Domino is a game played with a set of small rectangular tiles. It is similar to playing cards or dice in that a variety of games can be played with a set of dominoes.

Some games are simple and others require knowledge of a wide range of rules. In general, a player’s goal is to play a domino that matches the value of the one that he or she already played, or if this is not possible, to choose another domino from the stock (boneyard).

The word “domino” comes from the Latin word for “disorder.” While it may have originated in the United States, it has since spread around the world. Some people use the term to describe any gaming device with a set of small rectangular blocks.

A domino is a set of rectangular tiles, typically made of wood or plastic, that are used in a variety of games. They are commonly used for block-and-draw games, where they are shuffled face down on the table and then drawn by the players.

For example, the most common domino variant for two players involves a double-six set, in which 28 tiles are shuffled and each player draws seven of them. In a single round, the player who has played the most of his or her dominoes wins.

Many other domino variants involve a larger set of tiles, sometimes as many as 200, and are called extended sets. They are often characterized by a higher maximum number of pips per end than the original set and thus increase the number of unique combinations of ends that can be achieved.

Some of these games can be highly strategic. For example, a common British pub game is called 5s-and-3s, which is played as a series of “ends.” In each of these, players attach a domino from their hand to the end of any tile already in play so that the total pip count of the two tiles is divisible by five or three. The first player to achieve this is the winner, and a point is awarded for each time that five or three can be divided by two tiles.

Physicist Stephen Morris, who studies the science behind dominoes, says that gravity plays a role in how they work. “Dominoes rest against gravity,” he says, and they have inertia, the tendency to resist motion when no outside force is pushing or pulling on them.

However, a tiny nudge can take a domino to the tipping point and cause it to fall. This is what physicists refer to as the domino effect.

When a domino falls, it stores potential energy in its center of gravity. That energy is then released when the domino is pushed against a wall, and that can be amplified by a further push of another domino.

The domino effect is a key feature in the popular novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, wherein the main character, Hank, uses his knowledge of the universe to sabotage alien invaders by knocking down a set of dominoes.