The Basics of Dominoes

The domino is a small, flat rectangular block of wood or other rigid material used as a gaming object. It is sometimes called a bone, a piece, a man, or a stone, and has one side with an arrangement of dots or spots (also known as pips) similar to those on a die. The other side is blank or identically patterned. The domino’s pips or spots are called “values” and are used to form a line of play, or to score points in certain games. There are many variations of the game, with different rules for scoring and winning.

Dominoes are often played on a table, but they may also be played on a floor or other surface. Each player places their domino, or set of tiles, edge to edge against the neighboring pieces to create a chain of dominoes. The first player to complete a domino chain wins the game, and the value of the chains are recorded as points.

When playing a domino game, players should always check the specific rules for the particular variant being played. There are many possible rules, but the basic ones are as follows:

In most domino games, each player in turn plays a tile by placing it edge-to-edge against another tile that matches the number of pips on the open end. The tiles that match are referred to as a “line of play” and the player who makes the first play is known as the “downer” or the “leader.” When there is a tie, the winning tile is determined by drawing new dominoes from the stock.

There are many variations of the game, but most involve positioning tiles to create a line of dominoes that, in turn, form a chain. A domino’s value is determined by its pips or numbers and the number of matches it can make. Generally, doubles are played to a line of dominoes, but if a player cannot place a double or does not want to, then a single may be placed instead.

While Hevesh is careful to prevent large accidental topples, she acknowledges that they happen with regularity. A little nudge from a domino that is close to the tipping point can bring it down.

For this reason, Hevesh tries to build her lines of dominoes on a hard surface. In addition, she omits a few pieces from each section until the very last minute. This way, if a domino accidentally falls over, it will only affect a small area and not the entire installation. This approach helps her to avoid wasting too much time and energy. As she puts it, “The fewer dominoes I have to move, the better.”