Dominoes are a classic toy that continues to delight and amuse children, teenagers, and adults. They are also a great way to illustrate how scenes in a novel, play, or movie work together and naturally influence one another, much like a series of dominoes that form an elaborate chain with the simple nudge of one. For writers, if we can view our scenes as dominoes that naturally build upon each other, we can create scenes that are more effective and interesting.

A domino is a flat, thumb-sized rectangular block with an identity-bearing face on one side and a blank or identically patterned opposite side. Its face may be marked with an arrangement of dots or pips, similar to those on a die, or it might contain no markings at all. Dominoes come in various sizes and shapes, but most are twice as long as wide, allowing them to be easily stacked or laid down in lines or angular patterns. Twenty-eight such pieces make up a full set. Dominoes are used for a variety of games, the most common being blocking and scoring games.

The domino game is a skillful and fast-paced game of strategy, with the object being to be the first player to reach a predetermined number of points, typically 61. The basic setup is as follows: Each player draws a hand of seven dominoes from the double six set and then begins play. Each tile that is played must be matched to an open end of a previous tile (doubles count as two). A player scores one point for each time the total of all four of their opened ends is evenly divisible by either 5 or 3; the first to achieve this wins the game.

Domino games have a long history and were widely popularized in the 1800s, becoming a staple of family entertainment at home and in public places such as pubs. They have since become a feature of competitive events, such as domino rallies, where builders construct intricate, detailed chains of dominoes in front of an audience, for the sake of seeing how many can be toppled with the slightest nudge.

A surprisingly large number of different games can be played with dominoes, and the majority fall into two categories, blocking and scoring. Blocking games, such as matador and Mexican train, involve emptying a player’s hand while keeping opponents from playing. Scoring games, such as bergen and muggins, determine points by counting the pips in the losing players’ hands. Some domino sets have more readable numbers on the pips, such as Arabic numerals or decimal points, so that they can be used for more precise number recognition and counting.