Two years on from our last Manchester event, hosts James and Mark brought FOCAL back to the UK’s second city and forty players turned up to take part. There’s A Reason Why so many made the trip; it was a great day.
Before the event begun, five of those players took part in the nearby Alexandra Moss Side parkrun. A pre-event parkrun is swiftly becoming a FOCAL tradition, and all five runners were happy with their times on the very quick course! For parkrun tourists, This Is The One to do in Manchester.
As the above photo was being taken, the delightful Pendulum Hotel was being kitted out with James and Mark’s big-screen graphics in preparation for the day’s event. This would be the first ‘Bristol style‘ event since 2019’s FOCAL Finals in Wolverhampton. Co:event regulars were reminded that This Is How It Feels to play along to the classroom-style rounds, while newbies got their first taste of the system.
This wasn’t just to be any old Bristol-style format however, as Robbo applied his signature twist to proceedings with a group format. All players were sorted into groups of 6, in which they would play a round robin for the first five games of the day. There was Panic on the streets of Manchester when it was revealed that Jack Worsley and Rob Foster, who Some Might Say were the two favourites for the event, had been drawn in the same group.
During the lunch break, Robbo hosted a Who Wants To Be A Co-Mancunianaire quiz with melon-twisting questions that left our conestants saying ‘I Hope I Think I Know the answers’, and was won by co:event stalwart Stewart Gordon. On resumption of the anagramming, Jack Worsley made it all the way to the final despite being defeated by Rob in their group match, while Rob fell in his semi-final to Jack Hurst.
The All-Jacks would Sit Down to face each other in a Final for the third time in their co:event careers, with Worsley claiming first blood in Leamington Spa (2013) and Hurst levelling the series in Bristol (2016). After a strong start from Hurst, taking an early lead in the first half, Worsley got back in the game at the halfway point (the first conundrum in the 14 round format chosen for the final).
Worsley then went from strength to strength in the second half of the game. Once he had taken the lead his defence was Made of Stone, before he sealed the win with another excellent conundrum solve.
Jack Hurst had performed magnificently throughout the day, going undefeated before the final and dominating the group phase. With the Bristol-style setup assigning the same selections to everyone in the room, the top players are normally closely clustered together by score but remarkably This Charming Man’s total of 362 from five games put him more than 10% clear of the next highest scorer! His silver medal in Manchester follows the bronze he picked up at his last event, the Lincoln Hangover, showing that he is in very strong form at present. Perhaps he has been practising on his very own Android app?
Jack Worsley was just unbeatable on the day though, even for a player of Jack Hurst’s quality. Having finished second to Tom Carey in our last Manchester event in 2020, he didn’t Look Back In Anger and it was inevitable that he Will Tear Us Apart when he’s on form. This triumph extends his record tally of tournament wins to 22. With such longevity on the co:event scene, certainly his Is A Light That Never Goes Out.
Else where in the event, Tracey put in a strong performance, narrowly losing the third-place play-off to Tom Carey. With her husband Mark on hosting duty and her son Ben (who is old enough to be her son) competing in one of the lower group categories, She Bangs The Drum for the Mills clan at these tournaments. In Group C, Richard Williams followed up his impressive debut FOCAL performance at 2020’s Manchester event, and his terribly unlucky draw on Countdown, by beating a Countdown series champion to get to the Group C Final, where he lost a close game with another series champion! An impressive performance for sure but Williams, It Was Really Nothing.
What this means for the League Table
Jack’s second event win of the season strengthens his place in the Top 8, and hometown hero James Haughton’s respectable finish catapults him into the top 8, overtaking T-Cap and displacing our friend George. George, along with his London co-host Fiona, his FOCAL colleagues Callum and Chris, and one-time on-screen opponent Tom have all now joined Eddy on a tally of 8 events played in the 2020-22 season. This now means that any future event scores will only count towards their points tally by replacing an inferior score from a previous event.
Thankfully for George, his score is comprised of two quite low returns from the 2020 Lincoln double header, so he should have no trouble bettering his total for the season in future events. Unfortunately for him, he won’t be able to add to his score at our next event, because he’s hosting it! Which brings us neatly on to:
FOCAL will return on Saturday 9th April 2022 and it’s a big one! We’ll be in London and places are still available both for the tournament and the post-event dinner at Pizza Express. Take a look at the event page for more details and get yourself signed up if you haven’t already!
Stay tuned to our Upcoming Events page for details of other events in 2022, where we will soon be dropping the exciting news of our brand new events in Galway (11th June) and Brighton (16th July)!
Can’t wait until April for your anagramming fix? Tune into the ZoomDown Champion of Champions series on YouTube here or if you want to play some rounds yourself then try out the aforementioned Android app by Countdown legend Jack Hurst.
See you again soon!