Dominoes, cousins of playing cards, are among the oldest tools for game play. From professional domino competition to setting them up and then knocking them over, they offer a variety of challenges that test both skill and patience. Their markings, known as pips, originally represented the results of throwing two six-sided dice.

When the first domino falls, much of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, which powers the next one to fall. The energy continues to flow from one domino to the next, generating momentum that pushes each of them over until the final domino crashes down.

Dominoes are made of a number of materials, including ivory, bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl) and ebony. They can also be made out of stone, such as marble or granite; metals like brass and pewter; ceramic clay; woods including ash, oak, redwood, and cedar; and even glass. Some sets include a top layer of bone, ivory or MOP with the lower half of ebony for a more interesting look and feel.

MOP dominoes are typically more expensive than others due to their unique color and texture, but they can be more durable as well because of the resin used to protect them. Historically, MOP dominoes were used by royalty because they were thought to bring good luck. Today, MOP sets are often carved or inlaid with black or white pips.

The most common set of dominoes has 28 tiles, but larger sets exist to enable games for more than four players. Some larger sets feature an additional “double-nine” tile, which means they have 55 tiles altogether.

Many different types of domino play exist, from simple blocking and scoring games to intricate layout games that can require hours of work. Layout games involve using multiple dominoes to build a shape or pattern, often by placing them at an angle to each other or with gaps between them.

Dominos can also be used to create art, including paintings and sculptures. Artists who create such domino artworks use the same techniques as those employed by engineers and architects who design skyscrapers or bridges. These artists start by creating an overall layout of the dominoes that will be incorporated into the artwork, then place the pieces in the correct positions. For more complicated designs, they may be filmed in slow motion to get an accurate idea of how they will look when completed.

When it comes to writing novels, plotting can be like lining up dominoes in a row. Whether your novel is a thriller or a romance, a carefully planned plot can help you avoid the kinds of logical gaps that can keep readers from finishing your book. By thinking of each scene as a domino, you can ensure that the scenes progress seamlessly and lead to the climax you’re hoping for.