Best ever contestants

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Martin Gardner
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Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:37 pm

Quite a simple one this one, and yes it's been repeat ad nauseum on the other forums but I still think it needs to be update every now and then.

I used to watch as a child with my grandma but I can't remember anything about those shows. The earliest I can remember is Series 46 when I started watching again as a teenager. The best 5 contestants according to me are:

1) Craig Beevers

2) Julian Fell

3) Paul Gallen

4) Conor Travers

5) Matthew Shore


Although Craig got less points that Julian during his run, I think that Julian also had a high maximum and therefore got a lower percentage score than Craig. Paul was particularly brilliant during the CofC XII, probably the highest standard of Countdown I've ever seen from anyone, but was not as strong as Craig anf Julian during his own Series. Conor is an obvious one, and Matthew Shore over Chris Wills or Stewart Holden may seem controversial but if you look at the game results it can be justified. Also in my top 10 if I had to work it out would be Wills, Holden, Paul Howe, Mark Tournoff and possibly Chris Cummins, not sure yet.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:42 pm

I think Stewart Holden loses points for not participating in the CofC. I'm surprised you put Matthew Shore ahead of a few people, inlcuding series champion, Matthew Shore defeater, CofC finalist and nearly twice defeater of Paul Gallen, Mark Tournamentoff.

I don't think you necessarily have to have watched someone to have a stab at their all-time ranking. Where would you put Harvey Freeman? I don't think his performances are right up there with the very best, but I think people also look at his supreme performances which were lower than his series ones. Also it's interesting to note that his 523 Octochamp score becomes 850.5 (from memory) if you do a round by round conversion which is still pretty decent, and still the best for any CofC winner!

Also greatness to me is about success as well as talent. Graham Nash never looked the best but he defeated Tom Hargreaves, Julian Fell and Chris Wills to win the CofC and that puts him quite high in my books.

Also, I'd like to see a CofC peformance from Craig Beevers before ranking him. If he wins, he's on pole for greatest ever.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Jon O'Neill » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:50 pm

Yawn.

Jeffrey Hansford is the best ever.

Settled.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Richard Brittain » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:26 am

Probably:

1. Amey Deshpande

2. Harry Peters

3. Frank Mulvey

4. Jeffrey Hansford

5. Jon Corby

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Richard Brittain » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:36 am

No, my serious ones would be:

1. Paul Gallen

2. Conor Travers

3. Julian Fell

4. Craig Beevers

5. Mark Tournoff

6. Paul Howe

I haven't seen any of Harvey Freeman or the other old super-contestants, but I think that with the aid of computers to develop their skills today the best contestants are better than ever before, so I don't think Harvey Freeman or Allan Sudanharia would be able to match any of these 6.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by David O'Donnell » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:07 pm

Richard Brittain wrote:No, my serious ones would be:

1. Paul Gallen

2. Conor Travers

3. Julian Fell

4. Craig Beevers

5. Mark Tournoff

6. Paul Howe

I haven't seen any of Harvey Freeman or the other old super-contestants, but I think that with the aid of computers to develop their skills today the best contestants are better than ever before, so I don't think Harvey Freeman or Allan Sudanharia would be able to match any of these 6.
Confining the list to more recent players I would have to say you've got the top six spot on, Richard. I wouldn't be too sure about the order but definitely those six.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Craig Beevers » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:25 pm

If you're going by what they were like when they were on the show I fail to see on what basis you could place Conor as high as 2nd. I don't think you could point to a patch of games and say he was particularly exceptional there.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by David O'Donnell » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:32 pm

I am glad someone has finally had the courage to say it: "Travers is well shit."

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Jon Corby » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:03 pm

David O'Donnell wrote:I am glad someone has finally had the courage to say it: "Travers is well shit."
He is. People see him and think "aww, he's really cute" because he's just a little boy, and then they're impressed that he comes out with words like "DAMS" in the series final. You can only place him in any kind of "best contestants" list if you make huge allowances for him only being seven years old, but then you start to make a mockery of the whole thing.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:10 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote: Also greatness to me is about success as well as talent. Graham Nash never looked the best but he defeated Tom Hargreaves, Julian Fell and Chris Wills to win the CofC and that puts him quite high in my books.
I did think of Graham but I know in his last two games he was not great. In his game against Tom he had 4 maximums on the letter and two invalid words in 11 letters games, and then in the final against Chris Wills they both missed COULTERS in the first round. Again with Chris, while he's one the best ever, I don't think he merits the top 5 15-round players as he missed about 6 or 7 nine letter words on the show. I can remember PATRONISE and CHAGRINED off the top of my head, but there were more. Kevin Thurlow mentions it in his Countdown experience. That sounds extremely harsh but I am talking about the top 5 players since 2002 and just sorry, neither of them would be on my list.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Richard Brittain » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:14 pm

Craig Beevers wrote:If you're going by what they were like when they were on the show I fail to see on what basis you could place Conor as high as 2nd. I don't think you could point to a patch of games and say he was particularly exceptional there.
Well, he was pretty exceptional for most of the games he played in and was only narrowly beaten by Paul Gallen in CoC. In my opinion, there isn't really much to choose from between Conor Travers, Julian Fell, and yourself, so you can jumble them around if you like. If you win the next CoC with near-perfect scores, then I would probably place you first.

