Fresh from our first events of the year in Lincoln, 33 keen anagrammers showed up to the stylish Alston Bar & Beef in Manchester’s Corn Exchange in mid February for an event hosted by Innis Carson. A wide range of FOCAL eventgoers were present including 2020 League Table kingpin Jack Worsley, former Countdown wunderkind Kai Laddiman attending his first event in nine years, and several newcomers (more on them later).
After a first round and a break for some canapés (and a spot of chess!) we resumed the Countdowning. In Round 2, the big boys table was populated by Callum, Jack, and Tom Carey. After three great games it was Tom who took all the spoils, with Jack having to settle for one win and Callum none. Tom sealed the victory over Jack with a hugely impressive 4 Large numbers game solve. Try this one on for size: 100 75 50 25 1 2 — 831.
A third round came and went that saw Tom win another two games to finish on a perfect six out of six record, while Jack followed behind in second place as the highest points scorer of all those on five wins out of six.
Also on five wins were local man James Haughton, achieving his second consecutive podium finish at a FOCAL event, an evergreen James Robinson fresh from his ‘Game of the Day’-winning tussle with Dave Ryan, and newcomer Richard Williams, who despite having never attended an event before and not practising regularly online managed to finish higher in the table than several octochamps and a handful of series champions! Richard’s is surely a name to remember if you’re on the lookout for the next Countdown star, as are Chris Kirby and Jamie Rawson who both notched four wins to finish high up the leaderboard.
Jack took an early eight-point lead in the final with the word IMPANATE, which Tom had seen but believed to be invalid. Tom clawed seven points back in the penultimate round by getting close to a tricky numbers target. One audience member managed to scoop all 10 though. Can you? Have a go at this: 100 75 50 25 4 2 — 887
And so Jack had a one point lead going in to the crucial conundrum. See the video below!
Tom did what he had to do to win and beat Jack to the buzzer, unravelling CHEERLEAD in just a few short seconds. He quite rightly dedicated his win to Yorkshire afterwards, having beaten a Lancastrian on his own native soil.
Following the prizegiving, we headed upstairs to the Corn Exchange’s Wahaca restaurant for a lovely meal before those who didn’t have trains to catch stayed for a few drinks in a nearby pub.
And that was that for a very successful event in Manchester. We give thanks to host Innis, who will be returning in a co-host capacity alongside James Robinson to present our next event in Newcastle upon Tyne this March.
Jack’s third final in three events this year sees him solidify his place at the top of the FOCAL leaderboard for 2020. Callum maintains second place after finishing sixth in Manchester, but will be looking over his shoulder at the in-form Tom and James.
Zubair and James are joined as new arrivals to the top 8 by Paul Worsley, who makes it a family affair with his son being the top dog for now.
To get yourself on or up the League Table, attend one of our events this year! You can see a list of upcoming events here. We’ll see you soon!