How Dominoes Are Used in Art and Literature


A domino is a small rectangular block with either one or two ends bearing an arrangement of dots like those on dice. A set of 28 such blocks constitutes a complete domino set. Dominoes are used to play a variety of games, including bidding, blocking, scoring and round games.

Dominoes are also used in art projects, from simple lines to curved or grid-shaped patterns that create pictures when they fall. Some artists plan their creations on paper, drawing arrows to show how they expect the dominoes to fall. Others build intricate, 3D structures like towers or pyramids out of wood, stone or other materials. Whatever the medium, the key to a good domino project is allowing the laws of physics to take over. As the dominoes tumble, gravity causes each to knock over the next one and the rest of the chain. When a player accidentally misses a turn or fails to follow rules, the result is called a misplay.

The most popular game with a domino is probably double-twelve, in which each player picks 12 tiles and plays them in turns, starting with the person to their left. In most cases, the first domino must touch the end of a tile already on the table, although in some games this is not required.

Other games use fewer tiles; a simple set of 28 dominoes can be used to play games such as Twenty-One and Mexican Train. Increasingly, domino sets are available with additional types of ends that increase the number of possible combinations of sides. The most common extended sets are the double-nine and the double-twelve, which add three more pips to each of the ends of a domino.

In some European countries, dominoes are made of precious natural materials such as silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood like ebony, with black or white pips inlaid or painted on them. These sets typically have a more traditional look and feel than polymer dominoes, and often have a much heavier weight.

As the domino effect continues to be a central theme in novels, writers use it to illustrate themes and make statements. For example, a story might begin with the scene of a car crash or rocket launch as a kind of domino that naturally leads to the main action of the story.

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