I admit that my judgement on Conor Travers is somewhat biased by the fact that I have seen him get many ridiculous words on MSN Countdown.

Also, I probably should have put Chris Wills up there, but to be honest I completely forgot about him. And Graham Nash. I will offer a revised list:

1. Paul Gallen
2 = Conor Travers
2 = Julian Fell
2 = Craig Beevers
5. Mark Tournoff
6. Chris Wills
7. Paul Howe
8. Graham Nash
9. Matthew Shore

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Jason Larsen » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:37 pm

My favorites are James Martin, Ben Wilson, Michael MacDonald Cooper and Jeffrey Hansford.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Joseph Bolas » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:51 pm

Craig Beevers is definitely one I would consider a best contestant. Luckily he beat Jeffrey Hansford, but I suppose Craig is that good, that Jeffrey had no chance.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:57 pm

Alright I'll go for a revised top 10. Remember this is just for fun. I'm only including contestants I have physically seen myself (erm on TV I mean).

1. Craig Beevers
2. Julian Fell
3. Paul Gallen
4. Conor Travers
5. Matthew Shore
6. Mark Tournoff
7. Chris Wills
8. Stewart Holden (could have been higher if he'd done the CofC)
9. Paul Howe (played quite a few invalid words)
10. Graham Nash

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Last edited by Martin Gardner on Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Jason Larsen » Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:01 pm

I know, Craig Beevers got so many congratulations when he won the season last year. He is a member of this forum. I don't know how often he posts, but the next time he does I will offer him my congratulations. He seems like a nice guy.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Ben Wilson » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:18 pm

He posted less than two hours ago in this very thread!

But seriously, my list:

Harvey Freeman
Allan Saldanha
Scott Mearns
Chris Wills
Julian Fell
Paul Gallen
Mark Tournoff
Conor Travers
Craig Beevers

and the 10th is a toss-up between messrs Shore, Howe, Nash and Hargreaves. If we're talking 'skill should they appear on the show now', then really it'd be a four way match up between Craig, Conor, Paul Gallen and Mark Nyman.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Jon O'Neill » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:26 pm

Craig Beevers wrote:If you're going by what they were like when they were on the show I fail to see on what basis you could place Conor as high as 2nd. I don't think you could point to a patch of games and say he was particularly exceptional there.
He won easily the most competitive series of recent times. Give a matchplay situation against another top player (like those in COMA, which he readily entered..) I would back Conor most times. At the higher levels it becomes less about how many maxima you score and more about how well you can deal with being in front, being behind, split-second crucial conundrums and whatever else. It took a force like Gallen to stop him on TV, and not many have stopped him since then/

Speaking of which, a lot of you are underrating Howe. He is really good. REALLY good. But in a pressure situation, Gallen is your man.

Anyway all of this is proposterously hypothetical. GET A LIFE!

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Jason Larsen » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:26 pm

Thank you, Craig, and it's a wonder how Mark Nyman went from being a great contestant on Countdown to being a lexicographer.

Can anyone direct me to some clips of Mark Nyman playing as a contestant on Countdown online?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Jason Larsen » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:28 pm

By the way, Jon, you're right about Conor Travers. He grew up to be a very silly, but still nice guy.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Ben Pugh » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:01 pm

Jason Larsen wrote:By the way, Jon, you're right about Conor Travers. He grew up to be a very silly, but still nice guy.
What?

Image

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Joseph Bolas » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:02 pm

Ben Pugh wrote:
Jason Larsen wrote:By the way, Jon, you're right about Conor Travers. He grew up to be a very silly, but still nice guy.
What?

Image
Its just a pointless post, you can expect that from Jason.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:42 pm

Best ever...........hmm let me see...........Goodness is that the time already?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Craig Beevers » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:21 pm

Ginger Jono wrote:
Craig Beevers wrote:If you're going by what they were like when they were on the show I fail to see on what basis you could place Conor as high as 2nd. I don't think you could point to a patch of games and say he was particularly exceptional there.
He won easily the most competitive series of recent times. Give a matchplay situation against another top player (like those in COMA, which he readily entered..) I would back Conor most times. At the higher levels it becomes less about how many maxima you score and more about how well you can deal with being in front, being behind, split-second crucial conundrums and whatever else. It took a force like Gallen to stop him on TV, and not many have stopped him since then/

Speaking of which, a lot of you are underrating Howe. He is really good. REALLY good. But in a pressure situation, Gallen is your man.

Anyway all of this is proposterously hypothetical. GET A LIFE!
He had two virtual walkovers against weak performances and obviously the semi final which was very high standard. I don't really care what people are like in COMA etc. and I don't think you'll ever get a good idea of what people are like in 'matchplay situations' from seeing such a small sample size of Countdown episodes. Which brings it back to all being proposterously hypothetical again...

