How to Play Dominoes


Dominoes are cousins to playing cards, and the two have a lot in common. Both are small enough to fit into a hand, yet detailed enough to require respect from the craftsman who makes them. And they allow for a variety of games and tests of patience and skill. From professional domino game competition to teasing your friends with a line of dominoes that fall, they’re an important part of many of our lives.

A domino is a flat thumbsized rectangular block, each face divided into two parts, either blank or bearing from one to six pips or dots: 28 such pieces form a complete set. The number of pips on each domino is important, because it determines what numbers can be played on the next piece. For example, a domino with 2 pips can be played on either of its edges, but 3 pips can only be played on the center.

Most Western domino games involve positional play in which players take turns laying a single tile edge to edge against another, or on top of an existing tile, so that the adjacent ends match in a specified way (e.g., 5 to 5). When the first domino falls, it converts its potential energy into kinetic energy, causing all the other dominoes in its line to fall. Each falling domino exerts a force on all the other dominoes in the line, and this friction causes some of them to slide against each other and some to rub up against the surface they’re standing on.

A player can also play dominoes by arranging them in straight and angular lines, creating intricate patterns. This is a great way for children to build motor skills, as well as learning about geometry and patterns. It’s best to play dominoes on a hard surface, as it’s easier to stand the tiles up on their edges than to set them down horizontally.

Some domino players like to set up large, elaborate domino arrangements and “throw” the first one down, creating a chain reaction of events that leads to a spectacular display. A 20-year-old woman in Brooklyn named Lily Hevesh has made a career out of this, building stunning domino setups for movies, TV shows, and even events such as the Katy Perry album launch.

For her work, Hevesh has more than 2 million YouTube subscribers. She started collecting dominoes when she was 9, and her grandparents gave her a classic 28-pack of the old-fashioned kind. It was then that she discovered her love of the game, and she began making and posting videos of her creations online.

If you’re a panster, meaning that you don’t outline your story ahead of time or use tools such as Scrivener to help with plotting, then you might be surprised to know that your domino effect could be a problem. Because if you don’t plan the sequence of scenes, you may end up with ones that seem to be at the wrong angle or have no logical impact on the scene before them.

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