Dominoes are a type of tile game similar to rummy or playing cards. They are made of a rigid material (often wood) and have identifying marks or “pips” that are used to identify the pieces. They can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and sizes and are commonly made from different materials. They can also be painted or inlaid with a pattern.
In Western countries, dominoes are most commonly played for positional games in which each player places one edge to the next attempting to match adjacent faces or form some specified total. The number of pips on a domino is often used to determine its value, and the total number of pips on all exposed ends is also counted.
There are many different types of dominoes and a wide range of rules can be applied to each type. However, the basic concept of each game is the same.
A domino is a flat, rectangular piece of rigid material such as wood, bone, or plastic. It is usually twice as long as it is wide and has a line in the middle that divides it into two equal halves. The sides of each tile are marked with a number of spots or “pips.”
The pips are arranged in patterns from zero to six, like those on a die. The highest-value piece, which is known as a “double six,” has six pips on each side.
These pips are often inlaid or painted with designs to enhance the appearance of the piece. Some sets are made of natural materials such as silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (MOP), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips.
Historically, European-style dominoes were made from bone or other heavy materials such as MOP and had a unique appearance. Some were also manufactured from frosted glass, ceramic clay or other textured materials.
Most modern dominoes are made from polymer, although some are still made from natural materials. Some are made of wood such as ash, oak, or redwood and some are even made from metals such as brass, pewter, or ceramic clay.
The most common commercially available dominoes are double-nine sets (55 tiles), but larger sets are also manufactured. Larger sets allow for longer games and are more suitable for games with multiple players or when the number of players is greater than eight.
Some dominoes have a blank end, which may be matched only with another tile that has a matching end with a spot. Some people prefer to make the blank ends “wild” and ascribe them any value they wish.
Other dominoes have a special function such as a spinner, which is an extra piece that cannot be used as a regular domino but must be placed in the centre of the board to start the game. This allows players to use the full set of dominoes without having to remove any tiles or move them around the table.