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:16 am

Thats Jono and Craig Beevers, both unable to spell preposterous. Call yourself Countdown champions?

I think the best player of the last decade is hard enough to call, let alone the whole of the last 25 years.

There are too many candidates. Craig, Conor, Scott Mearns, Paul Gallen, Paul Howe, Mark Tournoff, Chris Wills, Julian Fell etc etc - its just not possible.

Maybe we'll find out one day if we do a supreme-like competition. Who knows.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Paul Howe » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:38 am

Martin Gardner wrote:Alright I'll go for a revised top 10. Remember this is just for fun.
I'm only including contestants I have physically seen myself (erm on TV
I mean).

1. Craig Beevers
2. Julian Fell
3. Paul Gallen
4. Conor Travers
5. Matthew Shore
6. Mark Tournoff
7. Chris Wills
8. Stewart Holden (could have been higher if he'd done the CofC)
9. Paul Howe (played quite a few invalid words)
10. Graham Nash

Martin
Pfft, I only had 8 disallowed, and of those only 4 were genuinely retarded. Plus, I can't believe you think all those people are better looking than me! In the right light I actually have quite an attractive face, when viewed from certain very specific angles, and your list was a real blow to my self esteem :cry:

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Ralph Gillions » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:53 pm

Ah!
I see these posts are based on a contestants skills as a Countdown player.
That is clearly what the opening post intended and that is fine and fair.
But "Best Ever Contestants" could also be defined as entertainment value, charisma, style, ...and so on.
Dare I venture to say that the provisional lists so far discussed might look different if posters were asked
who were most entertaining and pleasing. Personality, not points.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Jason Larsen » Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:30 pm

I always have good intentions.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:11 pm

Craig Beevers wrote:If you're going by what they were like when they were on the show I fail to see on what basis you could place Conor as high as 2nd. I don't think you could point to a patch of games and say he was particularly exceptional there.
What counts as particularly exceptional? If he hasn't, then I don't think there are also many others you could say that have. Was Julian Fell any better? Higher scoring, but I get told off for using that as evidence of how good a player is. And there may be claims that there was more available in Julian's games. Paul Gallen? Good choice, yes, but some people might count his series performance (good but not great) against him in terms of ranking his overall greatness. And when he beat Conor, it was very close. Things swing on the smallest of things and Conor could well have won that tournament. Had he done so (which would have been quite possible without being any better a player) he would be top in a lot of lists. Then there's you as well, but you've not done a CofC yet, so people could claim you haven't done enough yet (not had the opportunity) to achieve full greatness.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:15 pm

Damian E wrote:There are too many candidates. Craig, Conor, Scott Mearns, Paul Gallen, Paul Howe, Mark Tournoff, Chris Wills, Julian Fell etc etc - its just not possible.

Maybe we'll find out one day if we do a supreme-like competition. Who knows.
I think there are a lot of candidates for who is a great player, but greatest ever, I don't think there are that many. Just looking at your list, Paul Howe, Mark Tournoff and Chris Wills, all great players, but are they candidates for greatest ever? No. Also Scott Mearns would be very much on the outer fringes.

Basically in terms of realistic candidates, we have Harvey Freeman, Julian Fell, Conor Travers, Paul Gallen and Craig Beevers.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:46 pm

I think there are a lot of candidates for who is a great player, but greatest ever, I don't think there are that many. Just looking at your list, Paul Howe, Mark Tournoff and Chris Wills, all great players, but are they candidates for greatest ever? No. Also Scott Mearns would be very much on the outer fringes.

Basically in terms of realistic candidates, we have Harvey Freeman, Julian Fell, Conor Travers, Paul Gallen and Craig Beevers.

Why is a 'great player' not a candidate for greatest player ever?

It's like saying a strawberry isn't a candidate for a fruit salad.

This thread bores me to death.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:37 pm

Damian E wrote:Why is a 'great player' not a candidate for greatest player ever?

It's like saying a strawberry isn't a candidate for a fruit salad.

This thread bores me to death.
Some great players are candidates for greatest ever but not all. You may have a large strawberry but that doesn't automatically makest a candidate for largest ever. Paul Howe, for example, is obviously brilliant at the game and may make someone's list of top x players, but I can't imagine anyone actually putting him top. (Sorry, Paul.)
This thread bores me to death.
No-one's making you read it or post in it.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:06 pm

I think we should have a poll at some point, but after the next CofC so people will be at the same level of potential achievement (apart from the earlier players who had the supremes). But if I were to make a poll myself now, I would be slightly more generous than just including those five. It would probably be (in chronological order):

1. Harvey Freeman
2. Scott Mearns
3. Graham Nash
4. Julian Fell
5. Paul Gallen
6. Conor Travers
7. Craig Beevers
8. Other

Nic Brown is also unbeaten but he didn't compete in the supremes and his scoring record is lower than Harvey Freeman who did compete - he won everything Nic Brown did but more impressively. Likewise Scott Mearns and Graham Nash did more on the way to being unbeaten CofC winner. I dont think Nic Brown should gain from not competing, just like I wouldn't include Stewart Holden or Frank Mulvey simply for being unbeaten.

