What is Domino?

Domino is a game in which players lay tiles down to form a line of play. The tiles bear an arrangement of dots, or pips, on one side and are blank or identically patterned on the other. The pips are the marks that distinguish dominoes from playing cards, which also have pips but are marked only on one side. A basic domino set contains 28 tiles that are shuffled face down and form a stock, or boneyard, from which players draw seven of their tiles. The player who draws the heaviest tile makes the first play of the hand or the game. This player is often referred to as the “setter,” the “downer,” or the “leader.”

A domino has an inertia that resists motion when there is no outside force exerted on it. But a small nudge is enough to push it past its tipping point, and gravity takes over. That is what causes the rest of the dominoes to fall in a spectacular cascade of rhythmic motion. This sort of chain reaction is what people mean when they talk about the domino effect, a term used to describe any action that sets off a chain reaction that ultimately leads to great things happening.

In a domino game, each player draws a number of tiles from the stock and places them on edge in front of him. The number of tiles in a player’s hand is determined by counting the pips on the left and right sides of the tiles (or, alternatively, by subtracting the value of each tile from a total of 24). After the heaviest domino is played, play continues until all the players have used their entire hand or until the score becomes unwinnable for any of them.

Hevesh is a domino artist who creates large, intricate domino installations for movies, TV shows, and events. She has created lines of dominoes more than 24 inches long and helped to set the record for most dominoes in a circular arrangement. The largest of her installations can take several nail-biting minutes to complete, and she works carefully to ensure that any mistake won’t cause the whole thing to tumble.

Most domino games are blocking or scoring games, although some resemble card games and are designed to circumvent religious proscriptions against the use of cards. Other games include matching and counting games such as solitaire or trick-taking. Most games are played with a double-six set of 28 tiles; other extended sets exist, but these typically add more pips on each end to increase the number of unique combinations of ends and thus of pieces.