FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

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Callum Todd
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FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Callum Todd »

Twin tournaments to close the season: who will be 2023 FOCAL Champ?

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Date: Saturday 25th November 2023
Venue: Novotel Milton Keynes, Saxon St, Leyburn Ct, Heelands, Milton Keynes, MK13 7RA (map)
Admission: £12 (preferably by PayPal, please; other means on request).
Doors open: 10am, for 11am start
Organised by: Callum Todd
Presented by: Adam Beach
Games to be played: 7, plus the FOCAL Grand Final
Finishes by: 6pm
Wheelchair accessible: Yes

After last year’s curtain-closer in Milton Keynes, we’re returning to MK for our end-of-year showpiece Finals event in 2023, with the Novotel playing host once again.

Image
MK Finals 2022: Jack is the 2020-22 FOCAL Champ!

Format

As in previous years, the top 8 seeds in our FOCAL League Table at the end of the year will face off in a round robin to earn a place in the 2023 FOCAL Grand Final. Meanwhile, everyone else is welcome to sign up and take part in our Milton Keynes Open event, where the champion will be whoever tops the standings after 7 games.

In 2022 it was Jack Hurst who became our fifth FOCAL Champion, while Rob Foster claimed the inaugural MK Open title with a dominant performance.

Image
Milton Keynes 2018: Graeme, Jen, and Adam enjoy the event

Doors open at 10am for an 11am start, to play seven 9-round games of Countdown.

This event uses a classroom-style format, with big screen graphics. This means everyone plays along to the same letters rounds, and everyone will get a turn at picking consonants and vowels for the room at some point.

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For the numbers games, you’ll get to pick which combination of large and small numbers you want, in turn in your pairs, from our specially designed five-line display.

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For the conundrum, these will be revealed on the screen for everyone in much the same way as on the TV show. We will explain at the start of the day how each part of the contest runs, and give everyone a practice game consisting of a letters game, a numbers game and a conundrum just before the first match.

Lunch & breaks
We will stop for lunch after the second or third match — lunch is not provided but there are plenty of amenities nearby, including a Tesco Express, a Costa Coffee, and a McDonalds.

Please note that any refreshments purchased outside of the hotel are not to be consumed in the public areas of the hotel; only within our private conference suite.

There will be another short break during the afternoon and, if you don’t make the Grand Final, a chance to recharge your glass just before our showpiece gets underway.

How to book
The entry fee is just £12. To secure your place, send your entry fee to Callum Todd, FOCAL Chair, by PayPal.

Transport
The event venue is less than 2 miles away from Milton Keynes Central station.

There are 120 car parking spaces at the hotel available on a first come, first served basis. Car parking is free but you must register your car at reception if parking on site.

Staying over?
We have reserved a small number of rooms at the Novotel itself for when they become available for booking. Keep checking back here for more information on availability and pricing, or contact us to be notified as soon as such information is available.

Alternatively, there are many low-cost hotel options available in central Milton Keynes, all within a couple of miles of the event venue.

Any questions?
Please feel free to email focalcountdown@gmail.com.

We look forward to seeing you in Milton Keynes in November!

Attending or organising a FOCAL event is subject to the FOCAL Code of Conduct.

Image
Group photo, Finals Day 2017.

Confirmed Attendees (38)
Top 8
Jack Hurst
Thomas Carey
Dan Byrom
George Armstrong
Tim Hebbes
Adam Latchford
Callum Todd
Thomas Cappleman

Open
Bradley Horrocks
Fiona Titcombe
Phil Stanton
Adam Dexter
Sam Prouse
George Baker
Stewart Gordon
Steve Hyde
Last Ashwin Hero
Jeff Clayton
Darren Godfrey
Jonathan Wynn
Coral Heath
Elizabeth Beer
Graeme Cole
Chris Marshall
Paul Talmey
Suzy Turner
Dave Ryan
Rob Foster
Gavin Chipper
Gabriel Thallon
Tom Stevenson
Dave Robjohns
Adrian Fletcher
Brendan Whitehurst
Ahmed M
Jonathan de Souza
MSR
Ronan Higginson
Last edited by Graeme Cole on Mon Nov 27, 2023 5:08 pm, edited 38 times in total.
Reason: Convert thread for past event from Global to Normal to remove it from the Announcements section
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Marc Meakin
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Marc Meakin »

