The Game of Domino

Domino, cousin of playing cards, is a familiar toy that provides the foundation for a number of games. From domino competitions to creating stunning displays of toppling dominoes, the little rectangular blocks that look like a stack of poker chips are an excellent way to pass the time and test one’s patience.

Most domino games are positional, with a player placing a domino edge to edge against another, so that their adjacent faces match or form some other total value. Blocking games such as bergen and muggins allow players to place tiles in such a manner that their opponents are blocked from playing, while scoring games such as Mexican train or domino are used to determine points.

The most common domino set has a double-6, but many new games are designed to use larger sets with higher numbers of pips. The most common extended sets include the double-9, double-12, and double-15. Increasing the number of pips on an end increases the number of unique combinations for ends and thus the number of dominoes. Some sets also feature more readable Arabic numerals in addition to or instead of the standard pips.

Some people are fascinated by the way dominoes can be lined up to create designs. Professional domino artist Hevesh, for example, has created spectacular setups for movies, TV shows, and events—including the album launch of Katy Perry. Some of her largest arrangements can take several nail-biting minutes to fall, as the dominoes tumble according to the laws of physics.

Hevesh first began arranging dominoes when she was 10. By age 14, she had started posting videos of her creations on YouTube. Now 20, she has more than 2 million subscribers and is a sought-after artist for film, TV, and event productions.

The word domino is derived from the Latin domini, meaning “flip” or “receive.” In the early 1800s, European manufacturers adapted Chinese dominoes by replacing the traditional symbols with dots that resembled those on dice. The result was a game that, when played correctly, could be as challenging as chess. Today, the game is played by professionals as well as casual players in homes and schools. It is a popular pastime among families and can help develop logic, math skills, and motor coordination. In addition, the game can be a great way to socialize and build a sense of teamwork.