Taylor-made for the numbers: Suited and booted hosts preside over bullish youngsters’ final in Huddersfield.

cohudd winners
Hosts James Robinson and Callum Todd flank finalists Dylan Taylor (holding the Rose Trophy) and Tom Carey (sporting a tea cosy he won in a raffle seven years ago).

FOCAL returned to West Yorkshire on Saturday 8th September as James Robinson and Callum Todd welcomed 31 entrants to the Huddersfield Town football training ground, PPG Canalside, for their seventh annual CoHudd. Among the contenders, four-time previous winner Jack Worsley from Blackpool, with his dad Paul, local lasses and sisters Elaine Broadley and Janice Hadley, through to newbies George Armstrong from nearby Oakworth and James Haughton from Manchester.

Similar to Bournemouth last month, this tournament began with a World Cup-style random draw, putting the contestants into pools of six (with some crossovers) to play five 9-round heats matches. A 32nd player, Prune, was invented to complete the line-up, set to play at ascending levels of difficulty as the day went on.

Four players returned five wins from five in the heats – led by Eddy Byrne on 367 points, followed closely by Tom Carey on 364, Dylan Taylor on 350 and Bradley Horrocks on 341. A further seven players were on four wins, whilst the next five on three wins made up the top 16.

The standings for the top 16 at the end of the heats: in order of wins, points scored and points difference. Eddy Byrne and Stephen Read both posted a high score of 82 in game 5.

Programmes… get yer programmes!
Both hosts put together an entertaining A5 booklet with their own preambles to the event, a feature on the evolution of Countdown tournaments in Huddersfield since they began in 2012, a selection of puzzles, and an amusing “Dear Aunt Bessie…” readers’ Q&A page!

We have some copies left over from the tournament. If you would like one, please provide your name and address to jeff@focalcountdown.co.uk. FOCAL will cover P&P but any contributions to our cause will be gratefully received.

Into the quarters
The next phase of the competition continued with 9-rounders for the quarter- and semi-finals. Wins in the quarters for seeds 1, 2, 3 and 5 led to Eddy Byrne taking on Tom Carey, while Dylan Taylor would meet Jack Worsley. Defending champion Worsley was then defeated 54-62, whilst Carey eventually triumphed 69-59 in a fourth conundrum. This would set Taylor up for a second Grand Final this year, and Carey with a second Grand Final at Huddersfield.

Tom Carey (L) clinches a semi-final win with tie-break conundrum PERIODATE in just over a second, and shakes hands with Eddy Byrne (R), as final adversary-in-waiting Dylan Taylor looks on.

The mainstream final, the 14-round format of olde with four numbers games and two conundrums, played out at around 16:30, led by the Third Place Play-Off which Jack Worsley claimed 108-94 over Eddy Byrne. Our two grand finalists sat this match out but took the opportunity to practice and prepare for their encounter, the event’s showpiece.

The Grand Final
Tom Carey, having qualified as #2 seed over Dylan Taylor as #3, called the coin toss and won, opting for the Player Two seat, to give himself the pick of the first and fourth numbers games.

Both players opened their accounts with a steady 8 from LEINTEQAD, the best available, before Taylor inadvertently offered “imperate” in round 2 from WAMERITEP as opposed to Carey’s PREMIATE. Early advantage Carey: DT 8-16 TC.

A straightforward one-large numbers put ten more points on the board for each before OONISDCSM led to Carey upping the stakes — “9,” he teased… “monodiscs?”. The best available was in fact 7, with Taylor offering SIMOONS, hot and dry dusty winds in Arabia. The gap suddenly narrowed, score DT 25-26 TC after four rounds.

Next, JOSOTONOF produced FOOTS and FONTS and nothing better, before Taylor moved to seize an advantage with his first pick of the numbers. Asking for six small yielded 2 9 7 6 10 8 for 284. Carey declared the target not written down but was then found wanting on his distribution, while Taylor got his ducks in order with a neat divisibility in 71×4. Scoreline now DT 40-31 TC going into the first conundrum.