Right I've paid by Paypal.
Im determined to attend having missed Brighton plus it will be a year since I filmed my Countdown episode.
Only sickness or train strikes will stop me
See you all in 4 and a bit months 😊
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by George Armstrong »

A quick update on plans post event: We've got the karaoke room booked again at Legend One in Milton Keynes for after the tournament. If you're interested in joining us for some quality Asian food and possibly a tune or two let us know ❤️ https://www.legendonemk.co.uk/about
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Gavin Chipper »

Is it too late for train strikes to be announced yet? It's less than two weeks away so I think it should be.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Fiona T »

Linford Wood for parkrun
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Gavin Chipper »

Yeah, it's right by the venue.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Marc Meakin »

Anybody travelling up by train that wants to share a cab pm me
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Gavin Chipper »

Marc Meakin wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 1:41 pm Anybody travelling up by train that wants to share a cab pm me
Presumably you're going up on the day? I'm going on the Friday.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Dan Byrom »

Count me in for food please!

I'll be coming in on the day - will any parkrunners be staying nearby and wouldn't mind me using their shower ...?
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Fiona T »

Dan Byrom wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 10:24 pm Count me in for food please!

I'll be coming in on the day - will any parkrunners be staying nearby and wouldn't mind me using their shower ...?
Nominate Todd. But failing that you're welcome to use mine.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Dan Byrom »

Fiona T wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 11:23 pm
Dan Byrom wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 10:24 pm Count me in for food please!

I'll be coming in on the day - will any parkrunners be staying nearby and wouldn't mind me using their shower ...?
Nominate Todd. But failing that you're welcome to use mine.
<3
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Marc Meakin »

Gavin Chipper wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 4:14 pm
Marc Meakin wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 1:41 pm Anybody travelling up by train that wants to share a cab pm me
Presumably you're going up on the day? I'm going on the Friday.
Yes, Im coming from Euston, Saturday morning
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by George Armstrong »

Dan Byrom wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 10:24 pm Count me in for food please!
Unfortunately the venue have set a capacity which we've met (actually we went over and have had to reject a couple). However Beachy has made alternate meal plans so worth messaging him. Ofc anyone else is welcome to join us for the karaoke (up until 10pm)
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Dan Byrom »

George Armstrong wrote: Mon Nov 20, 2023 4:08 pm
Dan Byrom wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 10:24 pm Count me in for food please!
Unfortunately the venue have set a capacity which we've met (actually we went over and have had to reject a couple). However Beachy has made alternate meal plans so worth messaging him. Ofc anyone else is welcome to join us for the karaoke (up until 10pm)
Ok no worries cheers for the info
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Adam Beach »

Dan Byrom wrote: Mon Nov 20, 2023 6:08 pm
George Armstrong wrote: Mon Nov 20, 2023 4:08 pm
Dan Byrom wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 10:24 pm Count me in for food please!
Unfortunately the venue have set a capacity which we've met (actually we went over and have had to reject a couple). However Beachy has made alternate meal plans so worth messaging him. Ofc anyone else is welcome to join us for the karaoke (up until 10pm)
Ok no worries cheers for the info
Hey Dan. A few of us are going to an Indian restaurant and then to the karaoke afterwards. By a few, I mean 3. You're more than welcome to join us.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Graeme Cole »

Adam Beach wrote: Mon Nov 20, 2023 11:04 pm
Dan Byrom wrote: Mon Nov 20, 2023 6:08 pm
George Armstrong wrote: Mon Nov 20, 2023 4:08 pm

Unfortunately the venue have set a capacity which we've met (actually we went over and have had to reject a couple). However Beachy has made alternate meal plans so worth messaging him. Ofc anyone else is welcome to join us for the karaoke (up until 10pm)
Ok no worries cheers for the info
Hey Dan. A few of us are going to an Indian restaurant and then to the karaoke afterwards. By a few, I mean 3. You're more than welcome to join us.
I for one am interested in joining this breakaway faction going to the Indian restaurant.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Bradley Horrocks »

Fiona T wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 11:23 pm
Dan Byrom wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 10:24 pm Count me in for food please!

