A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block marked on either side with dots resembling those on dice. It has a line in the middle to visually divide it into two squares, called ends. The number of spots or pips on each end determines its value. A domino is played by putting it on the table so that its open end touches an adjacent tile with a matching number of pips, forming a chain or string of play. As each player adds tiles to the chain, its shape develops into a snake-like pattern as it reaches for the other end of the chain. The tiles used in domino games may be arranged in many different ways, depending on the game’s rules and the constraints of the playing surface.
The most popular domino games involve bidding, blocking, scoring, or a combination of these elements. There are also a few simple solitaire and trick-taking games, which were once popular to circumvent religious proscriptions against the playing of cards.
Regardless of the game being played, a domino set always includes some number of ‘doubles’ — or tiles that can be played on both sides. The value of a double is determined by the number of matching pips on its two open ends. When a double is played, the other end of that tile must be touching another open or face-up domino. Depending on the rules of the game, the player may be required to place a tile on the edge of the table next to the double to prevent it from falling off the edge of the playing surface, or he or she may be allowed to simply push the tile over and onto the stacked dominoes.
Dominoes can be arranged to form a straight or curved line, a grid that forms pictures when it falls, or 3D structures like towers and pyramids. A skilled domino artist can create impressive displays with just a handful of pieces. To ensure her work is flawless, Hevesh tests each section of an installation on its own before putting it together. This ensures each piece fits perfectly, and it allows her to make precise corrections if anything is not as she expected.
When a person makes a mistake while placing a domino, the error is known as a misplay. If it is discovered before the next player plays, that player must recall his or her tile. If the mistake is not discovered before the next player takes his turn, the mistake stands.
After all players have drawn their hands, a player who holds the highest double begins play. In the event of a tie, the winner of the previous game takes his or her turn. Alternatively, the player who holds the heaviest double or any other special tile, referred to as a spinner, may open the first hand.