The Game of Domino

Domino, also known as a dominoe or simply a dot, is a small rectangular tile with either one or two blank sides, or faces, and a central line that divides it visually into squares or rectangles. Dominos are normally twice as long as they are wide, and each face is marked with from one to six dots or pips. A single domino has the potential to cause a chain reaction that topples every other piece of the same kind, creating a large or complex structure in a straight or curved line, or even into 3D shapes like towers or pyramids.

The idea of domino effect, in which one event triggers a series of events that lead to larger or more catastrophic consequences, is often used in the context of politics or economics. For example, the collapse of the financial system in 2008 was described as a domino effect because it began with a few loans that were not made properly and was followed by many more bad investments, which then caused other companies to default on their debts, leading to the collapse of many major banks and the subsequent loss of jobs. This example of a domino effect illustrates the way that a small change can lead to a great impact, in this case the loss of many jobs and billions of dollars.

In the games of domino, players take turns placing tiles on a table so that their matching ends are adjacent to each other. The player then either draws or hits (raps) the table, causing the first domino to tip over, and thus initiate a sequence of more dominoes being played until a finished pattern is formed. The game provides much entertainment to children and adults who enjoy stacking the pieces on end in long lines to form geometric or angular patterns.

There are many different types of domino sets, which may be made out of various materials, such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on them. Some sets of dominoes are even made of natural stone such as marble or granite, although these sets tend to be more expensive than those made from polymer material.

The physics of dominoes is very interesting. Each domino is standing upright, which gives it potential energy. As it falls, the energy of its position is converted to kinetic energy, which causes the next domino to fall. This chain reaction continues until all the pieces have fallen.

In writing, we sometimes use the metaphor of a domino effect to describe a sequence of scenes that advance the story and build tension. If a writer uses outlines or plotting software such as Scrivener, they can make sure that each scene has a logical impact on the scenes ahead of it. If they don’t, then the result is a series of scenes that are at the wrong angle or don’t have enough energy to raise tension and interest in the story.