Domino is a game played with small rectangular blocks that each have from one to six pips or dots. It is a simple but engaging game, which can be played by all ages. It is also the basis for a variety of games, from block building and scoring to skill-based, luck-based or even gambling games.
There are a lot of rules and variations to domino, but the most basic rule is that each player must play his or her tiles so that all open ends (those with no other tiles connected to them) are covered. There are many different ways to achieve this, but most of them involve a combination of matching pairs, covering multiple sides with single or double tiles and, occasionally, placing a tile on the end of an existing line.
The dominoes that make up a typical set are usually made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips. They can be painted or inlaid with the pips. In recent years, sets have been made of other natural materials such as marble, granite or soapstone; metals like pewter or brass; and ceramic clay. The latter often have a frosted appearance and feel heavier in the hand.
Some players use a sanding machine to give their dominoes an aged look, but the most important tool for a great looking set is the hands of the player. Whether the player is meticulous in his or her preparation or improvises as the moment arises, a good domino player has a keen eye and can instantly see a potential match with another piece.
The history of the domino game began in Europe. A version of the game reached China in the 12th or 13th century, where it evolved into a form that closely resembled Chinese poker. The dominoes that developed in China were functionally identical to those of the Western version, although they did not have the military-civilian suit distinctions or duplicates that characterized the European version.
In the early 18th century, the game moved from Italy to France where it became a fad. By the late 18th century, it had made its way to Britain where it became a favorite in inns and taverns. The word “domino” is believed to have derived from the French for a black and white hood worn by Christian priests in winter.
Throughout the world, dominoes are used to entertain and educate children, to provide mental and social exercise, to train people in public speaking and to help individuals with concentration and motor skills. Moreover, they are often employed to help people overcome fear or anxiety by providing them with a safe environment in which they can learn to control their emotions and reactions.
In business, the domino effect is a popular metaphor for the principle that a small trigger can initiate a chain reaction that cascades through an entire organization and ultimately affects its customers. During the Cold War, President Eisenhower famously cited this principle in a speech in which he warned that the spread of Communism could be compared to a falling domino.