Domino Wonder of the Day


We’ve all seen that amazing display of dominoes where, by tipping the first domino ever-so-slightly, all the others fall over in a rhythmic cascade. But did you know that there are a lot of games that can be played with this wonderful toy? This Wonder of the Day focuses on just one of these—and also explains the term “domino effect.”

Domino is a generic name for any game in which players build long lines of dominoes, arranged so that each tile has an equal number of spots, or “pips,” on each side. These pips are used to mark a particular domino’s identity. Most domino sets contain a variety of different shapes and sizes of tiles, so that a player can make an array of complex designs. Dominoes are often stacked end-to-end to form long chains, but they may also be arranged in a circle or on a triangular pattern.

Unlike dice, which are rounded, dominoes are rectangular and flat, making them easy to stack and move. Some dominoes have an image printed on the pips, but most are blank or have identically patterned pips on both sides. The first domino to be laid must match the color of its pips, or it is considered an invalid tile. There are many rules that govern how dominoes are placed and played, so that the game can be challenging, educational, or even dangerous.

While we all know how to play simple domino games, there are more sophisticated versions that can be played, including those in which players compete against each other. Some of these involve blocking other players from playing by placing their own dominoes in ways that prevent opponents’ moves. Others involve scoring, where the winner is the person who has the most pips remaining on their tiles. There are even a few dominoes that duplicate card games, and some of them help kids learn to recognize numbers and counting skills.

A domino is an interesting toy that has stood the test of time, from the 17th Century to the present. It’s no surprise, then, that it has been adapted into both literature and art. Dominoes are also a great toy for children, allowing them to exercise their creativity while also learning about shapes, patterns, and color.

In fiction, a domino effect is an event or series of events that begin with a small, insignificant action but ultimately result in much greater-—and sometimes catastrophic–consequences. A novelist might use this concept to illustrate the way in which one small, seemingly insignificant event can have such a large impact on the plot and character development of a story. Alternatively, nonfiction authors might use the concept to explain how a single event can change the entire course of an organization or industry. For example, one person might steal a piece of equipment that will eventually have a domino effect on an entire credit union.