Best ever contestants

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Damian E
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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:13 pm

I think when all is said and done, Joseph Bolas would wipe the floor with all of them. :P

Maybe one day we'll have a mammoth big-daddy style tournament and put it to bed once and for all.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Joseph Bolas » Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:25 pm

Damian E wrote:I think when all is said and done, Joseph Bolas would wipe the floor with all of them. :P
If only :lol:.

Besides, I would only want to wipe the floor with Jack Welsby ;).

EDIT: I think you should do a mini debut-loser tournament though ;) (like with the junior finals).

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Charlie Reams » Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:45 pm

Damian E wrote:Maybe one day we'll have a mammoth big-daddy style tournament and put it to bed once and for all.
Unless you played best of 500 it would probably have the exact opposite effect. Plus there'd still be no Holden, probably no Gallen and soon enough no Beevers, which would devalue the whole thing.

And then we could start discussing second best ever contestant.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:52 pm

Charlie Reams wrote:
Damian E wrote:Maybe one day we'll have a mammoth big-daddy style tournament and put it to bed once and for all.
Unless you played best of 500 it would probably have the exact opposite effect. Plus there'd still be no Holden, probably no Gallen and soon enough no Beevers, which would devalue the whole thing.

And then we could start discussing second best ever contestant.

Good point. Let's just cut to the chase then - 2nd best contestant ever?

I'll start the bidding with.........Harry Peters.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:50 pm

I tried to reply to this earlier but it logged me out.

Well, first of all I wouldn't like to comment on great players like Mark Nyman because I've never seen him play. Only one of his game is online, the score of 79 which was the highest ever score at the time. That one is on the Countdown Page. I'm not saying players who played before Series 46 are all shit or anything, just that I don't want to comment on something or someone that I've never seen before.

Secondly yes it is an entertainment show and a good personality is essential for good viewing, and I agree with Damian that some of the best ones have been Wills, Fell and Travers who all came across as very likable. I'd definitely but Nash in that category as well as one of the players you just enjoy watching, win or lose. And statistics are fine but they're not the whole story either. Particularly in major sports and by extension games the quality does go up over time, and some of the great players of the early years like Nyman and Freedman and others could be even better now with things like online anagram solvers and lists of words. Not to mention that the letter frequencies have changed to get more playable letters, so it's easier to get higher scores now than it was in 1985. Statistics tend to show trends but you need a human being to find the reasons behind the trends, and in that sense statistics are useless without a good interpretation of them.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:12 pm

Charlie Reams wrote:
Damian E wrote:Maybe one day we'll have a mammoth big-daddy style tournament and put it to bed once and for all.
Unless you played best of 500 it would probably have the exact opposite effect. Plus there'd still be no Holden, probably no Gallen and soon enough no Beevers, which would devalue the whole thing.

And then we could start discussing second best ever contestant.
Has Beevers announced his retirement? He's doing the CofC though?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:21 pm

Martin Gardner wrote:I tried to reply to this earlier but it logged me out.

Well, first of all I wouldn't like to comment on great players like Mark Nyman because I've never seen him play. Only one of his game is online, the score of 79 which was the highest ever score at the time. That one is on the Countdown Page. I'm not saying players who played before Series 46 are all shit or anything, just that I don't want to comment on something or someone that I've never seen before.
People discuss who is the best F1 racer of all time etc. without having seen them all. While it may help to have watched them, I don't think not having done so completely excludes you from the discussion. So, off you go! (There's nothing to lose.)
Not to mention that the letter frequencies have changed to get more playable letters, so it's easier to get higher scores now than it was in 1985.
I think this has been up and down though. I don't know if this is backed up by facts, but I think players around the time of Chris Wills and Julian Fell had it slightly easier than now, even if now is still easier than 1985.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:23 pm

Charlie Reams wrote:Unless you played best of 500 it would probably have the exact opposite effect. Plus there'd still be no Holden, probably no Gallen and soon enough no Beevers, which would devalue the whole thing.

