The secret to winning rock, paper, scissors

By Toby Manhire In The Internaut

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12th May, 2014 Leave a Comment

Rock, paper or scissors? Before you decide, consider consulting the “first large scale study of the game”, just published by China’s Zhejiang University. The crucial finding is that, after the first round – in which each option is chosen roughly a third of the time – “player behaviour typically follows a predictable pattern”, explains Caitlin Dewey for the Washington Post.

The data suggest you can outfox your opponent by noting the following: “If a player wins, they will usually stick with the same play.”

And: “If a player loses, they will usually switch actions in a ‘clockwise direction’ – rock changes to paper, paper to scissors, and scissors to rock.”

There’s no word, however, on how a game plays out if both participants have just read the Zhejiang study.

Meanwhile, a robot developed at the University of Tokyo late last year was declared to be capable of winning the game – janken, as it’s known in Japan – every time. How? By cheating.

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