Dominoes are small rectangular blocks used in a variety of games. These pieces are typically two to four inches long and one to two inches wide. They are normally made of a rigid material, such as wood or plastic. However, they can also be made of ivory, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell, or ebony.

The word domino originated in French as a term for the priest’s cape. Other names for dominoes include stones, tickets, or men.

Dominoes were introduced to England by French prisoners during the 18th century. By the late 1700s, they were being used in France, Italy, and Austria. A number of games, including trick-taking, block-and-draw, and solitaire domino games, are played with them. In many cases, a player draws seven tiles from the stock.

When the first domino in the line falls down, the chain reaction begins. If a second domino drops down, it can knock down the first, and so on. This can lead to a domino falling down all the way to the ground.

Traditionally, European-style dominoes are made of ivory or bone, but more modern sets are made of dark hardwood such as ebony. Although these sets are typically made to be larger than traditional ones, they are often not suitable for most domino games.

Chinese dominoes are similar to Western versions, but the set is referred to as a pupai. Unlike Western versions, Chinese dominoes have no blank faces. Instead, the value of either side of the tile is a certain number of spots. Several traditional Chinese games, such as Tien Gow and Pai Gow, are based on these dominoes.

Most dominoes come in sets of 28. However, there are some larger domino sets, such as a double twelve or a double eighteen. All of these are a bit larger than the standard domino, but the number of pieces makes them more useful for a game with more players.

Western dominoes, on the other hand, are more commonly used for positional games. For instance, a player can play a trick-taking game, a block-and-draw game, or a concentration game.

Usually, a player draws a lead piece. This is the largest domino in the set, and it has the most number of pips. Another piece is drawn after that. Depending on the game, the second-largest and third-largest dominos may be drawn, too.

There are several variants of dominoes, but the most common type involves playing a scoring game. To do this, a player will use a double-six or a double-nine domino set, with a total of twelve or eighteen pips. Alternatively, the lead and second-largest dominos will have a lower number of pips.

In order to win, the player must have the fewest pips. Each end of the domino is marked with a number of spots or pips, which the player must subtract from the sum. Sometimes the player’s score is a fraction of the total.

Dominoes are also used in studies of nerve cells. Their size, shape, and ability to be stacked on end creates a great way to study neurons. Many children, though, prefer to use them as toys.