Dominoes are small rectangular wood or plastic blocks, each bearing an arrangement of dots resembling those on dice. One face is marked with a number; the other face is blank or identically patterned, as on playing cards. Each domino also has a ridge running along the bottom edge that gives it added stability. Dominoes are most often played with a set of 28 pieces, although extended sets of dominoes exist that add additional pips to each end of the tiles.

Dominos are used to play many games of chance and skill, and the game has gained in popularity worldwide. Some domino games involve blocking opponents’ play, while others count the total value of a player’s remaining dominoes to determine a winner (such as in the scoring game bergen and muggins). Dominoes can also be used to build a variety of structures – straight lines, curved lines that form pictures when they fall, or 3D shapes like towers and pyramids. Some artists even compete in domino shows, building amazing sculptural and structural arrangements from a single set of dominoes.

Traditionally, dominoes are played in teams. Each team member takes turns laying dominoes on the table and positioning them so that their matching ends touch (i.e., one’s touch two’s, and so on). As a domino chain develops it grows in length, and the players must try to place each new tile on the table with its matching ends touching in order to create a snake-like shape. If a player plays a tile that results in the chains of their opponent’s being stretched or tangled, they are said to have “stitched up” the ends.

When a domino is played and the resulting chain of dominoes collapses, it is said to have had a “domino effect.” The term is also used to describe an event that has knock-on effects in society or the economy.

The word domino is thought to come from the Latin dominus, meaning master of the house or domain. It later denoted a long hooded cloak worn together with a mask at a masquerade or carnival, and eventually came to refer to the gaming piece itself.

Most dominoes have a unique number of spots on each of their ends, and each pips has a particular meaning in the various games that can be played with them. For example, the number of pips on a domino that is marked with a “1” indicates that it can only be played to by another domino that has a 1 as its topmost point. There are also different colors on the pips, and each color corresponds to a particular type of game. For example, the black dominoes are typically used for blocking games while the ivory ones are usually used in scoring games such as bergen and muggins. There are also some domino games that do not involve blocking or scoring, such as solitaire and trick-taking games. These games can be fun for all ages, and they help children learn number recognition and counting skills.