The Art of Dominoes


Dominoes have been popular for generations, offering endless possibilities for games and artistic displays. Lily Hevesh, who has created mind-blowing domino installations for film sets, shows, and events, began playing with the small rectangular blocks as a child. She loved the satisfaction of lining them up in straight or curved lines and then flicking the first one to watch them tumble down.

Often, only the most expert players can make it to the end of an entire line without missing any tiles. But Hevesh’s designs go beyond just a chain of dominoes: they incorporate science and engineering concepts, such as energy transfer and balance. She uses a version of the engineering-design process when creating her intricate setups, which are sometimes as large as a tennis court or basketball arena.

Most domino games are played with a set of small rectangular blocks, called tiles or bones, that have either blank or marked faces bearing from one to six pips (dots): 28 such pieces form a complete set. Each tile has two matching ends and must be placed in contact with a similar tile already in place to build a chain of dominoes. The most basic Western domino game is the block-and-draw game for two to four players; other types include scoring games and round-games.

The word domino comes from the Latin dominium, meaning “dominant.” The term was used to refer to a hooded robe worn with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade. The word was later applied to a type of card game played by the nobility in Europe during the Middle Ages. It was adapted to the board game of poker and then to the more familiar tabletop versions of the game.

In the United States, domino is also spelled Dominoes and sometimes Domino. In the UK, it is spelled Dominque and in Australia and other parts of the world it is spelled Dominoes or Domino.

When playing domino, it is important that all players follow the rules of the specific game being played. The player who makes the first play is known as the setter, the downer or the lead. Once a person has made his or her play, he or she may not take any more tiles for that hand. Usually, a person who draws more tiles for his or her hand than the number required to play that particular game is called an overdrawer and must return any surplus to the stock or boneyard before making another play.

After a person has made all his or her plays, the remaining dominoes are counted to determine the winner. There are many different ways to count the pips on the dominoes, and some methods of counting differ from game to game. One common method is to count only the pips on the open ends of each domino, whether it has two or three dots on one end and zero or more on the other.

Many people enjoy playing a variety of domino games, with each game having its own rules and strategy. A few of the most popular games are listed below: