Dominoes are rectangular game pieces with a variety of numbers and pips. They are matched with sides that have the same number of pips, and knocked down to create elaborate patterns. The game is a metaphor for the domino effect, when one action inevitably leads to a chain of similar events.
Dominoes are made of different materials, and some are more aesthetically appealing than others. Some are made from silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (MOP), ivory or bone, and some are carved out of a dark hardwood like ebony. The most common domino sets are the double-six set of 28 tiles, though larger sets are available for players who want to play longer games.
When playing with a double-six set, the dominoes are placed face down in a stack or stock called a “boneyard.” Each player draws seven tiles from this pile. These are then placed on-edge in front of the players so that they can see their own tiles but not their opponents’.
The players then try to match the number of pips on one of their own dominoes with the same number of pips on a domino previously played by an opponent. The game is played in pairs, and the winner is the first player to score three points for a single domino.
In British public houses and social clubs, a scoring version of 5s-and-3s is played. Unlike other dominoes games, the goal is not to simply match an adjacent domino; it is to attach a tile from the player’s hand to one end of a previous domino so that the sum of the two end tiles is divisible by five or three.
These types of dominoes are referred to as “double-six” because the two sides of each domino have a number of pips in common. This type of domino is the most basic and simplest to play, but many other variants exist.
Another type of domino game is the “fifth-up” game, which has a similar premise as the classic “five-and-threes” game, except that each player is trying to match a tile from his or her hand to one of the pips on a previous player’s domino. This is a variant of the traditional game of dominoes, and it is often played with multicolored tiles.
The origin of the word domino is unclear, but it could be related to a long hooded cloak worn at masquerades and carnivals. Some have suggested that the domino denotes a priest’s surplice or cape worn during a religious ceremony.
A common misconception about dominoes is that they are based on Chinese dice. While the Chinese use two dice to play dominoes, they are not symmetrical. In fact, the game originated in Europe around 1750 and is a purely European invention.
While there are several versions of the game, the most popular are block and layout. The block games are played with a fixed set of 28 tiles, while the layout games use a different set. Most standard sets are double-six (28 tiles) or double-nine (55 tiles).
The popularity of dominoes is largely due to their simplicity and versatility. They can be used to create a wide range of games, from simple block and layout games to complex scoring games. Some sets even include a variety of specialized pieces.