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Rock, Paper, Scissors has been used to decide arguments since the Chinese Han dynasty of 206 BCE – 220 CE. The UK National championships were held in London recently. TNT's Jahn Vannisselroy went along to try his hand.

Hours before my countrymen crushed the French at Eden Park in the Rugby World Cup final, I too am taking part in a championship event – the UK National Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament.

At the Knight’s Templar pub in London, a perfect setting for such a noble event, with its ceilings painted with crusaders and cherubs, I anxiously wait for my number to be called. 

Being number 116 helps. A) The wait until my challenge is long enough for me to indulge in a couple of nerve-settling ales; and B) I can see where my fellow competitors get it wrong - and right.

Many people think Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) is purely a game of chance - an opportunity to either get to do something they want to, or avoid something they don't.

But it's so much more. RPS is a also sophisticated way of gaining ascendancy without the pain and suffering the alternative – a good old-fashioned round of fisticuffs - entails.

As an added bonus, this buffer zone between idea and act is also a chance to indulge in an ever-so-slightly endorphin-raising gamble.

But, for me, this isn't a gamble. I've done my homework. I know that 'rock is for rookies' and that blokes tend to offer the fist first as a show of strength.

I also know all about the double run (playing the same hand twice) and I'm all over the fact that statistically scissors is only thrown 29.6 per cent of the time, making paper a damn good option if I'm in trouble.

With all this in mind, I step up to the table, the beer in my belly lending me a confident glow as I prepare for the ultimate throwdown.

Instantly, I spot the hesitation in my opponent’s eyes and can almost smell the fear. He must sense that on my past three RPS encounters I've won TV domination (the right to watch a two-hour montage of rock video clips over Keeping Up With The Kardashians); the right not to take the garbage out; and sex.

Psychology plays a massive part when competing on the big stages, and I figure I've got him outwitted already; I've been stretching my hand for the past five minutes, opening it and closing it to make it appear bigger and more intimidating.

Anyway, in a game of microseconds you want to be warmed up and firing on all cylinders from the outset.

He can't possibly know I'm on tournament debut as I do have a damn good poker face. Although his experience is not advertised either, he does seem the sort to go bold early.

Mind made up, I listen for the ref’s call and then hit my adversary with what I'm 100 percent confident will deliver the advantage.

He's a wily one, though; he’s obviously been here before. As I look down at his ‘scissors’ chopping at my ‘paper’, my mind screams: ‘Where’s his f@#king rock?!’

The hungry wolf has dealt to the cheeky rabbit. I will have to rethink this.

On the next table, howls of protest go up as a balding chap dressed in a superman costume wins a 2-1 battle over his wife, but my mind must remain on the task at hand.

My sports psychology handbook had suggested adopting a mantra - mine had become "be at one with the hand" (If it fails I could always trademark it and sell it to an internet porn site, right?).

Slightly dazed, I mutter it to retain focus - "Be at one with the hand".

"What?" the ref asks, eyebrows rasied.

"I said, 'let's go. Last stand'," I reply.

Unconvinced, he starts the countdown.

"One, two …"

It's at this point I enter what sportsmen refer to as 'the zone' -  that place where you're not quite sure where you are, but the world seems to slow down while you move at lightening speed.

Top athletes who perform amazing feats - scoring incredible goals, sinking all-important baskets, chipping from the fairway to the hole - all speak of being in the trance-like state and then coming to, not at all sure how they managed to do what they just did.

I'm about to throw scissors but the way he moves his hand tells me my opponent is going rock.

I don't have enough time to unfurl my fist to form paper but I do have enough time to ensure my two fingers, quivering in anticipation at the prospect of being released, stay firmly put. It's a draw.

"Ooooooh," the crowd cheers.

I'm still in this. And I decide then and there to go with the double run.

A man in a monster masks bellows in triumph at the next table. He's just beaten a raucous blonde, who's a favourite amongst the predominantly male crowd, using this very technique. I take it as a sign.

"One, two …"

I slam the rock out again, the symbol of strength, the destroyer of dreams. I'm too frightened to look down at his hand. My mind wants to see a rusty pair of scissors, feebly attempting to scratch at my boulder, but my heart tells me his little wafer has enveloped me.

The heart proves correct. He's been a deceptive opponent, this one - not like the amateurs I've faced in my pre-tournament friendlies.

I thank him for his time and melt back into the crowd, wounded but buzzing off the small charge of adrenaline each game of rock, paper, scissors brings.

"I'll be back next year," I tell a fellow loser at the bar. "I'll take it all the way."

As I wait for my beer to be poured, he reaches into his wallet to pay for his.

"I'll tell you what, mate, best of three for the pints," I offer.

He raises his eyebrows but I can see the RPS demon in his eyes.

"Alright, you're on," he says.

We square up, hands at the ready.

"One, two...."




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The 2011 UK Rock, Paper, Scissor championships in London: winner takes all
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