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The Game of Domino

Domino is a game of skill and strategy. Its popularity transcends linguistic and cultural boundaries. Whether domino is played in bustling city squares or quiet village homes, the game fosters camaraderie and bonding among its participants. Its success as a global game speaks to humanity’s innate desire for connection and companionship.

Dominoes are rectangular pieces with a pattern of spots, or “pips,” on one side and a blank or identically patterned other side. They are arranged in a line or row on the table. Each domino has a set number of matching ends that must be joined together in order to play the piece. This joining may be done in two ways: 1) With the line of play, lengthwise; 2) across the line of play, crosswise; or 3) to a double, with the two matching sides touching fully.

In some games, a player’s score is determined by counting the total number of pips on the dominoes left in their hands at the end of a hand or the game. In these games, the winner is the player with the lowest total. A variation on this scoring method, used by some players, is to count only one end of a double (i.e., a 4-4 counts as only four points).

The word domino has an intriguing history. The game originated in France, but the word itself has a much older sense: it refers to a long hooded cloak worn with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade ball. It is suggested that the ebony black domino pieces and ivory white masks of the church brought to mind this garment.

To begin playing, each player draws a hand of dominoes and places them on the table, face down, with a number facing up. The player making the first play is designated as the setter, downer, or leader. He should then place his tile, face up, in the center of the domino line.

After a player makes his first play, the other players follow suit, depending on the rules of the game. Some games allow the player to pass, or bye, instead of playing a domino. If a player is unable to make a play, he should “knock” the table and have his opponent pick up a domino from the line of play.

Some players enjoy making artistic creations with their dominoes, and there are even professional domino artists who specialize in creating intricate displays for movies, TV shows, events, and even music videos. Hevesh, a domino artist with more than 2 million YouTube subscribers, creates her displays by first brainstorming images and words that she wants to use. Then, she plans out how the dominoes should be arranged in a grid to form pictures, walls, or 3-D structures like towers and pyramids. Her largest installations take several nail-biting minutes to fall. Hevesh has also worked on team projects involving up to 300,000 dominoes.