A HIGH STAKES GAME OF ROCK PAPER SCISSORS. I have posted here and here on strategies for the game of rock paper scissors. That there are strategies and levels of skill involved had surprised me because I had learned that it was a game of pure chance. Game theory said that all you had to do was to randomize your choices, and there would be a 50% chance of winning and a 50% chance of losing. This article by William Poundstone in the Telegraph (September 1, 2014) describes a high stakes bidding situation between Christie’s and Sotheby’s which was decided by a rock paper scissors game. The loser approached the game as one of pure chance. The winner relied on advice from the playground lore of two 11 year old girls who played the game every day. The girls advised that “Everybody knows you always start with scissors….Rock is way too obvious.” If there was a tie, with both Sotheby’s and Christie’s picking scissors, the girls recommended repeating a play of “scissors”. However, “paper” was the first play and “scissors” turned out to be the winning move.

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