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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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<font size=5px>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</font>
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Today, the wiki is in read-only mode to allow for a hosting migration.  Please enjoy reading all our xkcd explanations.
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Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki! Today, the wiki is in read-only mode to allow for a hosting migration. Please enjoy reading all our xkcd explanations. We have an explanation for all 1 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

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Name Dominoes
In competition, you can only play a name if you know who the person is. No fair saying "Frank ... Johnson. That sounds like a real person! Let me just Google him real quick."
Title text: In competition, you can only play a name if you know who the person is. No fair saying "Frank ... Johnson. That sounds like a real person! Let me just Google him real quick."

A large version of the comic picture can be found here.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a BOT - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon. Someone should create a full transcript... and good luck with that!

Dominoes is a family of boardgames played with rectangular "domino" tiles. A domino tile is divided into two squares, each displaying a number. Under most rules, a domino tile is placed on the table adjacent to another tile, and the adjacent ends must match in some way (namely by the number displayed on the touching ends). Randall's "name dominoes" shows a set of domino tiles with people's names instead of numbers, and adjacent tiles are matched by whether the closest name is the same (such as how Chris Evans' family name matches Evan Taylor Jones' given name).

The title text spells out a rule that a player may only place a tile if they know who that person is. This is a variation of a rule in Scrabble, where a player loses a turn if they are don't survive a dictionary challenge over the validity of a word. This rule implies that players are allowed to create new name dominoes tiles and that it is not a fixed set.

A large board is covered in rectangular "dominoes", with each domino bearing the name of a well-known person or character. The dominoes are arranged as if a game of dominoes were being played, but instead of the game requiring the number of spots of adjacent dominoes to match up, this game requires adjacent names to match up. Because most people have two or more names, different matches are made at each end of a domino. The match can be exact (e.g., "Kevin" on one domino adjacent to "Kevin" on another), homonymic (e.g., "Klein" adjacent to "Kline"), or nickname-based (e.g., "James" adjacent to "Jimmy", which in turn is adjacent to "Jim"). Sometimes last names are matched up with first names (e.g., "Elizabeth Warren" adjacent to "Warren Beatty"), and in some cases only a single name is used (e.g., "Columbo", "Drake", "Garfield", "Prince"), in which case a half-size square "domino" might be used, or it might be a full size one ("Batman", "Garnet", "Superman"). Some people have three or more names (e.g., Frank Lloyd Wright), in which case a 50% longer than normal domino results and matching to a middle name (Lloyd) is possible. There doesn't appear to be absolute consistency on the length of the domino vs the number of words in the name.

The figures named come from a wide variety of fields: scientists (e.g., Isaac Newton), historical figures (George Washington), musicians (Drake), politicians (John Kerry), actors (Kevin Costner), writers (Washington Irving), fashion designers (Oscar de la Renta), and so on. Most of the names are real people but a few are fictional characters, possibly non-human (Super Grover).

In at least one case it is not entirely clear who is being referred to: "John Kelly" most likely refers to Gen. John F. Kelly, Donald Trump's chief of staff, but the name is extremely common and could equally refer to any number of people.

One notable reference beyond just the use of a name is in the bottom left, there is the connection [ William Safire ][ Garnet ][ Jack Ruby ]. This seemingly incorrect connection is in reference to the character Garnet in the cartoon Steven Universe, who is a fusion of the two characters Sapphire and Ruby. Another potential mismatch is Topher Grace, where "Topher" is matched to several instances of "Chris," both of which may be shortenings of "Christopher."


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[This comic shows names overlayed onto black domino tiles, arranged so that each touching side corresponds with the first or last name of another person. Some of the domino tiles are rotated 90 degrees or are upside down.]
[The names include (sometimes repeated):]
Christian Campbell, Neve Campbell, Joseph Campbell, Joseph Smith, Etta James (2x (so far)), Joe McCarthy, Eugene McCarthy, Gene Vincent, Gene Kelly, John Kelly, Katherine Johnson, Kate Hudson, Rock Hudson, The Rock, Chris Rock, Chris Isaac, Isaac Newton, James Newton Howard, James Brown, Gordon Brown, Jon Brown, John Wayne, John Howard, Howard Stern, Howard Hunt, Helen Hunt, Helen Hughes, Chris Hughes, Chris Columbus, Christopher Columbus, Columbo, Helen Thomas, Tom Hanks, Hank Aaron, Aaron Carter, Hank Williams, Robin Williams, Billy D. Williams, William C. Williams, Robin Wright, Will Wright, Wilbur Wright, Tom Brady, Wayne Brady, Wayne Knight, Wayne Newton, Wayne Howard, Isaac Hayes, Oscar Isaac, Oscar the Grouch, Oscar de la Hoya, Oscar de la Renta, Lyndon Johnson, Drake, Frank Drake, Lisa Frank, Francis Drake, Frank Vincent, Francis Bacon, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Costner, Kevin Love, Kevin Smith, Kevin Kline, Naomi Klein, Naomi Watts, James Watt (Steam), James Watt (Interior), Stephen James, Steve Harvey, Domino Harvey, Harvey Milk, Will Smith, Kein James, James Saint James, James Garfield, Garfield, Etta James, Jimmy Buffett, Warren Buffett, Warren Beatty, Elizabeth Warren, Earl Warren, Eliabeth Kolbert, Stephen Colbert, James Earl Jones, James Earl Ray, Man Ray, Ray Parker Jr., Rachel Ray, Ray Charles, Charles Manson, Charlie Parker, Charles Wallace, Wallace Shawn, Sean Hayes, George Wallace, Marilyn Manson, Marilyn Monroe, James Monroe, James Brady,

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