Classic Game - Series 22 Prelim 24

Broadcast 1st August 1991

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Following on from the previous Game of the Week, this week's featured game recalls the first preliminary round to end in a sudden death conundrum. Up until the end of Series 21, additional conundrums had only ever been used to determine the winner in the finals - all preliminary games ending in a draw resulted in an extra 9-round game being played.

Bristolian Robert Teuton had already beaten five-times winner David Webb and Barbara Hudson (wife of Series 4 champion Brian Hudson) before meeting Brian Pettit from Dorset, and this was to prove a memorable encounter. Frazer Hines was residing in Dictionary Corner alongside lexicographer Alexandra Clayton.

Round 1 started with Robert taking an early lead, when he spotted the word PRALINE for 7, while Brian could only get WANDER for 6. The boot was on the other foot in Round 2, however, Brian retaliating with both KNOTTED and KNITTED - Robert only had 6 with ATONED. Dictionary Corner offered ANTIDOTE for 8. The third letters game saw Robert move back into the lead when he offered RITUALS against Brian's ALIAS. Frazer and Alex offered the rather more obscure LARIATS (lassos). The first numbers game saw Robert get 267 on the nose, while Brian struggled to 265, and as we reached the end of Part One, it was beginning to look like a walkover for the champ, as Robert led 24-7.

Round 5 dawned brightly for Brian, and the comeback began - Robert offered BELIES for 6, but Brian had spotted MOBILES. In the next letters game, Brian selected four consonants and then five vowels, which turned out to be one each of A, E, I, O and U! - as Brian selected his fifth vowel, Carol commented "Another vowel? - are you mad!?". Mad or not, both contestants failed to score, Brian plumping for the invalid OUTWAY, Robert trying the equally useless EGOITY. Happily, Round 7 was a return to form for both players, and they both scored eight points (for TEACHERS and its anagram CHEATERS). Dictionary Corner weighed in with another eight in HECTARES. The final numbers game saw them get ten apiece, Robert cheekily selecting "3 from the second row, 2 from the third row, and 1 from the top" (how dare he tease Carol so?) - both players correctly reached the target of 548.

So, the score was Brian 32, Robert 42, and the conundrum remained. TORNSTRAP was revealed, and after just one-and-a-half seconds, Brian's bell sounded and he correctly offered TRANSPORT. So, with the score at 42 all, we were in for the first ever sudden-death conundrum in a normal preliminary round of Countdown. Another conundrum was prepared, and DENIMROOT was revealed. But after thirty seconds of Alan Hawkshaw's musical masterpiece, no one had managed to unravel the anagram of MONITORED. So, for the first time in the history of Countdown, a second extra conundrum would be required! MICEVISIT was unravelled in just under 4 seconds by Robert, and he lived to fight for another day.

Robert went on to win another two games before being soundly beaten 71-30 by Jonathan Gresty. He then returned in the quarter-finals as number three seed, eventually losing out in the final to number one seed Chris Waddington (Robert was leading going into the conundrum, but Chris spotted it with one second left on the clock!). Robert and Chris met again in the sixth Championship of Champions, and again there was a crucial conundrum, which Chris spotted after 28 seconds! Robert also appeared in the Supreme Championship, getting knocked out straight away by Series 16 champion Tony Vick.

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This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 6 May 2001.

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