And so it unravelled… HOYLEPIRK for the scramble. Carey buzzed eagerly after 13 seconds — “hyperkilo?”. This was rejected, leaving Taylor the rest of the time, but at the last knockings he could only muster “kilohyper?”. A possible gap in their knowledge, and whilst Andrew Sullivan offered the audience’s best guess with “kyrophile”, the answer was revealed as KRYOPHILE — an adjective relating to organisms such as bacteria which flourish at low temperatures, a variant of cryophile and cryophilic.

Lean advantage to Taylor, going into a short interlude to plug forthcoming FOCAL events in Dublin (29 September), Blackpool (13 October) and Birmingham (24 November).

Into the second half, both players produced a maximum 6 each from RANAKOTIF, before Taylor whittled down his own selection IICARRHET to offer a solid 8 in CRITERIA. Carey could only offer a risky 8 to keep up, but “chartier” was disallowed. Scoreline DT 54-37 TC.

And with that, Taylor’s foot looked to be on the gas pedal going into his pick for the next numbers. “Six small,” he nodded, producing 2 3 7 1 9 2 for 644. It would do Taylor no disservice to describe him as calculating, spotting the divisibility by 7 and working backwards: “Three plus two… times nine… plus one… times two,” for the 92. Carey again declared the target unwritten but couldn’t produce the goods. Taylor now 27 points ahead, time was starting to run out for Carey.

Back to Carey’s pick of the letters, and a neat alternating consonant-vowel combination threw up the 7-letter winner VOMITUS. DT 71-44 TC.

Onto the last letters round, Taylor methodically picked one-by-one, and the selection LSIREZIY was completed by an L to produce the single 7-letter SILLIER which both dealt with.

Carey’s fate although now sealed, he kept up the spirit of the game by choosing four large – 50 75 25 100 10 7 for 367 – and both finalists returned two methods worthy of the top flight. DT 88-61 TC.

Into the last duel, the second conundrum UCATOILET was unravelled in just two seconds by Taylor. “AUTOTELIC”, unquestioningly, was right. Final score, Dylan Taylor 98 – 61 Tom Carey (solo rounds: DT 4-1 TC).

Some picture mementos of the day…

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…were awarded to all the winners, runners-up and 3rd place finishers in each Division:

– A: Dylan Taylor, the first recipient of the new Countdown in Huddersfield Rose Trophy, followed by Tom Carey and Jack Worsley.
– B: Tracey Mills, Jeff Clayton and James Haughton.
– C: Stewart Gordon, Zubair Patel and Anthony Endsor.
– D: Jason Turner, Elaine Broadley and Andrew Sullivan.

FOCAL standings
The updated standings are available to view here.

31 attendees meant Taylor’s victory was worth 62 points, moving him up four places in the FOCAL rankings from 14th to 10th, while Carey’s silver medal also lifted him four to 11th. On 314 and 312 points respectively, they are each in with a strong chance of the Birmingham Finals but will need to put in appearances at one or both of the two remaining events in Dublin and Blackpool.

Huddersfield host James Robinson remains at the top of the board with 452 points, but, having hosted this gig rather than taking part, his lead has been reduced to just 4 points with Eddy Byrne now hot on his heels at 448 points.

Good performances from Zarte Siempre, Tracey Mills and Bradley Horrocks take their scores over 400 and strengthen their holds in the top flight. Tim Down gets into the Top 8 at 6th at the expense of Tom Cappleman on 366 points who, now 9th, is still 52 points ahead of Taylor in 10th. Jonathan Wynn’s 28 points from Bournemouth mean he is still in the top flight, 7th on 383. Graeme Cole has missed the last two events in Bournemouth and Huddersfield, but his current total of 369 is just enough to stay in the running at 8th.

Flightpath to the Finals
We have two more events this year:

  • Dublin on Saturday 29th September, where host Eddy Byrne will be dishing out the luck of the Irish.
  • Blackpool on Saturday 13th October – it’s Illuminations Season, and at the helm for this new event, FOCAL’s very own shining light, Mark Mills!

The Birmingham Open and our 2018 Finals will see two tournaments running concurrently in the same room on Saturday 24th November.

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Everybody is welcome at all of our events – please follow the links for details, tell your friends, and why not sign up!


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