Domino is a rectangular block of wood, ivory or another material that has one side bearing an arrangement of dots or pips (see below) and the other blank or identically patterned. Twenty-eight such pieces form a complete set of dominoes. The word is used as a noun to mean any of various games played with such tiles, especially those in which the player matches the ends of a row or a series of lines or angular patterns. It is also used as a verb to refer to the act of playing a domino.
Stacking dominoes on end and then arranging them in long lines, such as a string or line of play, is a fun activity for many children. It is also a way for adults to create beautiful and imaginative designs and arrangements. When the first domino in a line is tipped, it triggers a chain reaction, causing subsequent dominoes to tip and fall over. This is often referred to as the domino effect and is the origin of the phrase “the whole thing fell like a deck of cards.”
A game may be played by a single player or by two or more players in partnership. Before the game begins, the tiles are shuffled and a stock of dominoes is drawn by each player for his or her use. It is customary for the player who draws the heaviest domino to make the first play. This is referred to as the “set,” the “down” or the “lead.”
Once a game is in progress, a player may buy the right to lay any domino in his or her hand. There are also rules for some games in which all the tiles in a player’s hand must be played before play can continue. Depending on the game, the number of dots or pips a domino has determines its weight.
If a player has a double or other special domino, he or she may play it immediately, thus establishing a new line of play. The first domino that a player plays is called the lead. If the tile has a number showing on both ends, this is known as a stitched up end. This is an advantage for a player as it allows him or her to advance the chain.
A player can also stop a line of play by “chipping out.” The chipped out domino is a dead end and the chain cannot proceed. In a partnership game, the partners who chip out in this way are the winners of the game.
Lily Hevesh, 20, started her fascination with dominoes at age 9. Her grandparents had a 28-pack, and she loved setting them up in straight or curved lines and flicking the first one to watch it topple domino after domino. Her passion turned into a career, and now she builds spectacular domino setups for movies, TV shows and events, including the Katy Perry album launch. She even has a YouTube channel where she demonstrates her creative designs.