Jam Master Sean Rocks! (Papers, Scissors, also)

Urbanus (Custom).jpg
This story was written not by Johnny Goodtimes, but by a contestant in the Be the Next Johnny Goodtimes Contest, Jam Master Sean (aka Urbanus). He is one of RPS’s most famous players.
Some people are into quizzo. Some people are into computers. Rock Paper Scissors. The dance of hands. That?s my thing. It?s a thinking person?s game, much like chess. I enjoy the mental aspects of it. Preparing elaborate scripts to use against opponents. Profiling opponents to determine which script would be effective in tournament play. Sometimes just winging it and using a reactive technique. It?s all about being able to read your competition.

I took off for Brooklyn to take part in the 2005 Atlantic Yards RPS Smackdown. Don?t worry, Philadelphia. Your tournament is coming in September. This was an interesting tournament because of the size. There was a $6 entry fee (mine was comped) and only 32 people were playing for a winner take all cash prize of $200. Tournaments are usually 128, 256 or a rolling number of players like the International World Championships in Toronto (which you may have seen on Fox Sports this year). This seemed like the best shot for a quick victory that I could ever have. So I left from Philly with myself, former #1 ranked US player (now retired) Master Roshambollah of Washington DC and ?the Hood? in her first return to competitive play since taking out then-current champion Pete Lovering in Toronto in 2003 on the way to the final 16.
Since most of you probably don?t know the rules past what beats what, I?ll explain. It?s a three prime shoot, which is considered the International Standard Prime (two prime is American). The prime is the number of times you pump your fist. So you shoot on four. If priming is out of sync, it is the responsibility of the slower player to catch up with the faster one (For how to use this to your advantage see The Official RPS Strategy Guide section entitled ?priming the chump?). In order to advance, you must win a best of three match twice against your opponent. Certain things get you in trouble and possibly a warning or disqualification. 1) Releasing on the wrong prime. 2) Arguing with the ref. All referee decisions are final. 3) Using any throw aside from Rock Paper or Scissors (dynamite, bomb, etc). 4) Indecisive throws. A good example of this would be releasing a Scissors with your thumb sticking out. It could be an awkward Scissors or retarded Paper. 5) Vertical Paper (?the handshake?), upside down Paper (?feeding the pony?) or horizontal Scissors. The throws must be made as directed in the rules. I know some of you are saying ?what difference does that make?? Come on, you?re competing professionally here.

So we showed up at Freddy?s Back Room and Bar and the place was packed. There?s always a media presence, but this tournament was small enough that it was restricted to one Japanese camera crew (I?d never talked through an interpreter before, so that was kind of weird) and a handful of reporters. This meant no one had to spend all night talking to reporters or the documentary crews that always seem to jump on every tournament. The folks in the crowd were mostly newcomers to the sport, but there were a few well known amongst them, including three members of New York City based Team All Too Flat and a masked guy called Midnight Rider who I?d heard of, but never seen in action before. The hype around him was immense, but it was actually his first tournament action. His publicist did a great job.
The event started off with a short opening speech by Master Roshambollah (above), who then had to take off due to prior obligations. The first round moved pretty quickly. The tournament was extremely well organized. One of the biggest surprises of the night was the ref. This was his first tournament and he showed no mercy, but wasn?t too proud to reverse course when he was wrong. In the first match someone threw horizontal Scissors to a good old correctly thrown Paper. He called a point. Someone in the back yelled BS and he immediately reversed course and penalized for the bad form displayed. Good on him.
Being one of the ?celebrities? in the house, I got matched up with another, ATF team member Jeremy. I lost the first throw (that?s the Urbanus Defense), but didn?t lose another to him. Piece of cake. Amongst other first round highlights were Kenny B of ATF going out in the first round, Scissoro of ATF advancing, The Hood getting a bye and the new guy, Midnight Rider showing some amazing confidence in squeaking out a victory in the first round. This included such brash veteran moves as switching delivery hands in mid-round and blowing out his Scissors (as if it were a gun) after claiming the match with it on the final throw. The most curious thing about round 1 was a match between two newbies called Amanda and Kasia. Kasia won the match on a penalty from the ref due to an improper throw. Kasia said ?that?s OK, she didn?t mean it? or something ridiculous like that, letting Amanda back in the match. Amanda won after that. You can?t be that freaking nice in this game. If you get a win, you take a win. Doesn?t matter how cheap it is. She may have cost herself $200 right there.

In the round of 16, I got matched up with Scissoro of ATF (below). I understand that high profile players going head-to-head make for good press, but The Hood got another bye in this round. Talk about ridiculous. She got into the final eight without playing a single match. I started this match off a little rocky. Literally. Two rocks, two papers. He got it that easy. But again, that?s taking the Urbanus Defense to the next level. Opening of round two, similar result. So I was one throw away from elimination. Now was my time to turn it on. He seemed a little cocky throwing all that Paper and did so again. I cut him. Then I got defensive and we tied with Paper. Then I got him with the Rock. All tied up. The end of this is kind of blurry. Maybe the karaoke the night before was taking a toll on me. I know that he got a point and I got a point, and in between both we had five consecutive stalemates in a row. Twice. It was some heavy mirror play. He ended up winning on the last throw and it was all over for me. I think Scissoro and I are now enemies. Not on the level of Ruxpin and I, whose bitter feud has been referred to by the press as the ?great rivalry of modern RPS? (google it-it?s true). But Scissoro is definitely on my enemies list now. We?ll meet again in the field of play. I?ll make sure of that.
Elimination isn?t all that bad, though. One can?t win every tournament. It gives you some time to sit back and relax. Maybe grab a drink (you want to keep your head straight while competing). Talk to some other RPS enthusiasts and take comprehensive notes on the competitors instead of worrying about constantly tweaking your strategy during the course of play.

The round of 8 was intense. And while not all the best players at the event made it to the final 8, it was still a good show. The Hood finally made her debut and was promptly destroyed by the Midnight Rider. She hasn?t played in a few years, so there?s no shame in that. It takes a few tournaments to get back into the swing of things. Scissoro (grrr) took care of business. Amanda, who got back in it after disqualification in round 1 played a good, clean match and got through to the final 4.
I will admit that I stepped out for a smoke (smoking bans aren?t all that-you hear me Philadelphia city council?) and missed the rest of the tournament. It went that quick. Despite published reports that Master Roshambollah defeated Amanda (above), in the end it was actually Midnight Rider (below) who defeated Scissoro for the money. I hear it was a pretty good match. I know it was a pretty good smoke.

Now it?s time to get ready for the next tournament and play some money games when I get the chance. That?s the real way to make money on the circuit. And since I don?t need to win any quizzo contest, I?m free to even up my record with Johnny Goodtimes. True, he beat me all six times we played during the Be the Next Johnny Goodtimes Contest. But I don?t have to grease those wheels anymore. I got him last night, using a technique called Paper Clipping. Don?t mess with a pro.

Jam Master Sean is widely considered one of the top 8 RPS strategists in the world and the creator of the wildly popular Urbanus Defense strategy. He is available for hire for a variety of RPS related services including corporate or public tournament coordination, personal training, lectures/group training sessions, and as a World RPS Society certified referee.