two interlocking fistsHave you ever wondered who thumb wrestles the best? Run a tournament to find out. Even better, you could run two!

You will need

How to thumb wrestle

  1. Stand facing your opponent.
  2. Two interlocking fistsHold out your right hand against theirs, and then curl your fingers so that their fingers are in the middle of your fist, and vice versa. Your thumbs should be sticking straight up to start. Your fists will look like two interlinked ‘thumbs-up’ signs.
  3. It is customary to start the match with a chant, such as
    ‘One, two, three four
    I declare a thumb war’
    while alternately bowing the thumb to the left and right.
  4. Someone has caught another person's thumb under their thumb.Try to catch the opponents thumb under your thumb. You must keep them held down while you say
    ‘One, two, three, four,
    I win the thumb war!’

To run the tournaments

  1. Choose one person to be A, one to be B and so on.
  2. two pieces of paper with tournament brackets drawn on themWrite each person’s name in the corresponding boxes on the two tournament sheets.
  3. Run the round robin tournament. To do this, look in the first round box, and see who is playing against whom. Complete each match, record the results on the sheet, then move to the next round.
  4. Once you have finished all the rounds, tally up the scores in the results table. You can use an extra match if there is a tie.
  5. Now run the knockout tournament. Start on the bottom row, and run the matches. The winners move up to the next round. Repeat until you have one winner.
  6. Did you get the same champion both times? Which tournament is more likely to have an upset?


What’s happening?

A lot of sports are played between two individuals or two teams. But usually there are more than two competitors playing that sport. If you want to find the best player, you need to run a tournament.

In a knockout tournament, losers are eliminated from the tournament each round. The winner of the tournament is the only person or team who has not lost a game. This method of finding a champion is very easy to understand, and doesn’t require many rounds – a six round championship can find a single winner from 64 different players. The problem is that even the best player gets eliminated if they lose one match, so often the tournament winner is not the best player.

A round robin tournament has every person (or team) playing every other person (or team). This means a lot more games must be played: there must be 63 rounds in a 64-player tournament. This sort of tournament is often used in football competitions, because every team gets to play a full season of games. Because there are so many games, players and teams can lose matches and still win the tournament. They just need to get more wins than everyone else. The winner of a round robin tournament is more likely to be the strongest competitor.

Not all sports need tournaments. A sport like marathon running, for example, does not need a tournament because all the competitors can run in the same race. Tournaments are not necessarily needed in sports like long jump either. In long jump, your score is based on the distance you jump, not on who you beat.

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4 responses

  1. Jeremy Avatar


  2. Noot noot Avatar
    Noot noot

    Not really helpful.

    1. David Avatar

      I’m sorry you didn’t like it!

      Is there anything we could do to help you?

  3. bob bob Avatar
    bob bob


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