This week, a game requested by one of its participants - Series 30 quarter-finalist Andrew Bull. Cambridge University student Andrew had won four games and amassed 264 points when he met Wimbledon resident Verity Joubert in the preliminary rounds. That game proved to be very close, but Verity wrapped up the victory when Andrew failed to score on a very tricky numbers game - 808 from 8,1,8,4,1 and 5 if you want to try it yourself! Andrew redeemed himself by solving the conundrum in less than two seconds, but he still ended four points behind. Verity then went on to win three more times. Despite both managing to win 4 games, Andrew ended up number 2 seed with Verity number 7 seed in what was a very closely-matched series. The second quarter-final of the series was therefore a bit of a "grudge match" (but in the nicest possible way!), as was the third quarter-final between Sue Renwick and Ben Cooke. Who would win this time?
Well, it all started evenly with both Andrew and Verity scoring seven, but in Round 2 Verity could only manage GOATS, while Andrew offered the seven-letter OUTCAST, while the Dictionary Duo of David Jacobs and Susie Dent suggested the dubious plural CATGUTS and the unusual TAUTOGS (fish). The third letters game saw both contestants stuck on six, although Dictonary Corner managed to get ENROBES, which always reminds me of chocolate adverts ("enrobed in milk chocolate")! A conventional "one from the top" choice from Verity yielded a less than simple target of 804, and Andrew offered 808 while Verity could only get to 800. Verity duly gave her solution and bagged seven points, but Andrew blobbed and the score was "even stevens" as we reached the end of Part One.
A good selection of letters for Round 5 made it likely that both players would get at least seven points, but Andrew managed to go one better with the excellent LEAVINGS, while Verity could only offer SLAVING. As if to balance things out, Round 6's selection was a bit of an abomination. From FYFPLOENO, Andrew could only get FOOL. Verity was slightly more inspired and offered the five-letter PEONY. They could have had six with FELONY or OPENLY, as David Jacobs kindly pointed out. Three rounds to go, but only three points in it, so it was still anybody's game. Round seven saw them both getting MARRIED (if you see what I mean!), and the numbers game gave them a further ten points each.
So, the scene was set for a "crucial conundrum", so loved by Richard and "us at home", so hated by most contestants. With the score at 45-42, and a semi-final place at stake, the pressure was on. Andrew had led for most of the match, and had never been behind, but anyone could get the conundrum and those critical ten points - but who, if anyone, would? Well, the conundrum was revealed, and the clock started running... and running... and running... and as Alan Hawkshaw's music reached its crescendo, it looked like Andrew was going to be in the semis. But it was not to be - with two seconds to spare (not quite a record), Verity spotted ENTRAPPED, and the number seven seed was still in with a shout at the leather-bound dictionaries.
In fact, Verity went on to reach the Grand Final, having disposed of Sue Renwick in the semi-finals, and then beat
Chris Colsmann 86-55 to become the winner of the series, and the first female series champion for five years.
Andrew also did well from the series, taking away the multimedia PC on offer for the highest score of the series - 73.
Verity also returned for the Supreme Championships, but lost to Series 13 runner-up Kevin Nelson.
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 8 Apr 2001.