Domino, also called bones, cards, men, pieces or tiles, are black and white rectangles with a number of spots on one side. They are used in a variety of games that involve lining them up in straight or curved lines, and then knocking them over. These simple toys can be used to teach children counting, pattern recognition and hand-eye coordination, and to help with motor skills. They can also be used to create art, such as drawings or paintings on a surface, or to make 3D structures such as towers and pyramids.
Dominoes are usually made from wood, although some sets have been made from marble, granite or soapstone; metals, such as brass or pewter; frosted glass or crystal; and ceramic clay. Polymer dominoes are also available, but they lack the tactile and visual appeal of wooden or metal dominoes.
The word domino is derived from the Latin dominica, meaning “little tiger”. The earliest known use of the word was around 1425, in reference to the Spanish conquest of Naples. In the early 20th century, domino became a popular game in Europe. It was a social activity that encouraged the development of interpersonal relationships. The game was also popular with students, who developed a sense of community and ownership over their own future potential and success.
In the modern era, there are many domino games that can be played with a standard set of 28 dominoes. These include scoring games, such as bergen and muggins, where the winning player earns points by counting the number of dominoes in their opponent’s hand. Blocking games, such as matador and chicken foot, are also popular.
Some domino games are based on luck, while others require strategy and tactical planning. A common strategy involves the use of a boneyard, a collection of spare dominoes from the current game that can be drawn and played at any time. A successful boneyard strategy requires careful planning and attention to detail, because players must make sure they pick up dominoes with matching numbers in order to continue playing a game.
In political theory, the term domino effect is used to describe a chain reaction or cascade of events that spreads from one cause to several other causes. For example, the initial victory of a soccer team against their biggest rivals may lead to several more victories that eventually propel the team into state playoffs. Likewise, the spread of communist or socialist regimes in the 1970s was often described as a domino effect, as they were said to create a “red sandwich” encircling non-communist countries, such as South Vietnam and Chile.
Dominoes can be used to make stunning pieces of art, such as drawings or paintings on sand or glass, or they can be arranged into three-dimensional structures, such as towers and pyramids. A talented domino artist can even create complex layouts that mimic natural elements, such as mountains and waterfalls, by using a combination of different colored and textured tiles.