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Classroom games-Hangman

Remember the games we used to play in the classrooms back when we were little kids? This week, RS takes a trip down memory lane and talks about one of the most popular classroom games of all time: hangman.

Playing hangman is simple: you just need a scrap of paper and a pen or pencil. It is a guessing game where you write out a word that your partner is supposed to guess. It requires two people, more than two people can be cumbersome, because if you are the one giving the words, then you don't want your partner to take help from others. Otherwise, a little extra help is always welcome if you are the one guessing the words.

How are you supposed to guess the words? The word to guess is represented by a row of dashes, giving the number of letters constituting the word. Also, as an added clue (if you feel pity towards the poor soul sitting opposite you), you can mark out the vowels in the word, if there are any, by marking underneath the dashes. If the guessing player suggests a letter which occurs in the word, the other player writes it in all its correct positions. If the suggested letter does not occur in the word, then it is time for the hangman to make his entrance into the game.

The hangman is a diagram depicting a hanging stick man. If you cannot guess the letters properly, you condemn this unfortunate man to death by hanging him. Each wrong letter just takes this man a step closer to his death, and after a number of chances the other player allows the guessing partner, if the word is still not guessed correctly, the noose finally closes around the hangman's neck. The game ends with either the word being conjectured properly or if the diagram is completed.

You can try out any type of words you want, the names of various things; movies, bands, countries etc. But if you are clever, you would want to puzzle your partner by writing out extremely long and difficult words, like Hexakosioihexe kontahexaphobia (yeah, that's a word. It is a phobia signifying fear of the number '666'). The only problem is, of course, if you yourself can remember the word to use it against your partner. You can also try out slangs and obscene words that you'd indirectly want to throw at your partner, but are afraid of being overheard by your teacher. Be inventive.

A personal favourite of yours truly, hangman is the perfect game that you could play out once your teacher starts another boring lecture on extraction of sulphur. Also, it presents you with the perfect opportunity to show off your vocabulary. Though dark and sadistic (hey, it has a noose and a hanging man, with you as the condemner), Hangman still beats other word games and can be termed as one of the best classroom games of all time.

By Shamsil B. M. Kamal


So Many Ways to Begin

Five-year-old David Carter sits in his parents' garden, grubby hands clasping a spade, digging up soil to discover remnants of a past that isn't his. In his room is a collection of odds and ends that he scavenged, from construction sites and roadside dust piles. He is collecting history, the seed sown for a future museum curator, while his mother nurses a devastating secret and his aunt Julie slowly loses her mind.

Jon McGregor's So Many Ways to Begin begins in many places a hospital in London, a young girl harbouring an unwanted child, the kindly nurses who ease her burden, the fresh-faced young woman with her coffee and her malfunctioning tea dispenser. And then there is David, with his dreams of chronicling history, oblivious to how his life would have been different, charting his own beginnings. The novel spans six decades of David's life, as he journeys from bumbling adolescence to uneasy adulthood, a life spent largely in the company of his vivaciously Scottish wife Eleanor. Their marriage, the slow chipping away of a tentative romance, the frustrations that they harbour in their domestic life, the birth of a daughter that should have brought them closer but doesn't, leave their imprint on David's burgeoning archive of beginnings and ends. And then there is the journey, from Coventry to Aberdeen, to find out where he really began, before anything was ever there.

The second novel by Jon McGregor, So Many Ways to Begin is an ordinary story very beautifully told. The tenderness with which the plot is woven is achingly acute, the stumbles and roadblocks of David and Eleanor's lives pieced in perfection. McGregor has an uncanny eye for tapping into the sensitivities of his character, fleshing out believable people in believable circumstances with much grace and polish. Admittedly, the absolute lack of quotation marks might grate on some nerves, but McGregor's story flows effortlessly from dialogue to retrospection. Easily one of this writer's top ten favourite books of all time.

By Shehtaz Huq

Pen Fights

Pen fight is a truly wonderful game comprised of pens being flicked against others in an attempt to knock the other pens off the battlefield. It is one of the few reasons that make school exciting. Plus it annoys the living daylights out of the teachers, so that's a bonus point. Students all over the world are brought together because of pen fights. It's not just a sport, it's an artistic sport. And that, dear bored-to-death readers, is a dying breed.

When this talent-less writer was in class IV we weren't allowed to bring pens. Apparently they were sinful and potential runners up for the title of weapons of mass destruction. So the students of class IV secretly slipped the item that brought about their salvation under their countless secret compartments. We lived in constant fear of a surprise bag inspection and the loss of our beloved weapons. But in the glorious light of the battlefield all was forgotten and we would unite for the awesome pen fighting that followed.

Pen fighting is addictive. I knew this fine fellow who, during a maths test, decided it was time to check out the power of his new Cello Gripper so he took it out and challenged another fine lad to a game of pen fighting. The lad fidgeted but once a challenge is thrown, one cannot refuse or else the said person will forever be crowned a 'chicken'. So they engaged in a battle of the mighty pens.

We circled around (well not really circled, the teacher would've noticed then). The pens were put down, knuckles were cracked and curses were tossed around. Bets were then placed. So it was, let's say, student A's turn, he flicked the pen and it landed an inch near student B's pen. 'A' bit his fingernail nervously as he was at a disadvantage; B could easily do the much feared “twirling whirlpool” and kill him.

By now even the nerds with the thickest glasses had joined in. B licked his lips and twirled his pilot v7. But something went horribly wrong; B had miscalculated the distance between the pens and used a little too much force. The pen whizzed out of control and fell with a loud clang on the floor. This was a classic example of the “stupid syndrome” where one soldier would ignore his grey matter, miscalculate and commit suicide by killing his own pen. I lost 50 bucks for this guy. I insulted B. B insulted me. A cackled like Snow White's mother. Various mothers were insulted. And the teacher took our papers away and we were reported to the principal. Pens were banned again.

But even after all the precautions of our humour dead teachers, pen fights still took place. Some students even took the liberty to write rulebooks. There were several fights (physical due to certain moves being labelled as “cheating”), pen breaking, gambling etc, etc. Special moves were created and some moves were condemned.

There were renowned locations for pen fights. The best was student X's table, which was so popular that she charged the fighters with their lunch money so that they could play there. She stopped after a while on account of becoming too obese within the span of 3 days. That's right. People were that desperate for that spot.

There were special classes that were dubbed “the boring-est” so everyone would play during those. That actually meant all the classes but whatever. This writer's favourite class to unleash her pilot V5 was Islamiat. Mainly because of the lectures the teacher gave us when we got caught. She would always start with “God gave us pens so that we could write with them, not create sinful wars,” and end with a shake of the head and “kids these days… under the influence of iblees”.

Even though now it's been ages since it was last played, it's still an awesome game and I recommend it to all students who never played it.. So grab a pen (preferably a heavy one, it's tough to commit suicide with those) and fight already!

By Decay



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