The Basics of Dominoes

In the game of domino, each player begins with a hand of tiles that may be placed on the table. These are known as the dominoes and they are usually marked on one side with a series of dots, called pips, that distinguish them from other tiles in the same set. The value of a domino is determined by the number of pips it has, and this is called its rank or weight. A tile with more pips is considered heavier than a lighter one with fewer pips.

When a domino is played, it sets off a chain reaction that causes other pieces to fall over. This is called the Domino Effect and it can be quite astounding to watch, especially when it is a large domino setup that requires many steps of the chain reaction to complete.

The word domino is derived from the Italian domino, which means “flip-flop.” Early dominoes were made of wood and could be flipped over to change their face, allowing players to continue playing until they had completed a line that matched their strategy. The most popular type of domino is the double-six, which has a total value of six. The first player to play a domino in this way is called the leader and the other players take turns drawing and placing their tiles until they have completed a hand of seven or more dominoes.

Once a domino is laid down, it can be matched only with other tiles that have the same number of pips on both sides. The remaining unused sides of the domino are sometimes called blanks. If the domino is a double, the other two ends are called open and can be used by other players to connect their pieces to other doubles.

Some players prefer to play games with only the open ends of a domino layout. Whether this is out of preference or because it allows them to block other players, this variation on the game of domino is also popular.

In addition to the more well-known blocking and scoring games, there are a number of other domino variants that involve constructing complex patterns and even some solitaire games that are adapted from card games. Dominoes are also often used as parts of Rube Goldberg machines and other artistic or technological installations.

The most famous domino artist is the Danish sculptor Hevesh, who has created mind-boggling installations around the world that use huge numbers of dominoes. Hevesh describes her process as a kind of engineering-design model that helps her to create the impressive designs that her fans love to see. The way Hevesh creates her installations is very similar to the way an author crafts a story, and it offers an interesting way of looking at how writing is like laying down a series of dominoes. To compose a compelling story, an author needs to consider what happens next and how the characters will react to each event.