How To Win At Poohsticks

The-Rules-of-playing-PoohsticksAccording to The Times one of the great conundrums of the civilised world has finally been solved.  Armed with the formula

PP = A x ? x Cd

we can now all go out and scientifically select the ideal twig to ensure we will emerge victorious when indulging in the classic English game of poohsticks.

When Winnie the Pooh dropped that first pine cone over the side of a bridge he set in motion a passion for the pastime that has only increased as the years have gone by.  You don’t have to be a Bear of Very Little Brain to enjoy dropping your twig into a gently flowing stream and then rushing over to the other side of the bridge to see if it will emerge before those of your competitors.  Bears of Great Brain like to play regularly, not to mention those humans who share a home with them.

The formula has been devised by Dr Rhys Morgan of the Royal Academy of Engineering and we can only rejoice that our great minds recognise the national importance of breakthrough research in vital areas such as this.

Dr Morgan has ascertained that the main variables are cross-sectional area, density/buoyancy and drag coefficient.  Thus, the formula for the Perfect Poohstick (PP) states that you need a twig which has a good cross-sectional area, that is, length multiplied by width (A), because the water will have more to push on.  (Much to Pooh’s relief this means that tubby is good.)  It should be of as dense a wood as you can find (?) so that it will sink a bit and not be influenced by the wind.  And, finally, it needs to be rough, because that will create more drag (Cd).  Bark is good as well.

Equipped with this knowledge how is it possible that each and every one of us will not in future emerge triumphant from round after round of our favourite pastime?  Except, of course, as those Bears of Great Brain with whom I share my home point out, by the time I have applied the formula and found the ideal twig they will have finished not only the game but also the picnic that inevitably accompanies it and be ready to pack up and go home.

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11 thoughts on “How To Win At Poohsticks

  1. Dear Alex,

    I’m afraid I can’t help, because us border terriers judge sticks using instincts inherited from our ancestors. We train our humans to throw them, we fetch them, and if there’s a swim involved so much the better. Though if The Bears could spare a little something from their picnic they would find that we are easily distracted. Especially if there’s cheese ….

    Love Briar x

    p.s. We have moved to a new home, but it’s still me and Jane as it was in the old place.

    1. Dear Briar,

      How lovely to hear from you and what a beautiful new home you have. I am so glad to have been able to visit it and will come and see you often.

      I am not surprised that border terriers have different criteria when judging sticks than Bears do. Bears, you know, do not like getting wet (actually, it’s having to be rung out afterwards which really bothers them!) so jumping into the water is never a selection factor for them. As to the picnic, I am sure The Bears would share with you, especially as they are not that fond of cheese. Next time we pack up we will be certain to include a wedge of the very best cheddar, just for you. Now, if you had wanted to share their marmalade sandwiches – oooooh!!

      Love Alex and The Bears x

  2. Dear Alex, What delightful whimsy, on both your (and the Bears’s) part and that of your British scientists! Somehow, we here in the U. S. don’t as often play with ideas as you do over there. It’s a sad commentary on our lack of humor and over-self-serious being. Even a “fun” idea can be a learning experience, after all!

    1. Interestingly, SO, I think this is an example of English whimsy rather than British. It’s one of those things, a bit like the Last Night of the Proms or community singing when rain stops play at Wimbledon, that don’t travel even to the farther corners of this island.

  3. I can sleep better at night now knowing that this has been solved! I am not going to tell anyone about the solution however in order to increase my odds of being the one who finds the best stick to fit the formula! 🙂

    1. The problem is, Stefanie, that having once found your stick you then immediately lose it again, as it floats off down the river, and you have to go in search of another one. And I can see all sorts of disputes arising when two people pounch on the same twig and declare that it is their own. Nevertheless, I am glad that The Bears and I have been able to contribute to your sense of well-being.

  4. This is wonderful 😊thank you. There is something so magical about standing on a bridge starring down into the waters of a gently flowing river – I never was much good at games though, pooh sticks included.

  5. There is a perfect bridge for playing poohsticks at Winterbourne, Ali. We must go and have a game one day. And, of course, stop off in the tearoom afterwards 🙂

    1. A friend of mine has stored the information away so that she can at last have a chance of beating her children. I think that might be a bit unfair!

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