The Many Uses of Dominoes


Dominoes are small rectangular wood or plastic blocks, usually 28 in a set, with one side bearing an arrangement of dots or pips resembling those on dice. The other side is blank or identically patterned. A domino is played with a line of players, the first player placing a domino (also called a tile) down and then matching or playing any other dominoes in the same line that match its number. The dominoes are then knocked down, triggering a chain reaction that ends with the last domino falling on its side. The first person to do so wins the game, although different games have differing rules for who is allowed to play the last tile or the deciding game-winning move.

For many people, domino is a fun pastime. Kids often enjoy lining up dominoes in straight or curved lines and then flicking them over to see the whole line fall, one after another. But domino also has a more serious use, and that is as a teaching tool for counting, arithmetic, and other mathematical skills. In recent years, some educators have found the domino system to be useful for students learning to read and write.

Lily Hevesh, a domino artist who creates spectacular setups for movies and TV shows and has more than 2 million YouTube subscribers, says that she began collecting the small pieces at age 9 when her grandparents gave her the classic 28-piece set. Now 20, Hevesh has made a career out of her hobby, creating sets for movies and TV shows and even an album launch for pop star Katy Perry.

While the domino has been around for centuries, the modern version was first developed in the United States in 1884 by a Chicago businessman named Alfred E. Muller. The tiles were originally marketed as a way to teach children how to count, but their popularity has led to an assortment of games and educational tools that help children develop cognitive and motor skills.

The most common dominoes are made of polymer materials such as clay or acrylic resin. But some sets are made from natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on them. These more-elaborate sets tend to be much more expensive than those made from polymer materials.

A good domino is a task that contributes to the accomplishment of a bigger goal and will have a positive impact in the future. For example, creating a financial plan could be considered a good domino since it will have an impact on your future finances.

In some domino games, a player may draw additional tiles from the stock in order to make certain plays. These additional tiles are referred to as byes and are added to the tiles in the player’s hand. If a player draws a bye, the other players must either play that tile or buy it according to the rules of the specific game being played.