Domino is a game in which players try to create the most dominoes by laying down tiles on their side of the table. The resulting chains, or “layouts,” are scored by the number of adjacent sides that have matching numbers, known as pips. A single tile can have anywhere from six to none of these pips. The number of pips on a domino is called its rank or value, which may be higher or lower than the total of all other dominoes in the layout.
Whether you’re playing with dominoes on the floor or setting them up in an intricate design, there are a few things that all good domino setups have in common. First, you need to have a clear vision of what you want your finished product to look like. Next, you need to make sure that every domino in the chain will contribute to that goal. And finally, you need to understand how the pieces will fall based on the laws of physics.
Lily Hevesh has been playing with dominoes since she was 9 years old, and she’s worked hard to master the art of creating mind-blowing domino setups. In fact, she helped set the Guinness record for the largest domino arrangement ever toppled — a circular, 76,017-piece set with a diameter of over seven feet. Hevesh’s most impressive designs take several nail-biting minutes to fall, but she says one physical phenomenon makes them possible: gravity.
The word “domino” comes from the Italian and French words for “flip,” which refers to the action of a piece of a larger structure falling on top of another. It’s thought that the name was inspired by a garment worn by priests, with a black domino contrasting against a white surplice.
In order to play dominoes, you’ll need a set of dominoes that are the same size. A typical domino is twice as long as it is wide, and they are usually made of a material such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or ebony with a contrasting color on the face. They can also be made from stone (e.g., marble or granite); other types of wood; metals such as brass or pewter; ceramic clay; or even plastic.
Most dominoes have either an open or closed end, with the former being used for connecting additional tiles to a given layout. Some have two open ends, while others have three or more. There are also a few special pieces that have no open or closed end. In addition to the standard double-six, these include the two-sided aces and the kings.
The earliest dominoes were probably of European origin and appeared in England toward the end of the 1700s, purportedly brought there by French prisoners. By the 1860s, they had spread across America and Europe. Today, dominoes can be found in almost every country in the world. The game is still popular in many schools, and people of all ages enjoy its simple rules and fun challenges.