And then we could start discussing second best ever contestant.
What you need is big money involved to bring them all back. And have an annual league of top players with the winner taking the £1,000,000 prize.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by David O'Donnell » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:24 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote:
Charlie Reams wrote:Unless you played best of 500 it would probably have the exact opposite effect. Plus there'd still be no Holden, probably no Gallen and soon enough no Beevers, which would devalue the whole thing.

And then we could start discussing second best ever contestant.
What you need is big money involved to bring them all back. And have an annual league of top players with the winner taking the £1,000,000 prize.
Would that finally be enough to tempt you into putting your ass on the line and having a crack?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:36 pm

David O'Donnell wrote:Would that finally be enough to tempt you into putting your ass on the line and having a crack?
I was considering applying a few years back but I'd need to be much better to give it a proper shot. I'd have to put in the hours, and then it would all be wasted if I still didn't turn out to be as good as I wanted.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Kirk Bevins » Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:05 pm

Damian E wrote:
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.
Uh hum, I think Julian offered GAMBIERS not GAMBIER. I believe I'm the only ever contestant to offer the word GAMBIER - but yeah, cheers Julian! :D

Kirk

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:15 pm

Would that finally be enough to tempt you into putting your ass on the line and having a crack?
Surely his ass already has a crack in it? :mrgreen:

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:15 am

Damian E wrote:
Would that finally be enough to tempt you into putting your ass on the line and having a crack?
Surely his ass already has a crack in it? :mrgreen:
Maybe his ass doesn't have a crack and that's why he's so full of shit (ha ha!)

Just kidding

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Craig Beevers » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:44 am

Gevin-Gavin wrote:
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.

For me it's down to the level of play someone (with some degree of consistency) achieved is the most important thing, if games go down to a conundrum anything can happen. If it gets down to two top players against each it's similarly random.

Oh and I'm intending to play in the CoC, just don't know how well prepared I'll be. Scrabble takes precedence to a large degree now.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:25 pm

I think it's interesting what people say about today's contestants having an advantage with computer aids etc. While it may help, I don't think the lack of computer aids acts as a definite stop on someone reaching the same standard. Someone could go through a dictionary manually picking out high probability words and so on. In any case, if someone were to go through the dictionary and made a list of words, I don't think it would be that hard to write a program on a 1980s computer to find the best word in a given selection.

I think the biggest difference between now and back then is that there are more people obsessed with the show, and so more top players. So I don't think that anything should be taken away from people playing nowadays. I'm pretty sure the tools were available back then, but people weren't obsessed enough to take them up.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Charlie Reams » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:52 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote:I think it's interesting what people say about today's contestants having an advantage with computer aids etc. While it may help, I don't think the lack of computer aids acts as a definite stop on someone reaching the same standard. Someone could go through a dictionary manually picking out high probability words and so on. In any case, if someone were to go through the dictionary and made a list of words, I don't think it would be that hard to write a program on a 1980s computer to find the best word in a given selection.
Nah, bollocks. How many people had a computer and knew how to program it in the 1980s? How many of those want to type out the entire dictionary too? Yes, you could pick out high-probability words manually but no one's actually going to do that, because time is finite and people have lives outside Countdown. Computer aids have made it possible to study at a level of efficiency that was otherwise completely unimaginable. That's a definite stop as far as I'm concerned.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:37 pm

Hmm - that is bollocks Gevin.

In the 80's, when i was a kid, the ZX81 or Sinclair Spectrum were the tools of the day - and there was no internet - so while it may have been possible for someone to sit there and create a program to do all the hard work for them, its not comparible to typing 'countdown' into google and letting the world of words and numbers land at your feet.

In terms of research, practice and skill development, the people of today have it a million times easier than those of the 1980's.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Richard Priest » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:41 pm

I'd rate Natascha Kearsey as one of the best female contestants ever, if nothing else. To me that one's between her, Kate Ogilvie and Joyce Cansfield. It's a shame neither she or Joyce competed in the ladies' championship a few years ago which Kate won over Hilary Hopper.
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...

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by David O'Donnell » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:29 am

I really didn't want to post in this thread again but it's so bloody tempting.

