Luck, skill and beer collide for Seoul Spoofers

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Luck, skill and beer collide for Seoul Spoofers


“Call when the hands are out.” “Kiwi 10.” “Legs 11.” “I’ll go with the German virgin, 9.”
These are spoofing calls, and the Seoul Gentlemen Spoofers have been saying them for 11 years. The game is an Australian and New Zealand pub game that may have originated in the Netherlands. Either that or in Korea 5,000 years ago, members of the Seoul club dubiously claim.
It’s played by gathering a group in a circle. Each person holds up a closed fist, inside of which is zero to three coins. The goal is to guess how many coins are in all the fists combined. A group of former champions gathered at the Three Alley Pub in Itaewon yesterday, preparing for the big winter championship, which takes place this Saturday at The Oakwood in Gangnam.
A round takes 45 minutes. Or longer, depending on the number of drinks that have been consumed. The essential lubricant of alcohol means that pregnant women and children do well “because they can’t drink,” says Les Edwards, president of the league and 2004 winter champion.
“Which is cheating,” insists Martin Watts, the only two-time winner at the national and autumn tournaments in 2004.
The Seoul club is one of only three in the world that “includes ladies in its definition of gentlemen,” according to the official rules.
“It was very nice of us,” says Mr. Edwards.
“Actually our wives made us,” says Mark Bradbury, the defending winter champ.
But in a game where so much is random, luck plays a large role. “It’s a complete game of luck,” says 2005 Autumn champ Frank Gamble. “98% luck,” says Mr. Bradbury. “50, 50,” insists Mr. Watts. “The skill is a skill of luck,” says Glenn Feist, and that seems to settle the matter.
For details or to apply for the winter tournament, e-mail

by Ben Applegate
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