Rock Paper Scissors is a game many people are familiar with. It’s used to solve arguments, make decisions and while away time whilst waiting for the bus. The more
talented lucky may argue that there’s a stratgey to performing well at this game, and the lack of any props other than ones own body makes it universally acceptable. This humble game has moved beyond mere decision making and is now celebrated worldwide, with heats held in different countries, where only those with a fist of steel can win the coveted title of Rock Paper Scissors Champion. The UK Rock Paper Scissors Championship took place last week on the 22nd October 2011 and over 200 people gathered to try and gain a UK ranking in this sport. I decided to try my hand at gaining the trophy and this is my tale…
Athletes warm up before games, so I embarked on some serious finger exercises. I practised moving my fingers to my thumb very quickly and used some stress balls to really help release the tension in my hand. I also practised a deadpan stare in the mirror- flat eyes, no smile- you’ll never know what’s coming next…
To ensure I had the utmost advantage in my Rock Paper Scissors UK Championship event, I researched the sport thoroughly. I discovered that those in the know call it RPS or Roshambo (slightly less of a mouthful) and that it dates back to the Chinese Dynasty in 206 BCE (well, according to Wiki anyways) and that it has been used in court to settle a case (seriously). In terms of strategy there seemed to be dissenting points however- no one could tell me exactly what combo of rock paper scissors would always win. I learnt that three stones in a row is called an ‘Avalanche’ and this is commonly favoured by men, so I might have an advantage doing this version as a lady. It’s also reported that men traditionally open with stone, whilst women prefer paper- interesting. There’s also the notion of gambits- such as PPSPP which can be used to throw someone off guard. A traditional tournament game consists of two people over a table with a Referee in the middle. They call 1,2,3 and on 3 you open your palm. If you both have the same you repeat- and on and on till there’s a best of three win.
The big day
I woke early on the day of the championship, making sure I had enough time to drink two protein shakes (need good muscle memory for the day) and go for a brief jog (don’t want to overdo it). Once I’d printed off my registration form and made sure the £10 entry fee had been debited from my back account I carefully chose my outfit. My hands needed to be fully on display, and I didn’t want my upper arms showing as if I chose scissors they might unconsciously twitch and give the game away. I settled on a long sleeved top with stripes-the stripes could confused an opponent if they were very focused on my hand movements.
Look what a big turnout they had!
Venue and registration
The UK Rock Paper Scissors Championship was held in the Knights Templar Pub, near Fleet Street, London. It was taken over for the night by the RPS crew, and was decorated with Sporting Bet paraphernalia- the people who were sponsoring the event. When you came in you registered at the desk, and were given your number and £3 of RPS money. The number signified what order you would go in, and the money could be bartered with- the people who got the most play money by the end of the night would get that turned into some real cash- a nice incentive.
The ref has clearly practised his ‘concentrating/constipated’ face.
The warm up
The doors opened some time before the event started and many people practised at their various tables- we all wanted to be on top form. I played it low profile- didn’t want to give my game away too early. Some folks had chosen to wear fancy dress outfits to throw off their opponents, but I wasn’t going to let a forty year old Superman phase me.
The event organiser Sally Raynes introduced the event and told people she wanted a good clean game. She spelled out the rules (you should know them by now) and demonstrated that the preferred way to do paper was palm flat rather than upturned. We were told there would be two tables to begin with, each with their own referee and then later in the night it would become one table as people thinned out of the competition. There was also going to be some team RPS events later in the night, and she briefly explained these.
My first round- the stripey top working its magic
I anxiously stood by the Rock Paper Scissors table, number firmly in hand, waiting for my turn. As people stepped up they seemed nervous to begin with- both the players and the viewers but as the rounds went on, confidence grew and people started to get cocky. There was laughing, there was playing up to the crowd- I could use this against them.
Finally, I was up and palms sweating I weighed up my opponent. With a deadpan face I chose to use the Avalanche manoeuvre- three solid stones in a row, and won within two rounds- annihilated! It was back to the bar to plan my next round…
My opponent wore a green short and had a bald head. The light reflected strangely off his head causing me to blink my eyes and move away from my Avalanche Strategy. Round one to him. Round two, my scissors killed his paper- but then I grew complacent and he destroyed me in round three. I was out, and my whole day of training had been for nothing. It was a slight comfort that my opponent Richard Ainsworth ended up coming 2nd in the whole contest- I’d been taken out by a master player.
The winner and his trophy. Next year…
Two hours later and the crowd was distinctly rowdier with chants, costumes flying and a certain group of inebriated married men unsuccessfully hitting on a girl in a brown top. The contestants stared daggers at each other whilst the lovely Sally Raynes compered. It was all over and Max Deeley was crowned the UK Champion 2011- and I was left to stagger home, planning my comeback next year.
I may not have won the trophy (or the chocolates or the champagne that went to the runners up) but I did have a great night out in London meeting a wide variety of interesting people who were all up for a good time and feeling pretty playful. The Rock Paper Scissors Championships is now in its 5th year, and I’m impressed with the effort Sally Raynes and James Bamber have gone to- they’ve created a really special night- and they’ve even got a book out of it. If you’re looking for a night with a twist, where gaining a trophy is in your grasp, you should definitely think about going- and you have a whole year to start training for it now!
I’ll be back in 2012…
For more information check out the official Rock Paper Scissors UK Championship website here.