How Dominoes Are Organized and Played


A domino is a small rectangular block, sometimes with a plastic or metal face, that is used as a gaming object. Dominoes are usually arranged in a straight or curved line and are knocked over by applying force to a single domino in the lead. Once a domino is struck, its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, which can then be transmitted to the rest of the set. This force continues to move the other dominoes in the set, until they all fall.

Dominoes are primarily made of wood, but they can also be made of bone or ivory; stone (such as marble, granite, or soapstone); other natural materials, such as other hardwoods or ebony; metals; ceramic clay; and even crystal or glass. They may be painted or inlaid with contrasting black or white dots that resemble the spots on dice. Most domino sets sold in retail stores contain 28 tiles, called a double-six set, although larger sets of up to double-nine can be found.

The most popular type of domino play is a blocking game, in which players try to empty their hands by covering all of the opposing player’s tiles. These games can end when one player “chips out”—plays his last domino—or in a specific number of rounds. In scoring games, a player’s total score is determined by counting the number of exposed pips on the opponent’s remaining dominoes. If a player’s opponents are tied for the highest number of pips, the winner is declared.

A specialized type of domino is the “spinner,” which has a single, central pin that can be rotated to orient the set in different ways. This feature allows for the formation of more complex designs such as a zigzag, an arch, or a multi-colored spiral.

When creating a domino layout, Hevesh follows a version of the engineering-design process. First, she considers the theme of the installation and brainstorms images or words that might be appropriate. Then, she begins planning out the pieces. This step is crucial because it ensures that all of the pieces will fit together and form a coherent whole.

Once the planning phase is complete, Hevesh creates her master design. She draws it out on a piece of paper and then moves the pieces around to see how they will fit and interact with each other. Once she has a good plan, she begins constructing the dominoes.

Whether you are a plotter who writes an outline or a panster who lets the scenes develop organically, understanding the domino effect can help you craft a more compelling story. Keep in mind that the key to a successful story is not the action, but the reaction. So don’t forget to give your reader something to think about after each scene!