Dominoes are small rectangular wood or plastic blocks marked with dots resembling those on dice. Each domino can be connected to its adjacent neighbors by its matching ends, called its “spinners.” A domino chain can grow in any shape, from a line of straight tiles to an intricate pattern that resembles a snake. Dominoes have been used for centuries as a gaming and learning aid, and they remain popular today.
A game in which players take turns placing dominoes and scoring points as the lines of dominos grow longer. A player begins play by drawing the number of dominoes specified in the rules of the particular game being played. He then places a domino in front of him so that the other players can’t see it. Then he either plays the next tile in his hand or passes. If the player draws a tile that is not allowed to be played (i.e., a double) or cannot add a new tile to his line of play without blocking another player, he passes.
Many domino games involve a “line of play,” a path of tiles that must be completed before the winning player can score. The basic instructions on this website are based on these types of games. For games in which the players draw their own dominoes, these basic instructions would not apply.
Some rules for the line of play differ from one game to the next, and some of these variations are listed under Line of Play. Generally, however, when a domino is joined to the line of play in one way, it is played lengthwise; when a domino is joined in the other way, it is played across. Also, some games allow a player to play a double as a cross-way tile. Regardless of these variations, the rules for each game provide that a domino must be played with its matching ends touching each other.
Creating an intricate domino design is more than just fun for those who create it, but a major part of the enjoyment comes from watching how well it all works. Hevesh, who has created designs that include several dominoes per square foot and a Guinness World Record display of 76,017 dominoes, says one physical phenomenon is essential to her mind-blowing creations: gravity.
The force of gravity pulls a domino toward the ground, and as it tumbles over, its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, the energy that causes the next domino to fall. In a domino effect, this energy travels from domino to domino until the last one falls. This same principle of gravity can be applied to other types of phenomena, such as the cascade of new habits created by making a single small change. For example, when Jennifer Dukes Lee started making her bed every day, it became a domino effect that led to a change in her self-image, including other new habits like cleaning her house and taking better care of herself.