The Domino Effect


Domino is a type of game played with a set of small, rectangular tiles. Each tile has a blank or identically patterned face and one that bears an arrangement of spots, or pips, similar to those on a die. Twenty-eight such pips make up a complete set of dominoes. When a single domino is placed, it must be such that it can be joined to the line of play, either lengthwise or across the line of play, by matching its pips with those on the adjacent tile. Players take turns playing a domino in this way, until all the tiles have been laid down.

The first domino to topple sets off a chain reaction that cascades down the line. This is called the Domino Effect, and it is a powerful demonstration of how simple actions can influence larger outcomes. The domino effect is also a useful tool for writers to illustrate the logical sequence of events that a character would likely follow. It can help readers understand the motivation and reasoning behind a character’s actions, even when those actions violate societal norms.

Lily Hevesh, an artist who creates elaborate domino installations, is familiar with this concept. Hevesh uses fractions to help her determine how many dominoes she needs for a project, as well as how they should be arranged. “When you build a large installation, it’s important to avoid big accidental topples,” she says. “But you can’t prevent all of them, and it’s impossible to predict which ones will happen.”

In a domino game, each player draws a hand of tiles. The player with the highest number of pips on his or her domino is the starting player, and he or she places the tile, which is called a “set,” “the down,” or “the lead,” on the table. The remaining dominoes are called the stock. Once the hand of tiles has been drawn, each player may place his or her domino, which is known as a “play,” on the table according to the rules of the specific game being played.

When a player is unable to continue playing with his or her current hand, that player chips out of the game and passes play to the next player. If the game reaches a point at which no player can play, the winner is determined by partners who have the lowest combined total of pips on their remaining dominoes.

Most domino games are played by more than two people. There are also a few solitaire games that may be played by one person. If a player draws more dominoes for his or her hand than he or she is entitled to, the extra tiles must be kept in the stock and are available for purchase (See Passing and Byeing) later in the game. Players who draw a domino that is not allowed in the current game must recall it.