While researching the history of some abstruse gambits (such as the 'Silver Mine', Rock Scissors Rock), I found the following article in the library of a private collector. It was published by the Paper Scissors Stone Club (the precusor to the WRPSS) in August 1871. It appears to be an official pamphlet, bearing the signature of the Club?s secretary. As it might be of interest to other WRPSS members, I have copied the text below, with some explanatory notes where necessary.
'On The Moral Superiority of the Honorable Sport of Paper, Scissors, Stone over the Tradition of Duelling as a Means for the Satisfaction of Honour amongst Groups'
[Although duelling had fallen out of favour by the 1870s, it was by no means extinct. The Paper Scissors Stone Club played an important role in demonstrating to would-be duellers that disputes could be settled in an honourable, non-lethal manner. This pamphlet was probably intended for distribution in gentleman?s clubs in an attempt to persuade those who continued to obstinately insist that duelling was the only honourable way to settle disputes.]
It will be readily admitted that duelling has been a common tradition in earlier times. Indeed, it is not without its attractions, such as its chivalrous code of honour that places it above the fisticuffs favoured by men of less refined character. Yet, it is our contention that not only is duelling unnecessary, but it is also unfair. Permit us to explain our reasons for defending this proposition.
Consider the case of three gentlemen, each with a vehement antipathy to the others, no doubt over some significant cause, such as which of the three is most deserving of the love of a lady friend. How, then, are these fellows to settle their dispute by duelling?
Certainly, to allow two to duel, and then the third to duel the winner, would be advantageous to the latter party, merely needing to prove victorious in one duel, rather than two. It has traditionally been considered that our Lord God would determine the winner, but in this age of Science, few men would be prepared to accept such an unequal method of conducting the duel.
The current fashion is for the three to stand on the apexes of an equilateral triangle, equal distances from each other, after first drawing lots to determine the order of firing. Each man then fires one shot in turn until only one remains unbloodied.
[Contrary to popular belief nowadays, not all duels were fought to the death. It was more often the case that duels would be fought ?to first blood?.]
This method of proceeding, assuming the lots are drawn fairly, would strike many men as reasonable. Alas, this perception is erroneous, as can be easily demonstrated:
Let us assume our first gentleman, Mr. Sharpe Shooter, is a dead eye. 100% of his shots drawn blood. Our second gentlement, Mr. Good Shot, draws blood with 80% of his shots. Our final gentleman, meanwhile, Mr. Wayward Aim, draws blood with merely 40% of his shots.
Now, who should rightfully stand the best chance of winning the duel? All moral men would say Mr. Sharpe Shooter. However, with best strategy, the man with the greatest chance of emerging victorious is Mr. Wayward Aim! For he need merely aim wide of the other two, and await his chance. Both Mr. Sharpe Shooter and Mr. Good Shot would be fools to aim for Mr. Wayward Aim rather than each other, and thus will fire at each other until one is dead. Mr. Wayward Aim then gets first shot at the survivor. Those with an elementary grasp of mathematics will see that in fact, Mr. Wayward Aim has over 50% chance of winning the duel!
Clearly, therefore, duelling does not present a satisfactory way of resolving disputes amongst several parties. Instead, consider the advantages of Paper Scissors Stone. Following the practice of all three throwing simultaneously until one of the gentlemen beats both of the others, the best player will needs have the best chance of winning the bout. Paper Scissors Stone, thus, is a superior method for resolving matters of honour amongst groups, and indeed disputes of all kind. Further and conclusive advantages of Paper Scissors Stone over duelling need not be enunciated here, as they have already
Been demonstrated beyond dispute.
[This comment suggests this pamphlet may well have been one in a series, although if this is so, none of the other pamphlets have survived the passage of time.]
We trust that those who continue to hold that duelling is a moral activity will now reconsider their position, for we have shown that a superior choice is available. Choose wisdom, choose fairness, choose honour: choose Paper Scissors Stone!
Signed on behalf of the Paper Scissors Stone Club,
Harold Whipplewhirter, Esq.