# The Basics of Domino

Domino is a game of chance and skill. It’s fun and easy to play for all ages. There are many variations of the game, but they all come down to laying tiles edge to edge so that the matching ends are adjacent. The value of each end may be a number (from six down to zero or blank) or it might form a specified total. The tiles are normally twice as long as they are wide, and the two sides of a domino have different colors or markings to identify them.

Dominoes are often made of wood, but are also available in plastic or metal. The shape of a domino is rectangular, with either an engraved or printed surface. The engraved surfaces are often decorated with designs, or sometimes colored in a variety of ways to add interest and appeal. Traditionally, the number of dots or marks on a domino was a representation of its rank. For example, a double-six domino was ranked higher than a single-six domino because it had more pips.

A player begins a hand of domino by drawing the number of tiles he is permitted to take according to the rules of the game being played, adding them to the dominoes already in his hand. The remainder of the dominoes are placed face down in a stock, from which they may be bought (See “Passing and Byeing” below) later in the game.

When a tile is played, it is placed on the table so that its matching end is adjacent to a previously played tile or a pips-free area. The resulting chain, called the line of play, develops a snake-like configuration depending on the whims of the players and limitations of the playing surface. A domino chain can run out of space on the playing surface, but in most games, the tiles will continue to be played until there is no longer enough room for them to fall over.

Some games require that the loser count the total number of pips on the dominoes in his hand at the end of a hand or the game and then subtract it from his score. This scoring method is also known as summing the dominoes. Some players also agree to count only one end of a double when counting pips, which is referred to as counting only the lower-valued side of a domino.

In some games, a domino with a blank side is regarded as wild and can be ascribed any value by its adjacent partner. This is not a common practice in most games, however, because blank sides are not usually matched together.

Just like a domino that’s been set up with inertia, a story needs to build momentum for readers to care about what happens next. Story scenes should advance the hero closer to or farther from his goal, but they shouldn’t be too long (heavy on details or minutiae) or too short (leaving readers bored). Whether you’re writing an entire novel off the cuff or planning a detailed outline, plotting your story should include considering how you can use the domino effect to keep it engaging.