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The Art of Dominoes

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Domino is a tile-based game of skill that can be played with one or more players. Its rules allow for a wide variety of games, including blocking (or “chipping”) and scoring (by counting the exposed ends of a domino). Dominoes are usually twice as long as they are wide, making them easier to re-stack after use. They are normally marked with a line to visually divide them into two squares, each bearing an arrangement of dots (“pips” on a die) or blanks, with the value of either side expressed by its number of spots or pips.

The game can be as simple or complicated as a player wishes, but the basic goal is always the same. The first player plays a domino to the table, positioning it so that it touches one end of an existing chain of dominoes. The other player then lays a new domino over the top of this touching piece, and so on until the entire chain has been completed. When this occurs, the winner is determined by whoever has the most pips showing in their remaining pieces.

While many people enjoy playing Dominoes with friends and family, others take the game more seriously. Some are drawn to the challenge of creating complex domino constructions, and some even compete in domino shows to see who can build the most imaginative domino reaction or effect before an audience of fans. The most difficult part of a Dominoes build is predicting where each piece should be placed, but the results are often stunning.

For professional domino artists, such as Hevesh, physics is an essential tool in the creation of her impressive designs. She has built structures involving hundreds and thousands of dominoes, all set up in careful sequence before the nudge of just one piece causes them to tumble.

Hevesh explains that gravity is the key to her constructions, as it is the force that pulls a knocked-over domino toward Earth, where it then crashes into and sets off a chain reaction with the next piece.

The most common domino sets contain 28 tiles, but larger ones exist for players wanting to play with more than four people. Most of these larger sets are extended by introducing ends with more pips, increasing the total number of unique combinations of ends and thus of dominoes. Increasing the maximum number of pips on an end also increases the difficulty of identifying the total value of a domino, and it is for this reason that some very large domino sets feature more easily readable Arabic numerals instead of pips.