A Beginner’s Guide to Domino


Domino, also known as bones, cards, men or pieces, are rectangular blocks of wood, marble or clay with numbers arranged around the edge and usually twice as long as they are wide. Each domino has one or more values, also called spots or pips, that determine its position in a line of play. The pips are normally painted white, but colored pips are sometimes used in certain types of games. A domino’s value is determined by the number of pips on its two longest sides and in some cases also by the number of dots on its other side.

There are many different types of domino games, each with its own rules and objectives. Some involve blocking or scoring, while others are based on positioning of tiles in the line of play so that they form certain totals. In most games, each player plays a tile in turn, beginning with the person to his left. The person to his right then plays a tile in a matching number, and so on, until a line of play has been completed.

In the most basic domino game, a single tile is placed on top of a tile with its pips facing up and may be played to make a chain. Then, each player turns over a tile from his hand until he finds a tile to match the one he has just played and then places it on the table – a line of dominoes is then formed. The end of a domino that is touched by the end of a tile being played must always show a number, but this can be either the open end or the closed end. If a domino is played so that both ends show the same number (usually a distasteful one to opponents), it is said to have been “stitched up.”

After the dominoes have been shuffled, each player draws one from the stock and makes the first play. If the players cannot agree on the order to draw, the first play is determined by the heaviest domino in the hand or, depending on the game rules, by whichever player holds the highest double or spinner.

Lily Hevesh began playing with dominoes when she was 9 years old, and her fascination with them led to a career as a domino artist. She creates mind-blowing installations of domino art and shares her process on YouTube. Her videos have more than 2 million views. Hevesh begins by deciding the theme or purpose of an installation. Then, she creates a plan of the pieces she needs to build. To ensure that the pieces will work properly, she tests them individually before putting them together. She works in sections, creating 3-D arrangements and flat arrangements of dominoes that connect the sections together. Once the entire arrangement is complete, Hevesh test it again in slow motion to make sure everything works as intended. As the first domino falls, its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, and this is transmitted to the next domino until it too falls.