In my view the best contestant throughout a series in terms of consistency is Craig; the best performance is Paul Gallen in the CofC; and, I reckon young Travers has a genuine shot of being the current strongest player. I saw him play, online, about a month ago, and he scored maxima only in three games running: he has also netted a perfect game against yours truly.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Charlie Reams » Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:28 pm

David O'Donnell wrote: In my view the best contestant throughout a series in terms of consistency is Craig; the best performance is Paul Gallen in the CofC; and, I reckon young Travers has a genuine shot of being the current strongest player. I saw him play, online, about a month ago, and he scored maxima only in three games running: he has also netted a perfect game against yours truly.
Remarkably, I completely concur. A very fair summary.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Craig Beevers » Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:44 pm

David O'Donnell wrote:I really didn't want to post in this thread again but it's so bloody tempting.

In my view the best contestant throughout a series in terms of consistency is Craig; the best performance is Paul Gallen in the CofC; and, I reckon young Travers has a genuine shot of being the current strongest player. I saw him play, online, about a month ago, and he scored maxima only in three games running: he has also netted a perfect game against yours truly.
Perhaps you wanna appoint one of the armchair heroes god status while you're at it? Online games mean fractionally more than nothing. If you're going to use examples at least use the 25th anniversary show or to a lesser extent one of those in-person tourneys he won.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Ben Pugh » Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:13 pm

Craig Beevers wrote:Online games mean fractionally more than nothing.
Because...?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Jon Corby » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:11 pm

Ben Pugh wrote:
Craig Beevers wrote:Online games mean fractionally more than nothing.
Because...?
You could cheat easily, presumably.

Lol.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by David O'Donnell » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:26 pm

Craig Beevers wrote:Online games mean fractionally more than nothing
Your solitary online loss was at the hands of Mr. Travers ... still smarting a little?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Craig Beevers » Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:48 pm

David O'Donnell wrote:
Craig Beevers wrote:Online games mean fractionally more than nothing
Your solitary online loss was at the hands of Mr. Travers ... still smarting a little?
I lost a goatdown game to someone else I think (lots of disallowed words like BORACITES which even I've heard of back in the days when I'd not yet done some practice). Might have lost other games, dunno.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:27 pm

Charlie Reams wrote:Nah, bollocks. How many people had a computer and knew how to program it in the 1980s? How many of those want to type out the entire dictionary too? Yes, you could pick out high-probability words manually but no one's actually going to do that, because time is finite and people have lives outside Countdown. Computer aids have made it possible to study at a level of efficiency that was otherwise completely unimaginable. That's a definite stop as far as I'm concerned.
I may have exaggerated the situation slightly. However, I would still stand by the claim that most of the difference between top players then and now is down to obsession, although not all. By playing scrabble at a high level, players in the olden days will have come across most of the obscure words they need to - obviously not the same dictionary but most of the words are the same being the same language, but I don't think it would stop someone reaching a pretty high level.

I would be interested to know exactly what use of computer aids people make these days to become a top player. What to people like Craig Beevers, Conor Travers and Paul Gallen and Julian Fell actually do?

As far as I understood, I thought Julian Fell reached his level by playing the electronic game rather than by doing any sort of studying. Obviously maximums are given to you which wouldn't happen playing "manually" but I think by simply watching Countdown and taking in all the best offerings (including DC words obviously) as well as playing in scrabble tournaments, and making notes of words, you aren't going to be far off. I don't see that many words would simply slip through the net altogether.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Paul Howe » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:46 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote: I would be interested to know
exactly what use of computer aids people make these days to become a
top player. What to people like Craig Beevers, Conor Travers and Paul
Gallen and Julian Fell actually do?
Well, I can't hold a candle to the gentlemen above, but when I knew I was going to be on the show I used Charlie's Anahack program to practise common 7s, 8s and 9s for about half an hour each night up until my CofC appearance ,so about 3 months total. I'm not sure if it was worth it or not; I didn't learn many new words that I then spotted on the show (maybe about 6 or 7, plus one that wasn't actually in the ODE ), but it probably enabled me to spot other words with greater consistency.

