Creating a Domino Setup

Domino is a game of skill and luck in which players attempt to arrange tiles edge to edge, one on top of another, so that the exposed ends of all adjacent dominoes are identical or form a specified total. Dominoes are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Each has an identifying mark, called a pip, on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other. There are different suits of dominoes, each with a specific number of pips. The most basic Western domino set contains 28 tiles, although larger sets exist.

The word “domino” has a complex history. Its English origin is uncertain, though it may be derived from the Latin dominus, meaning “lord.” The domino pieces themselves are named for an earlier sense of the word, which denoted a long hooded cloak worn by a priest over his surplice. The term later applied to a black domino that contrasted with the white surface of the priest’s garment.

When a person creates a domino setup, he or she is creating a chain reaction, a process that requires an immense amount of energy to push one domino past its tipping point and then to continue pushing the rest of the dominoes until they all fall over. This chain reaction has potential for generating enormous amounts of momentum, and even small nudges can cause a domino to fall and trigger the next domino to move.

A domino chain can be made up of straight lines, curved lines that form pictures when they fall or 3D structures like towers and pyramids. Creating these types of designs requires precision and careful planning. Hevesh often starts with a general concept for an installation and then sketches it on paper. She then tests out the individual sections to ensure that each works properly. After that, she assembles the biggest 3-D sections first. She then adds flat arrangements and finally lines of dominoes that connect all the sections together.

The most popular types of domino play are blocking games and scoring games. In blocking games, a player places a domino edge to edge against another with matching marks or an empty spot (as in one’s touching two’s, four’s touching sixes). When the resulting chain of dominoes is complete, the player wins.

When playing a scoring game, a player plays a domino in order from left to right, starting with the lowest-numbered domino in his or her hand and continuing on until no player can continue. The winner is the player whose remaining dominoes, when played end to end, score a total of the highest number of points possible. In most scoring games, a domino is counted if its exposed ends match (one’s touching one’s or two’s touching three’s) and a double is used where applicable. A player can also score by playing a double on the end of a line of singles, but in this case only the dominoes touched by the double are counted.