Also some people might like to include Mark Nyman as he won the champion of champions of champions tournament as well as beating Harvey Freeman in a masters game. But his scores weren't massively impressive really and I don't think he did enough to be greatest ever. You could also include Natascha Kearsey on the CofCofC basis but again she didn't really do enough throughout her run. Both failed to win their series.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Joseph Bolas » Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:31 pm

I would love to see some of the old games with Mark Nyman and Damian Eadie. I would also like it if there was a one-off special between Damian and Mark, like they did with Richard and Carol.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:01 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote:I think we should have a poll at some point, but after the next CofC so people will be at the same level of potential achievement (apart from the earlier players who had the supremes). But if I were to make a poll myself now, I would be slightly more generous than just including those five. It would probably be (in chronological order):

1. Harvey Freeman
2. Scott Mearns
3. Graham Nash
4. Julian Fell
5. Paul Gallen
6. Conor Travers
7. Craig Beevers
8. Other

Nic Brown is also unbeaten but he didn't compete in the supremes and his scoring record is lower than Harvey Freeman who did compete - he won everything Nic Brown did but more impressively. Likewise Scott Mearns and Graham Nash did more on the way to being unbeaten CofC winner. I dont think Nic Brown should gain from not competing, just like I wouldn't include Stewart Holden or Frank Mulvey simply for being unbeaten.

Also some people might like to include Mark Nyman as he won the champion of champions of champions tournament as well as beating Harvey Freeman in a masters game. But his scores weren't massively impressive really and I don't think he did enough to be greatest ever. You could also include Natascha Kearsey on the CofCofC basis but again she didn't really do enough throughout her run. Both failed to win their series.

This is pretty typical of the thread and the whole concept of who is / was the greatest player ever. It's very much trapped in the last decade, and it disregards far too many brilliant players of Countdown. Your choices are largely based on statistics, which mean very little overall. You say that Mark Nymans scores "weren't massively impressive really", but the fact is, and i'm talking from pure experience having been involved in over 2700 editions of the show, Mark Nyman IS one of the best Countdowners there has ever been. I really don't understand what scores have to do with it .

There is no mention of David Acton, Allan Saldanha or Tim Morrisey, which in itself is a nonsense. If you want to really get into the meat and two veg of who is / was the best player ever and make an attempt at drawing any kind of solid conclusion, i think you should take a look at the shows and see the performances, as opposed to analysing statistics and scores and forming an opinion from them. You'd be guaranteed more accuracy this way, i am sure of it.

Personally, i don't think it's possible to pick a greatest ever. The circumstances vary so much between age of contestant, how many shows they had to play in one day, how long the shows lasted in terms of numbers of rounds, and who they were up against. It's a sort of romantic idea, but i get the feeling you're in the love with debating the topic far more than you are about finding a sensible conclusion to it.

Just out of curiosity, have you ever seen a game featuring Morrisey, Saldanha, Acton or Nyman?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:05 pm

Joseph Bolas wrote:I would love to see some of the old games with Mark Nyman and Damian Eadie. I would also like it if there was a one-off special between Damian and Mark, like they did with Richard and Carol.
Won't ever happen Joseph. My on-screen days are long gone and i've no desire to play Countdown on the telly - and Mark would win easily.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Ben Wilson » Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:33 pm

Damian E wrote:
Joseph Bolas wrote:I would love to see some of the old games with Mark Nyman and Damian Eadie. I would also like it if there was a one-off special between Damian and Mark, like they did with Richard and Carol.
Won't ever happen Joseph. My on-screen days are long gone and i've no desire to play Countdown on the telly - and Mark would win easily.
Mark vs. Julian or Conor would be an interesting one though, you have to admit.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:51 pm

Damian E wrote:
This thread bores me to death.
Personally, if I find something boring or offensive, I don't read it, which is why I don't read The Sun. Any it hardly seems like an illegitimate topic for a forum about the game show Countdown.

Seriously though Damian, why does it bother you so much? You think on the tennis forums they don't talk about Roger Federer and Pete Sampras? Basically since I've first talked to you electronically in about 2001 on the Gevincountdown forum, I just don't get it.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Joseph Bolas » Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:37 am

Damian E wrote:
Joseph Bolas wrote:I would love to see some of the old games with Mark Nyman and Damian Eadie. I would also like it if there was a one-off special between Damian and Mark, like they did with Richard and Carol.
Won't ever happen Joseph. My on-screen days are long gone and i've no desire to play Countdown on the telly - and Mark would win easily.
It is a shame that, I think it would've been a great match to watch.

How about Susie Dent v Alison Heard :D?

