A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, usually marked on each face with dots resembling those on dice. It is used as a gaming piece in several games, in which it can be tipped over to cause adjacent pieces to fall and create long lines of dominoes. These lines can also be shaped into complex structures, and many such constructions have become popular online, especially as part of viral videos. Dominoes are also the source of a phrase, the domino effect, which describes any event that triggers more events in a predictable pattern.
Originally, the word “domino” (and its sister word, dominoes) simply meant a long hooded robe worn together with an eye mask at a masquerade, but they came to be used as toys, and the word grew in popularity. The word was adopted into French around 1750, where it acquired a more general meaning of a sequence of events or an order that is inevitable, based on the way that one piece can tip over another to start a chain reaction.
Dominoes are commonly played with two players, each selecting a set of tiles at the beginning of the game. The first player then lays a domino on the table, placing it so that its matching end faces up and touches the adjacent side of a tile already on the board. This allows other players to play on the first tile by putting their tiles in front of it, and so on until a line is complete or an end of the board becomes covered with dominoes.
In some cases, a single domino is not enough to complete a line of dominoes; for these situations, additional tiles can be added to the game by picking up sleeping dominoes from the board and placing them over the ends of existing pieces. Eventually, the entire board will be covered in dominoes. The players then take turns to play each domino on the board, and the winner is whoever has the most completed dominoes at the end of the game.
Most of the games played with dominoes involve either blocking or scoring, but there are also layout games, in which a domino’s value is determined by its ability to “fit” on top of other tiles and connect them in an orderly fashion. In some cases, these types of games are adaptations of card games that were played to circumvent religious prohibitions on the use of cards, while others are purely strategic and do not require any physical contact.
Hevesh, who has made several viral domino construction videos, says that the key to her success is meticulous preparation. She builds test versions of each section of a domino arrangement, then films each in slow motion to make precise adjustments. She uses a drill press, radial arm saw, scroll saw, belt sander, and a welder in her grandmother’s garage to make the intricate pieces, but her method is adaptable to other woodworking tools.