Game Basics

How to Play - Quick Start

What is amazing about RPS is that for a game of such complexity the rules are actually very simple. The game obviously becomes more nuanced as you dive further into, but if you want to get playing right away you only need know the following:

THE WORLD RPS SOCIETY - OFFICIAL ABRIDGED RULES OF PLAY

1.0 The Game is played where the players substitute the three elements of Rock, Paper and Scissors with representative hand signals.

2.0 These hand signals are delivered simultaniously by the players

3.0 The Outcome of play is determined by the following

  • Rock wins against Scissors,
  • Scissors wins against Paper
  • Paper wins against Rock

That's it! You are now ready to play a few games and get the hang of it. Once you are ready you can get into the deeper aspects of the game by reading further.



"To the beginner the choices are few, to the expert the choices are many."

Wojek Smallsoa, as quoted in The Trio of Hands, 1962

The Hand Signals

In order to ensure fair play, players must strive to make their hand signals as representative and as uniform as possible. The following techniques for representing the throws have been developed and approved by the World RPS Society for all levels of recreational and professional play. Collectively they are known as the Internationally Recognized Throwing System (IRTS) and as long as they are utilized they will ensure unambiguous deliver every time.


Proper use of the opening move is crucial to success in the game and can secure the advantage for the remainder of the match. Let's take each of the basic opening moves in turn:


Internationally Recognized Rock: represented by a closed fist with the thumb resting at least at the same height as the topmost finger of the hand. The thumb must not be concealed by the fingers. Note: To accommodate different throwing styles, it is considered legal for the first knuckle of the thumb to point downward._ _Use of rock as an opening move is seen by many players to be a sign of aggression. Rock also happens to be the most effortless of the throws and fast reactions are never required to employ it with success. By careful examination of the options and atmosphere of play, a well-placed rock will crush a carelessly thrown pair of scissors every time.

Rock - Proper Hand Position

 

 

Internationally Recognized Paper: Is also delivered in the same manner as rock with the exception that all fingers including the thumb are fully extended and horizontal with the points of the fingers facing the opposing player. Use of the "vertical paper" (sometimes referred to as "the handshake") is strictly forbidden in Tournament play due to its close resemblance to 'scissors if is thrown without care.

Paper is actually the most challenging of the basic opening moves since it requires the manual displacement of the most digits. It is therefore generally viewed as the least obvious of opening throws. Should you open with a paper be forewarned that a reply of scissors will cut you down to size in no time flat.

Paper - Proper hand Position

 

 

Internationally Recognized Scissors:

Is delivered in the same manner as rock with the exception that the index and middle fingers are fully extended toward the opposing player. It is considered good form to angle the topmost finger upwards and the lower finger downwards in order to create a roughly 30–45 degree angle between the two digits and thus mimic a pair of scissors. Note: The use of Horizontal Scissors is strictly forbidden in Tournament play due to its close resemblance to 'paper' if is thrown without care
 
Opening with a pair of scissors assumes that you are playing against an opponent who has tight control over their aggressive tendencies and therefore may not open with a scissor-smashing rock. One of the main pitfalls of opening with scissors is the tendency by many to reveal the throw too early, allowing an experienced opponent to easily counter.

Scissors - Proper Hand Position

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Beyond the Basics - The Prime, the Approach and the Delivery

As a game that relies on both players delivering there throws at the same time, there are a couple things a player needs to know

The Prime

 

The Prime

 

 

The prime is the ritual used to get players in sync with each other so they can deliver their throws simultaneously. It is the action of retracting one’s fist from full-arm extension towards the shoulder and then back to full extension. This phase is critically important. If at any time the players are not in synch with their primes, then play must stop and begin again. Having players deliver their throws at the same time is critical to ensuring a fair match.

 

 

Priming conventions generally fall into two classes:

1) European Prime: Three prime shoot. Players pump their arms in unison three times before starting the Approach phase.
2) North American Prime: Two Prime Shoot. Players pump their arms in unison twice before starting the Approach phase.

The Approach

The ApproachThe Approach is the transition phase between the final prime and the Delivery. As one’s arm makes its final descent a player is required to make a decision about the throw they will make. The Approach begins at the shoulder following the final prime and ends when the arm makes a 90-degree angle with the player’s body. Players must reveal their chosen throw to their opponent prior to reaching the 90-degree mark. Any throw delivered past this critical point must be considered a Forced Rock (since this is the position the hand would have been in upon crossing the 90-degree mark).

