Domino – The Game of Matching Ends of Tiles


Domino is a game of matching ends of tiles or blocks. It can also refer to any of a number of games played with these tiles, as well as the term for a chain of such matches (or, technically, “pips”).

Domino has long been a popular game among children and adults, and it has even been used in school-based programs to help teach math and other subjects. But what is the origin of this simple, yet fascinating, game?

The word domino itself appears to have been derived from a French word, dom*i*no, which is related to an earlier sense of the same name. This earlier sense meant a long, hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at masquerades. The word probably became associated with the game when it was imported into France after 1750.

Each domino is a rectangular block twice as wide as it is thick, with one side bearing from six to twenty-four white or black spots, or pips, while the other side is blank or identically patterned. The pips are typically arranged in a line or grid, as on a die, but they may be more elaborately inlaid or painted. Dominoes are normally made from bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony. In a typical European-style set, the top half is usually in MOP or ivory, with the lower half in ebony.

While some of these games involve emptying players’ hands, blocking the opponents’ play, or scoring points, most are based on matching up pairs of tiles. The more matching tiles a player has on his turn, the higher the score. The winning player is the first to reach a specified goal, or knocks everyone out of the game.

For example, when playing the game of domino, the winning player is the first to get rid of all his tiles, or “chips out.” He does this by laying down a domino that has only one of his numbers on it. When he does this, all the other players must follow suit and lay down their own matching tile. This causes the other players to lose their remaining chips and allows him to take control of the table.

Hevesh is a domino artist who creates spectacular domino setups. Her YouTube videos of her installations have attracted millions of views, and she has created sets for movies and events. Some of her setups consist of hundreds of thousands of dominoes, and can take a nail-biting moment or two for them to fall, depending on the size and arrangement.

For writers, the Domino Effect suggests that each scene in a story should have enough impact to lead naturally into the next one. This can be particularly useful if you are a pantser, or write your scenes without using an outline or software such as Scrivener. Otherwise, you might end up with scenes that don’t logically advance the plot, or simply don’t have enough punch to raise tension in your story.