A domino is a tile marked with an arrangement of dots or “pips” (like those on a die) that may be either blank or identically patterned on both sides. Like playing cards and dice, dominoes are used as building blocks in a variety of games to form straight or curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, or 3D structures such as towers and pyramids.
Dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide, allowing them to be stacked on one another. They have a line in the middle that divides them visually into two squares. The value of a domino is determined by the number of dots on each side: The more pips, the higher the value. A domino with more pips on one end than the other is often called a double (or doublet).
The term domino is thought to come from the Italian word for crown, and may refer to a kind of cape that was worn by priests over their surplices. In French, the name may also have evoked the image of a black domino piece contrasted with the ivory surface of a church altarpiece.
While there are many different ways to use dominoes, they can be grouped into three general categories: casual games, family-friendly games, and educational games. Casual games are played in a group and involve little or no strategy. They can be competitive or cooperative and often require teamwork to win. Family-friendly games are a great way to spend quality time together, and most involve simple rules that can be learned easily. Educational games can improve memory, concentration, and fine motor skills. Most of these games teach a specific skill such as counting, colors, shapes, or numbers.
Unlike most casual games, some domino games are designed for competition between players. The goal of these games is to be the first player to reach a set point, known as a “knuckle.” The winner is the player who has all of their dominoes in a straight or curved line before their opponent does.
A common rule is that a player cannot play a domino that has been knocked down by another player. This rule is to prevent a player from simply stacking his or her dominoes on top of those of an opposing player.
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