SECOND GUESSING ROCK PAPER SCISSORS. In this article in the New York Times (February 2), Justin Wolfers compared the crucial play in this year’s Super Bowl to rock paper scissors. At the end of the game, the Seattle Seahawks had the ball on the one yard line of the New England Patriots and needed to score to win the game. They chose a pass play rather than a running play with their great running back Marshawn Lynch carrying the ball. The pass was intercepted and the Seahawks lost.

In analyzing what play to call, Wolfers pointed out that: “…. your choice should be somewhat random — a choice that game theorists call a “mixed strategy.” The reason for the mixed strategy is to make it difficult for the opponent to set its defense.

The fact that randomizing is an important part of a strategy should make it difficult to second guess a coach (but, of course, there has been a chorus of second guessing).

Take the example of a purely random strategy in rock paper scissors. Second guessing—“you should have played scissors”—would make no sense.

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