Our intrepid reporter George Armstrong was on hand for FOCAL’s first foray into Liverpool…
Following a very successful début gig in Leamington Spa back in 2013, Andy Platt and Dan McColm reprised hosting duties on 21st September to welcome 27 entrants to the Cross Keys pub in the centre of Liverpool — their first event under the FOCAL banner.
This was a Lincoln-style competition — players were drawn into groups of three and played both of their opponents, before being given two further groups of opponents throughout the day — using a Swiss system that ranks performances as everyone goes along.
After six 9-round games, proud Yorkshireman Callum Todd notched up 392 points and was the only contender to emerge undefeated. He was closely followed by another proud Yorkshireman James Robinson with five wins and 366 points. Just pipped on points to third place in the table despite also accruing five wins was yet another proud Yorkshireman, Dinos Sfyris.
The Grand Final, round-by-round
For the 15-round Final at the end of the afternoon, Callum lost the coin toss, so James elected to be Player 2, and here’s how it went:
Both men got off to incredible starts, getting the maximum points available in each of the first four rounds; an opening letters game of BCTPEAOEI gave both players 7s, with Todd opting for ICEBOAT and Robinson for OPACITE (microscopic dark grains in igneous rocks). Next up, both players unscrambled LMDREUANA to find the nine letter word UNALARMED hidden within. Onto the first numbers game, and Todd opted for four large and two small, hoping to get the edge. A selection of 25 75 100 50 10 and 7 with a target of 785 was no trouble for these two (7*100+75+10 from both players). Round four, and both declared GOOIEST from WTSGOEUIO, keeping the scores and 42 apiece.
Round 5 rolled up next, with the letters TLSRAOEIA. Both declared sevens, with Todd’s RETAILS sharing the points with Robinson’s ISOLATE. However seven was not the max here, as an eight letters words was hidden away – OLEARIAS (a type of plant consisting of evergreen shrubs and trees bearing clusters of daisy-like flowers, native to Australasia). Robinson’s numbers game followed. He chose a safer two large and four small, hoping to keep the scores level. The numbers were 75 25 8 1 10 and 2 with the target of 152. Robinson ((75-25)*(10-8+1))+2 and Todd ((10*2-1)*8) both took the full 10 points to keep the scores still level, now at 59 each.
Round 7 gave the selection DNNTOEAAR, and for the first time, the scores were to be split, as Robinson’s 7 ANDANTE was pipped by Todd’s 8 ADORNATE, giving him an 8 point lead, 67-59. Letters followed again, with both players spotting 7’s from JRVTTEIOS – JOTTERS from Robinson and TORTIES (an informal term for tortoiseshell cats) from Todd.
Numbers time again, and Todd’s last numbers pick of the match. Again he plumped for four large and two small, hoping for a target that would not be impossible to solve. However, a selection of 25 100 50 75 6 and 4 with a target of 567 did prove unsolvable. Todd declared 566 ((75/25+100)*6-50), as did Robinson ((75+50/25)*6+100+4), and both took a maximum of 7 points there, to leave the scores standing at 81-73 in Todd’s favour.
Round 10 and a letters selection of ZSHNEAEBM gave both players a fright with BANSHEE, followed by a selection of MSNGAIOIE, in which both men spotted the only 8 available IMAGINES. Round 12, and both spotted ESSAYING from FSSEAIYNG, which was again the only eight letter word available. Both men had played brilliantly throughout and the selection RTNPUUEAT in Round 13 yielded a 7 letter word for Todd, PATTERN, as too for Robinson, TAUNTER. This left the scores at 111-103 to Todd as they headed into the final numbers game, and it was Robinson to pick.
He opted again for a two large and four small. The selection was 75 100 4 9 5 and 6 and the target – 118, no trouble for these two; Robinson – 100+9+5+4 and Todd (6-4)*9+100. And so with the scores standing at 121-113 we went into a crucial conundrum. The scramble was flipped as the timer started – TEITEBUMS. Todd solved in the nick of time with the answer SUBMITTEE, to win the game 131-113. To add to his victory, Todd had scored the maximum in all but one of the rounds – a mighty, impressive performance.
A thoroughly enjoyable day, and a cracking night of Italian food, pool and karaoke followed. I must give huge thanks to Andy and Dan for hosting. This was the first event the pair have hosted in six years. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another six years until their next one…!
And now the league table — as things stand…
No change to the Top 8 after Liverpool. Callum has now amassed a clear 116-point lead at the top of the FOCAL table, but, he has also now registered eight events for the year. So, appearances at Blackpool and/or Braintree before Finals Day can only serve to throw out any lower scores from previous events, giving the rest of the field the opportunity to close in. The below link takes you to the latest standings:
Click on the links to see full details for each event. Please share and retweet (@focalcountdown) in all the usual places!