The Game of Domino


When a domino falls, it sets off a chain reaction that leads to more and more toppling of the pieces. The resulting sequence is often visually striking, and the physical laws that govern it are intriguing to researchers and laypeople alike. For example, the speed at which dominoes fall is independent of the size of the triggering piece and can be thought of as similar to the speed at which nerve impulses travel along an axon.

The word “domino” is also used as a generic term for any gaming device, such as a deck of cards or dice. Many different games are played with a domino set, and the rules vary widely from place to place. For instance, a typical European domino set is made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting white or black pips inlaid or painted onto each tile. More recently, sets have been made of a variety of other natural materials including stone (e.g., marble or granite); other types of wood (e.g., sycamore, redwood, or cedar); metals (e.g., brass or pewter); or ceramic clay.

Most commonly, the game is played by two or more players using a domino set. The number of tiles in a domino set varies, but most commonly the dominantoes are double-six or double-nine sets (28 or 55 tiles). Larger sets have been commercially produced and may be called extended, with 91 or more tiles; the extra pieces introduce more possibilities for the types of games that can be played.

A tile with a blank side cannot be matched to another domino that has a numbered side; thus, a set of dominoes is divided into suits, each containing tiles with matching numbers. The most common of the suits is the suit of fives, but a domino can belong to more than one suit, and some people choose to make the blank sides “wild” and ascribe arbitrary values to them.

In the game of domino, players take turns playing a domino from their hand onto the line of play. If a player plays a tile out of turn, they must recall it and wait until the next player makes his or her play before making another attempt to match a domino.

Lily Hevesh, 20, grew up playing with her grandparents’ traditional 28-piece set and began creating intricate domino setups as a hobby. Now, she has a YouTube channel that has more than 2 million subscribers and creates spectacular domino setups for movies, TV shows, and events, including an album launch for Katy Perry. Hevesh’s goal is to make the domino effect even more striking, so that the dominoes seem to come alive onscreen. This is known as the Domino Effect, and it can be achieved by adding more and more complex elements to the layout. The most effective way to do this is to build up an environment with multiple layers of interconnected pieces.