Dominoes are small rectangular blocks marked with dots resembling those on dice. They are typically twice as long as they are wide and are normally stacked together to form a smooth surface. Dominos are commonly used to play games of chance or skill, in which players try to arrange a line of dominoes end to end so that the exposed ends of the dominoes match (e.g., one’s touch two’s, or three’s touch five’s). Each domino has a value, usually reflected in the number of dots on either side. These values are known as pips, and each domino belongs to one suit, normally the suit of six pips or “sixes”, and the suit of blanks, or “zeroes”.
There are many different types of games played with domino. The most common set is double-six, with 28 tiles, although larger sets such as the classic double-nine and the modern double-eight are also available. Dominoes may be made from a variety of materials, including bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl or MOP), ivory, or dark hardwood such as ebony. Historically, some sets were even made from stone such as marble or granite. Some modern manufacturers produce dominoes from plastic or glazed ceramic clay, which lends them a more novel look and feel, although these materials do not lend themselves to the physical manipulation required for most domino playing.
The most basic game of domino involves matching a domino’s exposed pips to those on another domino. The pips must be adjacent to each other, and the total of all the pips on both sides of the tile is counted. Then, the player may take a turn by laying another domino on top of it, and so on, until all the tiles have been matched and the winning player has accumulated a score.
Another way to play domino is in positional games, in which each player, in turn, places a domino edge to edge against an adjacent domino so that the exposed pips on the two ends of the domino match up and form some specified total. Various games can be played with positional dominoes, and it is possible to make the scoring system as complex or simple as desired.
There are also blocking games, in which players try to keep their opponent from playing a certain type of domino or sequence of dominoes. Blocking games are most often played with a set of standard dominoes, but there are also blocker games that can be played with special shaped pieces.
Perhaps the most famous example of the domino effect is the spectacle of a domino builder carefully positioning hundreds or thousands of dominoes, then nudges them all with a single finger to cause them all to fall in a spectacular display of rhythm and movement. This is a vivid illustration of how the domino effect can add tension to a story, especially when it occurs suddenly. In writing, the domino effect can be achieved by creating a scene that has a strong impact on the next scene in your story. This is especially important if you’re a pantser, meaning you don’t use an outline or Scrivener to help you plot your story.