The domino effect is the term for a sequence of events that begin with a single, small action that causes larger consequences. It is often used to describe situations that occur because of a series of unfortunate accidents or poor choices. For example, a hospital patient might come in with one infection and leave with another due to the negligence of medical professionals or even just a simple mistake like not washing their hands properly.
A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, marked by dots resembling those on dice. A set of these blocks is used to play a variety of games. Some of these are blocking and scoring games where each player attempts to make the other players lose their entire stack of dominoes. Other domino games involve counting the number of pips on each of the ends of a line of dominoes, and the player with the most total pips wins.
The simplest way to use dominoes is simply to stack them on end in long lines. When the first domino in a line is tipped, it causes the rest of the dominoes to tip as well, and the chain continues until the last domino falls. This type of stacking is what gives dominoes their name, and it also allows for very complex designs to be made when they are arranged carefully.
In most domino games, the first player to play a tile begins the game and is known as the opener or a downer. After each player has drawn his tiles, they are placed in front of him in such a way that the other players cannot see their pips. If there is a surplus of tiles left in the stock, they may be bought (See Passing and Byeing) later in the game.
Depending on the rules of the particular domino game, the first player may choose to draw more than his allowed number of tiles or less than his allowed number of tiles. If he draws a tile that he is not allowed to play, he passes his turn and the other players continue playing in his place. Alternatively, he may “knock” the table and the opposing players must then draw their tiles from the stock.
In addition to blocking and scoring games, dominoes can also be used in simple strategy games such as ‘Spinning the Wheel’, in which each player tries to spin the wheel and avoid having his or her own piece land on the numbered spot that is most to their disadvantage. This is a variant of the traditional Concentration game.
Many people also collect dominoes and build mind-blowing arrangements of them, a process similar to creating an engineering design. Some of these arrangements are shown in domino shows, where builders compete to build the most spectacular domino effects or reactions before a live audience. Whether building a domino display or creating a story, the domino effect provides a useful model of how to advance a plot.