dominoes. There are many other possible games that can be played with a traditional domino set. Some of the games can be very complicated with lots of rules to remember!
Not everyone uses dominoes to play these types of games, though. Many children prefer to use dominoes as toys that they can stack on end in long lines. If spaced properly, the first domino in the line can be tipped over, which causes the next domino in line to tip and so on and so forth.
Very complex designs can be created by stacking dominoes in this way. Playing with dominoes in this way led to the common phrase, the “domino effect." The “domino effect" is used to describe a series of events that starts with one simple action that ultimately leads to much greater — and sometimes catastrophic — consequences.