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2003 World Rock Paper Scissors Championship

Just as the World Scrabble Championship wraps up in Kuala Lumpur, another major gaming competition is starting in Toronto: The 2003 Rock Paper Scissors World Championship. Tournament organizers claim that 1,000 competitors will face off this weekend in a tense drama pitting fist against splayed fingers against outstretched hand.

NPR's Melissa Block, host of All Things Considered, talks with Graham Walker, the managing director of the sport's governing body, the World Rock Paper Scissors Society. Read about techniques and strategies, excerpted from the World RPS Web Site:


One of the first tricks learned by the novice is to hold back a throw of paper until the last possible moment to dupe an opponent into believing that you may actually be throwing a rock. This allows you the extra few milliseconds for fine-tuning your approach and delivery. Both paper and scissors have this ability, however unless you are employing a "double-back" strategy, cloaking a paper throw is likely to draw an instinctive paper from your opponent (as a reply to your phantom rock). Therefore, the stalemating effect of paper cloaking has led most RPS enthusiasts to view this tactic as a very defensive move.

Priming the Chump

Priming the chump is the opening ritual before the actual throws are made (often referred to as "1-2-3 Shoot!"). The purpose of priming is to get both players in sync, so as to ensure a simultaneous delivery of throws. An official speed of priming has never been established by the RPS Steering Committee, nor is there an intention to ever rule on the issue. It is seen as an inherent right of the players involved to dictate their own speed of play.

Priming can be used to advantage when two players meet for the first time, since it is often unclear as to what the priming speed will be. The tendency is to default to the priming speed of the faster player. This allows the faster priming player the luxury of dictating the flow of play and causes their opponent (or "the Chump") to dedicate more energy to "catching the prime" rather than concentrating on delivering an effective throw.

Paper Clipping

One way to consistently beat the novice is by use of a tactic known as Paper-Clipping. The goal is to draw a paper throw from your opponent in such a way as to enable you to counter with a scissors, thus, "clipping" your opponent's paper. The effective use of this strategy relies exclusively on your ability to successfully draw a paper from your opponent and should you respond with the requisite scissors, will guarantee a win every time.

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