Though I am retired from competitive play, I will still indulge in the occasional exhibition match. Most commonly, I seek for my exhibition matches to be illustrative of certain principles of RPS Mastery. It is in this spirit that I add the following two true stories.
Recently I was spending some time with Fattyus Maximus (2004-2005 DC Nationals, 2004 Internationals, 2005 DC Winter Solstice Champion.) Fattyus is a player with whom I have trained extensively over the past two years, and I have been very pleased with his progress. On the day in question, I was at Fatty?s Custom Tattooz, the studio owned by Fattyus himself. Three gentlemen came into the studio, one of which Fattyus had personally defeated in the 2004 DC Nationals. According to Fattyus? account, he challenged the visitor to a best of three and lost summarily. ?What did he throw?? I inquired, and was told that he had won by throwing two rocks followed by two scissors. ?So he?s not afraid to double up,? I noted. ?I?m going to have to take him down myself.?
I went to the front of the studio and introduced myself, challenging him to a best of three. When he agreed, I asked him if he had any requests for my opening throw. Nervously, he looked around, laughing at his friends, and replied, ?Scissors, I guess.? ?Scissors.? I responded. I do not need to tell experienced RPS players that my opponent opened with scissors, losing to my rock. I should also not need to tell them that I knew my opponent would double up the throw of scissors, losing to my second throw of rock.
The previous match illustrates two principles: scouting and suggestion. Good scouting can hardly be overestimated, as knowledge of one?s opponent?s throws gives an automatic advantage. One must be careful of this in tournament settings, where most players will be presenting a false front to throw off scouters.
The subject of suggestion runs a little deeper. Only a certain type of player is open for such blatant suggestion tactics as telling them what to throw (as I did in the above match.) During my early competitive years (before the process became intuitive,) when facing a new opponent I would profile him or her using 13 criteria, which custardchuk used to call my ?13 point inspection.? This process would assess the player on such attributes as stance, mood, breathing, clothing, focus, cut, color, clarity, etc. This process would usually take me only about 4 seconds, though I have seen it take much longer for other players (once during tournament play I saw no less a personage than the Saint ply the 13 point inspection, and it took him nearly 4.5 seconds.)
In any case, we are all familiar with the overly reactive, easily led type of player, and this is the sort of prey that best responds to direct suggestion. One would have a much more difficult time attempting such a tactic against, say, C. Urbanus, with his senses sharpened by years of competitive play and work as a carny. Some players are more easily led by visual suggestion, others verbal. Proficiency with the basic concepts of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) will be of some help here.
My second exhibition match of the day was no less illustrative, and was against a player of much greater caliber, Joshua ?Big Money? Swonger, aka ?Big Money Hustler,? aka ?Big Money Grip.? Big Money competed in the 2004 Internationals, 2004-2005 DC Nationals (final eight in 2005,) and the Keystone Classic (final sixteen.) I suggested that we take a seat for the match, and Big Money agreed*. I countered, ?Unless you?d rather stand?? then settled on ?Maybe we should stay seated; you look tired.?
Wary of the trap, Big Money asked for a minute to get his mind together. Again, I verbally commanded ?scissors,? and Big Money complied. After winning another throw to take the first set, I led with a visual suggestion, throwing rock with a scissors shadow off the second prime. Again, Big Money complied, and I easily won in straight sets. After winning the opening throw of each set, I switched to a pseudo-random approach. It is well known that using a random or pseudo-random strategy will only win every other throw, on average. I personally find that the best time to use random play is when one already has the advantage. Being up one throw or set, random play is a sane and defensive approach that does not involve the greater risk/reward of a more demanding stratagem.
*Incidentally, this is the actual point at which Big Money loses the match.