After last week's rather up-to-date Game of the Week, we go back sixteen years for this week's classic Countdown. This was one of the closest games from the early days, and involves number 1 seed Robert Richland and number 8 seed Tony Rand. Robert had won 4 games and drawn one on his way to the quarter-finals, while Tony had only won three times (although he did knock out eventual series winner Brian Hudson).
The game started as it meant to go on, with both contestants scoring 6 with TUGGED, and they both scored 7 in the next round. Round 3 saw Robert offering the slightly dubious agent noun CLONER, which wouldn't be allowed today, but was permissible at the time. There were better words available, LOFTIER and TREFOIL being offered by Gyles Brandreth and Yvonne Warburton in Dictionary Corner. The first numbers game did not present a great challenge to either contestant, and it finished 29-29 going into the break.
The stalemate ended in the first round of Part Two, when Tony spotted DENIES, but Robert could only manage OBESE. Richard remarked: "We've got a leader at last". But it wasn't over yet... Round 6 saw them both getting a 7 (Gyles offering SOAPING - "we've cleaned up with that one!"), but in round 7 it was Tony's turn to get the five to Robert's six, and it was "even stevens" as we reached the second numbers game.
An interesting choice of numbers from Tony (two from the top row) made for a bit more of a challenge, and the contestants offered different, but correct, ways of achieving the target figure (Tony's involving the 75 times table, Robert preferring to multiply by 10). And so it was 52 apiece as we reached the conundrum. TTUUMMIAL was revealed and for the first 15 seconds, both contestants were silent. Then, with sixteen seconds gone, Robert buzzed and offered an ULTIMATUM. "Is that your final word on the matter?", quipped Richard. "Yes", replied Robert, and he was through to the semi-finals.
Robert was narrowly beaten in the semi-final by (guess who?) Brian Hudson, and also won two Countdown Masters
matches (scoring over 100 points on both occasions). Tony also made one appearance on Countdown Masters, losing
narrowly to Series 7 quarter-finalist Tim Davies.
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 24 Dec 2000.