Also, you'll all be pleased to know this thread has attained at least fractional value, because I managed to spot SEVICHE in an online game against Conor. Cheers Julian :D
And if anyone cares, me and Conor eventually found a nice short proof of that inequality (you had to use Jensen's Inequality).

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by David O'Donnell » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:08 am

Paul Gallen informed me that he did oodles of work for the CoC. This comprised roughly 3-4 hours of dictionary work etc each day. He was doing a Law degree at Queen's at the time so in fairness he must have had loads of free time.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:31 am

In fairness when it comes to putting Paul Gallen at the top of the list as the best 15-round contestant ever, it's worth noting that he was a lot better in the CofC than in Series 52. By that I mean, his performance in the CofC was the best ever by any player. But seriously one difference now is that you get players like Conor Travers that only play the Countdown dictionary. Former Series champions that were Scrabble player knew tonnes of words, but a lot of them weren't valid. Probably the main difference between Julian and Craig was that Craig plays Scrabble and Julian never has, just read his experience on the Countdown Page.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:28 pm

Speaking of Paul Gallen, I think that some people rank him lower than they might have because he lost the series final. He was pretty decent in that series anyway, and if Tournoff simply hadn't got the conundrum and Paul had won the series despite doing exactly the same things, I think his unbeaten record would have looked better in people's eyes. On top of that, if he'd managed the final numbers in the CofC final, to achieve the only known maximum total at the best possible time, it would be hard not to put him at number one. But opinions rest on the smallest of things. Mark Tournoff could have not seen the conundrum, that numbers game could have been piss easy - Paul wouldn't have played any better, but he'd have a lot more votes in a greatest ever poll.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:37 pm

Paul Howe wrote:Well, I can't hold a candle to the gentlemen above, but when I knew I was going to be on the show I used Charlie's Anahack program to practise common 7s, 8s and 9s for about half an hour each night up until my CofC appearance ,so about 3 months total. I'm not sure if it was worth it or not; I didn't learn many new words that I then spotted on the show (maybe about 6 or 7, plus one that wasn't actually in the ODE ), but it probably enabled me to spot other words with greater consistency.
Well I wouldn't say you are too far off. So what you're saying by saying you're not sure it was worth it is that you were already of a pretty decent standard anyway. So how did you achieve that level to begin with - "passively" by just playing along at home or were there other methods?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:03 pm

but he'd have a lot more votes in a greatest ever poll.
But...........there isn't one......................
I think his unbeaten record would have looked better in people's eyes.
I don't think anyone on the whole planet other than yourself is really thinking about this right now.
I think that some people rank him lower than they might have because he lost the series final.
I think you're mistaken in thinking its an issue. I'll pay all your medical expenses if you get help. :mrgreen:

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:51 pm

Damian E wrote:But...........there isn't one......................
"a" rather than "the" - just talking hypothetically.
I don't think anyone on the whole planet other than yourself is really thinking about this right now.
Over 90 posts in this thread - not all by me. I didn't even start it!
I think you're mistaken in thinking its an issue. I'll pay all your medical expenses if you get help. :mrgreen:
I'll remember that if I ever need help. Cheers.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:32 pm

Damian E wrote:In the 80's, when i was a kid
Just noticed this - hilarious!

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Sat Apr 19, 2008 7:17 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote:
Damian E wrote:In the 80's, when i was a kid
Just noticed this - hilarious!

Why? Am i missing something here?

I was born in '69 - so i was a kid in the 80's. And an ugly one at that.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:13 pm

Damian E wrote: I was born in '69 - so i was a kid in the 80's. And an ugly one at that.
I don't get it either.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Sat Apr 19, 2008 9:34 pm

BTW Martin, have you and Gevin ever been seen in public together?

I mean by this, are you posting for the two of you - IS there two different people or is Gevin a pseudonym of yours?

