This week, a keenly-fought contest from the Supreme Championship. Brian Hudson, the Champion of Series 4, returned to the studio with seven wins under his belt, to take on Mandi Hale, who had also won seven games, but lost out in the Series 18 Grand Final to Rajaretnam Yogasagarar (affectionately known as "Yoga"). June Whitfield was in Dictionary Corner, ably assisted by Susie Dent.
As you might imagine, with seven wins apiece, the game started evenly. In the first round, both contestants struggled to a five - the combination only yielding one slightly dubious plural for Dictionary Dell (PONGEES). Two six-letter words were available - SPONGE and EXPOSE. Round 2 brought forth MOATED from Brian and the slightly unusual IMAGED from Mandi. Dictionary Corner offered GODETIA, quite a common word on Countdown. Round 3 did not resolve the deadlock either, with both contestants offering 7 - Mandi's was the interesting ALPINES (alpine plants). A tricky numbers game separated them at last - Brian managing to get within 1 of the target. As we left the studio for the commercial break, it was 25-18.
Round 5 saw quite a nice selection of letters, and Mandi duly offered a 7. So did Brian, but his was the risky BUSTIES. It may be the name of a local cafe where I come from, but it didn't get much truck from Ms Dent, and Mandi closed the gap. There was an eight available in TUBELESS, and June and Susie offered the nine BLUESIEST! Round 6 was dull, with only six seemingly available, while Round 7 had both contestants trying to OUTRIDE each other (sorry!), but it was even stevens as we hit the final numbers round. A fairly straightforward game, but it puzzled Brian, and the score was 38-48 with the conundrum to go - and you know what that means!
When SEMISMOTE was revealed, the clock started ticking, and as time marched on, it looked like Mandi was safe, but with only four-and-a-half seconds to go, Brian correctly offered SOMETIMES. A second crucial conundrum loomed, and now it was anyone's game again. Just under four seconds had passed when Brian's bell sounded, and he correctly unravelled Mr Wylie's concoction of LUNACYINN (I wonder who drinks there?).
Brian went on to play Series 21 Champion Barry Grossman in the semi-final, and narrowly lost 52-51.
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 21 Jan 2001.