Domino is the generic name for a family of tile-based games played with one or more players. The games can be as simple or as complex as a basic game of dots and lines or can involve matching sets of dominoes to form patterns or structures. Some of the more popular domino games have a logical or strategic element and can be played for prizes or even money.
Unlike playing cards, which have the same physical properties, dominoes are marked with an arrangement of pips (or spots) similar to those on a die. The pips are colored in order to distinguish the different types of tiles. Each domino has an identity-bearing face and a blank or identically patterned face. The identity-bearing side of a domino is usually divided into squares. A domino’s pips are arranged in a row or a column and the blank or identically patterned face of each tile is divided into equal squares or rectangles. A domino is sometimes called a “tile” or “piece,” although the term tile is more commonly used.
The most common domino set has a double-six configuration. This means that there are six pips on each end of the pieces, with five of the squares being filled and one of them being empty or “blank.” Each domino has a number of matching tiles that can be laid down in a line. The dominoes must be matched according to the rules of each game.
When a player is ready to play a domino, he or she may “knock” or rap the tabletop with a hand. This action signals the other players that the next domino is to be played. The players may then make their selections and begin the game.
The first player to make a play is usually seated in the first available seat, which is often determined by lot. If a player draws a blank or an unmatched tile from the stock, he or she must draw a new piece and reposition himself to a better position at the table. If a tie occurs, the players draw new dominoes from the stock to determine their seating arrangements.
Once the initial line of dominoes is completed, each player must follow the rules of the game in order to score points. The rules for scoring vary from game to game and depend on the pips on each domino. Some games require that a domino be matched with a specific tile and cannot be used with other tiles that have more than the required amount of pips.
Some domino games have the added challenge of avoiding “misplays,” or placing tiles out of turn. Some of the rules for these games include that a misplayed domino must be recalled by the player, and some do not allow players to buy tiles from the stock at all.
Hevesh, who has worked on projects that involved 300,000 dominoes and helped set a Guinness World Record for the most dominoes in a circular arrangement, says one physical phenomenon is especially important to her domino art: gravity. Gravity pulls a fallen domino toward Earth and causes it to crash into the next piece, kickstarting the chain reaction. The force of gravity also works to create other types of domino art, such as curved lines or grids that form pictures when the pieces fall.