Adventskalender del 3: Strategiske tips fra en tidligere president @ 05 Dec 2016
(Dette er den tredje artikkelen i en serie på fem om avanserte strategier i SSP i forkant av årets NM 10. desember, skrevet av verdens største stein, saks, papir-stjerne - amerikanske Master Roshambollah. Les del én her, og del to her).

My second day in Norway began with a bang. Literally, a loud bang just outside my hotel room.

I was in Oslo at the request of Norsk forbund for stein, saks, Papir (NFSSP) - the Norwegian Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) association. I was there to interview some of Norway's most famous hand sport athletes, but I was also increasingly suspicious that I was being pranked, or that they were possibly going to try to kill me.

I never doubt the friendships I enjoy with the Norwegians, but I also have a healthy request for the bloodlust that occasionally rises to the surface of their usually placid demeanor. Deciding to warily face the situation head-on, I stumbled to the door and opened it.

On the other side was none other than Pål Magnusson, past president of NFSSP, holding a popped paper bag. «Good morning», he intoned. «Now it is time for us to leave. There is much to be seen.»

Direct, to the point, and unafraid to break with social convention are all terms used to describe Pål Magnusson. I first met Pål at the World Rock Paper Scissors Championship, when he was part of Norway's "Dream Team" under the guidance of Geir Arne Brevik.


Me and Pål "The Wall" at the World Championships. Now retired as president of NFSSP, Pål spends most of his time with Norway's outstanding scholastic RPS program.

Pål looked about twelve then, but was in his early twenties. As Geir Arne introduced me, I extended a hand of welcome, and in an attempt to gain an edge (to be used later in a match of RPS) I told him that I looked forward to drinking the blood of our enemies together as the tournament proceeded. «Yes, we will do this thing!» was his unfazed response.

The inability of his opponents to get him riled up, or indeed, to affect him in any way at all, earned Magnusson the nickname "The Wall."

When Pål "The Wall" Magnusson showed up at a tournament, one could almost hear the 25% or so of players who use such inflammatory tactics groan in collective dismay.

Now retired as president of NFSSP, Pål spends most of his time with Norway's outstanding scholastic RPS program (currently ranked third in the world behind only Canada and Japan).

We visited several lower and upper secondary schools, and even a few primary schools. The quality of training for these young athletes was impeccable, on par with any that I've seen outside of an Olympic RPS program. However, the training was not too strenuous, mindful of the athletes' age (as well as the overtraining scandal of 2011).

I asked Pål if he had any advice for players considering competing in the Norwegian National Championship this December 10. He smiled broadly (or maybe he was just baring his teeth. I can never tell with the Norwegians). He responded:

«It would be incredibly difficult to train for less than a week and reach the level of other Rock Paper Scissors athletes who have been training for months, no, their whole lives, for this event.»

But there are some things you can do to enhance your chances if you have some 'natural ability.' Among these things, Magnusson points out:


When Pål "The Wall" Magnusson showed up at a tournament, one could almost hear players groan in collective dismay.

* Start with the basics. Know the rules of the event. We use international rules: Throw on the count of four. Best two of three throws wins the match. Best two of three matches wins the set. Also know how to make the throws. No vertical paper. If you don't know what any of this means, find a member of NFSSP at the tournament and we'll be happy to show you.

* Get a sense for the crowd. Invariably you will see a few casual matches before the tournament starts. You can observe these matches and get a sense for how the crowd is feeling, and what throw is most popular. But be careful; professional players aren't above using such matches as a setup, then double-crossing you if you meet them in tournament play.

* Be wary of international players. We allow anyone to compete, which lowers the barrier of entry to all Norwegians. But if a player is bold enough to travel from another country to compete, you know they're good, and you know they've either got deep pockets or (more likely) a sponsor.

* I earned the nickname "The Wall" due to my refusal to let opponents affect me emotionally. This is no accident and it did not come easily; it required a lot of hard work. When I'm training my students for a match of professional RPS, I start by having them stand in front of a brick wall for up to two hours a day to meditate on its impassive nature.

I'm talking about the brick channel; all brick, all the time! Later I give them homework to have discussions with disagreeable people, or interact with those they find offensive and argumentative. Family usually suffices.


Always time for a quick round of RPS at the local pub.

I asked Pål what would happen if two players both using his "wall" technique were to meet up in the tournament. He responded:
«If there are two wall players, I'm probably one of them. See you in the finals, baby!»