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Robbins: Paper is too weak to cover my Rock

POSTED: March 3, 2014 1:00 a.m.

It was like deja vu all over again.

I was out of town, perusing through the wealth of channels on my hotel TV (something us country folk do when we go to the “big city”), when I happened upon a televised Rock Paper Scissors tournament from Britain.

This jogged my memory to a number of years ago when I wrote a column about catching the USA Rock Paper Scissors (USARPS) League championship on A&E. A brief amount of research found that I had recently missed the World Rock Paper Scissors (WRPS) Society championship that was just broadcast on Fox Sports Net.

For those of you who didn’t attend eighth grade, Rock Paper Scissors is a hand game used as a selection method, sort of like flipping a coin or drawing straws to determine something. At the count of three, you create one of three gestures: Rock (hand clenched in a fist); Paper (hand flat); or Scissors (two fingers extended and separated). Rock crushes scissors, and thus wins; paper cover rock, and wins; and scissors cuts paper, and wins.

All of these very simple rules are spelled out on the World RPS Society website (“Serving the needs of decision makers since 1918”), along with a strategy guide, an online trainer and trading cards of the hottest Rock Paper Scissors celebrities.

At the USARPS championship held in Las Vegas I watched on A&E, the winner took home $50,000 in prize money by besting 300 other contestants. This is not a fictional movie premise from the makers of “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” (2004), although it’s about time someone made a decent Rock Paper Scissors film other than “The French Lieutenant’s Woman.”

From what I recall, often the game is played best two-out-of-three. I’ve always been a “Rock” man. According to the World RPS Society website (www.worldrps.com), that gambit of three straight rocks is called “The Avalanche.” Three straight papers is called “The Bureaucrat.” Three straight scissors is deemed “The Toolbox.”

Why? I don’t know. I’ll inquire the next time I go to a frat party at Georgia Tech. Make that first time.

After rediscovering this RPS craze, I decided to revisit the game to see what all the hubbub was about.

My daughter wanted to watch “Law & Order.” My oldest son wanted to watch the Olympics. My youngest son wanted to watch “Duck Dynasty.” I just wanted control of the remote. The perfect opportunity to try a best-of-one Rock Paper Scissors tournament.

I explained the rudimentary rules and our tournament’s seeding. I was seeded first, and thus paired in the first round with my 9-year-old son. I, as is my custom, chose Rock. He just stood there. I moved on to the championship round.

My daughter went with Scissors against her other brother, who clenched his fist like Rock, but stuck his thumb out as well, a clear violation of RPS Rule No. 14-A. He was disqualified, and the title match was set.

Showing the strategic mindset of a seasoned RPS competitor, which she’s not, my daughter went with Paper in the finals. I, of course, chose Rock.

“I won,” she shrieked. “Paper covers rock.”

“Oh, no, my dear,” I retorted. “Paper can’t hold a heavy rock. The paper breaks. Rock tears paper. Sorry, but that’s science.”

I took control of the remote, hoping to catch the finals of the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) championship.

Len Robbins is editor and publisher of The Clinch County News in Homerville. HIs column appears weekly.


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