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Paper, Rock, Scissors

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The game of Paper, Rock, Scissors is both a means of entertainment and a way to make quick, easy decisions when confronted with two different options or opinions. This game is almost exclusively played by children, although its decision-making qualities means that the game is occasionally used by adults.

Paper, Rock, Scissors1 is intended for two players and requires no equipment apart from the players' hands.

Playing the Game

Each player raises one hand into the air at about shoulder height, often forming it into a fist. Together, the players chant, 'One, two...', bringing their hands sharply down to approximately mid-chest level at each count and then quickly bringing them up again for the next count. On the count of 'Three!', the hands do not move upwards but instead simultaneously form one of three different symbolic gestures:

  1. A Rock is formed by making a fist, or by leaving the hand in this position if it is already clenched.

  2. Paper is formed by making the hand flat, with the fingers pressed closely together.

  3. Scissors are formed by sticking out the index and middle fingers in the shape of a 'V' while bringing the other fingers into the palm of the hand2.

Winning the Game

If only one person has formed one of the three gestures at the count of three, that person automatically wins. If both players have formed gestures, the gestures are compared, and a winner is determined by the following rules:

  • Scissors cut through paper, so if one player has formed scissors and the other, paper, the Scissors player wins.

  • Paper can be wrapped around rock, so if one player has formed a rock and the other, paper, the paper player wins.

  • Rock can dent and dull scissors, so if one player has formed rock and the other, scissors, the rock player wins.

  • In the event that both players choose the same gesture, the match is declared a draw and a re-match begins.

These rules are often shortened to 'Scissors beats paper, paper beats rock, and rock beats scissors'.

1Sometimes known as Paper, Scissors, Stone or Jan Ken Pon in Japan.2 It is vitally important not to confuse the scissors gesture with a similar, rude gesture common in the UK. To avoid insulting your opponent, never turn the back of your hand towards him or her while making the scissors gesture.

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