Spoofing spiffing affair

Current world spoofing champion Charlie Rattray, of Christchurch, former world champion Mike Bank, of Wellington, Queenstown spoof president Murray Cockburn and 2011 champion Brett Annan. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Current world spoofing champion Charlie Rattray, of Christchurch, former world champion Mike Bank, of Wellington, Queenstown spoof president Murray Cockburn and 2011 champion Brett Annan. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
On Friday night, I was given an assignment with a twist when I attended the Queenstown Spoofing Championships.

It being Friday, I was intending on walking into Skycity Casino, getting my photograph, a general knowledge of the game and leaving pretty early on.

As it turned out, I thoroughly enjoyed my two hours of what spoofers would say was a privileged evening because the No 1 rule of spoofing is ''no women allowed''.

For those not in the know, spoofing involves groups of players around a table - each with three coins of equal size. Players must present a closed fist containing anything from nothing at all to three coins, and in each round the objective is for players to guess the aggregate number of coins being concealed. The player who guesses the correct amount moves out of the round and gains the most points.

Simple, eh?

I thought so too until I watched with bated breath how these men think long and hard before guessing, some even bluffing their way through the game to throw off opponents!

Calling involves learning another language, examples being ''Jimmy Bond'' which means seven, ''Harry Tait'' which means eight, ''baker's'' which translates as 13 and ''she was'' meaning 16 - a bit like my grandmother's housie group, really.

One of the contestants described the gathering to me as ''a gentleman's club'', but I cottoned on to this game pretty quickly and reckon the only reason women aren't invited is because we'd win more than our fair share of the games.

Current world champion Charlie Rattray, of Christchurch, told me the men's wives didn't really understand why they spent hours playing the game.

''Is there more than luck to it? I'm not sure yet. It is the sheer ridiculous, diverse and upside-down sort of sensation to it,'' Mr Rattray said.

The game involves a fair amount of drinking, and if the non-gloating rule is broken, that competitor must buy a $70-plus bottle of port for the table.

Legend has it former All Black Murray Mexted won two world cups in a row and afterwards said the only reason he triumphed was because he stayed sober.

''It's cheating, really,'' Mr Rattray said.

The game has rugby connections and world cup players gain a jacket which displays the colours of each rugby test-playing nation.

Queenstown's own Mark Dickson beat Australian Stan Gyles in the final to win Friday's championship.

Seeing as gloating isn't allowed, Mr Dickson was not approached for comment.

Harry Taits

Yes, rhyming slang for '8', but, shockingly, for smokes. Taits= "Weights", a brand of Players. Better than Woodbines.