The next time you rock-paper-scissors, do it for the money |

The next time you rock-paper-scissors, do it for the money

Ryan Slabaugh

The next time you play rock-paper-scissors, remember this: you could be making money.

Then you’d be like fiery Rob Krueger, who threw a rock-paper-paper combination to win the 2003 World RPS Championship in Toronto last month. Krueger took home $3,825 and was carried around like a champion boxer by his teammates. A week later, the man showed up on the Late Show with Conan O’Brien.

You can almost feel the apocalypse taking this cue and running with it.

Douglas Walker, the managing director of the 700-member World RPS Society, was more than happy to talk with me about championing the sport. Walker and his brother posted a RPS web site in 1995 and quickly found out that the Japanese call it “Jan Ken Pon,” Germans call it “Shnik, Shnak, Shnuk” and South Africans have dubbed the decision-making game “Ching, Chong, Chow.”

Then, he brought the countries together and, so far, no apocalypse.

“It’s funny,” he understated. “When we held the first international championship, it was all people who were interested in it watching. How people on the street would react to it is what we didn’t know. But, what we found is, you’re sitting in a pub and a battle of rock-paper-scissors breaks out. It’s amazing to see someone stop what they’re doing, stop in mid-drink and look over until it’s resolved.”

According to folklore, the game also called Roshambo has existed since 1918, but it wasn’t much more than a group of drinking buddies passing the time between sips.

But did they talk strategy? It’s happening at Orchard Park High School in New York, where the world’s only after-school RPS club unites in a math classroom. There, Mini Whitey takes on Boss and the winner meets the victor between Zippy and D-Paddy.

At an RPS competition, it’s not unusual to have a nickname. It’s also not unusual to be wearing red leotards and devil horns. Imagine that man pumping his fist and yelling, “I’m throwing a rock.” You play paper and he throws scissors and then he cackles and gives a thumbs up to his four friends on horseback riding through a sky of flames.

OK. So that’s dramatic. But, according to Walker, “talking smack” is an important part of the game. Krueger won by being outspoken and intimidating and wearing red-white-and-blue overalls. With such characters involved, ESPN requested highlights and a proposed U.S. Championship should take place in May or June.

Krueger might be there. Walker will be there, but not competing. (“I’m no good,” he says.)

But where is there, interested readers?

Roshambo Wineries, of course, in Sonoma, Calif.

Ryan Slabaugh can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 257, or at

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