In a line of dominoes, each domino has the potential to trigger the next one down the line. If a domino is tipped, it will cause the next one to tip, and so on until all the dominoes have fallen. Many people use dominoes as toys that they can stack on end in long lines, but others like to play more complex games where the chain of toppled dominoes creates elaborate patterns or even a full-size artwork or portrait on the floor.

Dominoes are also important in many cultures, connecting people across languages and geographical boundaries. They foster social interaction and help build camaraderie, which is why it’s no wonder that dominoes have become the unofficial symbol of friendship and goodwill in many countries around the world.

When Hevesh makes a domino display, it takes weeks to plan out the design, and hours to lay the tiles out on the table. Her best creations involve more than a million pieces. After all, Hevesh is a professional domino artist. She creates spectacular displays for movies, TV shows, and events, including an album launch for pop star Katy Perry. Her largest installations take several nail-biting minutes to fall, but they all begin with a single domino that Hevesh carefully sets.

Before a domino can be played, it must be set or “led” (also known as the set, the down, or the lead). The first player to set a domino in a game starts by placing the heaviest tile, which may be a double if the game allows. Next, the player to his left places a domino on one of the open ends of the first tile. He then draws new hands of dominoes if needed, or passes his turn if he cannot place another tile.

Each domino in the line of play has a unique combination of pips on the faces, which determines its value and suit. Some games allow players to buy additional dominoes from the stock if they are able to match a suit. Once a domino is in play, it can’t be removed without penalty unless the number of pips on the remaining free ends of the line of play matches the count of the domino being played. The winner of the last game plays the first tile in the next game.

How Dominoes Are Played