A bit premature for this to be considered a classic, perhaps, but certainly, quite literally, worthy of the description Game of the Week! The game between Stephen Briggs and James Aukett is a good example of a match where it looks as though the winner can be quite confidently predicted by the end of Part One, only for the other contestant to make a comeback in the second half.
The game started evenly enough with both contestants scoring 7 with INFUSED, but after having GIRATES disallowed in Round 2 and losing out to James' MOULDER in Round 3, Stephen had slipped 14 points behind by the start of the first numbers game. Both contestants missed out on the American CIGARETS in round 2 (do they really spell it like that!?), as the 'Mighty' Richard Samson pointed out. Round 4 was not the simplest of numbers games (although far from the hardest either), and by the break, James had a seemingly unassailable lead of 24 points, and must have been feeling reasonably confident about his chances, but this is Countdown, and anything is possible...
Some nuggets from 'Tomorrow's World' presenter Anya Sitaram and a few commercials later, Round 5 began, and so did Stephen's comeback - he got 7 points for LETTING, while James could only manage 6 with EATING. The 17 point gap did remain until the end of the letters games however, with both contestants scoring BLINKERS in Round 6 and six points apiece in Round 7. And so we come to Round 8... No funny business from champion Stephen, as he selected the standard "one from the top row, and five from anywhere else", but the target was not an easy one. Even Carol failed to get it spot-on, but Mr Briggs was the closer of the two, and we went into the conundrum with the score at 35-45, so it was still anyone's game!
After two seconds, Stephen correctly unscrambled ATINYPATH, and the scores were level at 45 apiece. An extra
conundrum was called for, GLENQUAIL was revealed, which James spotted in just over three seconds. He was
the new champion, and punched the air in delight (not that it impressed all the readers of the Channel 4 Reach
Forum very much though!). James only one won more game, but it was a tight one (he lost 50-51) with a tough
conundrum, and at least he'd done enough to get the teapot!
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 18 Dec 2000.