Scissors is the 'psychological winner' out of rock and paper in playground game, scie

  1. By FIONA MacRAE
    Last updated at 01:16am on 19th December 2007

    Most of us know that stone blunts scissors, scissors cut paper and paper covers stone.

    What is less well-known, however, is how to win the popular playground game.
    Now stalwart players have come up with a strategy: Start with scissors.
    Research shows that stone is the most popular of the three possible moves in the game of quickfire hand gestures.

    If your opponent expects you to pick stone, they will choose paper to outwit you.
    Therefore, by going with scissors, you will win, because scissors beat paper.
    The scissors strategy is so successful that it secured auction house Christie's a £10million deal in 2005.

    A wealthy Japanese art collector could not decide which firm of auctioneers should sell his cache of Impressionist paintings.

    Torn between Christie's and rival auction house Sotheby's, he asked them to play stone, paper, scissors to decide.

    Christie's consulted its employees for strategies and settled on scissors on the advice of a director's 11-year-old daughters.

    The girls, who regularly played the game - known as rock, paper, scissors in the U.S. - at school, reasoned that "everybody expects you to choose rock".

    This would lead to Sotheby's choosing paper, to beat rock, meaning Christie's should opt for scissors.

    As predicted, Sotheby's went for paper - and lost the deal to Christie's and its scissors.
    While scissors may be the best move to start a game, there are various ways of securing success once play has got going.

    This week's New Scientist magazine suggests: "You could try the double bluff, where you tell your opponent what you are going to throw - then do it.

    "No one believes you'll do it, so they won't play the throw that beats the throw you are playing."

    Alternatively, you could go for the move that would have been beaten by your opponent's previous move.

    The logic here is that players tend to subconsciously try to beat their own previous move.

    Therefore, if your opponent had played scissors, they are likely to try to beat it by going for stone next time round.
    By choosing paper - which would have been beaten by scissors - you will ward off stone.

  2. As my screen name suggests, I am an expert in this game. :wlae:

    Long live Scissors and paper! Rock is dead. ;)