Dominoes are flat, thumb-sized rectangular blocks that bear an arrangement of one to six dots, or pips, on their one face. A complete set of dominoes consists of 28 such pieces. Dominoes are also referred to as bones, tiles, cards, spinners, or tickets. They are used for playing a variety of games, in which the pips form a trail or path that must be followed to reach the final destination or climax.

The first player to play all his dominoes wins the game. There are many variations on this basic principle, however. Some games require that a player be the last to play his domino, while others may allow players to chip out when they can no longer continue play.

In general, a tile that is played to a double must touch both sides of the dominant pair completely. A player must also make sure that the dominoes on either side of the double are not touching each other, as this will prevent a chain from developing.

Usually, the opening domino of a game is the highest-valued double. This may be designated by the game’s rules as “the set,” “the down,” or “the lead.” The player who plays the opening domino must draw a hand of the number of tiles specified in the rules for that particular game. After the hands are drawn, any dominoes remaining in the stock that match the pips on the opening tile (or on the highest-valued double) are known as the stock and may be bought by a player.

Most dominoes are made of plastic, although some sets are produced from a variety of natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony. Natural-material domino sets tend to be more expensive than their polymer counterparts.

Many domino games involve laying down lines of tiles in angular or linear patterns. This is accomplished by matching the ends of one domino to the pips on the other. The basic instructions for laying down these lines of tiles are given in the section on Line of Play.

The way that the dominoes are arranged on the table in turn is also a major part of the entertainment value of a game of domino. When a person has all of his dominoes laid out, he can arrange them in beautiful designs. Lily Hevesh, a 20-year-old who calls herself “the queen of dominoes,” is famous for her ability to create magnificent structures out of the little squares. She has created numerous elaborate domino setups for movies, TV shows, and events, including an album launch for singer Katy Perry.

In storytelling, domino effects occur when scenes flow smoothly from one to the next without hiccups. This is how a story builds to its climax, or denouement. The use of domino effect in a story can make it more interesting and compelling to readers. This week’s Wonder of the Day is inspired by Juan.