Scissors (game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Scissors is a party game in which the rules of game are hidden from some of the players. Players will sit in a circle and pass a pair of scissors to the player to the left of them. The scissors may be passed open or closed, depending on a rule which is known only to one or two players. As each player passes the scissors they will declare whether the scissors are open or closed as they attempt to deduce the rule. A player wins when they deduce the rule, so consistently pass the scissors in the correct form. Variants of this game have been recorded as early as the nineteenth century.


The players sit on chairs in a circle, preferably without a table in the way, and have an object such as an empty plastic drink bottle or even a genuine pair of scissors. In turn, each player passes the object to the player on their left stating whether they are passing the scissors open or passing the scissors closed. As each player does this the others say whether they have got it right — the players who already know the game judge whether the passing was correct or not. The objective of the game is to work out what is going on and consistently find the correct method of passing.


The most common solution to this game is that scissors are passed closed if your legs (or even ankles) are crossed, or if the passer's hands are closed, and the scissors are passed open if uncrossed or if the passer has their hands open. At the beginning of the game positions and movements should be natural. Towards the end, they will need to be heavily exaggerated.

Other variations[edit]

Other variations of this game theme are common, where different objects work as the "scissors" with the same solution, or with slightly different solutions — for example, the legs may need to be uncrossed when not passing, or the pass may need to be done so that the passing arm crosses the body. There may also be a combination of actions, such as needing to pass a pair of scissors blade-first to the next player as well as crossing or uncrossing the legs; the player may realize that one part is necessary but not the other.

In Finland, a similar game is played under the name Näin räätäli sakset antaa ("This Is How The Tailor Hands The Scissors"). As in the version described above, the trick is also to cross one's legs or ankles while passing the scissors to the next person, but the same phrase of "this is how the tailor hands the scissors" is repeated no matter if the scissors are open or closed. Players who know the trick may fool others with complicated hand gestures or by emphasizing one of the words. The clueless participants will then unsuccessfully try to mimic the previous person who did it correctly. There is a game judge who knows the trick from the start and will watch people when they pass the scissors, telling them "that's right" or "no, that's wrong". After some time passes, people may incidentally have their legs crossed, and eventually most people will figure out that crossing legs is the trick.


The origin of the game is unknown, but a similar game was referred to in the Los Angeles Times in 1899:

The version now played was included in a 1905 games book:


  1. ^ "TWO JOLLY GAMES, A NOISY PLAY IMPORTED FROM PERU AND "THE SPIDER AND THE FLY."". Los Angeles Times. 15 October 1899. Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  2. ^ Hofmann, Mary Christina (1905). Games for Everybody. New York: Dodge Publishing Co. 

See also[edit]