EDIT: I know Alison and Susie have not been on before so can't be classed as best ever contestants (which this thread is about), but I thought I would just ask.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Charlie Reams » Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:24 am

Joseph Bolas wrote: How about Susie Dent v Alison Heard :D?
That would be awesome. Unlikely, though, I think.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:26 pm

Damian E wrote:This is pretty typical of the thread and the whole concept of who is / was the greatest player ever. It's very much trapped in the last decade, and it disregards far too many brilliant players of Countdown. Your choices are largely based on statistics, which mean very little overall. You say that Mark Nymans scores "weren't massively impressive really", but the fact is, and i'm talking from pure experience having been involved in over 2700 editions of the show, Mark Nyman IS one of the best Countdowners there has ever been. I really don't understand what scores have to do with it .
This is based on people's performances on the show. It doesn't matter if from your experience working with Mark you've drawn the conclusion that he is one of the best ever. I think he probably improved a lot after his initial appearances. Anyway, I did only mention him because he would be on the fringes of who I would put in a poll, so it's not as if I ignored him completely.

Scores mean more than you claim. Winning a game is the most important thing obviously, and some games are harder to score highly in than others, but let's not pretend that there is no correlation here.
There is no mention of David Acton, Allan Saldanha or Tim Morrisey, which in itself is a nonsense. If you want to really get into the meat and two veg of who is / was the best player ever and make an attempt at drawing any kind of solid conclusion, i think you should take a look at the shows and see the performances, as opposed to analysing statistics and scores and forming an opinion from them. You'd be guaranteed more accuracy this way, i am sure of it.
None of these players really did enough to be classified as greatest ever. David Acton had a very good individual series, but did nothing else. Others have had good individual series and done well in CofC tournaments. There's just no way that anyone who knew about all the Countdown contestants would say "Hmm, greatest player ever? Out of all of them? That would be David Acton." Tim Morrissey, again very good, and a CofC winner but he didn't do enough to be greatest of all time. Allan Saldanha - I do have more sympathy with that position, even though he didn't actually win a tournament. The main reason being that he did look the strongest contestant during the supremes until he got to the final and lost to Harvey Freeman who hadn't looked that dominant. However, later players have looked at least as impressive and gone on to win tournaments as well. Greatness is about success as well as talent, and Saldanha lacks the success. He had the opportunity at the supremes (no excuse about being too young) but still fell short.

So up to the supreme championship, Harvey Freeman is the most realistic candidate - very few others would make the poll, though one could argue for Mark Nyman and, erring on the side of inclusivity, Allan Saldanha, Nic Brown and Don Reid.
Personally, i don't think it's possible to pick a greatest ever. The circumstances vary so much between age of contestant, how many shows they had to play in one day, how long the shows lasted in terms of numbers of rounds, and who they were up against. It's a sort of romantic idea, but i get the feeling you're in the love with debating the topic far more than you are about finding a sensible conclusion to it.
Debating itself can be fun, but I don't think I'd be too disappointed if there was a clear winner and no realistic debate possible.
Just out of curiosity, have you ever seen a game featuring Morrisey, Saldanha, Acton or Nyman?
Yes, certainly the first three of those.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote:So up to the supreme championship, Harvey Freeman is the most realistic candidate - very few others would make the poll, though one could argue for Mark Nyman and, erring on the side of inclusivity, Allan Saldanha, Nic Brown and Don Reid.
Carrying on from this (erring on the side of inclusivity) post-supremes, as well as the ones in my list, you could have Natascha Kearsey (as explained earlier, although I can't imagine any actual votes), Chris Wills (possibly, as he is probably the highest scoring (overall) CofC finalist, although unlikely to attract votes), and Mark Tournoff, who came within a crucial conundrum of doing the double against Paul Gallen.

The list would automatically be shorter if certain people had won their CofCs. If Julian Fell had won his, then obviously Graham Nash and Chris Wills would go straight away. And realistically you could cull quite a few more. Then if Conor had remained unbeaten to win the CofC, no-one else since Julian would need to be included.

If Craig Beevers plays equally impressively and wins his CofC, you could probably do a retrospective cull of most of the 15-rounders currently in there. Julian Fell would survive as the most prolific scorer and Paul Gallen as people may still make the claim that his CofC performance alone was the best ever, but no-one else.

And there would always be an "other" option...

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Joseph Bolas » Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:30 pm

Charlie Reams wrote:
Joseph Bolas wrote: How about Susie Dent v Alison Heard :D?
That would be awesome. Unlikely, though, I think.
You are probably right. I think the idea should still be pitched to Damian and see what he thinks.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:36 pm

Martin Gardner wrote:
Damian E wrote:
This thread bores me to death.
.

Seriously though Damian, why does it bother you so much? You think on the tennis forums they don't talk about Roger Federer and Pete Sampras? Basically since I've first talked to you electronically in about 2001 on the Gevincountdown forum, I just don't get it.

