To all those noblemen who swore their loyalty to the coin, still undecided of what they want, a heads or tails, let this be a sneak peek into the Pandora’s box. Let the frogs jump out of their wells and hop on to the other wells and ponds to taste diversity. Let us show you the innovations that have been done in decision making scenario. Allow us to take you on a tour of ‘Toss’.
The head and its tale.
Until about a century ago, kings used to rule nations. As a symbol of their power and charisma, Kings had their heads engraved on the coins. Then kings died, when there was no head left over them. One of our kings tried to use whatever was left over his torso and came up with a bright idea. He made a pillar which had 4 lions sculpted over the top facing the four directions. Finally, after continued efforts, the emperors head (Her Majesty, The Queen’s, in our case) was replaced by the three lions. The fourth cat was let loose in the jungle and maybe that’s why all animals flocked to the front side of the pedestal from the hinds. Anyways, every animal was now facing outwards from the pillar, before the photograph of them was taken, to be punched on every coin from then on. The other side eventually came to be known as Tails, because there were no humans involved on the other side. Even today, some variants appear with a person’s face on their heads’ side and I wonder, “Did they really have Tails?”
Players found potential in the game and started using the coin to play "navia aut caput" (Ship or Head). But to decide who will flip first was a tedious job and often led to blooded noses and broken teeth when the contest was amongst untamed adolescents. The elders, who had severely deformed their nose cartilages and had cratered their faces from relentless punches, had grown weary of this and decided to do away with it. They sat in counsel for days. Finally, they decided to snatch the game status from the coin, and gave it a decider status instead. And from then started the process called TOSS.
Take a thin coin. Check if it’s unbiased. Toss it high in the air giving maximum rotations. Make a call, Heads or tails. Catch the coin, or let it reach the ground. Check whose wish has been granted. The winner then decides which option he would choose out of the few alternatives that he has. This method is suited only under able guidance, referees in most cases. What if there is not referee? Even worse, what if there is no coin?
It is then, innovation kicks in.
‘Sookha’ or ‘Geela’
Dry or wet? In villages, both the referees and coins are often missing and it can be very troublesome to decide who the toss winner is. This method comes directly from the ages of Flintstones. The coin is replaced by a piece of flat stone. Make one of its sides wet, often accomplished by spitting on to it, to make it an ideal substitute for a coin. Toss away to glory, and no one would run after you if you stole their stone. There are no restrictions on the size of the stone, no thickness constraints, as long as you can toss them in the air. Definitely an advantage over coins.
Who has the Longest?
Straw. When the players are more than two and have to take turns, its one of the most popular methods among town and city children. Take straws of different lengths, and hold them in such a way that all the straws protrude just the same amount. This confuses players which one is the longest and each one picks a straw. The winning order is decided by the length of the straws each one has. The only problem is, there needs to be a volunteer, who has to resist temptation of knowing the lengths of all the straws and still not be able to pick one for him/her. That player gets the last straw, which no one else chooses. The advantage of this method is that it helps you to discriminate. Just like a predator would choose the weakest amongst the similar looking herd, you learn to listen to your biasing and choose one out of the similar looking straws.
Watch your back
This needs two volunteers. One of them stands facing the wall while the other puts fingers on his back citing numbers. The one facing the wall calls out names arbitrarily every time a number combination hits his back. The players watch as their winning order is decided by two fellow players who cannot positively choose their own place in the list.
This method helps sensitizing the skin, only if you are bent upon cheating and knowing the number combinations. A word of caution. People who burst out laughing due to tinkling as soon as their body is touched, especially behind the back, please avoid this. I know one such person. They are a rarity and are a delight to fiddle with.
In groups with much age differences, sometimes, the age seniority decides your position. Aggressive elders may vote for “Seniors First” while the gentle giants may go for “Youngest First”. It’s all a matter of luck where you crash in.
Where ever you crash in, always try to play fair. Thank you for unanimously giving me the first chance without a toss. ‘Meri Baari khatam, mein ghar ja raha hoon’. My turn’s over, I am going home.
*I am looking forward for you people to bring up new methods of toss, I am sure you all have something better than these.
** The fourth lion is still absconding from the coins, please report if you find him. Save Tigers, their tongues have the best moisturizers for your face. Let them lick you. Don't poach them. Love them and they'll love you.