The Basics of Dominoes


Dominoes are blocks of a material such as wood or stone that are designed to be stacked on end in long lines. When one domino is tipped over, it triggers a chain reaction that causes the next domino in line to tip and so on. Dominoes can be arranged to create intricate patterns and games, or they can be used as toys that children can enjoy by simply stacking them on top of each other and then flicking them.

Like playing cards, dominoes feature a design that is distinctive on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. Normally, each domino also features a line in the middle that divides it visually into two squares, called ends. The number of dots, or pips, on each end determines the value of the domino, which ranges from six to none or blank. A domino is said to have a higher rank or weight if it has more pips than a lower rank or lighter weight domino.

A domino may also have a label on its face that indicates the name of a game, the manufacturer or a specific set. In addition to standard sets, there are custom-made dominoes in various shapes and sizes that can be used for specific purposes, such as making domino chains that form certain patterns or shapes.

Many different types of domino games exist, some of which involve blocking opponents’ play, others that count the pips on a domino, and some that duplicate card games. The latter were once popular in some regions to circumvent religious prohibitions against playing cards. Some domino games help teach kids number recognition and counting skills.

Dominoes can be made of many materials, including bone (also known as silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell or mother-of-pearl), ivory, and a variety of woods such as mahogany, sycamore, and ebony. Some sets are designed to look more elegant by using a combination of these and other materials, such as MOP and ebony with gold- or silver-inlaid pips. In addition to these traditional dominoes, there are now a variety of sets that use polymer materials such as plastic or resin to make them more durable and affordable.

Lily Hevesh has been fascinated by dominoes since she was a child, when her grandparents gave her their classic 28-pack. She soon started creating mind-blowing domino setups on YouTube, where she now has more than 2 million subscribers. Her passion for dominoes has led her to work as a professional domino artist, designing sets for movies, TV shows, and even events such as the recent album launch for Katy Perry. Hevesh uses a variation of the engineering-design process when she builds her masterpieces. She begins by considering the theme or purpose of an installation and brainstorming images or words she might want to incorporate. She then starts by selecting the materials and building a prototype of the overall layout. Finally, she lays out all of the individual pieces to see how they fit together before committing to the final product.