Domino is a family of tile-based games played with gaming pieces. Each domino is a rectangular tile with a line dividing the face into two square ends, one of which has a number of dots (or pips) and the other blank. The back of each domino is indistinguishable from the front and they make up a set, also called a deck or pack. A standard domino set contains 28 tiles with all combinations of spots numbered from zero to six. Other names for these gaming pieces include bones, men, stones, and cards.
People have been playing with dominoes for centuries, and there are many different games to choose from. Some domino games involve a single player, while others are team or family-based. Most domino games require players to play in turns. Each player must place a domino edge-to-edge against another in such a way that the adjacent edges match either in value (e.g., 5 to 5) or form some specified total (e.g., 50).
The most popular game for a standard domino set is drawing, in which each player plays a domino until none remain to play. If a player has no matching domino in his or her hand, the player “chips out,” or forfeits the turn, and the opponent continues play. In a draw game, the winner is the player who has accumulated the most points in his or her dominoes by the time play stops.
Other common domino games include blocking and scoring games. Blocking games, like matador and chicken foot, are based on the principle of a domino being placed in front of an opponent’s piece, with the winner being the first to empty his or her hand. Scoring games, such as bergen and muggins, determine a player’s total score by counting the number of pips in his or her dominoes that have not yet fallen.
Domino is not only a fun way to spend an afternoon with family or friends, but it can be used as a tool to teach children about the laws of physics. For example, by placing a domino in the center of an arrangement and then removing it, children can watch the entire domino chain collapse, illustrating how one action leads to a series of related actions.
Lily Hevesh’s passion for dominoes began at age 9, when her grandparents gave her a traditional 28-pack of dominoes. Her hobby turned into a career, and she is now a celebrated domino artist, creating intricately detailed sets for movies, TV shows, and events, including a recent album launch for pop star Katy Perry. Hevesh says that the main reason her domino projects work is because of gravity. She explains that when she makes a large, complex arrangement and flicks the first domino, it takes several nail-biting minutes for all of the dominoes to fall in perfectly straight or curved lines. That’s because of the law of gravity, which pulls each domino toward Earth and causes it to knock over the next domino in a sequence.