Learning About Dominoes

The game of domino, whose name is derived from the Latin for “falling block,” is a popular pastime with children and adults. It’s also a useful learning tool, teaching the principles of cause and effect. One simple action can produce a sequence of events with greater–and sometimes catastrophic–consequences. In this way, domino is a metaphor for life.

A domino is a small, flat rectangular block with a number of dots, or pips, on each end. It is usually made of a material such as wood or plastic, and is often painted or etched with a design, and may also be inlaid with contrasting colors. A domino set consists of the number of tiles needed to play the game, along with some scoring markers and other optional pieces such as dominoes with a special shape, a spinning top, or a peg to fit into a hole in the tile.

When played with a partner, the goal of the game is to form an ordered pattern or line in which each player has a chance to make a move. A domino is considered “open” for play when all of its ends are free to accept additional tiles. Most domino games allow additional tiles to be placed only on the long sides of a double, but some have special rules allowing them to be placed at right angles to a double as well.

Dominoes can be arranged in many ways, but they are most commonly stacked on end to form lines or other shapes. They can be arranged vertically, horizontally, or diagonally in a line. When the first domino in a line is flipped over, it causes all of the others to fall as well. This occurrence is known as a domino cascade, and can be quite dramatic.

In most domino games, the pips on each end of a domino are used to identify its value. The higher the number, the more valuable the domino. For example, a 6-6 is a heavy domino while a double-blank is the lightest. The player who scores the most points over a given number of rounds wins the game.

Lily Hevesh has been fascinated by dominoes since she was a child. She remembers playing with her grandparents’ classic 28-pack, and enjoying the satisfying feeling of setting up a domino line in a straight or curved line, then flicking it and watching all of its parts tumble down at once.

Dominoes have been in use for centuries, although the first recorded examples come from Italy and France in the mid-18th century. In the United States, pizza chain Domino’s grew rapidly after it started franchising in 1984 and instituted a 30-minute guarantee for delivery. The company also emphasized putting its locations near colleges, which helped it attract young people who wanted to eat quickly and cheaply.

In the early days of Domino’s, founder Tom Monaghan sought to differentiate his business from competitors by promoting its quick delivery service. When he became CEO of Domino’s in 1997, he reemphasized the importance of listening to employees and customers. He introduced a relaxed dress code and new leadership training programs, and encouraged employees to share their ideas and concerns. Domino’s has been a leader in the fast-food industry ever since.