 

 

The Delivery

Once firmly in the Approach phase, it is time to shift focus to the Delivery. Since the hand is technically already in the Rock position it must either be switched to another throw or remain as Rock. It is necessary to decide what to throw at this point. Release the throw too early and risk your opponent reading the throw and adjusting accordingly. Release too late and risk a foul or a Forced Rock.
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The World RPS Player's Responsibility Code

  1. Safety First! Always ensure that all players have removed sharp jewellery and watches.
  2. Ensure agreement, before the first round, on priming conventions (we recommend the standard 3 prime shoot).
  3. Always establish what is to be decided or whether the match is to be played for honour.
  4. Pre-determine the number of rounds required to win the match (remember odd numbers only).
  5. Encourage novice development by explaining blunders in judgement with a mind towards being helpful. Don't berate.
  6. Think twice before using RPS for life-threatening decisions.
  7. Always respect foreign cultures. When abroad consider yourself an ambassador of the World RPS Society.

The Official Rules of RPS Play

Background

These general rules apply to all RPS (Rock, Paper, Scissors) games, its tripartite variants known in any permutation and/or combination of the following Scissors Paper Rock/Stone and by any other name that is currently known or unknown to the World RPS Society including Roshambo, Jaken, JanKenPo.

Definition

RPS is a decision making game of wits, speed, dexterity and strategy between players who are unable to reach a decision using other means. The result of a game is considered a binding agreement between the players. RPS is a game played by honourable people and therefore every effort should be made to commit to the outcome. The game is played by substituting the elements of: Rock, Paper and Scissors with standard hand signals.

Rule Governance

These rules are governed, maintained, published, updated, authorized and approved by the World RPS Society under the guidance and authority of the World RPS Steering Committee. Any changes are in strict violation of the World RPS Society’s Responsibility Code. Any changes to the rules require a seven-eighths majority ruling by the World RPS Steering Committee, unless, a temporary waiving or amendment is agreed upon by the players prior to play commencing. All temporary amendments are considered ephemeral unless otherwise agreed upon, but must not include any variant throws beyond the basic trinity such as, but not limited to, dynamite, bird, well, spock, god, water, lightning, bomb, matchstick, water, and/or Texas longhorn.

The Set up

1.0 Prior to play commencing the players must agree upon what decision is to be made (and considered binding) as a result of the match. If nothing can be agreed upon and the players wish to continue play, the game automatically defaults to an
"honour" match.

1.1 Players must agree to the number of primes to be used prior to the approach. Two and three primes are most commonly used in most professional level play.

1.1.1 The decision-makers must stand opposite each other with one outstretched fist at waist height with a distance between their fists of no less than 1 cubit and no more than 2 cubits.

1.2 The players also must establish the number of rounds to be played before the match is concluded. If no agreement can be reached, the game defaults to a single round format.

Beginning Play – Pre-Prime Phase

2.0 A "call for prime" is issued by one player to his/her opponent in a RAT (recognizable audible tone).

2.1 A Recognizable Audible Tone, is defined as an utterance that can be heard by the challenging player. Using the word "ready" is considered good form.

2.1.1 In the case of match between or with hearing impared players or in situations where it is critical that silence must be maintained, a mutually agreement upon Recognizable Visual Signal can replace the standard RAT. In this case, a nod of the head while looking directly into the eyes of the other player is standard form.

2.2 A 'return of the call" is then issued by the other player who thus acknowledges the "call for prime", also in a RAT (or RVS).

2.3 Once the "return of the call" has been established, players are considered to be "at ready".

2.3.1 Play may begin anytime after the players are established and recognized as being "at ready".

2.4 Game is considered to be "in play" after any player "breaks ready" and thus "initiates the prime"

Priming

3.0 The vertical prime is performed by retracting the outstretched fist back towards the players’ shoulder (players must face each other and perform the prime with arms parallel).

3.0.1 The fist should be retracted towards the players’ own body rather than your opponent’s to avoid possible contact

3.1.0 As soon as one player has "broken ready" and initiated the first prime, it is the responsibility and obligation of the opponent to also begin priming and to "catch" or "synch" the prime with the first player so they can establish an approach and delivery in unison.

3.1.1 The player who has initiated the prime is under the strict obligation to maintain a constant priming speed so as to give his opponent every opportunity to "catch the prime"

3.2.0 The fist must remain in the closed position until the delivery of the final prime. The fist is the only acceptable hand position during the prime.

3.2.1 The fist must remain in full view of the opposing player and may not come in contact with any outside influences that inhibit the opponent’s view

3.3.0 Prior to the delivery of the final prime, the game may be called off for the following reasons only: rule clarification, decision clarification, or injury.

