Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Toys Were Us (8) – Dividers Game

Laokokok’s latest post about the compass and mathematical instruments box reminds me of a game we used to play in primary school. I cannot recall the name of the game.

Basically, we make use of the dividers as a sort of dart to stick it to a board or the ground. Altogether there was a set of 6 or 7 moves, but I can only remember six.

1) The first one is easy. The dividers is placed on your palm. You have to toss it upwards so that it will do a 180 degree flip and hit on the ground with the sharp end.

2) The second is also easy. It is similar to the first except that the dividers is placed on the back of your hand.

3) You clench your right fist with wrist facing upwards. Then place the dividers on your palm facing right and then try to turn it downwards to the ground in one quick motion

4) The next one is tougher, and very hard to explain. You point the sharp end on the edge of your left palm (assuming you are right-handed) and with you right first finger, you flip it, again 180 degrees.

5) The next one is similar to no. 4 except that you point the sharp end on the finger.

6) The last one is simple. Just hold the dividers by the sharp end and throw it like a knife.

You probably have difficulty following my description above and so I made a short movie. I used a letter opener in place of the dividers and used a polystyrene box as the base. Pardon the poor quality. It is taken on a digital camera and not a video camera.

I think there may be one or two more moves which I cannot recall. If you can remember, please share with us.
Safety reminder: Hey kids. Please don't try this game. It's actually quite lame compared to the modern toys you have nowadays. But just in case you want to try it, out of curiosity, please be extra careful. Especially when you come to the last move. Make sure nobody is in front of you; or nearby. Thanks.


yg said...

i think one variation of the 3rd move is this: you rest the implement with the sharp end pointing outwards - we normally used a pen knife - on your forefinger and last finger, with the third and fourth fingers bent and touching your palm, and you flip the implement to cause it to stick to the earth/ground.

Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for the memory, Chun See.

I used to play this game with a classmate when I was in Pr. 5 in Delta Primary School (Morning Session). On our way home after school, we will find a grass patch in a shady area at the Brahmaputra Road SIT housing estate and play the game with our Oxford instrument divider. We played 5 games each session to determine the winner. The loser must buy the winner an "ice ball" as his prize.

Good idea to show the video clip.

If I remember correctly, each player have to flip 3 times (or was it 5 times, can't remember very well)for the 4th move, not once.

Is this game still being played by the youngsters today? Its one of the Vanishing Games to be featured at the next Heritage Festival, I think.

Lets have a game if you have time :)

Anonymous said...

This is dangerous game! But we had better use of the compass/divider in school; i,e during secondary school days. It was in 1969 and the World Cup Golf came to Singapore at the Singapore Island Counrty Club. We were so fasinated with the scoring system and euqipment but had no clue how the game was actually played. What happened next was to cause an uproar in school and the school princiapl had to conduct a board of inquiry.

U see, we used the compass/dividers to drill hiles on our desks. each hole drilled was to represent the hole on the golf course. We used the divider as the golf stick and the rounded chalk became the golf ball. The idea of the game was to "push" the ball to the hole in the least number of strokes. The game was played during lesson hours and we used the textbook to provide the screen so the teacher in front could not see what was taking place. The classroom games lasted as long as the World Cup.

One day, the school-taker found that 4 out of 6 Sec 3 classes had so many holes on their desk (those with metal legs). The rest is history but the culprits were not caught. Today the same people whom I know who played that game are the best golfers on the greens (in real life). So our training went back to 1969.

Lam Chun See said...

YG is right. That should be the 4th move. Maybe I will take a photo and post it. But difficult to take photo with left hand. Must ask one of my children to do it .. so paiseh. They think their old man going thro 2nd childhood before 60!

Thimbuktu. For your info, I haven't lost my touch ok! That video was taken on the 3rd take, and I only missed two moves. That's why the clenched fist and the inaudible YES! at the end.

Peter. No wonder ACS and RI boys are such rivals during our time. We too had that 'golf' game on our wooden desks, with the holes made with compass & dividers.

yg said...

mr lam, thank you for helping me to recall this childhood game. if you had not blogged about it, i would have forgotten all about it. now, the memories are coming back.
i think, for the first move, you have to cup your hand so that the pen-knife/dividers remain steady. for the second move, we actually balance the pen-knife between the fore-finger and the middle finger. then you flip it to make it land on its pointed end.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I missed out on this game - never seen it before although that pic of the tin of mathematical instruments brings back memories. It seems that even in Spore school equipment or notebooks were branded either as Oxford or Cambridge - of course here in Cambridge we try not to use anything with Oxford on it!

Mind this looks like a dangerous game and Chun See you will have the health and safety people onto your blog any minute now!

Lam Chun See said...

Brian,in case you think that box was from the colonial days, it actually belongs to one of my kids; so is not more than a few years old. But it looks just like the ones we had in the 60's doesn't it?

So you see, the Oxford brand is an enduring brand.

re-tired.re-freshed said...

Thanks for the video! Hey, make another one :) BTW, I can just imagine today's parents going "Ah boy! Stop playing with that dangerous thing!" lol

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks for that reminder Ivan. I must be getting careless. I used to include a safety reminder whenever I put up posts like this one.

Unknown said...

Ivan, I can already imagine myself shouting that to my son Ethan! I think brave acts like these (and climbing down monsoon drains, catching centipedes, and cycling with no hands) helps to build character. Something which I need to remind myself as a parent!

Anonymous said...

Hi Timbaktu,

I was very surprised to read your following comments;

"On our way home after school, we will find a grass patch in a shady area at the Brahmaputra Road SIT housing estate and play the game with our Oxford instrument divider."

Surprised because I used to live in those very estate, which now seems to have been totally eradicated from all maps. Who knows, you could have very well played your games right in front of my home (I lived on the ground floor).