A domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic with one to six groups of spots, each group resembling a number like those on dice. 28 such blocks form a complete set of dominoes. A domino is used for playing a variety of games, most of which involve laying dominoes in lines and angular patterns on the table to create chains of falling tiles. The number of spots on a domino determines its value and the direction in which it will fall.
When the first domino falls, it releases a pulse of energy that travels along the line of dominoes. As the energy passes from one domino to the next, it transforms into kinetic energy, which provides the push needed to knock over the next domino in the chain. This process continues, transforming potential energy into kinetic energy and back again, until the last domino falls.
Dominoes can be played by two or more players, with each player taking a turn. Depending on the game, rules may govern which player must play first. The player with the heaviest domino, whether a double or a single, typically makes the first move. Other games use a scoring system to decide the order of play.
When a domino is laid, it should be positioned with its open end facing up so that the player knows which side to match with other dominoes in a line of play. The open end of a domino must also face up when it is placed on the edge of the table to prevent the tile from being accidentally pushed off the board by another player’s hand. The player who plays a domino that has an open end facing up is called the setter, the downer, or the leader.
After the dominoes are shuffled and a player draws a domino from the stock, there may be a surplus of tiles left over, known as the boneyard. These tiles remain in the stock and, depending on the rules of a particular game, may be bought (see “Passing and Byeing” below) later in the game or discarded.
Domino artists like Lily Hevesh create mind-blowing setups that can include straight and curved lines, grids that form pictures when the dominoes fall, stacked walls, and even 3D structures such as pyramids and towers. Hevesh, who has more than 2 million YouTube subscribers for her domino art, says she follows a version of the engineering-design process when creating her creations. She starts by considering the theme or purpose of a design, then brainstorms ideas for images and words that might be appropriate to include on the set. She then draws arrows to show how the dominoes will be placed and calculates how many dominoes she needs to achieve her vision. She then lays out the dominoes on a flat surface and plays a few hands to test out her plans before they are finished.