Every year in school, there was a particular game that the students fanatically took a liking to. One year in 5th or 6th grade, it was the match of the erasers. Each student would take their erasers out of their pencil cases and the object of the game was to attempt to either flip one’s eraser onto the top of the opponents thereby scoring a win by pinning your opponent, or to use the flick of the finger to literally try to shoot and carom the opponents eraser off the mat which consisted of the tiny desk tops that the schools provided. Endless hours were spent during recesses and breaks to hone in ones skill. There were cartwheels and other acrobatic moves that scored a kill when any part of ones eraser would cover or lap the an portion of the opponent. Spectacular moves and kills would generate corresponding cheers and likewise mistakes that caused ones own demise like shooting oneself off the table and missing the opponent entirely, were met with laughter and jeers.
The students at Heung Wing’s school took this game very seriously and worked on both their skills and in finding the best erasers. Flat and rectangular erasers were good for flipping onto opponents, however it had a drawback of being light and therefore could be relatively easily shoot off the desk. Bulky erasers were good only for the shot for they could not flip over easily to pin the opponent. Not to mention the difficulty of negotiating the obstacles that the students placed on the desks such as platforms which were actually consisted of the text books for the following class.
The erasers in Hong Kong were very soft pencil erasers for the students were only allowed to write with No. 2b lead pencils. In the manufacturing process designed to protect them and to give them a shinny new look, the erasers had a very smooth and polished finish. This was probably just the way they were molded and cut, but this slick surface had tactical implications. The smoothness and the glossy finish would allow the eraser to sail across the battle field as if there were no friction at all from the desk. This allowed the eraser to be flicked at maximum velocity, and the velocity would not diminish by much until contact was made with the opponent. The drawback though was that if one was exposed and not hidden behind or around the plateaus, the opponents shot if accurate would surely send your own eraser shooting off the desk. As for defense, the students came up with a clever solution. They rubbed off the clear slick finish on one side of the eraser so that it would have maximum traction and holding power against a direct shot, while providing at the same time traction for flick climbing. The other side would remain smooth and slippery for clear shots at the opponent. Occupying the high ground had its advantages. One had the option of shooting and just landing on the top of an opponent or by flipping end over end thereby pinning the opponent.
This game provided plenty of fun and excitement as well as some lessons in strategy. This game could be played with a single opponent or teams of 2 or 3 to a side would match against each other. The single version and the teammate version were played differently. The goals were the same but the strategy to go about attaining those goals would dramatically change.
Looking back, this game taught us all lessons on both pioneering and on teamwork. People acknowledge that Heung Wing’s School was famous for its graduates as to how well they fared in their future and in leadership roles in Hong Kong. While this game by itself may not have played all that important a role, Heung Wing is sure that it contributed in its unique way to the experience of the school’s graduates. Just ask any of them, they’ll remember this game.