The Art of Domino

Domino is a game played with a set of dominoes. Each domino has two ends labelled with numbers. One end indicates the number of pips in the domino; this value is referred to as its rank. The other end indicates the number of spaces in a row or column on which it may land. When the first domino is placed in a row or column, it triggers a sequence of events that continues until all the pieces have fallen.

The earliest known domino game dates to the 12th century, though it is likely that an earlier version existed in China. Early Chinese dominoes were similar to a set of cards and used for trick-taking games. Dominoes were introduced to Western countries in the mid-18th century and are mainly used for positional games such as block-and-draw, where players place dominoes edge to edge against each other, matching values (i.e., a domino with the same number of pips as another).

In 1915, an American journalist named Will Alsop wrote about the domino effect, using it to describe how one event can set off a series of other events that ultimately culminate in a large result. The term spread, and it is now widely used to refer to any situation where one small trigger causes a larger series of events.

The most basic Western domino games require two players and a “double six” set of dominoes. The 28 dominoes are shuffled and then arranged face down in a pile called the stock or, more often, the boneyard. Each player then draws at random the number of dominoes required for the game, usually seven. The player who wins the draw plays first. He or she must play the heaviest domino, if possible; if no such piece exists, the player chooses a domino from the stock that has a rank equal to or higher than one of the ends of the chosen domino.

Domino art is the creation of beautiful, artistic arrangements of dominoes. This type of work is done by many people, ranging from children to professional artists. Some people use the art of domino as a form of relaxation, while others create domino structures to challenge themselves.

To build an intricate display, a domino artist must consider the laws of physics. The force of gravity, which pulls each knocked-over domino toward Earth, is the key factor that allows her to make the complex formations she works with.

When a domino artist creates her art, she must test each section of the arrangement to make sure it will work as planned. Hevesh says she often takes several nail-biting minutes for her largest installations to fall in a complete and accurate manner.

For novelists, the domino effect is a metaphor for how a story’s plot should be constructed. Whether the author writes a manuscript off-the-cuff or creates a detailed outline, plotting a story involves setting up scenes that advance the hero’s goal while maintaining pacing and providing enough action to keep readers interested. To do this, the scenes must be spaced correctly so that they don’t feel overly long (heavy on details or minutiae) or too short at points of great discovery or at plot points.