Dominoes are small, rectangular blocks used as gaming objects. They are also sometimes called bones, cards, men, or tiles and may be made of any rigid material, including bone, ivory, or plastic. Dominoes feature a line down the middle that separates each end into two squares, with each side featuring a number of dots or blanks (also known as pips) from one to six. The most common domino sets contain 28 pieces; larger ones are often available. Domino games can be categorized as blocking and scoring games, with the former consisting of layouts (games in which players place tiles into a row to build up a chain).
Each domino has a value, based on the number of pips on both sides. A domino with six pips on both ends has the highest value, and the lowest value is zero. Typically, each domino in a set belongs to two suits: the suit of the number on one side and the suit of the number on the other. Each tile is marked with either white or black pips, although some sets have all-white or all-black tiles. Traditionally, domino sets are made from materials such as silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), bone, or ebony with contrasting color pips inlaid or painted onto the surface. Some sets are carved from stone such as marble or granite, and some are made of metals such as brass or pewter.
In some games, the number of pips on a piece dictates how it must be placed in relation to the other tiles, for example whether it can be played as an open end or a closed end. Other rules determine the shape of a domino chain, for example whether it must be parallel to the ground or in a particular direction.
The term “domino effect” refers to any action that causes a series of other events, like a chain reaction or snowballing, to occur. This concept can be applied to a variety of areas, from business strategy to social interactions. In the business world, for instance, a domino effect can be seen in the way that one bad performance or poor decision can impact many others in an organization.
In writing, the domino effect can be seen in the way a single scene can have a profound impact on the story that follows. This is particularly true for those writers who do not use outlines or other tools to help plot their work ahead of time, but who write by the seat of their pants.
The domino effect is also visible in domino shows, where skilled builders create stunning displays of elaborately arranged pieces that fall with the slightest touch. These shows are popular in many countries and attract thousands of spectators. Each year, the world champion domino builder wins a prize for the most creative and imaginative display. The beauty and rhythm of a domino construction, with each piece falling just so and causing a cascade of motion, is a wonderful analogy for the way narrative works.