Dominoes: A Game of Connected Tiles

Domino (or dominoes, if you prefer) are a beloved toy that encourages strategic thinking and teamwork. Their enduring popularity reflects our innate desire for connection and camaraderie—no matter what the language or geography. At their core, dominoes are a game of connected chains and sequences. Their strategic placement requires players to align the values of individual tiles in a way that bolsters a larger structure. In turn, these skills promote critical thinking and foresight—skills that extend well beyond the gaming table.

Dominoes are a popular toy and a game for all ages, but they have also served as an inspiration for architects, artists, and even entrepreneurs. Hevesh 5, a self-taught domino artist with more than 2 million YouTube subscribers, has created elaborate installations for movies, TV shows, and events—including a Katy Perry album launch. Her creations take days to set up and can span miles of dominoes that are carefully arranged to form specific shapes. But the real fun comes when she sets the pieces in motion—and watch them tumble according to the laws of physics.

In the simplest of games, players begin with seven dominoes from a double-six set and then alternately extend their lines with one matching tile at either end. A player who cannot extend their line passes and the first player to win is awarded points. A player may also earn extra points by laying two dominoes side by side, with each having a number showing on both ends (one’s touching one’s, two’s touching two’s, etc.).

The most common domino sets contain 28 tiles and allow players to play a wide variety of games. However, large-scale sets are available for games involving more than two players or those seeking to create long domino chains. These larger dominoes are commonly referred to as double-six or double-nine dominoes.

Most domino games fall into one of two categories: blocking games or scoring games. Blocking games are played in turns and require that each player draw seven dominoes from the stock, excluding any duplicates. In a blocking game, each player attempts to extend their line by playing a domino in their hand that matches the exposed end of the previous domino (e.g., a six-pip tile to match a six-pip tile).

In scoring games, each player plays a domino on the table and then extends the chain by laying subsequent tiles so that each one touches at least one of the matching ends (or “stitched up” the ends)—the more matches there are between adjacent tiles, the higher the score.

In addition to fostering social interaction, dominoes teach fundamental mathematical and motor skills. And for adults, they can offer a chance to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or wine—or even play cards with friends. Whether we’re enjoying a game of domino or simply watching a masterpiece of the toy come together, these creative uses of Domino demonstrate the versatile, timeless nature of this classic toy.