Playing With Dominoes Has Never Been So Easy

Domino is a word that captures the awe and delight of a simple toy that inspires kids and adults alike to build complex patterns and games. Dominoes are small, rectangular blocks with a line down the middle that separates each end into two parts. Each side has either a blank or a number of spots, called pips, ranging from one to six. When the first domino is tipped over, it triggers a chain reaction. Each subsequent domino that falls lands on top of the one it is touching and, depending on rules agreed upon among players, results in different scores.

A domino can be a small toy or a massive monument, and it can be arranged in straight or curved lines that make a 3D structure or simply a flat arrangement. Its potential to create many kinds of structures has given the game a wide popularity, particularly in schools and other places where children learn about geometry and other subjects.

Lily Hevesh, 20, is a domino artist who has built her YouTube channel to more than 2 million subscribers with videos of her elaborate setups. She makes test versions of each section of a design before putting the whole thing together, and she films the process in slow motion to catch every detail.

She has also made giant dominoes that have appeared at movies and events, including an album launch for Katy Perry. She says that she enjoys building these sets to show people how much can be done with a little imagination and creativity.

For adults who still enjoy playing with the old-fashioned toy, they can find a variety of online and in-person games where they can compete against or cooperate with other players. The most popular game, a variation of the classic Concentration, is played with a double-six set and involves matching the ends of pieces, which can be a blank or have any combination of one to six pips. Each player scores the sum of all the opposing players’ open ends (for example, a 6-1-6 counts as six points).

Dominoes have also become a popular way to express political views or support causes. For example, a Brooklyn community fought back against a real estate developer who planned to replace an oil refinery with luxury high-rises after it closed. The campaign, organized by a nonprofit group called the Community Preservation Corporation, featured protesters shouting slogans such as “Keep the Dominoes Down,” in reference to the fact that the new development would push working-class locals out of the neighborhood.

The name Domino is also a verb, meaning to “dominate” or to win in a competition. This use of the word, which dates to about 1750, may be influenced by the fact that a domino is a rectangular block with a line down the center that separates each end into two parts. The term might also refer to a kind of long hooded cloak worn with a mask for carnival season or at a masquerade, or it could be a reference to the black domino pieces that contrasted against a priest’s white surplice.

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