Martin
Martin, it doesnt 'bother' me, its just tedious, hypothetical rhetoric that has been dissected, anaylsed, post-mortemed and overdone to death. I guess it's all down to the personality of the poster. If this is what floats your boat then great - hats off to you - go get 'em and all that jazz. Not really sure what you mean about 'not gettting it' since 2001 - is Gevin playing hard to get? Have you tried online dating?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:38 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote:
Gevin-Gavin wrote:So up to the supreme championship, Harvey Freeman is the most realistic candidate - very few others would make the poll, though one could argue for Mark Nyman and, erring on the side of inclusivity, Allan Saldanha, Nic Brown and Don Reid.
Carrying on from this (erring on the side of inclusivity) post-supremes, as well as the ones in my list, you could have Natascha Kearsey (as explained earlier, although I can't imagine any actual votes), Chris Wills (possibly, as he is probably the highest scoring (overall) CofC finalist, although unlikely to attract votes), and Mark Tournoff, who came within a crucial conundrum of doing the double against Paul Gallen.

The list would automatically be shorter if certain people had won their CofCs. If Julian Fell had won his, then obviously Graham Nash and Chris Wills would go straight away. And realistically you could cull quite a few more. Then if Conor had remained unbeaten to win the CofC, no-one else since Julian would need to be included.

If Craig Beevers plays equally impressively and wins his CofC, you could probably do a retrospective cull of most of the 15-rounders currently in there. Julian Fell would survive as the most prolific scorer and Paul Gallen as people may still make the claim that his CofC performance alone was the best ever, but no-one else.

And there would always be an "other" option...
Please stop.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Richard Brittain » Sun Apr 13, 2008 6:21 pm

Some newer members haven't read these discussions before. I for one haven't. It's a natural question to come up frequently on a discussion board devoted to Countdown. I don't see a problem with it.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Charlie Reams » Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:09 pm

I think it's a discussion that's likely to interest everyone at some point, so as long as stays in this thread then both the interesteds and disinteresteds should be happy. Accordingly I'm stickying this topic.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:40 pm

Richard Brittain wrote:Some newer members haven't read these discussions before. I for one haven't. It's a natural question to come up frequently on a discussion board devoted to Countdown. I don't see a problem with it.
Fair point. Still very puzzled though. I'd take a guess that the average age of members of this forum is well under 30yrs old, so doesn't a long-winded debate about choosing the best from the last 25.5 years seem a little absurd?

Perhaps its just me.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sun Apr 13, 2008 10:51 pm

Damian E wrote:Please stop.
I will. Eventually. But before I do, do you recognise either of these quotes?
The toughest series ever to play in is the one that has the best player in it - and that was Scott Mearns by a country mile.
I only consider Scott to be the best player because he had a natural ability, rather than recalling words from the back of his head that were only there through countless hours of studying Scrabble word-lists.

Yes - Harvey, Allan and Mark were superb - BUT, as far as i know, Scott never picked up a Scrabble book in his life and won his games through natural gifted abilities. This is only my opinion and in no way intended to detract from other champions - but the other names mentioned had to WORK at being brilliant Countdowners - whereas Scott just walked in and sat down.
When it comes down to choosing the best ever all in all - for me it's
easy. Allan Saldanha - 9yrs old, wiping the floor with all-comers
when most kids his age were still scared of the dark. The show had
only been running 5 and a half years when he played, so he had
nowhere near as long to hone his skills as the likes of Julian and
Scott. Even had he started watching at 6, he'd have only had 3yrs and
the level of vocabulary he had was nothing short of miraculous.

Look at what we were all doing at 9 and look what he did, it's tells
you everything you need to know. A lot of debate as to who is second,
but for me, just my opinion, it's Allan by a mile.
While we're here actually, are we sure that Allan Saldanha was nine when he first appeared? It seems to be "common knowledge" but I have it in my mind that he was ten.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Paul Howe » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:06 pm

My impression is that in the 15-round era at least, Messrs Travers, Beevers and Gallen are a notch above the rest, and it would be tricky to pick a winner in any hypothetical matchup between these three (there's an idea for a special btw)

However, the main reason that you would favour these three in a match against the likes of Fell, Wills and Mearns is that, in my judgement at least, they did a significantly greater degree of preparation, and I'm not sure that makes them "greater" players. Kind of like how we regard Cruyff, Puskas, and Pele as legends even though most of us haven't seen them play, and we know that maybe they wouldn't look quite as good if transplanted into the modern game due to greater standards of fitness, athleticism, etc.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:29 pm

I think Julian Fell is always likely to feature because of his massive scoring, despite his defeat against Graham Nash. Even if Craig Beevers wins the CofC, 924 might be compared to 907 and 1307 to 1236 (11-game totals). However, obviously scores aren't everything and it's quite possible that Julian had more available to him.

Just looking at the advantage Julian's nines gave him - as far as I know he got five in the heats and six in the final stages, and removing the nine point bonus, his totals would be 879 and 1208. Craig I think scored two nines in the heats and one in the final stages so his totals would be 889 and 1209, which are both just ahead of Julian. And as far as I know, those three nines were all that were available to Craig.