I'll be coming in on the day - will any parkrunners be staying nearby and wouldn't mind me using their shower ...?
Nominate Todd. But failing that you're welcome to use mine.
Welcome to use mine if you like
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Adam Beach »

Graeme Cole wrote: Tue Nov 21, 2023 12:18 am
I for one am interested in joining this breakaway faction going to the Indian restaurant.
Not a problem. Come join us :D
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Marc Meakin »

Is it near the Karaoke place?
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Marc Meakin »

Can't today sadly as I have had some kind of reaction to my Covid Jab yesterday
Weak and I'll today
If anybody here wants to take my place they can with my blessing
Have fun
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Fiona T »

Marc Meakin wrote: Sat Nov 25, 2023 6:43 am Can't today sadly as I have had some kind of reaction to my Covid Jab yesterday
Weak and I'll today
If anybody here wants to take my place they can with my blessing
Have fun
Get well soon!
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Callum Todd »

Marc Meakin wrote: Sat Nov 25, 2023 6:43 am Can't today sadly as I have had some kind of reaction to my Covid Jab yesterday
Weak and I'll today
If anybody here wants to take my place they can with my blessing
Have fun
Sorry to hear that Marc was looking forward to meeting you! Get well soon
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Gavin Chipper »

Also sorry to hear that. I was looking forward to meeting you, Marc!

Btw, does it say in the opening post where in the hotel the event is taking place?
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Marc Meakin »

Gavin Chipper wrote: Sat Nov 25, 2023 7:11 am Also sorry to hear that. I was looking forward to meeting you, Marc!

Btw, does it say in the opening post where in the hotel the event is taking place?
Likewise I think I will go to one in London or Essex next year but I won't jinx myself by paying for it months in advance (see also Co Brighton, train strike)
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Callum Todd »

Gavin Chipper wrote: Sat Nov 25, 2023 7:11 am Also sorry to hear that. I was looking forward to meeting you, Marc!

Btw, does it say in the opening post where in the hotel the event is taking place?
Sorry should have specified. It's the Willem room on 1st floor. Can't miss it really just follow signs for Conference Rooms and it's the biggest one with the double doors open
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Tom S »

Thanks Callum/Adam for yesterday- really well organised and fun event!
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Callum Todd »

Thank you to everyone who came to the event yesterday, and special thanks to Fiona for the excellent new big-screen graphics software and Adam for capping off a year of fantastic contributions to the community with an amazing job as host. Results are as below:

FOCAL Finals and MK Open 2023

Novotel, Milton Keynes

25 November 2023

Standings

Players are ranked by number of wins then total points scored.

Finals Played Wins Points
1 Jack Hurst 7 5 454
2 George Armstrong 7 5 444
3 Thomas Cappleman 7 5 416
4 Tom Carey 7 4 429
5 Callum Todd 7 3 420
6 Tim Hebbes 7 3 360
7 Adam Latchford 7 2 368
8 Dan Byrom 7 1 354
MK Open Played Wins Points
1 Ahmed Mohamed 7 7 508
2 Ronan Higginson 7 6 467
3 Rob Foster 7 5 466
4 Jonathan Wynn 7 5 413
5 Martin Thomas 7 5 405
6 Adrian Fletcher 7 5 357
7 MSR 7 5 352
8 Bradley Horrocks 7 4 433
9 Tom Stevenson 7 4 415
10 Graeme Cole 7 4 406
11 Gabriel Thallon 7 4 396
12 Brendan Whitehurst 7 4 393
13 Fiona Titcombe 7 4 365
14 Steve Hyde 7 4 345
15 Suzy Turner 7 4 341
16 Dave Robjohns 7 4 332
17 Chris Marshall 7 4 286
18 Jonathan de Souza 7 3 424
19 Darren Godfrey 7 3 375
20 Phil Stanton 7 3 366
21 Dave Ryan 7 3 362
22 Adam Dexter 7 3 352
23 Toby Pereira 7 3 351
24 Sam Prouse 7 3 347
25 Stewart Gordon 7 3 334
26 Coral Heath 7 3 331
27 Jeff Clayton 7 2 364
28 Paul Talmey 7 2 327
29 Elizabeth Beer 7 2 326
30 Last Ashwin Hero 7 2 287
31 Jill Thwaites 7 2 262
32 George Baker 7 2 244
33 Adam Thwaites 7 2 231
Results

