In my pre-teens days (Russia in the 1990s), one of the most popular games among boys was Little Knives — nozhichki; or rather, it was a whole class of games, with many games within it. The most common variety was called Lands. A large circle is drawn with a knife in dry dirt and then divided into as many sectors as there are players. The sectors must be large enough for the players to be able to stand comfortably within their home sectors, their “lands.” Players take turns throwing the knife, so that it spins in the air, into a neighbor’s territory. Then, a line is drawn from the border of one sector to another, through the plane of the knife's blade.
Wow. What a weird, strange, darkly scented game... Shades of the American board games Risk and Life. Monopoly, even. Very meta. Historical echoes. The knife part seems crucially important, as it could be played with a stick or pencil instead... Did players ever get injured? What are its origins?
Wow, fantastic article. ♥️🗡️ A wonderful read.
Wow! This game was played by elementary kids?! And I thought I was living dangerously by playing (American) football! Maybe Putin and Zelensky ought to settle their border war with a game of Little Knives. Then again, that might not be fair, as I bet Putin played it a LOT as a kid! It's interesting how much children's games reveal!
We played a game similar to Lands when I was a kid in Canada, but we called it Conquer the World, and we used a stick instead of a knife. Each turn a kid would "declare war" on another country by throwing the stick on their land, and everyone would run away
from the center of the circle. When the kid who was declared war on touched the stick, then everyone needed to stop. The kid with the stick got to throw it at another player, and if they hit the other player they could use the stick to carve out some territory.
“There are no winners in Life.” 🙃