# The Basics of Domino

Domino is a system of interlocking tiles used in a variety of games. Each domino has a value, indicated by its number of spots, or “pips”. A double has values on both sides; a spinner is one that can be played on all four ends. Dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide, which makes it easier to stack them after use.

When the first domino falls, much of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, which is transmitted to the next domino and provides the push it needs to fall over. The energy continues traveling from domino to domino until the last one is knocked over. This is an example of the domino effect, a term coined by physicist Stephen Morris to describe the cumulative effects of events that build upon each other like a row of falling dominoes.

The rules of domino vary widely, and even within the same game, different players have slightly different ways of playing. The most common way to determine who plays first is to draw lots, or to have the winner of the previous game make the first play. Another method is to have the player with the heaviest double begin play, or, in some games, the heaviest single.

Some games involve the use of a stock from which players may buy tiles to add to their hand. When this is the case, the player draws the number of tiles he is allowed to take according to the rules of the game, and then adds them to his hand. The player then begins play by placing a tile on the domino table, a process called laying tiles.

The domino table is the surface on which the dominoes are placed, typically a square or rectangular board. The dominoes are then joined together in a line of play, either lengthwise, with the tiles played end to end, or crosswise, with each tile played across matching numbers. Depending on the rules of the game, sometimes more than one domino is played on a single turn; this is known as an overdraw and is penalized in some games.

The scoring of some domino games involves counting the pips on the tiles left in the losers’ hands at the end of a hand or game, and adding this to the winning player’s score. However, many games also use a different scoring system in which the player’s total count of pips is taken from the number of tiles in his hand that are not doubles (i.e., only one side of a spinner counts). Depending on the rules of the game being played, some games allow players to bye tiles from the stock. This can be beneficial to a player, but it must be done in a manner consistent with the rules of the game. These examples have been programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘domino’. Any opinions in these examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors.