Top 9 Rock-Paper-Scissors Variations in the World

If there’s one game that seems universal, it’s rock-paper-scissors. Three possible shots, a wave of the hand, it’s easy as hello (never understood this expression). The rules of chifoumi are obvious and yet, we discover that there are plenty of variations around the world. It always takes people to complicate everything…

1. Why do we say chifoumi in France?

The game of rock-paper-scissors is often called chifoumi because of its origins. Around the 16th century, “shoushiling” (meaning “game of three signs”) was invented in China, but it was the Japanese who changed the signs to a rock, a leaf and scissors. In Japanese, this game is called Hi-fu-mi and this is where the name “chifoumi” comes from.

2. The sheet is not universal

In several countries, we use rock and scissors but not the paper. It is the same sign, but it designates a fabric, a rag or a packaging depending on the language. This is the case in China where we say “Jiandao shitou bù” which means “scissors, stone, rag”.

3. The dilemma of the well

As soon as we talk about the well, no one agrees. If we want the game to be really a game of chance, it is obvious that the well must remain prohibited. Yet all over the world monsters cheat shamelessly using the well in addition to the other three signs and it’s just outrageous.

On the other hand, there are countries where the well replaces the stone. We therefore fall back to a one in three chance since the well beats the scissors but is beaten by the sheet.

4. In Quebec, they add the match

In Quebec, we say rock-paper-scissors and we are not surprised since our Quebec friends love to translate everything literally. In some variants, they sometimes add the match but it’s not very interesting since unlike the well, it only wins against a sign: it burns the paper but can’t do anything against the scissors and the stone.

5. Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock

If you’ve never heard of this variant of the game, it’s because you haven’t watched all the seasons of The Big Bang Theory (and we understand).

In this version which includes a Star Trek character, the lizard eats the paper, poisons Spock, is crushed by the stone and decapitated by the scissors. Spock vaporizes the stone, breaks the scissors, and is discredited by the paper. It’s much more complicated but there’s less chance of a tie, so the game has become quite popular in the United States.

6. In Indonesia, the signs are “elephant, human being, ant”

Well, we have to admit that we didn’t quite understand. If still it was a mouse instead of the ant, we could have understood thanks to the legend which says that the elephants are afraid of it. But here, it’s pretty weird.

7. In Switzerland, we often say “hammer, scissors, paper”

The names often change according to the regions and the countries but very often, their name and meaning remain the same. In Switzerland, we say a lot “hammer, scissors, paper” in the French-speaking regions (the hammer replaces the stone but we make the same sign with the fist).


8. Game of Death

Mourre is a very old game of chance, it was already played in the year 1400, and which is still practiced in Corsica and in the South of France. As with the chifoumi, two players simultaneously show each other a hand but instead of a sign, a number of fingers is shown. It is necessary to announce at the same time the presumed sum of the fingers raised by the two players and whoever guesses wins the game.

9. Odds or Evens

No one plays “Odds or Even” in France, although it’s a game very similar to rock-paper-scissors. Like heads or tails, both players must choose even or odd before the game begins. Then, they must simultaneously show one or two fingers hoping that the sum of the fingers is even or odd (depending on what was chosen at the beginning).

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