Dominoes – A Wonder of the Day

Dominoes are a popular game for children, and they are also used for decorating walls, making curved lines of dominoes that form pictures when they fall, or even creating 3D structures like towers and pyramids. Dominoes are small enough to be manageable in a confined workshop but detailed enough to demand respect for the skill of the craftsman who creates them. Today’s Wonder of the Day features one such craftsman: Frederick Schwab, who created the first set of large, molded steel dominoes.

In most games played with domino, a player places a domino edge to edge against another domino that is already in place. This combination of tiles is called a line of play, and there are some basic instructions for line-of-play games listed here under Line of Play.

Each domino features a number of dots or pips on its face, and the most common commercially available set has 28 such tiles. Each domino belongs to one of several suits, depending on the arrangement of its pips. For example, a domino with two pips in the middle of its face belongs to both the suit of threes and the suit of blanks (or zeros).

Some games have specific rules for when a particular type of tile may be played. For example, some players may agree to use the word “the lead” to refer to the first domino played for the opening of a game and also the player who makes this play. The word “the set,” or the phrase “the down,” is sometimes used to refer to the same things; however, some people prefer the term “the lead” because it emphasizes the importance of this initial play and the fact that it sets the direction for the rest of the game.

Most games of domino are played in pairs or groups, and a player’s seat at the table is determined by chance or by a rule. In most games, the player who draws the heaviest domino, either double or single, has the option of making the first play. A tie is broken by drawing additional dominoes from the stock until one player has the highest one.

The heaviest domino in most games is called a spinner because it can be played on all four sides. Some games have special rules for these pieces, and a player can only play a spinner once during the course of the game.

Before each game, the players shuffle the dominoes thoroughly on a flat playing surface, mixing them by moving the tiles with their hands. Generally, a player takes turns shuffling for each game, or the player who won the previous game shuffles for the next game. After the shuffling, each player draws a hand of dominoes and plays a game according to the rules in effect for that particular game.