How to Plan a Domino Installation

Domino, also called dominoes, is a game of skill and strategy that involves falling tiles in an ordered sequence. A domino is a small, rectangular block that bears an arrangement of spots, similar to those on a die, on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other. The word “domino” is derived from the Latin for “fateful.” Like dominoes, fate can have a dramatic effect on an individual’s life. Whether it’s a job loss, an illness or even an accident, one event can have a profound impact on a person’s life. But sometimes the effects are not so dramatic and can be controlled.

Lily Hevesh, a domino artist with more than 2 million YouTube subscribers, creates mind-blowing domino installations. She has worked on projects ranging from the album launch for pop star Katy Perry to a giant 76,017-piece circle that set a Guinness record. Hevesh’s most elaborate creations take several nail-biting minutes to fall. But Hevesh, who is a math major at Columbia University, is careful to plan her work so that one small mistake won’t bring the whole thing crashing down.

Hevesh uses fractions to determine how many dominoes she will need for a project and how they will be arranged. When planning her layout, she considers the theme or purpose of the installation and brainstorms images or words that she might want to include. She then calculates how long she wants her line of play to be and divides the number of dominoes needed by that measurement. For example, if she needs to create a 24-inch-long line with dominoes spaced 1 3/4 inches apart, she will divide the number of dominoes by three and then subtract 1.

Once the layout has been determined, Hevesh starts by placing one tile down at a time. She then matches the remaining tiles to each other in an order that she believes will provide the best overall structure. Once all the matching tiles are placed, she adds them to the end of her line of play. Then she plays a tile on top of the first one she placed, creating an overlapping stack. She repeats this process until her entire layout is completed.

The first player to make a play is determined by the rules of the particular game being played. He or she may be referred to as the setter, the downer or the lead.

After all the players have drawn their hands, any excess dominoes should remain face down in the stock and may be used to “bye,” or pass, later in the game (See “Passing and Byeing” below). If a player accidentally draws more than he is permitted to have for his hand, he must return the extra tiles to the stock. If this happens after the start of a game, it is considered a blocked game and the result of the previous play stands. However, if it occurs before the start of a game, the players should draw new hands.