What is a Domino?

A domino is a tile game piece that has one or more dots. It is used in many different games to create chains, or “runs”, that can span multiple rows and columns. Dominos are primarily used by two or more players, but can also be played alone, and are often a feature in other tabletop games such as poker. The word, like the game itself, has a long history and many uses.

The domino was invented in the mid-18th century in Italy and France. They were first brought to England by French prisoners toward the end of the same period. In the early 19th century, the game became popular in the United States. Today, there are many varieties of the domino game, with each using different rules and scoring systems.

A domino can be a small, five-millimeter square, or a large structure that towers over a person and may even reach several feet in height. Unlike cards or dice, which have very specific rules and uses, the domino is more of a generic gaming device that can be used for many different types of games. Dominoes can be used as a teaching aid, as part of a board game, or simply as a form of entertainment.

When used in a board game, dominoes are typically set up on a table so that each player can see the value of their own tiles, but cannot see those of their opponents. The tiles are then shuffled and formed into a “stock”, or boneyard. Each player draws a number of tiles from the stock that corresponds to the rules of the game being played. The player who draws the highest double, or the heaviest single, begins play.

If there is a tie, the players draw additional tiles until a player holds the highest domino. Depending on the game, there are sometimes exceptions to this rule (see Order of Play).

Some players prefer to pass or bye, rather than drawing from the stock, but this is generally forbidden in most games. If a player passes or byes, they must wait until their turn to make another play, and the next player begins playing.

Dominoes are often used for art, with people arranging them into straight lines or geometric shapes, grids that form pictures, or 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. Domino artists can be very creative, creating designs that are as simple or complex as they wish. Whether a domino artist is just starting out or has been designing for decades, the most important thing is to be patient and plan carefully. Eventually, the right domino will fall into place.