Don't the Norwegian players know that "Rock is for Rookies?
October 19, 2008 7:57 PM   Subscribe

The Yahoo! 2008 World Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) Championships will be held in Toronto, Ontario on October 25. First prize: $10,000. Norway has publicly stated that they aim for a Norwegian world champion by 2010. RPS trading cards can be found here. Graham Walker, co-founder of the World Rock Paper Scissors Society, discusses the sport on CBC here. Amusing posters and other kitsch.

The Official Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Guide states:

Don’t even think about competing before consulting The Official Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Guide

On the history of the game:

The first known proto-RPS game was played widely by early Homo-sapiens around 5000 B.C. They used it to resolve food and mating disputes

Why you should compete:

Rock Paper Scissors (RPS)—the ultimate decision-making tool—is the game you played as a child to determine who went fi rst in dodge ball or who got the last piece of candy. Today the ancient game is becoming a social phenomenon and this time it’s for adults....

What is a gambit?

A series of three successive moves made with strategic intention, and include "THE CRESCENDO", "DENOUEMENT", "FISTFUL O' DOLLARS" (This move took the 1967 RPS World Championships by surprise and is arguably still one of the great surprise offensive moves), and more.

Advanced play - why study RPS?

"To the beginner the choices are few, to the expert the choices are many."

- Wojek Smallsoa, as quoted in The Trio of Hands, 1962

Some claim mathematics is more of a determinant of who wins.
posted by KokuRyu (29 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is serious stuff. Sometimes knowing the right strategy can be worth millions.

Also these T-Shirts are phenomenal.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:15 PM on October 19, 2008

When my mom was a kid they played Dog>Bone>Gun.
They were weird kids.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:17 PM on October 19, 2008

Demetri Martin on Rock, Paper, Scissors.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:32 PM on October 19, 2008

"There's only one way to settle this."

Also: rock-paper-scissors pales in comparison to RPS-25. A tad more fun, though.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:37 PM on October 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I finally understand what the word "gobsmacked" means.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 8:38 PM on October 19, 2008

Seen on bumper sticker:

long live paper and scissors
posted by swell at 8:39 PM on October 19, 2008

Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.
posted by Auden at 8:40 PM on October 19, 2008 [5 favorites]

I'm still working on my ROCK PAPER SCISSORS screenplay about three people, each of whom is in love with the wrong person. (Actually, I keep expanding it to larger numbers, but the sexual orientation possibilities become dizzying after a while).
posted by unSane at 8:42 PM on October 19, 2008

I've found that a lot of people in the South call this game "Rochambeau."
posted by escabeche at 8:46 PM on October 19, 2008

OK, this is interesting (wikipedia):

Mating strategies

The Common Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana) exhibits a RPS pattern in its different mating strategies.

Biologist Barry Sinervo from the University of California, Santa Cruz has discovered an RPS evolutionary strategy in the mating behaviour of the side-blotched lizard species Uta stansburiana. Males have either orange, blue or yellow throats and each type follows a fixed, heritable mating strategy

Orange-throated males are strongest and do not form strong pair bonds; instead, they fight blue-throated males for their females. Yellow-throated males, however, manage to snatch females away from them for mating.

Blue-throated males are middle-sized and form strong pair bonds. While they are outcompeted by orange-throated males, they can defend against yellow-throated ones.

Yellow-throated males are smallest, and their coloration mimics females. Under this disguise, they can approach orange-throated males but not the stronger-bonding blue-throated specimens and mate while the orange-throats are engaged in fights.

This can be summarized as "orange beats blue, blue beats yellow, and yellow beats orange", which is similar to the rules of rock-paper-scissors.
posted by Auden at 8:58 PM on October 19, 2008 [6 favorites]

Finally! Toronto is world-class at something.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:11 PM on October 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

Although a rock-paper-scissors competition seems stupid on first glance because it's all up to random luck, it's really not.

You can see this by considering the RoShamBo programming competition that they used to run at the University of Alberta. Competitors had to program rock-paper-scissors bots that would be entered into a tournament. One might think that a bot that just picked a move at random would be worth entering. But here's the thing: the organizers initially seeded the tournament with a few dummy bots that would not choose moves at random, but choose moves according to an algorithm. If a competing bot could identify them and figure out their strategy, they would be able to reliably defeat the dummy bots and their win percentage would creep up above 50%. And then, once you get entires that run algorithms to try to exploit the non-random bots, they themselves aren't playing completely randomly and their own algorithms can in turn be exploited. Once you've got enough competitors all running algorithmic strategies, you can take the dummy bots out again, and you're left with a field in which a whole bunch of bots that are trying to exploit the strategies of the other bots.

The bot that won the first programming competition had a wonderfully apt name: Iocaine Powder. The source code, and the explanation of the code, is really interesting.

