The Domino Effect

Domino, cousin to playing cards and a precursor of dice, is one of the oldest tools for game play. From professional domino game competition to the simple act of setting up and knocking over a domino chain, this versatile tool offers a host of games, challenges, and tests of skill.

Dominoes are rectangular blocks of wood or other materials marked on one side with a pattern of dots or pips, like those on a die, and on the other blank or identically patterned. The number of pips on either end of a domino determines its value, and the combination of values on both ends defines a domino’s rank or “weight.” For example, a double-six domino has six pips on one end and one on the other; it is described as being the heaviest piece in the set.

When no outside force is pushing on a domino, it has inertia—the tendency to resist motion. But a little nudge, as with a fingertip on the first domino of a long line of them, is enough to break that inertia and send that piece falling into the next domino, starting a cascade of movement. This movement is the domino effect, and it’s a great way to visualize the power of energy moving from one thing to another in a rhythmic process.

Like a domino construction, a story requires just the right amount of timing. Too slow and the reader will lose interest, while too fast and the story will feel rushed or superficial. Domino effect also applies to story scenes, which must be short enough to move the hero closer to or farther from the goal of the scene, but long enough to provide a sense of the hero’s progress and accomplishments.

Hevesh, the master of mind-blowing domino setups, follows a version of the engineering-design process when creating her creations. She starts by considering the theme or purpose of an installation, and brainstorms images or words that might be appropriate. Once she has a concept in mind, she begins the detailed work of choosing the right pieces and arranging them in the desired configuration.

In addition to being a fun family activity, domino is a useful teaching tool for math and logic. Aside from demonstrating the fundamental concepts of counting and sequencing, it also provides an opportunity for students to practice patience and self-control. In addition, the social aspects of the game encourage students to practice cooperation and teamwork. This can help build a sense of community and support among students. It can also help students learn the importance of listening to and respecting others’ opinions. This can translate into real-world situations such as peer pressure or workplace bullying. In addition, the ability to persevere in the face of adversity is a crucial life lesson. These skills are valuable in many careers, from business to education and beyond. These lessons are best learned early on, so students can apply them throughout their lives.