The Art of Domino


Domino (or dominoes) is a game played with small rectangular blocks of wood, plastic, or bone. They are usually twice as long as they are wide and feature a line in the middle to divide them visually into two squares, or ends. One end is marked with an arrangement of spots or pips, which differ in each variation, but always range from six down to none or blank. The other end is sometimes marked with a value or rank, but this is more common in non-domino games and does not apply to all varieties.

When a player plays a domino on the table, it must be positioned so that its matching ends are touching and its value is visible. This allows a chain of tiles to develop in the shape of a snake-line. Each domino in a chain has its own unique value, which is used in a particular way to determine the next play. Generally, a tile must be played to an adjacent tile with its matching end showing, or else the end may be “stitched up” to block other players from making future plays.

The basic rules of most domino games are simple enough that almost anyone can learn them. However, a number of variations and rules exist to enhance and add interest. Some of these rules are based on the size and value of the tiles, while others relate to how they are laid out on the table and how they are placed in relation to each other.

Each player draws the number of tiles required for his hand by the rules of the game. The remaining tiles form a pile called the stock, or boneyard. When a player draws more than the number of tiles for his hand, the extras are reshuffled and returned to the stock. Similarly, if a player draws a double before he is entitled to, he must recall it and draw another tile.

Hevesh creates domino art by carefully positioning and arranging the pieces to form lines or 3D structures that fall when a push is applied. Her designs can be as simple or complex as a single straight line or a multi-leveled pyramid. She often begins a project by considering the theme or purpose of the design and brainstorming images or words that could be associated with it.

To build a large domino project, Hevesh uses fractions to help her estimate how many pieces she will need and how to layout her work. She also omits some of the pieces in her layout, which is helpful to prevent a domino from accidentally knocking over an entire section of her creation, or even the whole installation. In her professional career, she has created domino installations that have contained hundreds of thousands of pieces, all of which have fallen in careful sequence with a slight nudge from just one domino. She has even won competitions in which builders attempt to create the most complex and imaginative domino reaction or effect before a live audience of fans.