Couldn’t make CoBris yesterday? You can read all about it thanks to Jeff Clayton’s comprehensive report…
“28 people signed up for Mark Murray’s third annual FOCAL tournament at the Sportsmans Social Club in central Bristol. Along with a handful of new contenders this year, the event was well represented by regulars from the southwest as well as further afield – some even coming from Ireland!
The format was changed this year from six games to seven, all based on the traditional 9-rounder. And, with thanks to Matt Hamer, the event benefited from a new five-line display for the numbers games, where contenders could individually agree which selection to play in advance of the tiles being shown, from six small through to four large.
Fixtures for the first three games were drawn at random at the start. This returned six players on three wins, including Tim Down, a recent series quarter-finalist who made Bristol his fourth Co-event in twelve months.
During the lunch break, we were able to enjoy second-time attendee Paul Talmey‘s appearance on Fifteen-to-One, which aired on the Friday. Despite being knocked out in Round 1, he appears on our screens again on Monday. Good luck, Paul!
Onto the afternoon session, and the groups were redrawn based on wins and points from the first three games. And so after six games, only Series 65 champ Graeme Cole was unbeaten, notching up 350 points.
Game 7 was the de facto semi-final, locking the top four into their own group, whilst everybody else played their last match. As #1 seed, Graeme Cole was to face #4 Tom Cappleman (5 wins, 363 points) whilst #2 Zarte Siempre (5 wins, 391 points) was paired with #3 Giles Hutchings (5 wins, 388 points). After 11 years, Jon O’Neill‘s welcome return to CoBris ultimately fell just short of the top four on points difference, but he secured 5th place over 2015 champion David Barnard. In the top flight, Zarte defeated Giles (61-58) and Tom defeated Graeme (57-43) to set up the last fixture of the day, the exhibition Grand Final over 15 rounds. The 3rd place play-off also played out concurrently.
As the higher ranking seed, Zarte called the coin toss for the Grand Final but lost, and Tom opted to be Player 2. An early numbers solve put Tom 23-13 ahead after three rounds. But Zarte fought back with a solo eight-letter word ANNOYERS to close the gap, before pulling away in Round 12 with the fruity nine-letter word MINNEOLAS (surpassing Tom’s SEMOLINA). A minneola is a reddish tangelo, itself a favourite Countdown word, a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit.
With a 16-point deficit, Tom took advantage of the pick of the last numbers but his six small was met with a low target. Zarte made his century at this point, before going on to correctly unscramble the conundrum IBIGOCEAN as ABIOGENIC. And so a giant finishing score for Zarte – 118 points to Tom’s commendable 92. Well done to both!
In the third-place play-off, Giles Hutchings overturned a 78-94 deficit with three rounds to go, to emerge the winner 104-94 over Graeme Cole.
Many thanks to everybody who took part — we hope you enjoyed it! The total points scored across the board was 9,545 up until the Grand Final – an average of 341 per player, or 49 per match – and then the points from those exhibition matches took the overall total for the day to 9,953.
Full final standings and stats are available to view here, including the run-down of how many FOCAL points everybody takes from this event onto the 2017 circuit.
A reminder that the next FOCAL events are in Manchester in three weeks’ time on Saturday 11th March, then in Leeds three weeks after that on Saturday 1st April. You can also sign up for a non-FOCAL tournament in Reading on Easter Saturday, 15 April.
Plenty to choose from. See you at another event!”