A domino is a small rectangular piece of game material. It is usually twice as long as it is wide, with a line in the middle that divides it visually into two squares of contrasting color (usually black and ivory). The number of spots, or pips, on each end of a domino varies, but always reflects the rank or “weight” of the piece, which means its value for use in games. Each domino is also usually made to be exactly half as thick as it is wide, so that it can stand upright without falling over. A domino can have blank sides or may be marked with numbers, letters, symbols, or other designs. The name domino itself derives from an earlier sense of the word, which meant a long hooded cloak worn with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade.
Dominoes are typically used to play blocking and scoring games, where each player turns over a domino in turn and places it so that its exposed ends (i.e., its pips) touch adjacent pieces with numbers on them. This builds up a chain of numbers, and when all the dominos are laid and touched, the winner is the player whose exposed ends total the highest value. Normally, when a player cannot place his or her last domino, the other players chip in to complete the chain.
The term domino has come to mean any action that cascades in the same way, and can be applied more generally to any sequence of events. For example, you can imagine that a main character in a story might be described as “domino-ing” the plot, meaning that the scenes build smoothly from one to the next.
A Domino’s Pizza advertisement in 2007 featured a man who created an elaborate track that he used to demonstrate the domino effect. He would tip the first domino ever-so-slightly and, almost instantly, a whole chain of them fell in a cascade of rhythmic motion. The effect was impressive and effective, and it showed how Domino’s could spice up its image to attract younger customers.
Domino’s pizza is now available in Italy, and the company has partnered with crowd-sourced auto designers to create a customized, cool-looking car that will carry its pizza deliveries.
If you want to see a visual demonstration of the domino effect, visit this YouTube video of Domino Designer. This allows you to plan out a track, and the system will show how all the pieces fit together and will calculate how many dominos are needed for your design. The possibilities are endless, from straight lines to curved tracks, grids that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls, and even 3D structures like towers and pyramids. You can even draw arrows on the track to indicate the direction you want all the dominoes to fall. It’s a fun way to pass the time and make an artful creation!