The Fun of Dominoes

Dominoes are a fascinating game that combines skill, patience, and chance. They are also a great way to teach children about counting and number recognition. There are many different games that can be played with dominoes, including scoring and blocking games. But, the main attraction of these little squares is the chain reaction they create when they are arranged in lines and then knocked over.

The word “domino” was first recorded in French around 1750, although the game itself probably dates back much earlier. It’s believed that the name may have been inspired by the garment known as a domino, a long hooded cloak worn with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade ball. Similarly, the domino pieces themselves may have reminded people of the priest’s black domino contrasting with the white surplice.

A domino is a rectangular tile with two or more rounded edges and a pattern of dots on one face. Each domino has a line across the center that divides it visually into two squared sections, called ends. Each end is marked with an arrangement of numbered spots or “pips,” similar to those on a die. The dominoes’ other faces are blank or identically patterned. The pips on each end of a domino indicate its value. A domino with a single row of six pips is known as a double-six; a domino with a single row of five pips is a double-five.

In most domino games, each player attempts to place dominoes edge to edge in such a way that the adjacent ends match (i.e., one’s touch one’s and two’s touch two’s). When all of the exposed ends are matched, each player scores points based on the number of dominoes in his or her hand. Normally, play stops when one player can no longer continue, though some games have additional rules for stopping the game.

Dominoes come in many different shapes and sizes, but all are rectangular and have a line across the center. They are carved from natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark wood such as ebony. Some of the more traditional sets have a domino with a double thickness, with the top layer in MOP or ivory and the lower layer in ebony.

Most domino games have a set number of sides, and each side has a specific rank or weight. A king is the highest, while the rest of the dominoes are ranked according to their number of pips. A domino with no pips is usually referred to as a zero.

When writing, think of each scene in your story as a domino. If you’re a pantser, or someone who doesn’t write detailed outlines of plot ahead of time, you might find yourself with scenes that don’t connect well to the ones before or after them. Using a tool such as Scrivener or a scene card can help you weed out dominoes that don’t fit.

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