What is Domino?

Domino is a game in which players take turns laying dominoes on a table, starting with a “double.” This first tile establishes the direction of play for all subsequent tiles. When a domino is played, its uncovered ends are exposed and if the number of dots on its exposed ends totals a multiple of five, the player scores points for each domino in its line.

To score, a domino must touch another domino with its exposed ends. If a domino has no open ends, it must be left unplayed until the player can lay it with another domino. The resulting set of dominoes forms a chain that, once started, can’t be stopped. This is the origin of the phrase, “the domino effect,” which refers to a sequence of events that begins with one small action and, if spaced correctly, causes many more actions with larger and often dramatic consequences.

The game’s rules vary according to the variant being played, but most involve reshuffling the dominoes after each hand and allowing the player to draw from a pool of dominoes until he or she finds an opening double. If there are no available opening doubles, players call out a number from the highest domino in their hands (usually a suit) until one is found: “double-six?,” “double-five?”, etc. The player who picks up that domino leads the next round, and so on.

Originally, dominoes were made of silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell, ivory, bone, or dark hardwoods such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips (inlaid or painted). More recently, sets have been manufactured from polymer resins, wood-based plastics, and even ceramic clay. Some sets are very large, and have the ability to form 3-D arrangements or lines of dominoes.

While most dominoes are rectangular, there are some that are circular or shaped like a hexagon. There are also bendominoes, which are curved like a triangle. These types of variations allow people to make bridges and hexagons and add extra challenge to the games they play.

When Hevesh creates her mind-blowing domino setups, she follows a version of the engineering-design process. She makes test versions of each section to make sure it works. Once a section is perfect, she puts it together. Her biggest 3-D arrangements go up first, then she fills in flat arrangements and finally, the lines of dominoes that connect all sections together. This way, she can see how the entire installation works before it’s completed. She also films each step in slow motion to help her spot errors that may happen during the building process. It’s a process that’s similar to the way many authors compose their novels. Whether you write off the cuff or follow an outline, the basic elements of plot and story structure are identical. Getting these right can transform your writing into a true masterpiece.