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The Domino Effect

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A domino is a small rectangular block marked with groups of numbers on one side, used for playing a variety of games. The most popular domino games are blocking and scoring. Some games also use other pieces, such as dice or cards, but most use dominoes alone. The most common domino sets sold commercially have 28 tiles; larger sets exist for players interested in long games.

When a domino is set up and then tipped over, much of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, the energy of motion. This energy then travels to the next domino in the line, giving it a push that may cause it to fall over. The process continues from one domino to the next until all the dominoes have fallen over, creating a chain reaction, often called the Domino Effect.

Lily Hevesh, 20, has been fascinated by dominoes since she was a child. Her grandparents had a classic 28-pack, and she loved setting them up in straight or curved lines and flicking them over. She’s now a professional domino artist, with more than 2 million YouTube subscribers and a booming business building custom domino setups for events and movies. Her creations range from a simple “Domino Effect” to elaborate sculptural installations.

Hevesh starts each installation with a theme, or purpose, in mind, then brainstorms images and words that might fit. She then creates a prototype, or model, of each section. This allows her to make precise corrections before putting it all together. She builds the largest 3-D sections first, then adds flat arrangements and finally lines of dominoes that connect each section to the others.

In most Western domino games, the first player (determined by drawing lots or by who holds the heaviest domino) places a tile on the table. Then, in turn, each player must place a domino on the table so that one end of it matches part of a previous domino in the line or extends the existing line. When a player cannot play a new tile, they pass.

Each domino has two suits: a suit of ones and a suit of zeroes. A single tile can belong to both suits, and a domino with both 0s and 1s is sometimes referred to as a “domino of two suits.”

The most common games for four players use the standard double-six set. However, extended domino sets such as double-twelve and double-nine allow more than six players to play; each additional set increases the number of pips on an end by three, allowing for a greater number of combinations.

Most domino games start with the first player placing a tile on the edge of the board. Once a tile is placed, other players can match it by positioning their tiles so that they touch both sides of the new tile. If no matching tiles are available, they must draw from the unused dominoes to continue playing.

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