Dominoes – The Basics of Playing Dominoes


The domino effect describes a chain reaction that starts with one small action, which can lead to much larger consequences. Often this occurs in the political arena, but it can also occur in a variety of everyday situations. For example, if we take a break from sedentary activity like watching television or mindlessly eating, it can result in us taking less of that action later on, leading to an overall decrease in sedentary habits.

Dominoes are a variant of playing cards and typically consist of 28 tiles, each marked with an arrangement of spots, or pips, on one side and blank on the other. They are usually shuffled face down before play and then arranged on the table in a collection, called a boneyard, until each player draws seven tiles from it.

Some sets have a greater number of pips than others, and these are called “extended” dominoes. These sets have more pips on an end than would be needed for a single set of eight tiles, but they are still considered standard size for most games.

During gameplay, each tile is played in turn by one player. The first player, determined by the drawing of lots or who holds the heaviest hand, places the initial tile on the table; each subsequent tile is played to the right or left of it, depending on its open ends, which are the number of pips on each end. The resulting line of play branches when one player draws a double-six, which is the first tile played.

A second tile can then be placed to the right or left of it, producing a further branching of the line. Each branching produces a different open end and can be followed by a third tile.

The second, and so on, tiles can then be drawn until the total number of pips on all ends has been reached. The most common extended sets are double-nine (55 tiles), double-12 (91), double-15 (136), and double-18 (190).

Before a domino game can begin, the tiles must be shuffled so no one knows where any particular tile is located. This can be done by turning the tiles all face down on the table, or by moving them in a random fashion without flipping over any of them.

Each set has its own name and can be purchased at specialty stores or online. In general, they are made of wood or a natural material such as mother of pearl (MOP) and ivory, but many of them are also manufactured from plastics. Some also use ceramic clay or frosted glass or crystal.

A great deal of attention and effort is often put into designing the pieces that make up a domino. These designs can be simple, symmetrical and geometrically pleasing, or they can be complex and intricate. They can be curved, stacked, or shaped into a grid that will form pictures when they fall.

Some of the best dominoes are created by professional artists, like Lily Hevesh, who creates spectacular installations utilizing science and technology to design their pieces. She has a YouTube channel with more than 2 million subscribers and has worked on team projects that involve hundreds of thousands of dominoes. She has helped set a Guinness World Record for the most dominoes toppled in a circular arrangement: 76,017!