If you’re confused then read on to find out about this strange ancient game in which players have to earn their stripes
It was East versus West in what was proving to be a dramatic showdown in the 30th Kent Spoofing Championship. All eyes in the room were focused on the two players left standing.
The entire afternoon had been building up to this moment, with a trophy and reputations on the line. Those who had fallen by the wayside eagerly await the outcome.
It was a Friday, and spirits were high as 20 Spoofers congregated at Sankey’s in Tunbridge Wells from across the county, with a token Sussex player thrown into the mix as well as one individual from ‘no fixed addresses’.
Many were adorned in their multi-coloured blazers, having ‘earned’ the cloth to have them tailored by representing their country at world championships overseas.
The game itself is said to trace its roots all the way back to Ancient Rome, but the Kent players use the Hollywood Rules.
These rules were not created by famous actors, but by a group of public school old boys at the Hollywood Arms in London, who began playing the game between sips of port.
They never wrote the rules down, although the game is normally played by around five players, each with three coins ‘of equal size’ in their pockets.
They then select between none or all three and hold them in a closed fist out front as each player has a go at guessing how many concealed coins there are in total.
The caller knows how many they have in their own hand as a reference point.
The first player to guess or ‘deduce’ correctly wins five points and leaves the table, and the game continues for four points down to zero as players leave.
“It isn’t just luck… but it mostly is,” said host Matthew Sankey, who added one has to also ‘make their own luck’ while not getting too drunk.
“When you put a group of men in a room full of beer getting drunk is a frequent side effect, and often it is the most sober who win.”
A wide array of Spoofing slang, incomprehensible to the outsider, is used to describe the guesses being made, with calls such as ‘General Belgrano’, ‘flowers’, ‘Steffi Graff’ and ‘German virgin’ being belted out.
After three rounds, including one called the ‘Repechange’ the players were sufficiently whittled down to the final two in a ‘Spoof-off’.
Each finalist then selected their ‘second’ to declare their calls as a way to ‘take the pressure off bit’ and help raise morale with theatrical announcements.
Representing West Kent was Ian ‘Fluff’ Chapman of the local Chalybeate School. ‘The debutante’ exclaimed his chosen speaker Mr Sankey, who declared his ‘privilege’ at being nominated.
“Representing East Kent, two-time world champion, Mr Dom Graham,” announced Ed Vant, Mr Graham’s chosen speaker.
“It’s like the West Side Story,” remarked one spectator, “More like Brokeback Mountain,” exclaimed another in response – to much laughter.
Daring calls were made by the speakers on the instruction of their players in this battle of wits, which unfolded as the best of seven.
After a close-run fight there was one call left to be made on behalf of Mr Chapman to decide who would walk away with the trophy, the honour and, most importantly, the respect of his peers.
“The absent friend,” challenged Mr Sankey on behalf of his player, a call which states there are only two coins in play.
Silence fell on the room as both Mr Chapman and Mr Graham opened their hands, each revealing one coin.
Mr Chapman, or ‘Fluff’ to his friends, had won, with a burst of cheers erupting from the tipsy onlookers, many of whom come from the same school of Spoofing as the victor.
Speaking after the event, Mr Sankey, who has played for almost a decade and hosts the Chalybeate School every Thursday, described the event as a ‘huge success’.
“Everyone enjoyed themselves. At the end of the day, it is just about a bunch of mates getting together and having fun.”
THE HONOURABLE GENTLEMEN
Ian ‘Trendy’ Doolan
David ‘Double Dog’ Durell
Stephen ‘Bunter’ Jackson
John ‘Bumble’ Pemble
Phil ‘The Power’
‘Digital’ Dave Hayward
Ian ‘Fluff’ Chapman
Make an ‘impossible call’ and you have to purchase a bottle of port
The game of Spoof has been around for years in one form or another. People used matchsticks, beer caps or anything else close to hand. Then, one fog-bound night at the Hollywood Arms in London, a group of public school old boys of the posh and toff type were Spoofing in between nips of port. The conversation turned to the camaraderie they shared as gentlemen and lovers of sport and they decided to form a few loosely-knit spoofing rules to foster good fellowship. Nothing was written down at the time but, as befits a game for gentlemen, certain customs were developed to which people adhere the world over.
THE HOLLYWOOD RULES:
The names of those participating are randomly drawn and formed into ‘schools’ of the requisite size, with each Spoofer standing to the left of the person chosen before them, forming an approximate circle. A dead match is then spun to decide who goes first before each Spoofer displays a clenched fist containing from zero to three coins, of any value but must always, etiquette states, be of the same size. The person chosen may either guess themselves or nominate who to guess or ‘call’, with the aim of correctly determining the number of coins currently held by all the players. Every player gets to call, with play continuing in a clockwise fashion, however they are not allowed to call a number already announced. When all Spoofers have had their turn, the coins are revealed and the total counted in a clockwise direction. The Spoofer who called correctly then drops out and takes the maximum amount of points, which is determined by the number of people playing. The game continues until all players are out.
THE IMPOSSIBLE CALL:
No Spoofer is allowed to make ‘an impossible call’ – an impossible call is one which has either previously been made, or is not feasible due to the number of players left. For example, calling ‘The Kiwi Tin’ (10) with three players left is impossible. Another example of an impossible call is the player not holding any coins, but calling ‘Jimmy Bond’ (7) while in a school of three, as the maximum which could be out there is six.
The penalty for making an impossible call and being caught is to buy a bottle of port for the other players, but if wrongly accused the Spoofer who made the false accusation will also pay the same penalty.
GLOSSARY OF CALL TERMS
1 Joe Two Pie
2 The Edacott Two or The Absent Friend 3 Flowers three
5 The General Belgrano, The Sea Tractor 6 The Axsis
7 Jimmy Bond, Mission from Heaven
8 Harry Taite
9 The German Virgin, Stefﬁ Graff
10 The Kiwi Tin
14 Cat Whores
15 Film Festival
A special note for the Haughton Six. When in a school of three and holding three coins in your hand you may call the Haughton Six. You would only do this if you believed the total coins in the school to be six. You would also declare your coins. This is a Bravado call.