How to Play Dominoes

Dominoes are a great way to spend time with family and friends. They’re also a fun way to teach kids numbers and counting. You can use them to make straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures, or 3D structures like towers and pyramids. They’re perfect for all ages and can be used with any theme.

The most basic domino games are called block-and-draw, and usually involve two to four players. The pieces are shuffled and placed face down on the table. Each player draws for the lead, which is won by the piece with the highest total pip count. The first player then plays a tile to the table positioning it so that its matching end touches an adjacent tile. Then other players follow, laying tiles so that their ends match and building a chain of dominoes. If the chains have matching ends that total a multiple of five, then a player receives points equal to the total of all exposed pips on the chains.

Most Western domino sets contain 28 pieces. However, these are often “extended” by introducing new pairs of ends, increasing the number of unique combinations and thus the possible number of dominoes that can be played. Some popular extended sets include double-nine (55 dominoes), double-12, and double-18.

There are many different games that can be played with a domino set, including blocking and scoring. Some of the most common blocking games are bergen and muggins, which determine points by counting the pips on a losing domino. Others are more skill-based, such as Mexican train and matador. These games help develop math skills as well as hand-eye coordination.

In the past, dominoes were made from a variety of materials. Currently, most dominoes are made from polymer, which is durable and affordable. However, there are a number of other materials that have been used, such as marble, granite, soapstone, or woods such as ebony. These sets tend to be more expensive, but have a more natural look and feel.

A domino has inertia, meaning that it resists motion when no force is applied to it. However, if a tiny nudge is given, it will cause the domino to fall over. This is a good example of the Domino Effect, which was discovered by University of British Columbia physicist Lorne Whitehead in 1983. Whitehead found that a domino can knock down objects of up to one-and-a-half times its own size.