A domino is a flat, thumb-sized, rectangular block with one face divided into two squares, each either blank or bearing from one to six dots or pips. 28 such pieces form a complete set of dominoes, which are used to play games in which players place them down in lines and angular patterns. Dominoes also serve as building blocks for a wide range of other constructions, and have been used to model many natural processes, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and nuclear explosions.
Dominoes can be played with one or more people, and some games involve matching the ends of different pieces in order to place them correctly on the board. Unlike dice or playing cards, which have specific rules and procedures for use, dominoes can be used in a wide variety of games.
When Hevesh sets up her domino arrangements, she follows a version of the engineering-design process that begins with considering a theme or purpose. Then she brainstorms images or words that might fit the arrangement. She also makes test versions of each individual section of the layout to make sure it works as intended.
The next step in the process involves creating a domino map, which is a diagram of the layout with arrows showing the direction in which energy travels. Hevesh often uses computer programs to create these maps, which she says helps her visualize the movement of energy through the setup. When she’s satisfied with the results of her map, Hevesh starts assembling the dominoes. She builds up the bigger 3-D sections first, then adds flat arrangements and finally lines of dominoes that connect all the sections together.
Most domino games involve blocking, in which the objective is to empty one’s hand while blocking an opponent’s. The game may end when a player’s total score exceeds a given number of points. Alternatively, the game may continue until one of the players has no more tiles left in their hand, and the remaining tiles are scored at that point.
In addition to allowing for a wide variety of games, dominoes are valuable as educational tools, and they can be used to teach children about geometry, fractions, multiplication, and division. The domino effect is also a useful metaphor for achieving goals in life. A new behavior is like a domino that falls; once it starts, it cascades through your life until you reach your goal.
While dominoes are typically made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), ivory, or dark hardwood such as ebony, they can also be made of synthetic materials such as bakelite. In some countries, particularly the United States, there is a large market for dominoes that are made from wood or plastic, and they can be purchased in most toy stores. These dominoes are less expensive than the traditional European-style ones, and they can be used in the same games as the traditional sets. They are sometimes referred to as “styrene dominoes.” There are also large jumbo-sized sets of dominoes, which have larger pips that are easier to read from a distance, and they are available in different shapes and colors.