This week's classic Countdown again features Series 12 Champion Stephen Balment. The fourth Quarter-Final of the series saw him doing battle with number 5 seed Nigel Aspden. The game started ordinarily enough, with the contestants scoring 6 apiece with NUANCE, although they could have had ANNOUNCE for 7. Things perked up in Round 2, when they both spotted FALTERING (REFLATING would also have been accepted, as Richard noted in his introduction the following day). In Round 3, Nigel moved into the lead by spotting EVASION, while Stephen could only manage the six-letter CANOES. NOVICES was an alternative offered by Dictionary Dweller Patrick Mower. A straightforward first numbers game put the scores at 34-41 going into the break.
Round 5 was an opportunity for another nine-letter word (TANGLIEST), but both contestants netted
eight useful points with STEALING and SETTLING, and the seven point gap was maintained in the
next two rounds, with identical offerings from the two protagonists. Unfortunately for Nigel,
he slipped up in the second numbers game, while Stephen bagged 7 points by getting within 3 of
the target - Carol Mather (as she was at the time) managed the full ten points. And so, it
was a crucial conundrum, loved by viewers, hated by contestants. However, no one managed to get
CONGENIAL, and there was a sudden-death extra conundrum - the second in three days. After four
seconds, Stephen spotted IMPRESSED, and we were.
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 8 Dec 2000.