What’s An Event Like?

 Wondering what it’s like to go to a FOCAL tournament?
These keen FOCAL-ers share their experiences..



Mark Mills (attended 8 events since June 2015):

“I’ve been attending Co-events since 2012, but only started taking part in 2015, playing in my 1st event at Nottingham. I attended previously with my wife Tracey Mills, who was a TV series runner up in 2015. Whilst she was playing in the Co-events, I would pass time around the shops wherever the event was being held, but 6 hours around shops becomes boring, and I ended up buying things I didn’t want.

I was nervous playing my first event, as I know a lot of the people playing are of a very good standard – but during my first event, I was over the moon just to get a 9 letter word. I won 2 games and lost 6, so was happy with that as my aim was just to win one.

Playing in these events has made me a better player than I was 12 months ago, as you learn new words along the way. Whatever happens at a Co-event, win or lose, everyone is great and we always have lots of fun along the way. Everyone is easy to get along with, and people will always help you settle in if you are nervous. My aim at a Co-event is a simple one – not to come last. So it’s not all about being the best, but about the taking part and the fun of it all.

One memory for me was in 2015 at CoNot, with the wife going arse over tit whilst taking on a shot at football during a break from the game. The photo is superb too. So if anyone reading this is thinking of coming to an event for the first time and not sure how well they will do – you could always draw me…. 😊

Mark Mills (Multiple Wooden Spoon Holder)”


Jayne Wisniewski (attended 16 events since Chester 2011)

“I’ve been watching Countdown off and on since the show started in 1982, when I was at university, but I got hooked on it after watching the finals of series 61 in 2009 and discovering shortly after that you could play the game online against fellow enthusiasts on Apterous. Apterous soon became my number 1 hobby – I loved practising and playing against former and future Countdown contestants and improving my own game.

So much so that I decided that, to really be part of the whole Countdown family that I needed to be a contestant myself. And so it was that I appeared on the show in September 2011. I exceeded my expectations and became an octochamp. Fortunately for me, this drew me to the attention of fellow Apterite, Karen Pearson, who invited me to attend my first Co-event with her – Chester in October 2011. Here I won a prize for coming top of the bottom group!

I have since regularly attended Co-events all around the country – Reading, Leicester, Lincoln, Bristol, Leamington Spa, St Albans and Huddersfield. What I particularly enjoy about these events is that you are meeting the people that you play online or have seen on the TV in real life. For me, it makes the online experience more satisfying because you bond, and become friends, with people of all ages and abilities over a shared love of Countdown and a drink/meal afterwards.

I should say here that I never particularly cover myself in glory at these events. More often than not I finish in the bottom half – the standard is very high so I’m delighted if I win 3 out of 6 games. For me it isn’t about the winning, but the taking part (and the occasional thrills of a 4 large solve or 9 letter word find!).

So, if you are thinking of attending a FOCAL event, I would say come and give it a try – like me, you might just get hooked!”

More experiences coming soon!