The Domino Effect

A domino is a small, flat rectangular block used as a gaming object. It has a line down the center and each end features a number, or “spots” ranging from six to zero (or blank). Each suit of spots may have one or two types of pips, for example, double-blank, which counts as both 1 and 0, and single-blank, which counts as 0. Most domino sets are composed of 28 tiles (called a double-six set) but larger sets exist that contain more tiles. The most common game played with dominoes is the block or draw game, in which each player takes turns placing a domino edge to edge against another in such a way that adjacent numbers form some specified total. The first player to reach that total wins the game.

Dominoes can be arranged in a variety of patterns to form layout games or chains. Some of these layouts are simple, such as a line of all single-pip tiles or all double-pip tiles. Others are more complicated, such as a chain of linked pairs of adjacent doubles or triples. A domino also can be placed on a line of other dominoes to form an “across-the-board” game, in which each player must place a domino across from the previous piece in the same manner as he or she is playing alone.

The earliest records of the use of dominoes are from the mid-18th century in Italy and France. They were introduced in England toward the end of that same period. Since then, the domino has become a popular pastime and has many variants.

Like a car crash, a domino effect is often exciting. But, unlike a car crash, it requires a certain amount of energy to occur. This energy is stored in the momentum of a domino and becomes available when the domino tips over. This momentum can be applied to other dominoes, resulting in a chain reaction that can lead to an explosion.

In business, the domino effect can refer to a strategy that involves breaking a large goal or task into smaller parts that are easier to manage and accomplish. For example, writing a novel may require an author to create a plan that breaks the writing process into small steps, or dominoes. These dominoes may include outlining, drafting, and editing. In this way, the whole process can be managed effectively and efficiently.

Dominoes can be made from a wide variety of materials, but traditional European-style dominoes are most commonly made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), or ivory with contrasting black or white pips. Other materials that have been used to make dominoes include stone (e.g., marble or soapstone); other woods (e.g., ebony or oak); metals (e.g., brass or pewter); ceramic clay; and even glass and crystal. These materials tend to be heavier and more expensive than plastic. However, their unique look and feel can add to the enjoyment of playing with them.