How Dominoes Work


Dominoes are a variant of playing cards. They are marked with an arrangement of pips, like those used on a die, and some of their squares are blank or identically patterned (indicated by a zero).

They can be played in several different ways. Some of them are simple blocking games in which a player is trying to knock over their opponent’s tiles while other are complex scoring and trick-taking games.

In most domino games, the rules are based on a standard set of 28 tiles. Those 28 are called the boneyard or stock, and players start the game by drawing seven tiles from it. Depending on the number of players, there may be additional shuffled tiles in the boneyard.

There are also extended sets that add more pips to an end; these increase the number of unique combinations of ends in a game. Some common extended sets include double-nine (55 tiles), double-12 (91 tiles) and double-15 (136 tiles).

When a domino falls, it stores some potential energy based on its position in the pile. Much of that energy is converted to kinetic energy, the energy of motion. It then pushes the next domino toward the ground, causing it to fall too. This chain reaction continues until all the dominoes have fallen, which is how a domino chain works.

A physicist named Stephen Morris has explained why this happens: “When you stand a domino upright, it gives it potential energy.” When it falls, some of that stored potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. Some of the kinetic energy is sent to the next domino, providing the energy it needs to knock over the next one.

This chain effect can be applied to personal strategy. If you have multiple interests, find the one that will most benefit your overall goals and focus on it until it’s completed. Then, you’ll have the leverage to knock over other, lesser interests that follow.

That’s exactly what Ivy Lee taught Charles Schwab when she was managing her company, Bethlehem Steel. Schwab ranked his tasks and chose the one that would have the most impact on his business, and then he stuck to it until it was completed.

Ivy’s technique helped Schwab become more efficient and more productive, helping him to meet his goals and move his company forward. She also drilled him into the importance of taking time to reflect on his work, and how it could benefit other parts of his life.

Using this method, Schwab was able to identify the areas of his business where he needed to be more effective, and where he had the most opportunity to improve. He could then focus all of his time and attention on them, achieving great results.

Once he had identified these areas, he needed to figure out how to use his limited resources effectively. The domino concept was the perfect metaphor to describe his strategy.

Hevesh, who lives in Israel, creates mind-blowing installations using dominoes and the laws of physics. Her designs can be as simple as straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall or stacked walls. She also uses 3D structures, such as towers and pyramids, in her displays. In fact, she has worked on team projects involving 300,000 dominoes and helped set a Guinness World Record for the most dominoes toppled in a circular arrangement: 76,017.