Domino is a small, flat block used as a game piece in various games of skill and chance. Also called bones, men, or pieces, dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide and feature a line or ridge across them to divide the identity-bearing side into two squares, each of which may be either blank or patterned with an arrangement of dots, called pips, similar to those on a die. Each domino is marked with a value on one end and, in the case of most sets, with a number on the other (although some have no marks at all).
When a player has a domino with a matching number on both ends it can be laid down to form a chain. This chain is a part of the fun, as it grows and develops in shape according to the whims of the players and the limitations of the playing surface. The chain may be crossed by other pieces that are played to it (the touching ends must match: a ‘one’s touch one’s, or ‘two’s touch two’s), and a ‘double’ must be placed at right angles to the first double touched in order for the total points on both sides of the tile to be counted.
A common game for four or more players involves drawing and placing dominoes on a table or other playing surface, with the winner being determined by the process of drawing lots, or by who holds the highest number of ‘doubles’ (i.e., the largest dominoes). Each player draws a hand of dominoes from a bag or box and places it on the table in front of him or her, so that the other players cannot see their values. Once the draw is completed, the first player, often determined by the drawing of lots or the heaviest hands, plays a domino and then passes play to his or her neighbor.
This is a fun and educational way for children to learn basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The possibilities are endless for creative play as well, such as stacking the dominoes on top of each other to make interesting shapes and patterns. One can even create a domino effect, in which a simple action (tipping over a single domino) leads to the subsequent tipping over of many more dominoes, in a cascade that eventually covers an entire board or table.
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