What is Domino?

A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, usually with an arrangement of dots on one face that resembles those on dice. It is the individual piece of a set that is played with in games whereby the player attempts to make all adjacent pieces topple. The word is also used as a noun, meaning “the act of causing something to have an effect on or over something else” or a series of events that cause a change in the status of a system or a person.

Dominoes are often used as a learning tool for children. They are a fun way to practice counting, sequencing, and problem-solving. Children and adults alike enjoy playing games that involve arranging these black-and-white rectangles in lines or curves and knocking them over.

In many cases, dominoes have been used to illustrate the effects of complex systems or phenomena, such as a chain reaction or the escalation of conflict. They have even been cited to describe political or economic systems, such as the rise of a country, a series of mergers, or a government takeover of an institution such as a credit union.

The most basic Western dominoes have just two players and are played with a single standard set of 28 double-nine tiles, each numbered in one to nine. Several extended sets have additional ends, such as the double-12 or double-15, that increase the number of possible tile combinations. Typically, the first player begins the game by placing a domino in front of him or her that touches both exposed sides (i.e., the “one’s touch one’s” or the “two’s touch two’s” rule). Then the players lay additional tiles in order to create a line of matching dominoes. The first player to complete a full line wins the game.

Lily Hevesh began playing with dominoes when she was 9 years old, when her grandparents gifted her a classic 28-piece set. She loved setting them up in straight or curved lines, and flicking the first domino to watch the entire row tumble, one after the other. Now, at 20, she is a professional domino artist and has more than 2 million YouTube subscribers who view her impressive setups.

Hevesh follows a version of the engineering-design process when she creates her mind-blowing dominoes. First, she considers the theme or purpose of her installation. Then, she brainstorms images or words that might relate to it. She then starts thinking about what kind of shapes she could use to accomplish her goal and how those would fit together.

In the same way, a novelist needs to carefully plan a story. He or she must have scenes that advance the main character and move the story toward its goal, but not so many scenes that the story gets bogged down in minutia or becomes overly long. Each scene, or domino, must be well-timed and carefully placed to ensure the entire sequence works properly. Otherwise, the reader might become bored or frustrated with a slow pace or a scene that doesn’t advance the story in any meaningful way.

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