Braintree (Essex) 2019

FOCAL makes its first foray into Essex this autumn!
Why not treat yourself to a weekend break in the east of England at our newest event…


Photo from TripAdvisor

Date: Saturday 2 November 2019
Venue: White Hart Hotel, Braintree, Essex CM7 9AB [see on map]; [website];
B&B accommodation available.
Admission: £12pp or £20 for two; further discounts available for larger groups
Start time: Doors open 10:30 for Round 1 draw at 11:15
Parking on site? Yes, chargeable.
Lunch provided? No
Accommodation available? Yes
Finish time: 18:00
Hosted by: Jeff Clayton –
Games to be played: 6, plus Grand Final
Wheelchair accessible?: Yes
Train connections: Braintree station – direct service from London Liverpool Street, or change at Witham off main line services from Ipswich and Norwich.
Bus connections: First 70 from Chelmsford or Colchester, Arriva 133 from Stansted Airport.


FOCAL comes to the delightful market town of Braintree on Saturday 2nd November — the last event on the 2019 circuit before the FOCAL Finals in Wolverhampton.

Host Jeff Clayton appeared on Countdown in 2017 (series 76), notching up nine wins from ten appearances. As Chair of FOCAL, he has over ten years’ experience of running Countdown tournaments around the country.

Jeff is bringing FOCAL to his hometown of Braintree and this tournament will take place in one of the town’s oldest buildings, the White Hart, dating back to the early 16th century. Its rustic, warming vibe provides the perfect setting for wiling away an autumn day.

Getting to the venue
If you’re coming by car, the pub has parking on site but it is chargeable (and this is enforced). Other car parks are available nearby at ground level on Manor Street (CM7 3HW, by the Town Hall) or George Yard Shopping Centre (CM7 1GF, multi-storey). Both are short walks from the venue.

Braintree has a direct rail service from London Liverpool Street, then it’s a 15-minute walk through the centre of town up to the White Hart. Super off-peak discounted fares are usually available from Abellio Greater Anglia on Saturdays.

If you’re coming from the Midlands, the North, or even further afield, there’s an hourly bus 133 to/from Stansted Airport which stops right by the venue.



When do I need to be there?

Doors open from 10:30 and you can enjoy a hot drink from the bar before we get underway at 11:15. After introductions, we’ll generate a random draw for the first round matches.

How does it work?
We’ll be using what’s called the Lincoln format – three players to a table, each with a set of the board game. One adjudicates while the other two play, and everyone rotates. So, you’ll play two matches and host one at a table, and visit three tables over the course of the day.

All matches will consists of nine rounds — six letters games, two numbers games and a conundrum (LLLNLLLNC) and each player takes turns to pick the selections.

Chris sets out the letters for Loz and Michelle during a match at a previous Lincoln tournament; each will have hosted one game and played two in this group.

We’ll stop for lunch after Round 1 towards 12:45 — you can either order something off the menu, or take a stroll towards Sainsbury’s, or the High Street, with an array of coffee shops and cafés. The Saturday market will also be in full flow down towards the Town Hall — all a short walk away.

There’ll be another short break after Round 2 towards 14:45, then again after Round 3 at 16:30. Sometime towards 17:00, the two highest performing contestants will contest a Grand Final in front of a captive audience to decide the overall winner.

How does the Grand Final play out?
This will be a longer match — 14 rounds, consisting of eight letters games, four numbers games and two conundrums (LLNLLNCLLNLLNC). We’ll be using big screen graphics and playing the game much like you would see on TV, so it’s sure to be a great spectacle to round off the contest.


Where in the pub will the games take place?
We’ve hired out the Braintree and Tudor function rooms, across from each other on the ground floor and just round from the main bar. Each room will be set up with a mixture of tables and chairs, or sofas and coffee tables, so everyone will have the choice of how they want to play their matches.

We’ll be in the Braintree and Tudor rooms, with separate tables set out for three players.

Timetable for the day:
10:30 Doors open; tea/coffee available from the bar
11:15 Welcome, followed by Round 1 draw.
11:30 Round 1
12:45 Lunchtime
13:45 Round 2
15:00 Break
15:15 Round 3
16:30 Break
17:00 Grand Final (14 rounds)
17:30 Prize giving
18:00 End

You can book your place with host Jeff using PayPal:

  • £12 for an individual booking;
  • £20 if booking for two;
  • If you wish to book a larger group, please email Jeff to discuss rates.

Please remember to select the “family/friends” option, as your contribution is voluntary to help cover Jeff’s personal costs of organising the event.

What’s happening in the evening?
Jeff will arrange a group booking at a curry house in the town centre for 19:30. Interested? Let Jeff know if you want a seat at the table!

Staying over?
Why not make a weekend of it — The White Hart offers B&B accommodation which has received good ratings and reviews. At time of writing (July 2019), two nights’ B&B for two adults (staying Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November) is £100.

Taken from, 6 July 2019.

Other hotels nearby
There are two Premier Inns and a Holiday Inn Express, located just out of town off the A120. Parking is free at all of these other hotels, though we would recommend arranging taxis to get to/from the town centre if you’re not coming by car.

Any questions?

Last updated: 6/7/2019