Domino is a game in which dominoes, rectangular tiles with a value of zero to six spots on each end, are placed edge to edge against one another so that their adjacent faces match or form a specified total. The resulting chain of dominoes can be knocked over, either by hand or with the help of a special device called a Domino Cutter. Several variants of domino are played, including positional games in which the goal is to empty opponents’ hands. Other games involve scoring points by counting the number of pips in the losing player’s hand, and games in which players place dominoes in a row or column and then knock them over.
Dominoes, also referred to as bones, cards, men, or pieces, have been around for a long time. The first known Western domino set dates to the mid-18th century, and was introduced into England by French prisoners toward the end of that period. The word itself has an uncertain origin, but it may have derived from the French “domino,” which in turn likely originated as an adjective from the earlier sense of a black hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade.
The earliest dominoes were simply rectangular blocks, but since then they’ve evolved into more complex shapes with more variety of edges and a range of values on their ends. The most common type of domino is the double-six set, which has 28 distinct pieces. Most sets also include an extended version of the double-six set, in which a domino has three different combinations of ends with values from zero to six.
A piece of wood or cardboard is usually used as the base on which a domino rests, but some manufacturers produce specially designed “domino tables.” These can be used for many different kinds of games, from a simple “match the color” game to a complicated strategy game with multiple lines and complex movements of dominoes.
Despite their small size, each domino has a great deal of energy stored in it. All it takes to get that energy moving is a little nudge, like the tip of your finger sliding across a cup of water. Once the first domino begins to move, it creates momentum that can push over much larger dominoes.
Charles Schwab, chairman and CEO of Bethlehem Steel, learned a powerful lesson from Ivy Lee that he calls the domino concept. Lee instructed him to choose the most important task of his day and give it full attention until it was completed. That “main domino” would then provide the energy to knock over the other tasks that needed to be accomplished. Schwab implemented this strategy, and the result was that his company became the largest steel manufacturer in the world in five years.