The Art of Domino

Domino is a tile game that requires foresight and strategic planning. Players must arrange the tiles in sequences that align with matching values. These connections are the foundation of the game, and they serve to reinforce essential skills that extend far beyond the gaming table. Domino is played in bustling city squares and village homes alike, transcending cultural and linguistic barriers, while also teaching lessons of cooperation and teamwork.

The game is based on the premise that each domino bears a set of spots or numbers, usually on its two asymmetrical ends, and that the presence or absence of these dots is what determines its value. Dominoes have been made from a variety of materials, but the most common are polymer clay or wood, typically either white or black with contrasting pips, inlaid or painted. Some sets are molded or drilled from natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or dark hardwoods like ebony; such sets have a more elegant and substantial feel than their polymer counterparts.

Traditionally, the first domino is placed onto the table, with one of its open ends facing up. This procedure is known as setting, leading, downing, or posing the bone. Each player then draws the number of bones needed to play, usually seven. The bones are then positioned in the layouts with their open ends facing up, and play proceeds in clockwise order. The game is normally over when one player has no more bones to draw and the total combined value of all the remaining bones shows on both sides of the layouts.

While the game has many variations, most involve the use of a standard double-six domino set. A skillful variation of this game, called a domino concentration, involves the use of a standard double-six set where one player scores points by playing a tile so that its total number of pips is divisible by either 5 or 3.

When creating a new domino arrangement, Hevesh starts with an overall theme or purpose. She brainstorms images or words that she might want to incorporate into the display, then begins experimenting with ways to convey these concepts with dominoes. Hevesh’s creativity and engineering-design skills are on full display as she lays out mind-blowing displays that can take hours to complete.

Hevesh works with thousands of dominoes to create her installations, and she carefully weighs them to determine how many she needs. To prevent her from counting out thousands of dominoes by hand, she uses a simple math formula to weigh the pieces: dividing the weight by the weight of a single domino yields a number that tells her how many are needed.