This game features one of the most outstanding players ever to grace the Countdown stage - Harvey Freeman. Octochamp, Series 10 Champion, 3rd Champion of Champions and Supreme Champion, Harvey never lost a Countdown match (although he came close a few times, and he did lose to Mark Nyman on Countdown Masters). At the time this particular game was played, Countdown had just celebrated its 4th anniversary, Harvey had played one game, and the highest ever score in a 9-round match still stood at 79, as it had since Mark Nyman (him again!) achieved it in Series 3.
The game started calmly enough, with both contestants scoring 6, although there was a 7 available (I'll leave you to find it!). In Round 2, Harvey pulled ahead of Reading resident Rita with the seven-letter offering VICEROY. Lee Peck, the guest in Dictionary Corner, offered the alternative 'corvine', meaning crow-like. We paddled through the puddles of round 3, and after the first numbers game, Harvey had extended his lead with a spot-on solution, and going into the break had a respectable 30 points on the board. The previous day, he had 33 points by this stage and 'only' got a final score of 65, so we weren't currently expecting a record-breaking show.
Part Two dawned and Harvey moved 'sweetly' ahead to 37 points and a lead of 24 over Rita, but she
could still catch him! Now, if you are going to get more than 78 points on Countdown, a nine-letter
word is essential, and so it was that Harvey duly came up with one in round 6 - NOTARIZED - lexicographer
Freda Thornton duly passed it as acceptable, and Harvey was now unassailable with three rounds still
remaining! A seven-letter word and a perfect numbers game from both contestants put the score at 72-30
with just the conundrum left. Richard pressed the 'go' button, the music started, the clock started,
but it was two seconds before the conundrum was revealed! Anyway, as the clock reached seven seconds
(and the contestants had therefore seen the conundrum for five seconds!), Harvey buzzed (actually, I
think it was a bell!), said 'TRAUMATIC' and 82 points were his! It was only going to remain the highest
score ever for five months, but that's another story...
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 5 Nov 2000.