Street Games Of India: Territory Land
The knife game is tame when compared with stretch. It was very popular during the first fifty years of the twentieth century but has been on the decline – particularly in cities where dirt has succumbed to cement and asphalt. However, it is still easy to find a roughneck wearing a mohair sweater, clumping around with a knife stuck in his boot. He approached his friends asking in a pre-public basso groan, “Wanna play Land, ma?”
A plot of dirt and a jack knife.
Objective of the Game:
Each player tries to reduce his opponent’s territory by either gaining his opponent’s land or regaining his own.
Rules and Regulations:
A square or circle eight inches in diameter is drawn in the dirt. A terrific tool used since Cro-Magnon man is the twig. Each player stands on one side of the dirt diagram. One player throws the knife into his opponent’s territory or land. If the blade sticks in, at an angle no less than one thumb, the original dividing line is rubbed out, and the land is cut along new lines corresponding to the point and direction of the blade’s entry. If Pythagoras were alive, he would certainly have a geometric fiasco.
After the angles and lines are agreed upon, the victimized owner, since this is an invasion of his territorial rights and privacy, chooses which piece of redivided land he wishes to keep. Then it is his turn to invade, tossing the knife into the piece of land left to his antagonist. The role of trespasser and trespassed is reversed, the old territorial lines are erased, and the land is craved up again, with the landholder who is attacked choosing the piece of land he must forfeit. Obviously, it will be the smaller piece. It is hard to be sympathetic to land owners, but as the surgery continues, someone’s land diminishes until, sadly, he has no place to call his own. The one saving grace during his feudal war is that as one man’s land shrinks, it becomes more and more difficult for the invading force to land his knife in the mini-acre. There is always a chance the tables or dirt will turn in the final gerrymandered land. Politicians should consider the import of this game in a child’s education. In the end, if one cannot fir the heel of his shoe into his shrunken land, it is the end.
Variations in the Game:
Each player stands in his plot of land and follows the same rules procedures as in Territory until there is so little room to stand on that the only place the knife can go is into his feet. The follow-through of this confrontation is a choice each individual must make for himself. Land development prospects are obviously poor. No one wants his plot, his final standing ground, to be his final resting place. Safe Advice – while there’s still time get out.