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The Basics of Dominoes


A domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic marked with two groups of spots on one side. It is used for playing several games.

Dominoes can be arranged in straight lines or curved, in grids that form pictures, 3D structures such as towers and pyramids, and more. They can also be sculpted to look like animals, people, buildings, cities, and more. Hevesh plans her installations out in 3-D, first constructing the bigger sections that will be tallest, then adding smaller arrangements and finally the lines of dominoes that connect everything together. She always tests each section of the installation to make sure it works before she puts it all together, and she films the process so that she can see what goes wrong when something doesn’t work quite right.

The word “domino” comes from the Latin for “falling domino,” and it describes how a single domino can trigger a chain reaction that causes dozens more to topple, forming an entire structure out of simple pieces. It’s a fascinating example of the power of gravity and how physics can be applied to everyday objects.

Physicist Stephen Morris explains that standing up a domino gives it potential energy, which is the amount of force it would exert if it were to fall over at any time. That force is the same as the weight of the piece, and when it falls, much of that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, or the energy of motion.

Each player in turn places a domino on the table, positioning it so that the open end of the domino touches one of the ends of the chains already laid on the table. When a domino is placed in this way, the number of points shown on each of the ends is added up to determine the value of that tile.

Some players choose to play a scoring version of domino in which each player scores points whenever the sum of the numbers on the end tiles played is divisible by five or three. The player who scores the most points at the end of the game wins.

While the rules of the various domino games may seem complex, they all have very basic fundamentals. Once you understand those basic fundamentals, it is easy to learn the different games and play them with friends or family members.

Domino sets can be made of a wide variety of materials, including bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony. Traditionally, they were hand-carved, but now many are cast in polymer. Occasionally, a domino set is made from natural materials such as marble or granite. While these are often more expensive, they are prized by collectors because of their beauty and feel. They are also heavier and more substantial than polymer dominoes. These sets are sometimes called luxury or commemorative sets. In addition to being beautiful, these sets tend to be more durable and have a better sound when they are rubbed against.