The Art of Domino


Domino is one of those games that seems to be timeless. From kids’ birthday parties to professional domino competition and home set-ups, the game develops a number of core maths skills as well as patience and precision. Dominos are also great for teaching color recognition and artistic expression, especially when building up their intricate patterns.

A cousin of playing cards, dominoes consist of a series of rectangular tiles with a line or ridge dividing the identity-bearing face into two square ends that are marked with an arrangement of dots (called “pips” in this case) like those on a die. The other faces are blank or identically patterned. Most dominoes have the same pattern on both sides but some have different colors on each side. The different colors are called’suits’ and each suit has different numbers of dominoes.

The rules of domino vary by game but most involve scoring points by laying dominoes end to end with their exposed ends touching, i.e., one’s touch ones, two’s touch two’s, and so on. If the exposed pips total any number (or zero) the player is awarded that number of points. The first player to score a specified number of points wins the round.

Those who have watched a domino show will have seen the incredible creations that are possible to build up. A domino artist, such as Lily Hevesh, can create complex setups that involve hundreds of thousands of dominoes. Creating these sets involves a great deal of work and patience. Her greatest feats, such as a circular domino display involving 300,000 dominoes, can take several nail-biting minutes to fall.

Hevesh has built up a following on YouTube with videos of her amazing setups. Her work has even been featured on the hit television show Undercover Boss, where she was sent to Domino’s Pizza to analyze how the company handles its deliveries and responds to its customers. The company was able to quickly implement new policies that have improved customer service.

As Hevesh shows us in her videos, a domino has the potential to change things in many ways just by being nudged or pushed. In writing, we often refer to this as the ‘domino effect’. The idea is that, just as a domino can cause a chain reaction, our words can influence the way others think and act.

In the video, Hevesh explains how she uses science to create her elaborate domino displays. She explains that when you put one domino down, it has inertia, meaning that the force that would normally push it forward is not there. However, if you nudge it just so, that domino can gain enough energy to push on the next domino down the line. This is what causes the chain reaction that we see.