This week's game comes once more from the second series of 1989, Series 18. It doesn't feature any particularly well-known Countdown contestants or an 80-plus winning score, but it is nevertheless a classic edition of our beloved programme. It features Clive Everill, a 30-year-old (at the time!) from Walsall, who had previously won one game, knocking out three-time winner David Ware, and Chris Magill, a lady from Borehamwood in London.
It started, as it so often seems to, with both contestants getting six apiece, although there were plenty of sevens available, and also an eight in LUSTRATE (to wash ceremonially). Clive and Chris moved up a gear in Round 2, when they both got a seven-letter word. Again, there were plenty available, but Gyles Brandreth, making one of his many appearances in Dictionary Corner, offered DARKLING (becoming dark) for eight. Round 3 again saw the contestants getting sevens, while Gyles and his colleague Della Thompson again spotted eight with the literally superlative SANDIEST. So, three letters games gone, the score at 20-20 - would the deadlock continue? Well, when Chris selected the conventional "one from the top" and CECIL came up with the relatively low target figure of 398, it looked like it might. However, when the clock had completed its half-circle, while Chris declared 398, champion Clive was one away with 399. Chris duly went through her solution with Carol, and the score was 30-20 to Chris as we went into the break.
Round 5's selection of letters looked promising, and so it proved, with both contestants spotting the nine-letter UNSEATING and adding 18 points to their scores. Round 6 was rather uninspiring, with both contestants only managing to get a six with SPLICE - Gyles and Della couldn't beat it, and I suspect it's as good as it gets. The final letters game looked a bit more promising, but again the contestants stumbled to six apiece, despite an eight being offered by Gyles and the kangaroo on his jumper - OUTLIVED.
Despite the number of six-letter words offered by both contestants, the fact that they had managed to score on almost every round so far, coupled with the nine-letter word, meant that the score was 60-50 to Chris with only two rounds remaining. Again, the numbers game looked relatively easy (although not as easy as some), with a nice round target figure of 250, but Chris could only manage 249, and when Clive correctly declared 250, the score levelled for the first time since Round 3, and it was time for an extremely crucial conundrum!
When Chris's buzzer sounded after just five seconds, it seemed like the game was decided, but she immediately
knew that her guess of SITUATED was incorrect, and Clive had the rest of the time to unravel the puzzle. After
the clock had reached 25 seconds, it looked like we were on for a replay the following day, but perhaps Clive
was just taking his time, because his bell went with just one second remaining on the clock and he correctly
offered DESTITUTE. Chris must have been rather disappointed, but the blow was softened by Richard offering her
the winner's prize of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary for being such a high-scoring loser. Clive lost out to
Bill Taylor from Peterborough in the next game, losing 50-27 (he must have been worn out by this match!). He finished
the series as number 11 seed, but reappeared in the second series of Countdown Masters, beating Series 19 two-time winner
and number 12 seed John Cruickshank 79-42.
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 27 May 2001.