# How Dominoes Work

A flat, thumbsized, rectangular block, the face of which is divided into two parts, each either blank or bearing from one to six pips or dots: 28 such pieces form a complete set. Dominoes are used in a variety of games, typically by matching the ends of the dominoes and laying them down in lines and angular patterns. The most popular domino game involves emptying one’s hand while blocking opponents’ play. Other games involve scoring, such as bergen and muggins. A domino can also be a tool for teaching number recognition and counting skills.

Domino art consists of creating a layout of dominoes with the intention of constructing an intricate pattern or sequence when they fall. Builders create their layouts using a variety of tricks, including different top and back colors (which display differently before and after domino toppling); three-dimensional stackings; shapes, such as spirals and letters; Rube Goldberg machines; and special toppling techniques.

The most common set of dominoes consists of 28 tiles, called the double-six and double-nine. There are also larger sets, which can include many more tiles. Some sets contain the same numbers in both suits, while others have distinct numbers for each suit.

When a player begins to play a domino, it must be placed on the end of a line or arc of existing dominoes. Once it has come to rest, the first domino exerts a small amount of force that causes the next domino to tip forward until its center of gravity reaches the point where it tips over with a slight force of its own. This process continues for each domino that touches the previous one until the whole chain is completed.

A player wins a domino game by playing all of his or her dominoes before an opponent. When a player is unable to play his or her last domino, that person must choose another domino from the boneyard. The other player can then either take over the last domino in that line or chip away all of the other players’ numbers to win.

In 2009, a Finnish acrobat set a world record for the number of dominoes toppled in one chain reaction. The chain lasted for nearly five minutes and included over 4,491,863 dominoes.

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