So Julian's score advantage over Craig is largely an artefact of the nine-point bonus rather than down to something Julian had over Craig. So if Craig does win the CofC and people still claim that Julian is the greatest because of his scores, this can be used as evidence.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:33 pm

Paul Howe wrote:My impression is that in the 15-round era at least, Messrs Travers, Beevers and Gallen are a notch above the rest
Does Julian Fell not even make the same notch? Would he had he won the CofC?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Ben Wilson » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:34 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote:
Damian E wrote:Please stop.
I will. Eventually. But before I do, do you recognise either of these quotes?
The toughest series ever to play in is the one that has the best player in it - and that was Scott Mearns by a country mile.
I only consider Scott to be the best player because he had a natural ability, rather than recalling words from the back of his head that were only there through countless hours of studying Scrabble word-lists.

Yes - Harvey, Allan and Mark were superb - BUT, as far as i know, Scott never picked up a Scrabble book in his life and won his games through natural gifted abilities. This is only my opinion and in no way intended to detract from other champions - but the other names mentioned had to WORK at being brilliant Countdowners - whereas Scott just walked in and sat down.
When it comes down to choosing the best ever all in all - for me it's
easy. Allan Saldanha - 9yrs old, wiping the floor with all-comers
when most kids his age were still scared of the dark. The show had
only been running 5 and a half years when he played, so he had
nowhere near as long to hone his skills as the likes of Julian and
Scott. Even had he started watching at 6, he'd have only had 3yrs and
the level of vocabulary he had was nothing short of miraculous.

Look at what we were all doing at 9 and look what he did, it's tells
you everything you need to know. A lot of debate as to who is second,
but for me, just my opinion, it's Allan by a mile.
While we're here actually, are we sure that Allan Saldanha was nine when he first appeared? It seems to be "common knowledge" but I have it in my mind that he was ten.
I think he was 9 during the heats and 10 during the finals, or it was recorded when he was 9, or something along those lines anyways. Will look into it a bit further if need be.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Paul Howe » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:54 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote:
Paul Howe wrote:My impression is that in the 15-round era at least,
Messrs Travers, Beevers and Gallen are a notch above the rest
Does Julian Fell not even make the same notch? Would he had he won the CofC?
Nothing to do with CofC performances, and I think Julian is at least as brilliant as those three, which was kind of the point of my post.In a mini-league between those four though, I think he would come fourth as in my judgement at least he doesn't have the same depth of word knowledge.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Richard Brittain » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:13 am

Damian E wrote:I'd take a guess that the average age of members of this forum is well under 30yrs old, so doesn't a long-winded debate about choosing the best from the last 25.5 years seem a little absurd?
Well, yes. It is definitely biased to more recent players.

I made a point about the aid of computers, which may or may not have been BS. A lot of the best players now use Countdown programs, such as the ones written by Soo Reams and Jon Corby or just the electronic handheld one, none of which existed 10+ years ago. These programs automatically point out the best, obscure words in every selection because they are linked to a virtual dictionary. Before these things were around, it would have been necessary to page through an entire dictionary to learn every obscure word. I am guessing from this that the best older players, while as good as the new players in terms of anagramming ability, would not be able to match the best newer players, because they do not know every word in the dictionary whereas the likes of Paul Gallen, Conor Travers and Craig Beevers literally do. This is something of a total guess without any evidence from research and could be complete nonsense.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:30 am

Gevin-Gavin wrote:
Damian E wrote:Please stop.
I will. Eventually. But before I do, do you recognise either of these quotes?
The toughest series ever to play in is the one that has the best player in it - and that was Scott Mearns by a country mile.
I only consider Scott to be the best player because he had a natural ability, rather than recalling words from the back of his head that were only there through countless hours of studying Scrabble word-lists.

Yes - Harvey, Allan and Mark were superb - BUT, as far as i know, Scott never picked up a Scrabble book in his life and won his games through natural gifted abilities. This is only my opinion and in no way intended to detract from other champions - but the other names mentioned had to WORK at being brilliant Countdowners - whereas Scott just walked in and sat down.
When it comes down to choosing the best ever all in all - for me it's
easy. Allan Saldanha - 9yrs old, wiping the floor with all-comers
when most kids his age were still scared of the dark. The show had
only been running 5 and a half years when he played, so he had
nowhere near as long to hone his skills as the likes of Julian and
Scott. Even had he started watching at 6, he'd have only had 3yrs and
the level of vocabulary he had was nothing short of miraculous.

Look at what we were all doing at 9 and look what he did, it's tells
you everything you need to know. A lot of debate as to who is second,
but for me, just my opinion, it's Allan by a mile.
While we're here actually, are we sure that Allan Saldanha was nine when he first appeared? It seems to be "common knowledge" but I have it in my mind that he was ten.

I do recognise those quotes (sort of) - but i don't actually still hold those views - that's presuming they are in context, though i've no reason to believe they wouldn't be.

Best player ever - purely and simply based on results and performance, i can't give you an answer in April 2008 and find enough argument to justify it.

