Dominoes are a familiar sight in many homes. Some children like to line them up in long rows, and others enjoy a variety of games that involve knocking them over. These individual black and white rectangles are called dominoes, although you might also know them as tiles, bones, tickets, or spinners. Dominoes come in different shapes and sizes, but they all fit together to form a chain.

The game of domino has a long history. The earliest Western domino sets consisted of 28 tiles that represented all possible outcomes of two thrown dice (d6). Each domino has a unique combination of numbers on its six sides. The game was probably introduced to Europe by French prisoners toward the end of the 18th century.

A traditional domino set has a double-twelve or double-nine-set of 91 dominoes, with the players drawing one tile each to determine who plays first. Before playing, the tiles are shuffled. The player who draws the highest double goes first, or, if there is no high double, the player with the heaviest hand. The next player then places the first tile on the table, either by drawing lots or by choosing a domino from the unused ones.

As the chain of dominoes grows, each tile must touch the ends of other tiles at least partially to continue building the chain. The resulting lines can take various shapes, and the open ends of each domino are counted to record the number of pips on the tiles that can be played to it. For example, a domino placed adjacent to a 6-6 may produce open ends of 5 and 6, and a domino played to the 6-6 could produce open ends of 4 and 5.

The most common dominoes are square, with matching ends that meet completely. However, there are many other types of dominoes that have a different shape or a matching edge with another piece. For example, some people play a game of domino with hexagonal dominoes, which require a special set to make a full layout.

Besides being fun to play, domino can be an excellent way for children to learn about counting, predicting, and problem solving. The game also promotes social interaction and helps develop motor skills. In addition, it can improve eye-hand coordination and spatial awareness.

While dominoes can be used for a variety of games, they are most often used in positional games. These games require each player to place a domino edge to edge against another domino so that the adjacent faces are identical or form some specified total.

Dominoes can be a fascinating demonstration of the “domino effect,” which states that when one behavior is changed, it will trigger a chain reaction in related behaviors. For example, when someone decides to spend less time on sedentary activities, they will likely reduce the amount of fat in their diet as a side effect. To see a beautiful display of the power of the domino effect, watch this video of a domino artist, Lily Hevesh, creating an intricate domino setup. Her largest projects involve 300,000 dominoes and take several nail-biting minutes to fall!