The Domino Effect


A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block bearing a number of dots resembling those on dice. It is typically stacked on end in long lines. If one of these is tipped over, it causes the next domino in line to tip over, and so on. The effect is similar to that of a firing nerve impulse in the body: once the first domino is set off, it can trigger multiple events that can result in much greater—and sometimes catastrophic—consequences. This concept has led to the popular phrase “the domino effect,” which describes a situation in which one event can trigger others that have far-reaching effects.

The first domino in any given line of dominoes is called the lead. The player with the lead may choose to play any tile, but must follow the rules of the specific game being played. The winner of the previous game or, if there was no clear winner, the person who played the first tile in that game, starts the new game.

Each time a domino is played, the matching ends of two adjacent tiles must touch fully. This connection between adjacent tiles is what makes the domino chain grow and develop its shape. The most common type of domino is a double, which is capable of touching the matching ends of three adjacent tiles (the middle and both sides). If a double is played to another double, both of these tiles must be connected to each other in order to continue the chain. Doubles are also known as spinners, and a player who plays a double that cannot be played on all four ends is said to have “stitched up” the edges of the domino.

Besides connecting ends of adjacent tiles, dominoes are often used to create structures such as curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, and even 3D buildings and pyramids. These creations are referred to as domino art and can be as simple or complex as a writer wishes. For example, domino artist Lily Hevesh started playing with dominoes when she was nine years old and has honed her skills to create amazing domino setups for movies, TV shows, and events-including an album launch for Katy Perry.

Dominoes are a great way to get children excited about learning math and science, and they can be used for creative writing as well. The logical progression of the domino effect can help students understand abstract concepts such as cause and effect, and can be a fun way to illustrate key principles in physics, biology, and social studies.

Using the heaviest tile rule, each player draws a hand of dominoes from the stock. Then, the player who holds the highest double begins play. The next player then continues to play dominoes according to the rules of the specific game being played. If no player has a high double, the player holding the heaviest single starts the next round.