… Losing at Games

Is there a technique to rock, paper, scissors?

Serious question.

If there is a formula please feel free to leave it in the comments section below.

It’s just that my daughter has started to beat me. 

More than that in fact.

I’m getting whooped.  Every…Single…Time.

We recently played for about twenty minutes sitting on a wall while the two of us were waiting outside a takeaway.  The final score in rounds of “best of three” (we take this far too seriously I know) was about eighteen-nil.

I asked her if she was using a technique, in the hope that this was all randomness and it would sort itself out in the long run.

“I just go for the one that beats the one you’re going to do.”


That’s not a technique.  That’s witchcraft.

But it isn’t just rock, paper scissors.

Noughts and crosses (or tic tac toe for our American cousins) always seemed a straightforward enough game.  The first player takes the middle square and you then more or less take turns with the corner ones until someone wins or they don’t, resulting in an unsatisfactory draw.  But again, no.

I’m finding myself caught in a pincer movement by an eleven year old girl, the elegance of which Gary Kasparov would only dream of.

*I’m going to give you fair warning.  I’m building up to a truly terrible tic tac toe/ noughts and crosses joke later.

And if that isn’t enough, the boy has started to beat me at things too.

Quite some years ago I found when we played pairs (you know the one – loads of face down pictures of Tomas the Tank Engine and you have to turn them over remembering the locations of the matching green trains avoiding physical fights over which is Percy and which is Henry) not just would the boy beat me every time but occasionally, to stop me sulking and going off in a huff he’d occasionally LET ME WIN.  Surely that’s a dad’s job, not the other way round?

So perhaps it’s time to give up on skill-based games for now.

You’d think snakes and ladders was a game of chance.  You roll the dice, you move the spaces, you climb the ladder or descend the snake.   I’d always assumed that too, but I was wrong.  I don’t know if it’s their remarkable ladder location methodology or their eerily accurate reptile-avoidance systems which they keep in place, but I’ve never won and they’ve never lost.

So, do I accept the changing of the guard with good grace?  Do I proudly celebrate the achievements of my children?  Or do I silently mourn the fact that Dr Brown version 1.0 has been replaced by a smarter, faster more compact model 2.0?

None of these.

I’ve done what any fortysomething father would do to protect pride and stay relevant. 

I’ve started to cheat.

Any area for tag is marked out to be less than the width of my outstretched arms so the children can be corralled into one corner of the garden like sheep being herded by a wheezing, middle aged sheepdog.

I’ll occasionally make up medical terms in Scrabble to use tricky letters.  “What do you mean you don’t know what a squoit is?  It’s the valve that helps to urk your spleen cleanly.  What do they teach you in science these days?”

I recently bought some role-playing game dice with different numbers of sides in the hope I can switch one in and give myself a head start.  “Dad!   How come you can roll an eleven?”

And occasionally I use the excellent strategy of distracting the girl in the middle of a game of noughts and crosses by offering her small minty sweets – specifically a tip-top tic-tac-toe tic-tac tactic.


5 thoughts on “… Losing at Games

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