Humans don't play randomly. The RPS Society linked in the post is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but there's no reason that you couldn't have a human version of the programming competition (except maybe for the fact that each pair of competitors would have to play a few thousand rounds in order to remove the element of chance).
posted by painquale at 9:18 PM on October 19, 2008 [8 favorites]

WRT RPS-25, my kids were playing RPS the other night, insisted that I join the game. They both pulled dynamite & were some kind of pissed when I pulled scissors & snipped their wicks... Amazingly it entertained them for a good 45 minutes.
posted by susanbeeswax at 11:13 PM on October 19, 2008

Anyone who pulls dynamite should automatically lose.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:26 PM on October 19, 2008

两只小蜜蜂呀,飞到花丛中呀, 左飞飞, 右飞飞 ... repeat ad nauseum (or until you're too drunk to go on).
posted by klue at 12:38 AM on October 20, 2008

My personal favorite RockPaperScissors story:

Burning Man 2005. My friends and I are all in our big red double decker london bus trying to drive out to the Temple Burn, hoping to watch it and immediately head to the gates to beat Exodus.
Driving out onto the open playa, we're pulled over by some Rangers, who ask for the Mutant Vehicle license, which we don't have.
Most of us are upstairs whispering to each other, "Ok, our story is our theme is British tourists, everyone get ready to speak with an accent and have your cameras around your necks.."
Then we hear the Ranger say to our driver, 'Let play Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide this!"
(Silence while we all try to listen and picture the three shakes of the hand down below)
Ranger:"Awww ... all right, enjoy the burn!"
(All of us jumping up and cheering)
My friend screams:"I fucking love this place!!!"
posted by mannequito at 2:50 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Really??? I can't believe I almost missed the RPSC. Thank you sir.... Thank you.... from the bottom of my heart /me sheds a single tear.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:49 AM on October 20, 2008

"Rock Paper Scissors ... is the game you played as a child to determine who went first in dodge ball or who got the last piece of candy."

I'd never heard of it till I was an adult. We used to use "One potato, two potato, three potato, four..."
posted by ComfySofa at 6:53 AM on October 20, 2008

Rock always wins - it blows right through paper
posted by jpdoane at 7:01 AM on October 20, 2008

I am so tired of all these American Political Threads. Enough about their elections.
posted by srboisvert at 7:12 AM on October 20, 2008

I prefer the "Cow, Lake, Bomb" variation (cow drinks lake, lake smothers bomb, bomb blows up cow).
posted by marginaliana at 8:01 AM on October 20, 2008

Um, rock beats everything.
posted by Zambrano at 8:15 AM on October 20, 2008

The rules of the game define the game. Not too difficult to grok. That said, there's no algorithm or strategy that could be honestly pinned to consistently winning RPS. At best, those who tend to win more most likely are able (probably subconsciously) to pick up on the body language of their opponents. As anyone with any martial arts experience can attest, people tend to telegraph their movements in advance of actually making them, and one can easily develop the sensitivity needed to pick up on those.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:30 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

That said, there's no algorithm or strategy that could be honestly pinned to consistently winning RPS.

No doubt. No algorithm can read my mind. I chose boulder, btw, which smashed the hell out of both paper and scissors, together, in one fell swoop.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:45 AM on October 20, 2008

Have you ever met someone who thinks like you do, making this game impossible? While I'm not a romantic of the usual sort (I proposed to my now-wife with a sewn-up bear, a razor blade, and gummi worms, but that's another story for another time), my wife and I tried using RPS to decide something early on when we were dating. We soon realized we were wired too similarly for RPS to decide anything in a timely manner (assuming it takes 3 victories to win). Seriously, it's weird.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:53 AM on October 20, 2008

Have you ever met someone who thinks like you do, making this game impossible?

We play a regional variation in the Midwest. Rock, paper, scissors, bat. Bat always wins. Always. Problem solved.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:01 AM on October 20, 2008

This is just a guess, but I don't think my wife would take kindly to the Captain Caveman solution. And because she's a bit of a Midwesterner herself, chances are I'd be at the losing end of that round.

And wouldn't some form of steel beat out Boulder AND Bat? Unless that bat is made of said steel, then things just get messy.

I think I'll try to get a game of RPS-25 at my next family gathering - thanks, Rhaomi!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:01 AM on October 20, 2008

I am simply delighted to know that I live in a universe where there is such a thing as a World Rock Paper Scissors Championship. Its good to know that the world is not merely more silly and foolish than I imagine, but more silly and foolish than I can imagine.

The world needs more silly and foolish behavior.

I've always maintained that one of the bits that elevated the movie Tremors from kinda good to excellent was that Val and Earl resolved even the most important, life and death, situations by rock paper scissors.
posted by sotonohito at 10:33 AM on October 20, 2008

I'd never heard of it till I was an adult. We used to use "One potato, two potato, three potato, four..."

Really? That seems like such a waste of time, given that anyone who gives it a moment's thought can preplan who'll get picked based on the number of people and the starting point. I suppose that's a good way to judge how good the math program is at an elementary school...
posted by davejay at 2:59 PM on October 20, 2008

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