How Dominos Works


Dominos is a family of games played with a set of numbered tiles. These tiles have identifying marks on one side, which are called pips or spots, and are blank or identically patterned on the other. The pips are arranged to represent numbers ranging from one to six.

A player begins the game by laying down a tile so that it touches one end of the domino chain. The chain then gradually increases in length until all of the ends are covered by a single tile. The number of pips on a tile determines the size and shape of the resulting chain. The longer the chain, the larger the numbers show at both ends.

The chain of tiles can be laid in a straight line, or curved. In most cases, the ends of a layout are open to allow dominoes to be connected in all four directions. However, the “open” end of a double may only be connected to other doubles if the other end of that double is also open. This type of design is sometimes referred to as “double-splitting.”

Playing a tile against another: In most domino games, each player is given the opportunity to lay down a tile. Each tile must be placed so that it has a matching pair of ends on either side, or if the pips on each end are different, the two ends must both be adjacent to each other.

When the first tile falls, it stores some of its potential energy (the stored energy that a domino has based on its position). It then converts part of this potential energy to kinetic energy—the energy of motion—which is transmitted to the next domino. This energy pushes the domino past its tipping point and knocks it over, causing it to fall in turn.

Converting energy: Physicist Stephen Morris says that the potential energy of a domino is mainly converted to kinetic energy when it falls. This kinetic energy is transmitted to the next domino, pushing it to fall and continuing on until the last domino is knocked over.

Lily Hevesh grew up playing with dominoes. She’s now a professional domino artist, creating mind-blowing installations for movies and events, including the launch of pop star Katy Perry’s album.

She uses a version of the engineering-design process to create her installations, starting with a theme and brainstorming images and words she might want to use in her designs.

Then she starts to create the layout, using a combination of straight and curved lines. When she’s done, she adds the final touch: a flick of her wrist and the dominoes begin to tumble over each other.

In addition to the traditional block and draw games, there are a variety of other domino-related games. These include a variety of scoring and blocking games, solitaire, trick-taking, and other types of domino-based games.

Most of these types of domino games can be played with a standard set of double-six dominoes, though some specialized variations are also popular. These games often involve a larger amount of strategy than the basic games, but they can still be enjoyable to play.