What You Need to Know About Dominoes

Dominoes are flat, rectangular pieces of rigid material used to play a variety of games. They are also known as bones, men, or stones, and come in a range of shapes and sizes, but all dominoes have the same basic attributes: an identity-bearing side and a blank or identically patterned side. The identity-bearing side is usually marked with an arrangement of dots, or pips, like those on dice. Some dominoes have all pips displayed, while others show only some pips.

Dominos are often played in chains, with each tile positioning itself so that one end of the chain shows a number (normally a value useful to the player and distasteful to opponents). Players then continue playing dominoes to add to the chains. When a domino shows a number on both ends of the chain, that piece is said to “stitch up” the ends.

Whether you’re a domino enthusiast or just curious about the game, it’s fun to learn a bit about the history of this popular pastime. A few things to know about domino include:

Most people are familiar with the traditional wood-and-pips design, but many different kinds of materials are used in sets of dominoes, including a wide range of natural materials like stone and even ceramic clay. In addition to varying aesthetics, these other types of dominoes can offer unique gameplay characteristics.

One of the most important principles of domino is that a domino can only be matched with another domino showing the same number on both sides. This rule is especially important when playing chain reactions, where each domino must touch the end of a previous tile to trigger a new one.

Like playing cards, of which they are a variant, dominoes can be used to create a variety of games. Most of these games involve scoring points for certain configurations, movements, or emptying one’s hand. There are also blocking games, such as matador and chicken foot, that allow players to block their opponents’ plays.

When Hevesh works on large domino installations, she tests out each section before putting it all together. This allows her to make precise corrections to ensure the entire project works perfectly. But when she does finally unleash her creations, it takes several nail-biting minutes for the dominoes to fall according to physics.