The Art of Dominoes

Dominoes are flat, thumb-sized rectangular blocks that bear from one to six pips or dots on one side and are blank or identically patterned on the other. Twenty-eight such dominoes comprise a complete set. Dominoes can be used to play many different games, with the most popular being positional games in which players place dominoes edge-to-edge against each other so that adjacent dominoes form either a specific total (e.g., five to 5) or match the value of a specific piece already in the player’s hand (e.g., a double-six).

The game of domino was first recorded in the mid-18th century in Italy and France and was brought to England by French prisoners toward the end of that same period. Today, dominoes are enjoyed around the world in an almost infinite variety of ways.

Despite their diminutive size, dominoes are not toys to be handled roughly, but rather pieces of art to be carefully arranged and appreciated. Dominoes are also often used as tools to teach math and science to children. In addition, they can be an effective tool for stress relief, relaxation, and therapy for people of all ages.

Hevesh’s love of dominoes started when she was 9 years old and her grandparents gifted her a classic 28-piece set. She began to collect them, and her hobby eventually grew into an obsession. By 14, she was creating elaborate domino setups for movies, TV shows, and events. Her YouTube channel, Hevesh5, now has more than 2 million subscribers.

When Hevesh’s grandmother died in 2010, she decided to make her a gift of dominoes to honor her memory. Her grandmother was a woodworker, and Hevesh took inspiration from her method for making wooden dominoes. Hevesh began using the same tools in her grandmother’s garage—a drill press, radial arm saw, scroll saw, belt sander, and welder—to create larger and more intricate domino structures.

Traditionally, the domino game is played on a table with four or more players. The first player, determined by the draw of lots or by the person holding the heaviest hand, begins by placing a single domino on the table. Each subsequent player then takes turns placing a domino on the table so that its matching end rests fully against another tile, unless the domino is a double, in which case it may be placed in any direction.

Once the domino chain is in place, the resulting shape usually develops into a snake-line that grows at random according to the whim of each player. The last player to place a domino wins the round. In multi-round games, the players that earn a certain number of points within a specified number of rounds win.

Dominoes are a versatile tool for a wide range of applications, and they’re always fun to play. The next time you’re looking for a new way to challenge your friends, give one of these games a try. Just be sure to find a hard surface, as it’s easier to play with the tiles standing on edge.