I ask this genuinely, and without malice, as i stopped reading the other forum a long while back, so may have missed something. It just seems to be that whenever he or you post, the other is guaranteed to be on the scene almost immediately, and you both have similar numbers of posts.

Forgive me for asking, i'm just very curious.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Ben Wilson » Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:06 pm

Damian E wrote:BTW Martin, have you and Gevin ever been seen in public together?

I mean by this, are you posting for the two of you - IS there two different people or is Gevin a pseudonym of yours?

I ask this genuinely, and without malice, as i stopped reading the other forum a long while back, so may have missed something. It just seems to be that whenever he or you post, the other is guaranteed to be on the scene almost immediately, and you both have similar numbers of posts.

Forgive me for asking, i'm just very curious.
If they're the same person, they're doing a damn fine job of masking their IP addresses, which are consistently different from each other.

And no, Gevin isn't anyone else here (that I can tell, anyway).

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:38 am

Damian E wrote:BTW Martin, have you and Gevin ever been seen in public together?

I mean by this, are you posting for the two of you - IS there two different people or is Gevin a pseudonym of yours?

I ask this genuinely, and without malice, as i stopped reading the other forum a long while back, so may have missed something. It just seems to be that whenever he or you post, the other is guaranteed to be on the scene almost immediately, and you both have similar numbers of posts.

Forgive me for asking, i'm just very curious.
That's a brilliant theory.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:48 am

Martin Gardner wrote:
Damian E wrote: I was born in '69 - so i was a kid in the 80's. And an ugly one at that.
I don't get it either.

Martin
Obviously I was implying that he was older. Forget it though - obviously far too confusing for this forum. It was my post that you didn't get, right?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Sun Apr 20, 2008 1:17 pm

[quote/]
That's a brilliant theory.[/quote]

It's not a theory, it's a question and one that seems to have been clarified.

Gevin-Gavin wrote:
Martin Gardner wrote:
Damian E wrote: I was born in '69 - so i was a kid in the 80's. And an ugly one at that.
I don't get it either.

Martin
Obviously I was implying that he was older. Forget it though - obviously far too confusing for this forum. It was my post that you didn't get, right?


Oh i see, now the penny has dropped. I'm older than 38 hmmmmmm, fraid not. I only LOOK older because i've had to put up with so many of you forumites over the years. It's enough to make anyone wither.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Sun Apr 20, 2008 1:48 pm

No seriously I'm not Gevin.
If you cut a gandiseeg in half, do you get two gandiseegs or two halves of a gandiseeg?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by David O'Donnell » Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:02 pm

You don't look old big lad. Actually, I expected you to look somewhat more beleaguered: I added a bit of VAT from when I saw you as a contestant and in DC which proved to be OTT. I think Gevin wasn't making a joke but even if he was it's typical that he shrouds it in his cloak of semi-anonymity. My philosophy is that I wouldn't say anything about a person that I wouldn't be prepared to say in a face-to-face environment that's why I find Gevin annoying sometimes. I suspect he was lurking on the other site for ages. I also find some of his posts interesting so don't be using this post to launch another anoraky tirade, Gevin.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by David O'Donnell » Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:26 pm

Damian E wrote:BTW Martin, have you and Gevin ever been seen in public together?

I mean by this, are you posting for the two of you - IS there two different people or is Gevin a pseudonym of yours?

Zef:Gevin:Zef:Martin Gardner:Jason Larsen- it's all starting to make sense.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sun Apr 20, 2008 3:23 pm

David O'Donnell wrote:You don't look old big lad. Actually, I expected you to look somewhat more beleaguered: I added a bit of VAT from when I saw you as a contestant and in DC which proved to be OTT. I think Gevin wasn't making a joke but even if he was it's typical that he shrouds it in his cloak of semi-anonymity. My philosophy is that I wouldn't say anything about a person that I wouldn't be prepared to say in a face-to-face environment that's why I find Gevin annoying sometimes. I suspect he was lurking on the other site for ages. I also find some of his posts interesting so don't be using this post to launch another anoraky tirade, Gevin.
Well, I find you annoying sometimes so we're even. :mrgreen:

