Classic Game - Series 18 Prelim 23

Broadcast 9th August 1989

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This week's game features a high-scoring match from the Countdown archives. Jonathan Anstey from London first appeared on the 3rd of August, beating Tom Dudley 54-35. He then went on to beat Keith Pottage with a convincing score of 66-12 (and it would have been 72-7 had lexicographer Simon Mason not wrongly disallowed MIRIER in the first round). Things got a little more difficult in Jonathan's third match, when he met Sue Hall from Banbury - the match ended 61-all, but he had to get the conundrum to retain his place in the champion's chair in a keenly-fought contest. The re-match was just as fraught, with the score 37-36 to Sue after the second numbers game, but Mr Anstey spotted the conundrum after 4 seconds.

And so we come to this week's featured game. Jonathan's next match was against Neil Barlow from Lancashire - how would he fare against the resilient champion? Well, the game started evenly with them both getting HAZIER (if you see what I mean!) for 6. The "Dictionary Duo" of Eve Pollard and the still-resident Simon Mason offered the rather more obscure HEJIRA (or HEGIRA), which describes an exodus (particularly that of Mohammed). Round 2 was a little more exciting, with both Neil and Jonathan spotting STATIONED for nine - they could also have had ANTIDOTES. The deadlock was broken on the third letters game when Jonathan spotted GAUDIEST for 8, while Neil trailed with STAGED for 6. The first numbers game proved tricky, despite appearances, and while Neil looked like he was going to get 7 points for being the closer, he managed to use the "7" twice, leaving Jonathan to pick up the points for his 652. Carol duly showed us the way to get ten points, using her 73 times table!

After the break, Round 5 saw Neil getting RUNNER and Jonathan getting ROLLER, and the score reached a tennis-like 30-45. Neil looked like scoring with the seven-letter SPOILER in the next letters game, but he was beaten by the rather impressive offering of GROUPIES for eight. It seemed like Jonathan was unstoppable, and so it proved when he bagged another eight points for GOVERNED in the last letters round - Neil could only offer GENDER. It was Neil's choice of numbers in the second maths round, and having lost, he opted for "one from the top and, oh, you choose!". This time CECIL was kind and the target of 230 was easy to reach, with several methods available. The score was now at the heady heights of 40-71, and the big question now was - could Neil get 81 points and achieve one of the highest scores of all-time? After Richard pressed the conundrum button, we only had three seconds to wait before Jonathan's buzzer sounded and for him to correctly unravel DEXTERITY.

After this impressive victory, Jonathan went on to record another four wins before retiring until the quarter-finals, where he returned as number one seed. He beat number eight seed Margaret Budden fairly easily, but then lost to number five seed Mandi Hale on a crucial conundrum. He did however get his revenge, beating Mandi 95-75 in the second series of Countdown Masters. His last appearance was in the 5th Championship of Champions, when he lost 57-47 against Countdown favourite (and Series 19 runner-up) Gino Corr in an extremely closely-fought game broadcast on New Year's Day 1991.

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This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 19 May 2001.

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