The domino is a set of rectangular black and white pieces that are used in a number of games. They are marked with an arrangement of pips and spots and usually have a line down the middle. They can be made of rigid material, such as bone or plastic, or softer materials, such as wood.
There are several different kinds of dominoes, which range in size from three to twenty-one tiles. Some are blank, while others contain identifying marks on one side. They can be played alone or with other objects. They can be placed in a long row or laid face down on the table. There are many types of games, including trick-taking dominoes and solitaire dominoes.
In traditional dominoes, each piece is unique. For instance, a double-nine set contains 55 tiles and a double-six set has 253 tiles. In some sets, players will have to chip out each piece before they can play. If a player does not want to chip out a tile, he or she can choose to leave it behind.
Traditionally, European-style dominoes are made from ivory, bone, or other dark hardwood. Unlike the Chinese dominoes, European ones have no blank faces. The dominoes in these sets are used in a variety of games, including Pai Gow.
Most traditional domino sets are called “double six” sets, since they have unique pieces for each possible combination of numbers. Some large domino sets use Arabic numerals instead of pips.
The earliest known Western dominoes were introduced to England by French prisoners of war in the mid-18th century. Later, they spread to France, Italy, Austria, and southern Germany. The game also appeared in American literature in the 1860s.
To play the game, players start with a certain number of dominoes. They then draw a lead piece. Those who have fewer spots than the player who has drawn the lead will win the game. For example, if the lead has three, two, and two, the winning player will be the player with the least spots.
If a player fails to place a tile, he or she is given the option to pick a sleeping domino. A sleeping domino is one that has been laid on the table but is still in the process of falling down. This may cause the next domino to fall down. Then, the player will have to decide if the sleeping domino should be placed in the same position as the previous one. If so, he or she can rap it on the table to reposition it. If the other player can knock it down, the game is over.
In the United States, the term boneyard is often used to describe any number of pieces left on the table after the game has ended. Those pieces are usually called stock.
In the 1860s, variants of the domino game began to appear in American literature. In fact, the name domino was first recorded in the French dictionary Dictionnaire de Trevoux in 1771.