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sun Apr 20, 2008 3:24 pm

David O'Donnell wrote:Zef:Gevin:Zef:Martin Gardner:Jason Larsen- it's all starting to make sense.
I have seen superficial similarities between Zef and Jason Larsen.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:18 pm

Back onto the topic - it's quite interesting to read Julian Fell's experience on Mike's page. He comes across as not very competitive and lacking in killer instinct, which possibly contributed to his downfall. He saw it as a bad thing that Grace Page scored nothing in the first two or so rounds in the final, and said it affected his performance! Also he wasn't comfortable with such a high score against Danny Hamilton. And against Graham Nash, he seemed to be more worried that Graham was going to put the game out of reach than thinking about how to get ahead himself.

He lost on his first attempt at a crucial conundrum in a match where he was heavily favourite. In contrast, Harvey Freeman had at least six consecutive crucial conundrums going into the supreme final against Allan Saldanha (dating back to the semi-final win against John Clarke in CofC 3, and possibly also the quarter final match) and he won every time. Perhaps there was a bit of good fortune going about, but overall I would rank Harvey as a greater player than Julian based on results as well as outright skills.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:34 am

Gev - apart from the conundrum, i think Julian scored the best possible word in every round against Graham Nash.

He may have lost on a crucial conundrum, but that's largely down to him entering the unknown - as prior to this game, he'd been so far ahead of his opponents that the conundrum didn't matter - so you COULD argue that he's better than Harvey Freeman, who as you say, has 6 crucial conundrums and couldn't get clear of his opponent.

You may have read Julian's words on Mike's page, but i'd argue that he's not showing weakness or lacking killer instinct - i think it's called showing a little humility and good grace. You can't seriously think that someone who wins a game by over 100 points is lacking killer instinct - and by stating that he felt bad for his opponent afterwards, you think this is a weakness? Cannot possibly agree with you. It's called being human and compassionate.
which possibly contributed to his downfall.
What downfall? He's lost one game ever - due to a very contentious decision over 'gambiers'. If that had been allowed he'd have won the game and probably the whole C of C.
he seemed to be more worried that Graham was going to put the game out of reach than thinking about how to get ahead himself
Really? He 'seemed' to be doing perfectly well to me, as i said earlier, he maxed in each round. He can't help it if his opponent scores the same each time as well. You can't think about how to get ahead, you just play the game and wait and see how you compare with the other player.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Charlie Reams » Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:20 am

Damian E wrote:Gev - apart from the conundrum, i think Julian scored the best possible word in every round against Graham Nash.
I agree with your point but on a factual note, Julian did miss ROUILLE and SPERMATID, both of which he might've got on another day.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Tue Apr 22, 2008 7:52 pm

Gevin-Gavin wrote:Basically in terms of realistic candidates, we have Harvey Freeman, Julian Fell, Conor Travers, Paul Gallen and Craig Beevers.
In terms of who I would go for, Julian, Conor and Paul have all lost one game, so are equal in that respect, but of those I'd probably go for Paul Gallen, considering his performance in the CofC and beating Conor in the head to head. Craig is still unbeaten, but having not done the CofC yet, I'm not sure he can achieve number one great status yet. So that would make it between Paul Gallen and Harvey Freeman. Then you've got to make the arbitrary weighting between skill and success. Harvey has the most success of anyone ever, but you would expect Paul to win a head to head with both at their peak. I won't commit just yet.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Kirk Bevins » Tue Apr 22, 2008 8:22 pm

Paul Gallen is a quality player but in his octochamp run he wasn't great. In fact I was in the audience for the final against Tournoff and I "beat" him. Travers on the other hand, I rarely beat - even in his octochamp run. I'd say Travers is better than Gallen overall, despite him losing in a head to head.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:28 pm

I think humility is a good thing but it is just a game. It's not like you even win money. If you're in the final of the World Series of Poker Main Event there might be $100 000 that depends on which player goes out next, so it's very serious. On Countdown you win a 24 volume dictionary. I would never have a problem with thrashing someone or being thrashed because at the end of the day you wake up the next day and go back to the life you had before.