Approach

4.0 Once the fist has reached the highest point of the final throw of the last prime, the delivery of the throw is considered to be "in approach". At any time during the approach of this final prime, the hand may be released in any of the following manners:

Rock: represented by a closed fist with the thumb resting at least at the same height as the topmost finger of the hand. The thumb must not be concealed by the fingers.Note: To accommodate different throwing styles, it is considered legal for the first knuckle of the thumb to point downward.

Scissors: Is delivered in the same manner as rock with the exception that the index and middle fingers are fully extended toward the opposing player. It is considered good form to angle the topmost finger upwards and the lower finger downwards in order to create a roughly 30–45 degree angle between the two digits and thus mimic a pair of scissors.

Paper: Is also delivered in the same manner as rock with the exception that all fingers including the thumb are fully extended and horizontal with the points of the fingers facing the opposing player. Use of the "vertical paper" (sometimes referred to as "the handshake") is considered exceptionally bad form.

Throws must be delivered prior to the completion of the approach. The approach is considered finished when the forearm is at a 90-degree angle to the upper body. Any throw not delivered prior to the hand crossing the 90-degree mark shall be considered a throw of rock.


Delivery
5.0 Participants must exercise extreme dexterity, caution and care not initiate contact between the opposing fists during any point of the priming phase. The direct contact of the fists can cause scraping, chaffing, rapping of the knuckles. Make sure any onlookers are aware of the intentions of the players as the swinging of closed fists can be mistaken as a sign of a potentially combative situation.

5.0.1 Should direct contact occur players should stop play immediately and assess any personal injuries before restarting the prime.

5.1 After players have revealed their throws play must stop until an agreement can be reached as to a winner or if a stalemate situation has arisen.


Throws
6.0 Player has the full range of throws to play, as follows:

6.0.1 Rock: wins against scissors, loses to paper and stalemates against itself

6.0.2 Paper wins against Rock, loses to scissors and stalemates against itself

6.0.3 Scissors wins against paper, loses to rock and stalemates against itself

6.1 Players may use any combination of these throws at any time throughout the match. Any throws that are not comforming to the standard hand positions (outlined above) and thus deemed to be a rock (stone), paper, or scissors is considered to be an illegal throw and is thus forbidden. Should a player execute an illegal throw, the opposing player has the right (but not the obligation) to claim immediate victory over the round (not the match). Alternatively, the infringed upon player has the right but not the obligation to replay the current game if he/she so chooses.

6.2 The winner of the round is dictated by the player’s throw which beats that of the opponent. Under no circumstances can a losing throw ever beat a winning throw.

6.3 In the case of a stalemate, where players reveal the same throw the round must be replayed. There are no limits to the numbers of stalemates which may occour in any given match. Should players find themselves in a continuous stalemate situation, also known as "Mirror Play", a good approach can be to take a short "timeout" to rethink your strategy.


Post Game Play
7.0 There is no limit to the number of games, rounds, or matches that can be played in RPS. The game may continue until any and all decisions are reached and is at the discretion of the players involved. Games for honour can be substituded at any point after the conclusion of a match as long as is agreed upon by all players involved before the beginning of the next match.

Note: At the conclusion of the match after the winner has been determined, some players will offer a vertical paper throw or "handshake". While this gesture is seen in other circles as good manners to thank your opponent for the match, it is important to note that this action should not be expected or required in RPS, due to the fact that in general a "Handshake" is used as "deal sealer" between two parties. Since the results of an RPS match are considered to be binding, the "handshake" can be considered a redundancy since, in effect, the " deal" has already been "sealed" with the outcome of the match.

Disclaimer
The World RPS Society does not take any responsibility, legal or otherwise, as a result of any actions or in-actions performed as a result of a decision made or changed via the use of the game. In addition, the World RPS Society does not govern, manage, police, or endorse any non-honour activity resulting from a decision made via RPS. It is the sole responsibility of the players’ involved to govern the outcomes of any matches. The World RPS Society does not encourage, endorse, or promote the use of RPS in illegal, immoral, and/or life threatening situations. RPS should only be used in situations where the two parties can not reach agreement via other means or in order to make the decision making process more enjoyable. An offer of using RPS to determine an outcome of a previously decided upon event is in strict violation of the World RPS Society’s Players Responsibility Code and will not be considered binding even if one of the players was unaware of the previous decision. All players assume any and all risks associated with playing the sport. It is not recommended that novices attempt to use the physical versions of the RPS elements as they can cause serious harm or injury if not played properly.

If any further information is required please consult to the World RPS Soceities pamphlet "It’s your life: When not use RPS as a decision making vehicle".

These rules are considered full and complete and cannot be deviated from or altered UNLESS specifically noted to the contrary in the game rules.
 
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