The Art of Domino


Domino is a game involving a series of flat, rectangular tiles with pips (or dots) on all four sides. It’s popular in homes and schools, as well as in many countries worldwide. The game involves laying down one domino tile after another, each one touching the end of the previous one. When all the tiles are laid, the resulting chain is said to “dominate.” Players then score points by adding up the number of pips on all exposed ends of the tiles.

The oldest known reference to a domino is in the 16th-century Chinese document Chu sz yam (Investigations on the Traditions of All Things), but it may have been an adaptation from other card games that were played as a way around religious proscriptions against playing cards. Western dominoes were first recorded in the mid-18th Century in Italy and France. The word is French and comes from the Latin dominus, meaning lord or master. It originally denoted a black cape worn by priests over their white surplice, which is likely where the name of the game derives as well.

A domino set has a total of 28 tiles—18 pips on each of two long edges and six pips on the narrow edge. Normally, only the ends with seven or more pips can be used in a match. Other pips are marked with symbols for counting points or other purposes, such as indicating the rank of a player in a race to the finish line.

When a player sets up a domino layout, only the ends of the tiles that touch each other are considered “open.” Additional pieces can then be placed on those open ends or, depending on the rules of the game, on the side of the tile straddling the open end. Most games require matching a tile with a domino that has the same number of pips as it, but in some, the blank side of a domino can be matched to any other type of tile.

In a domino show, builders create impressive lines of dominoes that can knock over each other and even build structures of incredible complexity and beauty. They compete to see who can build the most complicated domino effects and reactions before a crowd of fans.

Domino art is an exciting variation on this game in which a pattern can be created with the tiles by drawing or painting on a surface and then arranging the tiles to form that design. These designs can include straight lines, curved lines, grids that make pictures when they fall, and even 3D structures like towers or pyramids.

Dominoes can also be used to make patterns that reflect the theme or mood of a song, poem, or piece of writing. They can also be arranged to represent a storyline or argument. This is especially useful for writers who are pantsters, or those who don’t plot out their stories ahead of time. If a scene doesn’t fit into the overall plot of the story, it can be weeded out by using scene dominoes.