Scott Mearns, WAS (when that post was written) the best player i had seen in the studio. Calm, maintaining a good level of personality, confident, humble, polite and dignified - he was perfect TV. Many have been since who have matched or even surpassed his performance, but without the complete package. Some are reluctant to speak, others can be a bit cocky and their over-confidence can be misinterpreted as arrogance, others never crack a smile for what amounts to 6hrs of TV during an octochamp run and can give the impression that they are hating every second of it.

On the other hand, there have been several since who have matched or surpassed his performance - but DID have the complete package. Chris Wills smiled almost constantly for the duration of all of his 14 or 15 shows, he cracked a gag or two and chuckled away. Conor was shy but very likeable and exuded a warmth on the screen. Julian Fell was outgoing and was probed incessantly by Richard Whiteley about how he knew the words that he knew, yet he always gave a good confident answer. These 3 alone proved to be very popular and memorable contestants. Audiotionees and audience members i talk too often refer to them in conversations about the show.

But, if we're taking age in account, i still standy by Salldanha, but i know you're not taking age into account. You want to find the best ever, but without considering anything other than the statistics, which i don't really understand.

TIger Woods is considered the best golfer ever, but he didn't win the US Masters yesterday, so does one 'failure' obliterate him from the running?

I don't have a best ever based on stats or performance - i can't give you a name and i genuinely don't believe there is such a person. On any given day, Nyman could beat Fell, Fell could beat Beevers, Wills could beat Travers, Travers could beat Freeman - then 24 hrs later the results could and would most likely be totally different. All in my opinion of course.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:38 am

Paul Howe wrote:
Gevin-Gavin wrote:
Paul Howe wrote:My impression is that in the 15-round era at least,
Messrs Travers, Beevers and Gallen are a notch above the rest
Does Julian Fell not even make the same notch? Would he had he won the CofC?
Nothing to do with CofC performances, and I think Julian is at least as brilliant as those three, which was kind of the point of my post.In a mini-league between those four though, I think he would come fourth as in my judgement at least he doesn't have the same depth of word knowledge.

Strange to question Julian Fell's depth of word knowledge . Just a small selection of Julian Fell offerings.............

PATRIAS, OLEFINE, SAVATE, LANDTIE, APOGEES, ENDGATES, TAURINE, SOLATIUM, SEVICHE, ARTESIAN, DUKEDOM, VALORISED, AGRION, GAMBIER, DAIMYOS.

Doesn't look an awful lot wrong with that to me.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:31 am

Damian E wrote:But, if we're taking age in account, i still standy by Salldanha, but i know you're not taking age into account. You want to find the best ever, but without considering anything other than the statistics, which i don't really understand.

TIger Woods is considered the best golfer ever, but he didn't win the US Masters yesterday, so does one 'failure' obliterate him from the running?

I don't have a best ever based on stats or performance - i can't give you a name and i genuinely don't believe there is such a person. On any given day, Nyman could beat Fell, Fell could beat Beevers, Wills could beat Travers, Travers could beat Freeman - then 24 hrs later the results could and would most likely be totally different. All in my opinion of course.
It is difficult to take age into account anyway. How do we decide what difference it would make to Allan's scores? In any case, the fully formed Allan Saldanha still lost to Harvey Freeman.

One loss doesn't obliterate Tiger Woods from the running, but golf is a very different kettle of fish to Countdown. In Countdown you essentially only get one chance, and to achieve greatness, you have to do the job when you are on. The most talented player ever might have lost his/her first game which they might have won every time for the next 1000, but they can't really be considered great, because I think it's down to achievement as well as skill.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:32 am

Damian E wrote:Strange to question Julian Fell's depth of word knowledge . Just a small selection of Julian Fell offerings.............

PATRIAS, OLEFINE, SAVATE, LANDTIE, APOGEES, ENDGATES, TAURINE, SOLATIUM, SEVICHE, ARTESIAN, DUKEDOM, VALORISED, AGRION, GAMBIER, DAIMYOS.

Doesn't look an awful lot wrong with that to me.
I can see COHESIVE in the SEVICHE round. :mrgreen:

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Paul Howe » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:03 pm

Damian E wrote:

Strange to question Julian Fell's depth of word knowledge . Just a small selection of Julian Fell offerings.............

PATRIAS,
OLEFINE, SAVATE, LANDTIE, APOGEES, ENDGATES, TAURINE, SOLATIUM,
SEVICHE, ARTESIAN, DUKEDOM, VALORISED, AGRION, GAMBIER, DAIMYOS.

Doesn't look an awful lot wrong with that to me.
Ha ha, I'm not saying it was shit or anything! Just not, in my opinion, as comprehensive as the three above. It was a tribute to how much Craig, Conor and Paul know rather than a dig at Julian, who was just awesome.

In fact, the ability to pull words like OLEFINE, SAVATE, SEVICHE, DAIMYOS, ECOTAGE, DUKEDOM (not to mention give perfect definitions) out of unpromising selections is why, as I said, I'd regard Julian as at least as brilliant in these three, despite the fact I think he'd probably lose in a one off game.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by David O'Donnell » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:24 pm

I just read this thread and I am seriously considering launching a civil action suit against Gevin to get those ten minutes of my life back.

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