The Domino Effect

Dominoes are small rectangular blocks that are used in games to form long lines. When a domino is tipped over, it causes the other pieces to fall—sometimes resulting in elaborate patterns that look incredible. They’re the inspiration for the popular term “domino effect,” a phenomenon that occurs when one simple action leads to many other similar actions.

Dominos are often used as toys for kids, but adults love them too. One Domino’s customer in particular had a unique way of using the game pieces to improve her daily routine: She ranked the tasks that needed to be completed throughout the day as dominoes, and started with the most important one first. Each domino received her full attention until it was finished, and this new commitment to the task helped her develop other habits like eating healthier and exercising more.

Hevesh began playing with dominoes at age 9, when her grandparents gifted her a classic 28-pack of the small black squares. She loved stacking them in straight or curved lines and flicking the first one to see the entire chain fall. Her fascination with dominoes grew as she continued to collect more and create her own intricate sets. Now, Hevesh is a professional domino artist who uses science to create some of the most complex displays ever seen. Her YouTube channel, Hevesh5, has more than 2 million subscribers, and she’s worked on spectacular setups for movies, events, and even Katy Perry’s album launch.

When Hevesh is working on a large project, she spends a lot of time planning and testing each section separately. She often films the process in slow motion, which allows her to make precise corrections as necessary. When it comes time to assemble the entire set, she starts with the largest 3-D sections—the most difficult to build—then moves on to flat arrangements, and finally adds lines of dominoes connecting everything together.

While some people use dominoes for fun, the majority of players prefer to play games that involve strategic placement and calculation. A domino’s value is determined by the number of dots it has on each side. These numbers—which are also referred to as suits—range from six pips to none, or blank.

The most basic Western domino games are called blocking and scoring games. In both, the player with the most pips starts by placing a domino on the edge of the table, or “boneyard.” Each player then draws a domino from the boneyard until they have a matching number. That piece is then played, and the next one is drawn until the match is made or all the tiles are gone.

There are a variety of other domino games, including ones that require the matching of two or more tiles. Some are played in groups, and others are based on a specific pattern. For example, a game called Fives-and-Threes involves attaching dominoes to the ends of those that have already been played so that the sum on the end tiles is divisible by five or three (or both). The points are then scored for each occurrence of this combination.