Domino is a family of tile-based games played with gaming pieces commonly known as dominoes (also bones, stones, cards, men or tiles). Each piece has a line in the middle that divides its face into two square ends, one marked with a number of spots called pips and the other blank. The pips are arranged in a pattern similar to those used on six-sided dice. The number of spots can vary from six to none or blank, but all pieces in a set may have the same total pips.
Traditionally, the goal of a domino game is to place pieces in pairs so that the sum of their pips is divisible by five or three. This is the basis for most of the usual blocking and scoring games, as well as a number of variations.
For example, in British public houses and social clubs, a version of “5s-and-3s” is often played, where players score a point for each time five or three can be divided into the sum of the two tiles they are playing. Other types of dominoes are also popular, including solitaire and trick-taking games.
A traditional European domino set consists of 28 pieces, which are also called bones, stones, cards, men or tiles. The most common variant is double-six, which contains combinations of two ends with zero to six spots. Some larger sets, such as those with 55 pieces, are available.
Dominoes are typically twice as long as they are wide, making it easier to stack them after use. Some sets include a number of identically patterned end tiles to make matching more difficult.
The most common domino set is a double-six set, which includes one unique piece for each possible combination of two ends with pips between zero and six. Larger sets are sometimes available, but these tend to be less popular than double-six sets because of the greater number of tiles required.
In a Chinese domino set, the tiles are arranged to represent each of the possible faces of two thrown dice. Those games are different from Western dominoes, which have no military-civilian suit distinctions and duplicates. The Chinese domino sets of the 17th century, for instance, had a maximum of 32 tiles and no blank ends.
This makes them more durable than a double-six set. It also reduces the risk of a player accidentally throwing a tile with the wrong spot count.
Despite this, a great deal of skill is needed to create a domino setup that looks impressive. A good domino installation must account for the many different ways that the tiles can be stacked and rearranged.
For example, the first domino must be placed in a way that will knock the other dominos over without causing them to fall out of place. It must also have a strong base that will support the weight of the next domino, which can be very heavy, and it must be placed in a way that will allow the other dominoes to tumble over them smoothly, so that they do not hit each other on impact.