Classic Game - Championship of Champions III Grand Final

Broadcast 30th June 1987

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This week's game is a real classic - Series 9 Champion David Trace meeting Series 10 Champion Harvey Freeman in a real 'clash of the Titans'. This game remains the final with both the highest winning and losing scores in the history of Countdown, despite the many Grand Finals that have happened since. Harvey had beaten Series 10 semi-finalist Michael Stephenson and Series 11 Champion John Clarke to make it to the Champion of Champions Grand Final, while David had seen off Series 12 quarter-finalist Cathy Morgan and Series 6 Champion Darryl Francis.

Round 1 started evenly with both contestants scoring 8 points - Harvey offered HEDONIST, David offered the same, plus the alternative HANDIEST. Sally James and Della Thompson, residing in Dictionary Corner, offered ADHESION and SEDATION. Rounds 2 and 3 were unspectacular, with both players offering a five-letter word in the letters game, followed by a straightforward numbers game. Another two rounds of 8-letter words for both contestants saw the scores still level at 39-all, as we approached the second numbers game.

Round 6 offered up a real challenge - a standard selection of one from the top, but a high target, saw both contestants only get within two, while Carol managed to get within 1. Surely one of them would get the conundrum, and see one of them move into the lead? And so it was - AERIALGUN was revealed, and after 8 seconds, it was David who spotted NEURALGIA (a typically hard conundrum for the final). Would Harvey be able to make a comeback?

The first letters game of Part Two saw a nine-letter word for both Harvey and David, thus maintaining the high scoring. In Round 9, Harvey offered the 8-letter LITERARY, but crucially, David gambled on the invalid 9-letter ERRATICLY, which allowed Harvey to move within two points of the lead. Another straightforward numbers game and the final two letters games did nothing to change the gap, but saw the score rocket to an already impressive 95-97.

CECIL, as is often the case, wasn't in the mood to think up a complicated target to separate the two protagonists, and therefore it was 105-107 after Round 13. David had therefore already matched Clive Spate's record-breaking score of 107 from Series 8, and there was still the conundrum to go! But obviously, it was still anyone's game, with only two points in it. What would the conundrum hold?

Richard pressed the button to start the clock, and PURSUEPAT was duly unveiled. Astonishingly, it was only one-and-a-half seconds before Harvey's bell sounded and he offered the correct solution SUPPURATE - astonishing not because it had taken so little time (Harvey was something of a conundrum specialist), but because most people (including David Trace, myself, and probably most of the audience!) hadn't even heard of the word (it means to form pus, or to fester, in case you were wondering). A huge cheer went up from the audience, followed by a massive round of applause. Both contestants received a clock for appearing in the Championship of Champions, but as champion, Harvey received a slightly more upmarket one! - it still only had one hand, though, in true Countdown fashion. Harvey had now accumulated 14 wins without being defeated, but it was a close-run thing. And there was still the Supreme Championship to come...

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This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 7 Jan 2001.

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