How Dominoes Are Arranged and Played


Domino is a game played with small rectangular wooden or plastic blocks that have a printed surface, usually with dots resembling those on dice. When a domino is slid along the floor or table, it causes other dominoes to fall over in a chain reaction, and that can continue until all the dominoes are on the ground or otherwise covered up. Dominoes are also used for a variety of other games and to make artistic arrangements.

The word domino has been around for more than a century, and in the early 1800s it was brought to England from France. The word originated from the French word for a hooded robe worn with a mask at carnival season or in a masquerade, and it was later adapted to mean the small playing pieces.

Dominoes are normally used for positional games, where a player in turn places a domino edge to edge against another so that the exposed ends match (e.g., one’s touch two’s or five’s touch four’s). Then points are scored as the dominoes are uncovered one by one: if the exposed ends show any multiple of six then a player scores six points; if the ends show seven then the player scores seven points; and so on. The resulting domino chains are commonly referred to as “pip counts.”

When Hevesh creates her large, intricate installations, she takes the time to test each section separately before moving on to the next part of the pattern. Her slow-motion tests allow her to see what happens when a domino is struck and to correct any errors before the whole arrangement is set in motion. But when it comes to ensuring that all the dominoes will fall as she intends, Hevesh says there is really only one thing she needs to worry about: gravity.

Hevesh has created many of the world’s largest domino installations, and she holds a Guinness World Record for the most dominoes lined up in a circular arrangement. Her biggest installations take several nail-biting minutes to complete, but she knows the key to getting them all to work as intended is relying on a basic physical phenomenon: gravity.

Hevesh uses the term good dominoes to refer to tasks that are important and require a lot of time and focus to complete. She believes that these are the tasks that will have a significant impact on larger projects or goals. For example, working on a complex financial plan or building a business model are good dominoes because each step will build upon the other, making it easier to execute the final product.