How Domino Works


Domino is a game that can be as simple or complicated as you wish to make it. Its great versatility has contributed to the game’s enduring popularity. From classic block games like Draw to the more complex Mexican Train and Matador, domino offers something for everyone. But the game’s greatest appeal lies in its ability to teach fundamental principles of science, engineering, and technology.

Hevesh takes her time constructing the domino structures, building 3-D sections before adding flat arrangements. She tests each section to see how it works, then builds on top of the previous work, ensuring that the entire structure is functional and structurally sound.

Once a domino set is built, its unmoving tiles have inertia—a tendency to resist motion until an outside force is applied. A tiny nudge is all it takes to push that first domino over the edge of its tipping point, unleashing a cascade of chain reactions.

The same principle holds true for nerve impulses in the body. Once a nerve cell fires, it can’t fire again until the ions in that nerve have been reset to their resting state. This process, known as depolarization, requires energy. In the case of a domino, this energy is supplied by the next tile to be played. When a domino is removed, the pulse of falling dominos stops until the ionic reset occurs.

Each domino is marked with a number on one end and a pattern of dots or pips on the other. The number and pattern of these pips determines which tiles can be placed on the line of play, which is a string of dominoes laid out lengthwise. A player may also place a domino diagonally on a line of play (cross-way) to form a double. Typically, doubles are played to a domino that is already playing a double so that the two matching sides are touching fully.

In many Western domino games, players are required to play the first tile of each turn so that the line of play develops a snake-line shape. This is called “setting up” the game or “putting down” the lead.

After setting up the game, players draw dominoes from the stock to begin their turns. Generally, the player with the highest domino in his hand will play first. If there is a tie, it’s broken by drawing additional tiles from the stock. In some games, the rules allow a player to “bye” a domino from the stock if that domino has a higher value than his current tile.

In most domino games, a maximum of 30 dominoes is possible when using a standard double-six set. However, the numbers of pips on each end of a domino can be increased by three to create extended sets. Most commonly used extended sets are double-nine, double-12, and double-15.

How Domino Works
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