Dominoes are small rectangular blocks of wood or plastic with a blank or patterned face and an arrangement of dots or pips, resembling those on dice. They are normally twice as long as they are wide, and the values of their pips indicate their rank or weight. The word domino is also used as a noun to refer to a game played with such blocks and, more generally, to describe a chain reaction or cascade of events triggered by one initial action.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, you can play a domino game to challenge yourself and test your skills. Many of these games require strategic thinking, problem-solving, and math skills. You can even create intricately shaped shapes with your dominoes.
Lily Hevesh started collecting and playing with dominoes as a child. She loved setting up a line of dominoes in a straight or curved line, flicking the first one, and watching the whole line fall, one piece at a time. In fact, she became so skilled at it that she now makes a living as a domino artist, creating spectacular setups for movies, TV shows, and events—including a recent album launch for Katy Perry.
In addition to being fun, dominoes are a great way to develop motor skills and spatial awareness. They’re easy to learn, and kids love the challenge of lining up the tiles into different shapes or making designs. Plus, they help promote socialization, teamwork, and concentration.
A domino is named for the pips (also known as spots or numerals) on each half of its face. The total value of each side is determined by counting the number of pips on either exposed end—a domino with three pips on one face and five on the other is a double. A domino that has the same number of pips on both sides is a doublet.
The most common domino game starts with a single set of 28 tiles, shuffled face down and forming the stock or boneyard. Each player draws seven dominoes from the boneyard and begins constructing a line of dominoes. The first player to completely cover his or her line wins the game.
As you start laying down the dominoes, you’ll notice that some have blank sides and others have an odd number of pips on one side. You can ascribe these blanks a value of your choice, although most people make them “wild,” meaning that they can be used as any type of domino.
The physics of dominoes is interesting, because when a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. However, when a domino is knocked over, that potential energy changes to kinetic energy, which causes the rest of the dominoes to fall. This principle can be applied to many aspects of life, and the domino effect can have positive or negative consequences.