The Domino Effect


Domino, from the Latin dominus (“lord”), is a gender-neutral name that keeps its bearer’s eye on advantageous opportunities. Its ties to the ancient blocking game encourage a cautious rule-making mindset, allowing the player to make strategic decisions with the long-term impact in mind.

The domino effect describes the cascading of events from one action to another, with each event adding to the effects of the original action, resulting in an outcome that is far greater than any one individual’s contribution. This principle of cause and effect is often used as a metaphor in leadership and management. The Domino’s Pizza CEO in the hit reality TV series Undercover Boss, Don Meij, uses the domino strategy when addressing issues with his company’s restaurant employees and home delivery services.

A domino is a small, flat block of rigid material, usually wood or bone, with an arrangement of dots on one face and a blank or identically patterned face. The pips on a domino are arranged in rows of six and are identical to those on a dice. They are used to play games that involve positioning the dominoes edge to edge against one another, with each domino forming an end of a line or stack of other dominoes.

In a domino game, the player who has the highest double or the heaviest single begins play. This may be determined after the tiles are shuffled and then drew, or in accordance with rules for a particular game. In many cases, players draw additional hands from the stock of tiles to break ties.

After all players have drawn a hand, they place it in front of them, with the heaviest tile on the bottom, facing up, and any number of tiles on the top. Each player then begins playing the dominoes, either lengthwise (as in a line of doubles) or crosswise (as in a stack of singles).

As the first domino falls and knocks over the other pieces, some of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy that is transmitted to the next domino, which then gives it the push needed to fall. This energy travels from domino to domino until all of the dominoes have fallen and the game is over.

Most domino games are played with a standard set of 91 tiles, referred to as a double-twelve or double-nine set. A few games are played with larger sets that have more pips on each end.

These sets are commonly available in a variety of finishes, including woods (e.g., mahogany or walnut), ceramic clay, pewter, and brass. Historically, dominoes were also made from stones (e.g., marble or granite); soapstone; and other types of natural materials. These sets tend to have a more unique appearance than their polymer counterparts, and are typically much more expensive. They are also harder to damage. The game of domino has also spawned games that require more precise placement of the dominoes, such as those played with a pattern of squares or dots that is difficult to reproduce with polymer materials.