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Institute of Advanced Study

Durham Bluff October 2012

This is a game designed by Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study to facilitate cross-disciplinary understandings of the concepts and terms prevailing in multiple disciplinary areas. It is similar to a longstanding British game, ‘Call My Bluff’, in which players take an obscure term and, as well as defining its true meaning, offer two false definitions or ‘bluffs’. The game is played by two teams, each composed of three people, with a referee/director of ceremonies.  

In Durham Bluff, each team has a set of terms from different disciplinary areas. The referee/host presents each of these. The members of one team then take it in turns to offer a definition of it, and the choice about which is true has to be made by the other team. The team garnering the most correct answers wins the game.  

The game itself is usually played for 60 minutes. Team members offering definitions can elaborate on these briefly, ideally in an entertaining fashion. The team whose turn it is to decide which definition is true will have a limited time (two minutes) in which to provide an answer. The referee/host will keep time, keep score, and make any rulings necessary. 

The Durham 'Home' Team

The Visiting (IAS Fellows) Team


Results for Michaelmas Term 2012

The Home Team prevailed in Durham Bluff this term, with an impressive 4-1 win. Honours went to: Andrea Noble whose fluency in Spanish came in handy; Andrew Millard who provided some fiendishly difficult words such as Osteodontokeratic, and then hid behind his beard; and Felicity Callard, whose authoritative delivery would have anyone believing anything.   

Though hampered by a narrower disciplinary focus, our visiting team also told some extremely convincing lies. Special mention should go to David Martin-Jones for his dramatic delivery of Purgatorius; to Alia Al-Saji for her highly believable familiarity with German ‘industrial music’ band Hysteron Protoron; and to Simon Prosser for maintaining the best poker face throughout.

Grateful thanks to our magnificent Director of Ceremonies, Ray Hudson, and his glamorous assistant, Stuart Elden.

And thanks also to those who came along simply to support this experiment.  All enjoyed the event enormously, with several members of the audience begging the organisers to ‘do it again’. So we will.