Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District
Spoof contestants guess how to earn their stripes
Wearing colourful pinstripe blazers, about 60 people stand in little groups stretching out their hands.
Each of them is holding between zero and three coins in their palms, which they will reveal in due course.
The winner is the one who accurately guesses the exact total of coins in all the hands – and the game continues until only one person is left, who usually suffers a forfeit.
Welcome to the world of Spoof, a niche drinking game which boasts a hotbed in east Kent.
Last month the Chapter Arms in Chartham Hatch played host to Spoof’s Memorial Trophy, a competition held to remember former players, known as ‘absent friends’.
The winner of the Lancaster Trophy was the pub’s landlord, David Durrell, who points out that where there’s Spoof, there’s drink.
“We had three separate championships over the weekend and that is a serious hit on anyone’s liver,” he says.
“But spoof is really about the camaraderie, about like-minded people getting together. We just enjoy the participation. It’s very social.”
Other Spoofing champions include Ed Vant, from Blean, who won the European Spoofing Championships in Amsterdam, and Peter Horton, who lives in Kingston and is the UK champion.
“For east Kent to be holding these three trophies is very good, considering we spoof all over the world,” says David.
Spoof players are made distinct by their multi-coloured pinstripe blazers, which are representative of the major rugby-playing nations.
But the game’s origins are less certain.
David, who is 64 and has run the Chapter Arms in New Town Street for the last eight years, was taught the game by his father.
Websites outline the rules and regional variations, but none seems able to point when and where it comes from.
However, the players who descended on the Chapter Arms for the first day of competition and then travelled to London for more competition, including on a boat on the Thames, came from around the globe.
Indeed, Spoof has players in Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, and even the tiny island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.
Meanwhile, last year’s World Championships were in Argentina, where there are also players.
It even counts the retired international rugby players Nick Farr-jones and Francois Pienaar among its players.
David recalls that he once jumped in the Trevi Fountain in Rome to play a game, earning him the honour of being arrested by the Italian police.
And it’s Spoof’s sense of abandon, its fun and its ease – along with the alcohol – that means it retains its small but dedicated band of players.
“It’s a game for anyone,” David said. “After all, you don’t have to be particularly talented to count to three.”