Dominoes are game pieces used in a variety of games to form chains that topple over one another. A domino is normally twice as long as it is wide, and each side has a value that indicates its function in the game. The value on each end of the domino is called its rank, and it can range from six pips down to none or blank.
The act of making the first play in a domino game is often referred to as “setting,” “putting down,” or leading. The person who does this is said to be the setter or downer. The player who makes the first play may also be referred to as the lead or the winner of the last game played. The order of play is determined by the rules for each game.
Before each domino game begins, each player shuffles his tiles face down on the playing surface and thoroughly mixes them by moving his hands through them. This process is sometimes referred to as “fumbling.” In some games, the shuffling may be done by one or more players. If the same player shuffles for every game, he is known as a “fumbler.”
Once the dominoes are shuffled and ready for use, each player draws a number of tiles specified in the rules of the game. Depending on the game, some of these tiles must be passed or bought (see “Passing and Byeing” below). Then each player places his tiles in front of him.
When playing domino, it’s helpful to set the dominoes on a hard surface, such as a table. This makes it easier to stand them up straight when playing. The surface can also help you see the pips of each domino better.
Depending on the game, the heaviest tile is usually played first. This may be a double or a single, as the rules of each game dictate. Some games also allow the winner of the previous game to open play.
The heaviest tile is usually the highest numbered tile in the hand. In some games, this can be determined by counting the total number of pips on all the losing players’ tiles at the end of their hand or the game. This total is then added to the winning player’s score.
As a player plays, the rest of the dominoes in his hand are positioned around the heaviest tile to form a chain that can be touched by other dominoes to fall. A domino chain can be a simple line of squares, or it may have curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls, and 3D structures such as towers or pyramids.
The physics of dominoes is fascinating. When a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy, which is the energy stored in the fact that it’s in its normal position. When it falls, this energy is converted from potential to kinetic energy as the other dominoes move in response to its movement. When enough of these dominoes are in motion, they can form a chain that is difficult to stop.