Getting back on topic, I don't have all the game but I think Julian mucked up a couple of numbers games, I think he declared nothing on at least three numbers games whereas Craig Beevers is shit hot on the numbers. Obviously you don't score 924 points by being shit at the numbers, but as people have correctly pointed, Julian got more nines than were available to Craig in total, and just from looking at the Countdownwiki we know that Julian missed ELECTRONS and SPERMATID and from my memory, DESERTION as well (I was in the studio sat next to Grace Page at the time).
If you cut a gandiseeg in half, do you get two gandiseegs or two halves of a gandiseeg?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Craig Beevers » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:09 am

Gevin-Gavin wrote:Back onto the topic - it's quite interesting to read Julian Fell's experience on Mike's page. He comes across as not very competitive and lacking in killer instinct, which possibly contributed to his downfall. He saw it as a bad thing that Grace Page scored nothing in the first two or so rounds in the final, and said it affected his performance! Also he wasn't comfortable with such a high score against Danny Hamilton. And against Graham Nash, he seemed to be more worried that Graham was going to put the game out of reach than thinking about how to get ahead himself.

He lost on his first attempt at a crucial conundrum in a match where he was heavily favourite. In contrast, Harvey Freeman had at least six consecutive crucial conundrums going into the supreme final against Allan Saldanha (dating back to the semi-final win against John Clarke in CofC 3, and possibly also the quarter final match) and he won every time. Perhaps there was a bit of good fortune going about, but overall I would rank Harvey as a greater player than Julian based on results as well as outright skills.
I would say a *lot* of good fortune. I don't care what anyone says Conundrums have a large random element when contested between top players. You could just come up against someone who buzzes straight off and works it out in the pause, it could be a word you've never even heard of, it could be a word you saw yesterday. Penalties in football are less random than a conundrum between top players.

This thread is supposed to be about who the best ever contestants were, not the ones who happened to win a one-off game or who got lucky on the conundrum. That's why you have to largely go on performance - the results are mostly the product of chance, it's like working out the best poker player based on 15 hands.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Martin Gardner » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:00 pm

Craig Beevers wrote:
This thread is supposed to be about who the best ever contestants were, not the ones who happened to win a one-off game or who got lucky on the conundrum. That's why you have to largely go on performance - the results are mostly the product of chance, it's like working out the best poker player based on 15 hands.
I completely agree as it happens, that's why just number of wins isn't solely important.

I would however assert that Octochamp scores are important. Since the start of Series 46 we've seen the number of Octochamps soar. And from Series 46 until Series 51, every series winner was a #1 seed and only two Series winners have had less than 800 points from eight games - Nick Wainwright and John Davies. Of course in those two series there was no 800 Octochamps so an 800 Octochamp couldn't possibly win the Series!

Statistics are a bit fickle but that seems to be one statistic that's quite reliable. Based on that, David O'Donnell should win this Series otherwise it breaks the pattern.

Martin
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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by JasonCullen » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:18 pm

Conor Travers because he knows a lot of words for his age :D

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:37 pm

And from Series 46 until Series 51, every series winner was a #1 seed
And prior to Series 46, every series winner wasn't a #1 seed.., so you've lost me Martin - and now we are on Series 58, so i can't really pick up your gist here.
and only two Series winners have had less than 800 points from eight games - Nick Wainwright and John Davies. Of course in those two series there was no 800 Octochamps so an 800 Octochamp couldn't possibly win the Series!
Now it's magic mushroom time. I'm utterly confused. There have been handfuls of players who have been 800 Octochamps who DIDN'T win the series. I don't get it.
Based on that, David O'Donnell should win this Series otherwise it breaks the pattern.
Pattern...... :?

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Gavin Chipper » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:16 pm

Damian E wrote:Pattern...... :?
Every time there has been an 800+ Octochamp in a series, an 800+ Octochamp has won the series.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Damian E » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:02 pm

Yeah, but plenty of series have had more than one 800 octochamp, so therefore plenty of 800 octochamps have not won the series. You can argue it both ways.

