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Rock, Paper, Scissors

Have you ever played Rock, Paper, Scissors? It's a simple game, but I've read that there is actually strategy involved in winning. The game consists of three gestures (weapons) — rock, represented by a clenched fist, paper, represented by an open hand, with the fingers extended and touching, and scissors, represented by two fingers extended and separated.

The object of the game is to select a gesture that defeats the opponent's. The winning gestures are as follows:

Rock smashes scissors = the rock wins.
Paper covers rock = the paper wins.
Scissors cut paper = the scissors win.

If both players use the same gesture, that round is tied and the players "throw" again. Normally Rock, Paper, Scissors is played in a "best two out of three" match.

As I did some research for this post, I was surprised to learn that there is a World RPS Society website. As I said earlier, there are supposedly strategies to help you win. On the World RPS Society website there's a link on How to Beat Anyone at Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Knowing that RPS is an international phenomenon, I figured it must have a name in other languages. I found that in French it's Pierre, Papier, Ciseaux and in German it's Stein, Papier, Schere.

In case this game is new to you, I'll show several pictures to see if you remember which gesture wins.

The picture below is rock and scissors. So who wins this round?

Rock smashes scissors, so the rock wins.

The picture below is rock and paper. Who wins this round?

Paper covers rock, so the paper wins. So you see that rock does not always win.

Rock, Paper, Scissors has long been used as a peaceful means of conflict resolution. According to Wikipedia, the game dates back to the time of the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD)! I looked online for mentions of Rock, Paper, Scissors in resolving conflicts and learned there are even court cases where the judge ordered the parties to do RPS to settle the dispute. I even found it mentioned on the site of a conflict resolution coach, along with a funny sign!

I was amazed to learn that it's not just people who use this game to settle disputes — apparently even cat fights can be avoided with it! Here are two cats doing Rock, Paper, Scissors.

And the winner? The cat on the right — paper covers rock!

The whole reason I did this post was because I had the picture below in my files and wanted to share it with you. In this one it's scissors and paper, so who wins/won?

If only World War II could have been settled so easily!

Have you played Rock, Paper, Scissors recently? Do you even like the game? I've played it before, but could never do it for very long. I just couldn't stay interested. If you live outside the USA, I'd like to know if this game is played in your country.


"It's six and a half of one and half a baker's dozen of the other." — my son-in-law Topher

=^..^= =^..^=

Middle age — when you trade in beauty sleep for mediocre looking sleep.

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11 Comments on “Rock, Paper, Scissors”

  1. #1 Heather
    on Jan 25th, 2012 at 7:11 am

    If you get bored playing regular RPS, try Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock. ^_^


  2. #2 Kim Guilliams
    on Jan 25th, 2012 at 7:17 am

    When I taught English in South Korea, the children there used rock, paper, scissors for conflict resolution all the time. My brothers and I used it, too. I think I need to file that away in the back of my mind for when my two small children are old enough to start, um, “discussions” with one another.

  3. #3 Jeremy Patterson
    on Jan 25th, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Great post! Yes, I grew up playing this in Japan, because the origin is actually Asia (China, apparently). In Japanese, it’s called “jan-ken-pon.”

    It was kind of our childhood equivalent of eenie-meenie-miny-mo (sp?).


  4. #4 Tony
    on Jan 25th, 2012 at 9:19 am


    For some reason I thought that I had learned about RPS-101 from you. In any case, if adding “lizard” and “Spock” aren’t enough for your readers, check out http://www.umop.com/rps101.htm.

  5. #5 Vikki
    on Jan 25th, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Love the cat’s playing RPS! I haven’t played it in a long time, but I’ve seen in several times on TV programs.

    Ah yes, a baker’s dozen. I don’t remember the last time I saw something sold that way. We did have a farm stand near us when we lived in IL where they sold their corn-on-the-cob that way, but that was years ago.

  6. #6 Jan
    on Jan 25th, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    A fun youth group game based on RPS is Karate Man, Sniper, Gorilla. Kids stand in pairs back to back. When the leader counts to three, they turn around and strike the appropriate pose. The Karate Man beats the Sniper; the Sniper beats the Gorilla; and the Gorilla beats the Karate Man.

  7. #7 ray
    on Jan 25th, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I laughed out loud on the last picture, but then realized that it is likely that neither man had THE ROCK of our salvation.

  8. #8 Sue
    on Jan 26th, 2012 at 7:43 am

    We used to play gun, lasso, bow and arrow. (Gun beats bow and arrow, lasso beats gun, bow and arrow beat lasso).

  9. #9 Carrie
    on Jan 27th, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    My kids play it sometimes, but I will keep in mind to have them use it for conflict resolution. 🙂

  10. #10 Chris Ravanello
    on Jan 28th, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Hi! I have played this over the years in Canada. Just saw them use this in the show Castle! It was always a game and didn’t solve much. I’ll have to see if my grandkids know this. Maybe they will use it as dispute resolution.

  11. #11 Michael (Constant Conservative)
    on Jan 30th, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I have 3 of the dice which have the words written on faces. I think each die has 15 faces, IIRC.

    The game is a great dispute resolution device at my workplace. I was able to, just today, win the right to eat all of the banana peppers which come stuck in the corner of a Papa John’s pizza box.

    Now, everything will be just fine as long as the 10 people who were not part of the competition will agree with the outcome . . . .