The Art of Dominoes

A domino is a small rectangular game piece with anywhere from one to six dots. It is used in the game of dominoes to create chains that can eventually lead to a knockdown. Often, the first domino is set up in such a way that once it falls, it will knock down hundreds and sometimes thousands of others. This is referred to as the domino effect, and it is what gives these sets their amazing beauty when they are shown in domino shows where builders compete for the most complex and imaginative reaction before a live audience of fans.

Dominoes are similar to playing cards and dice in that they have a variety of different games that can be played with them. Most commonly, they are used to block or score points. A typical domino set contains 28 pieces and is called a double-six set. Each domino has a specific identification mark on one end and is blank or identically patterned on the other. The identifying marks are sometimes called pips.

The first step in any dominoes game is to place the tiles into a pile called the boneyard or stock. Then, each player selects seven of their own dominoes and begins play. Each time a domino is played, it must match the end of another tile in the chain. This can be done by matching the number of pips on the two ends or the direction in which the domino is played (doubles must always be placed perpendicular to each other). The player continues to play dominoes until they can’t or choose not to continue.

Once a domino chain is established, players can begin to arrange them in snake-line patterns according to their own whims and the limitations of the table or playing surface. This is when the fun really starts! A good domino builder is able to think several moves ahead. This allows them to avoid making mistakes that could cause a chain of dominoes to be stuck in midair or blocked by other pieces on the table.

In addition to being creative, a great domino builder must also understand the physical principles of how the pieces work together. This is especially important in creating large setups that take several nail-biting minutes to fall. Hevesh, the artist behind many of the mind-blowing creations in the video above, explains that gravity is the main force that makes her designs possible. Once the initial domino falls, gravity pulls it toward Earth and crashes into the next domino, which in turn causes it to crash into the ones after it, and so on.

Dominoes and story-writing have a lot in common. Both require careful placement of scenes to ensure that the overall sequence of events works and is as seamless as possible for the reader. Stories need scenes that advance the plot by moving the hero either closer to or farther from their goal, and they need to be properly spaced so that the effect of each scene is felt by the reader at just the right moment.