Friday, July 06, 2007


as it is known in Japan, or Ching-Chong-Cha in South Africa, or Rochambeau in France, or - as you may know it - Rock Paper Scissors - is the ultimate test and decider of all things hotly contested but completely pointless. The subtleties and strategies are wide ranging, and entirely personal. It is a beautiful mix of strategy, theory, chance, luck, deception, and reading your opponent.

E-town and I finished up a little recovery ride yesterday, and though the thought of sharing the shower was tempting, we decided to split it up. He asked how we should decide who gets to go first - and though I kindly offered to let him take the first shower - we decided to settle it once-and-for-all with a little RPS.

We started off with a standard paced round of Best of Three. E-town led out strong with a Scissor over Paper win, followed by two stalemates - and then a 2-0 victory with a Paper over Rock.

I proposed a rematch. You see, I prefer the rapid-fire style of Rock Paper Scissors. In this version, three fist pumps are accompanied with a verbal "1-2-3" and the throw of your weapon comes with the following "shoot". The twist is that immediately upon the throw, the victor is mentally indexed and the next "1-2-3-shoot" is initiated - no delay is allowed. Additionally, trash talk is par for the course. It is a pure test of reflexes, rapid-fire thinking, and a pinch of striking fear into the heart of your opponent. It is the bare-knuckle boxing equivalent of RPS. In this manner I defeated E-town, and in doing so tied the overall score - 1 set each - for the shower.

For the final set in the match, we chose to play a game of the more slow-paced Gentlemen's Rochambeau. Here, opponents spend at least 10 seconds between throws sizing each other up and contemplating the next move. Talk in general should be minimized, so the intellectual energy required to compete is conserved and used for battle. It is the Chess equivalent of RPS. After an opening draw on Scissors-Scissors, E-town took the first point in the set. I countered with a Paper-Rock victory and the whole match came down to one point.

After a longer-than-usual stare-down, we primed the fists. Each number in the 1-2-3 count seemed to echo endlessly off the kitchen walls.

1... a bead of sweat forms on my brow. The fist slowly reaches the bottom of the pump-stroke.

2... I see E-town's nostrils flare. Will he go Paper, or will he go Scissors? Surely he won't go Rock. Far too pedestrian for a final throw.

3... The bead of sweat drops off the point of my nose and as it heads for the floor in slow-motion, I know, he will go paper or scissors, Rock is not his style for a final blow, not enough finesse for him. If I throw Scissors, it will either be a draw or a win. Scissors it is...

SHOOT... As my fingers unfurl on the final fist pump to form the V that signified both the blades of the scissors and the impending victory, I see his fist remain closed. His Rock has just unhinged my cutting utensil. In the true colors of a champion, he seals his shot at first shower with the intricacy of the classic "reverse-reverse-reverse-psychology-double-back" move.

Shattered, I bowed in defeat.


tim said...

This reminded me of a ridiculous Rock, Paper, Scissors variant I saw called RPS-101. Instead of three possible moves, there are 101, each of which beats some but are beaten by others. It is unplayable, but the guy spent a lot of time on it.

Evan Carroll said...

Fantastic! My heart will pound every time I recall this momentous event I experienced through your words.

Suki said...


I would've paid to watch you mud wrestle...

Suki said...

*revisited months later*

yup...the kid's got style...

but he's got NOTHING on my skid marks.

...I think.