The Art of Domino

Domino, a game of strategy and skill played with rectangular tiles, has captivated people around the world for centuries. From basic straight lines to curved, complex designs that form pictures when they fall, domino art is both fun and challenging to create.

You’ve probably seen it in movies: a long line of dominoes falling until it finally reaches the ground and reveals a giant artwork or portrait. This is called “the domino effect,” and it’s a powerful force—dominoes can knock over objects up to one-and-a-half times their size.

There are hundreds of games that can be played with dominoes, and each has its own rules. Some games are competitive and involve scoring, while others are cooperative and are played for fun. Some games have very similar rules in different parts of the world, while others have completely different rules. In addition to classic dominoes, there are also electronic versions of the game and a number of online domino games.

Traditionally, dominoes have been made from materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood like ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on them. Other types of dominoes have been made from natural stone (such as marble, granite, or soapstone); other woods; metals; and ceramic clay. More recently, sets have been made from polymer resins, which are molded into the shape of dominoes and can be colored in any color or pattern desired.

When playing a domino game, the players sit in a circle around the table and draw tiles from a stock to determine who will make the first play. The player with the highest domino in his hand seats himself to the left of the other players, and the next player seats himself to his right. If there is a tie, the tie is broken by drawing new dominoes from the stock.

After a player has placed a domino, other tiles can be played to connect it to the previous tile, or to add another domino in the same line of play. Dominoes may be joined with the line of play in two ways: either with and across, or crosswise. In most games, doubles must be played crosswise, while singles are played lengthwise.

In addition to the traditional blocking and scoring games, dominoes can be used for other kinds of activities, such as pattern-matching and concentration. In some of these games, two dominoes are considered to match if they have the same number of pips on both sides. Some domino sets also have a special “blank” side that can be used to identify the number of matching dominoes in the set.

When writing fiction, a good analogy for the process of creating a domino effect is to plot out the story ahead of time. Without a clear picture of the scene, you may end up with scenes that are at the wrong angle or don’t have enough impact on what comes before and after them. If you’re a pantser—that is, you don’t make detailed outlines of your plot before you write it—try using a tool such as Scrivener to help you weed out unnecessary or repetitive scenes.