Personally, i don't think the total combined scores of a multi-show winner really mean that much. There are so many other factors to take into account. Cecil coughs up some really easy numbers games, or alternatively you can get opponents who pick 4 large or 6 small - and that can bring down your average easily. Likewise, there can be a string of difficult conundrums or you can get shows where players insist on choosing just 3 vowels all the time, which screws up your chances of longer words.

There is also the possibility of meeting a player or two during your run who is very much a match for you - so you could find yourself scoring zero on a couple of letters games. Lastly, one other thing you stats guys fail to take into account is the studio run - its not the same for everyone.

A lot of our contestants work, so in many cases we've had people drive up to Leeds from afar on the same day as their recording, due to annual leave constraints with their jobs. They then play 3 shows, get back to the hotel at 10pm pretty much a mental and physical wreck, sleep very little due to adrenaline factors (believe me this plays a major part), then they come back the next MORNING at 9.30am and prepare to start all over again. The demands on the brain are massive and i've seen people visibly wilt as the day has worn on. Others get it far better. Stay in Leeds the night before, come along, play two shows, then we have a recording break and they come back 3 weeks later to start their 3rd game at 2pm, which is a lot different to 10 in the morning after a night of broken sleep ! Stats and records don't take any of this into account, so when i read that such and such only did this and so and so only did that, it doesn't really reflect the true picture of what may have been. Winning 8 games when you're 25 years old, under no pressure and free from worry is different to winning 6 games when you are 18 with a pushy dad in the audience who is expecting and demanding the best from you. Countdown's about having fun and doing your best. The measure of your success on the show, for me at least, is how much you enjoyed it, not how many centuries you scored.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by Ben Wilson » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:56 pm

Damian E wrote:Yeah, but plenty of series have had more than one 800 octochamp, so therefore plenty of 800 octochamps have not won the series. You can argue it both ways.

Personally, i don't think the total combined scores of a multi-show winner really mean that much. There are so many other factors to take into account. Cecil coughs up some really easy numbers games, or alternatively you can get opponents who pick 4 large or 6 small - and that can bring down your average easily. Likewise, there can be a string of difficult conundrums or you can get shows where players insist on choosing just 3 vowels all the time, which screws up your chances of longer words.

There is also the possibility of meeting a player or two during your run who is very much a match for you - so you could find yourself scoring zero on a couple of letters games. Lastly, one other thing you stats guys fail to take into account is the studio run - its not the same for everyone.

A lot of our contestants work, so in many cases we've had people drive up to Leeds from afar on the same day as their recording, due to annual leave constraints with their jobs. They then play 3 shows, get back to the hotel at 10pm pretty much a mental and physical wreck, sleep very little due to adrenaline factors (believe me this plays a major part), then they come back the next MORNING at 9.30am and prepare to start all over again. The demands on the brain are massive and i've seen people visibly wilt as the day has worn on. Others get it far better. Stay in Leeds the night before, come along, play two shows, then we have a recording break and they come back 3 weeks later to start their 3rd game at 2pm, which is a lot different to 10 in the morning after a night of broken sleep ! Stats and records don't take any of this into account, so when i read that such and such only did this and so and so only did that, it doesn't really reflect the true picture of what may have been. Winning 8 games when you're 25 years old, under no pressure and free from worry is different to winning 6 games when you are 18 with a pushy dad in the audience who is expecting and demanding the best from you. Countdown's about having fun and doing your best. The measure of your success on the show, for me at least, is how much you enjoyed it, not how many centuries you scored.
Well said Damo- and this is why i think if stats are to be taken into account, the best ones are the % stats on the corral, even if it does increase demand on Julian Fell's octochamp run.

And it was a pushy elder brother, not a pushy dad.

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Re: Best ever contestants

Post by David O'Donnell » Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:33 am

I agree with Damian here too. The only thing that detracted from what was an immensely enjoyable experience was the prospect of my shows being torn to shreds by you lot on this forum - thankfully though, you were more than charitable.

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