We fast-forward ten years from last week's Game of the Week to this game from Series 34, selected mainly because of the spectacular numbers game solution offered by James Martin in Round 4. James had won three games prior to this performance, and went on to become an Octochamp, but was defeated in the semi-finals by Harshan L'Suriya.
The game started quietly with the contestants scoring 5 apiece, although Dictionary Corner newcomer Suzi Quatro offered the six-letter VICUNA, a South American mammal. Gerald Foster was unfortunate in the next couple of letters games, having the risky FARINES disallowed (pity he wasn't playing in Des Chiffres et Des Lettres!) and declaring BRAID as a 4 (and being beaten by James, who pluralised it).
And so we come to the highlight of this match - the first numbers game. James had a habit of choosing all four numbers from the top row, a strategy which is perhaps not as bad as it may first appear, and coupled with his being a bit of a mathematical genius, seemed a good stategic move. On this occasion, Gerald (and Carol, and probably most of us) managed 953, not bad under the circumstances, but James was spot on. Here's how... 100 + 6 = 106; 106 x 3 = 318; 318 x 75 = 23,850; 23,850 - 50 = 23,800; 23,800 / 25 = 952!! It was, as Carol said, "probably the most incredible answer we've ever had on Countdown!". Quite. And long will it probably remain so.
James continued to pull away after the break, and Gerald was stuck on five points until Round 7,
when both contestants could only manage LOOSE and POOLS, although the six-letter OVULES was
available. A pretty straightforward numbers game and the conundrum concluded the match, which
ended with James winning 68-20. I expect Gerald was still in shock from Round 4!
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 25 Nov 2000.