Round 1

Finals
Adam Latchford 53 - 68 Tim Hebbes
Callum Todd 66 - 68 Tom Carey
Dan Byrom 84 - 43 Thomas Cappleman
George Armstrong 84 - 74 Jack Hurst
MK Open
Martin Thomas 25 - 71 Brendan Whitehurst
Chris Marshall 31 - 70 Darren Godfrey
Bradley Horrocks 83 - 35 Sam Prouse
Ahmed Mohamed 85 - 51 Jonathan de Souza
George Baker 32 - 61 MSR
Rob Foster 75 - 27 Paul Talmey
Graeme Cole 68 - 38 Coral Heath
Jeff Clayton 42 - 74 Tom Stevenson
Jill Thwaites 55 - 32 Adam Thwaites
Gabriel Thallon 64 - 38 Elizabeth Beer
Dave Ryan 63 - 35 Phil Stanton
Adam Dexter 42 - 76 Ronan Higginson
Last Ashwin Hero 22 - 67 Stewart Gordon
Suzy Turner 34 - 56 Adrian Fletcher
Steve Hyde 20 - 76 Jonathan Wynn
Dave Robjohns 32 - 41 Toby Pereira
Prune 0 - 53 Fiona Titcombe

Round 2

Finals
Tom Carey 45 - 47 Adam Latchford
Tim Hebbes 33 - 61 Thomas Cappleman
Callum Todd 51 - 61* Jack Hurst
Dan Byrom 34 - 54 George Armstrong
MK Open
Bradley Horrocks 51 - 68 Ahmed Mohamed
Jonathan Wynn 41 - 58 Ronan Higginson
Tom Stevenson 68 - 58 Rob Foster
Darren Godfrey 52 - 55 Brendan Whitehurst
Stewart Gordon 58 - 55 Graeme Cole
Gabriel Thallon 51 - 66 Dave Ryan
Adrian Fletcher 59 - 19 MSR
Fiona Titcombe 49 - 35 Jill Thwaites
Toby Pereira 44 - 67 Jonathan de Souza
Adam Dexter 36 - 60 Jeff Clayton
Elizabeth Beer 43 - 60 Coral Heath
Sam Prouse 39 - 61 Phil Stanton
Suzy Turner 29 - 40 Dave Robjohns
Adam Thwaites 32 - 35 George Baker
Paul Talmey 40 - 41 Chris Marshall
Last Ashwin Hero 43 - 66 Martin Thomas
Prune 0 - 62 Steve Hyde

Round 3

Finals
Adam Latchford 54 - 61 Thomas Cappleman
Tom Carey 64 - 74 Jack Hurst
Tim Hebbes 63 - 61 George Armstrong
Callum Todd 66 - 51 Dan Byrom
MK Open
Tom Stevenson 47 - 66 Ahmed Mohamed
Ronan Higginson 67 - 27 Dave Ryan
Brendan Whitehurst 61 - 41 Stewart Gordon
Adrian Fletcher 43 - 41 Fiona Titcombe
Rob Foster 54 - 53 Bradley Horrocks
Graeme Cole 65 - 42 Darren Godfrey
Jonathan de Souza 57 - 64 Jonathan Wynn
Jeff Clayton 56 - 60 Gabriel Thallon
Coral Heath 66 - 56 Phil Stanton
Jill Thwaites 23 - 66 Martin Thomas
Steve Hyde 67 - 43 Toby Pereira
MSR 69 - 36 Dave Robjohns
George Baker 42 - 43 Chris Marshall
Elizabeth Beer 40 - 60 Adam Dexter
Sam Prouse 36 - 64 Paul Talmey
Adam Thwaites 18 - 65 Last Ashwin Hero
Prune 0 - 67 Suzy Turner

Round 4

Finals
Jack Hurst 68 - 61 Adam Latchford
Thomas Cappleman 56 - 73 George Armstrong
Tom Carey 68 - 51 Dan Byrom
Tim Hebbes 51 - 61 Callum Todd
MK Open
Ronan Higginson 61 - 76 Ahmed Mohamed
Brendan Whitehurst 58 - 41 Adrian Fletcher
Tom Stevenson 65 - 53 Graeme Cole
Jonathan Wynn 50 - 76 Rob Foster
Stewart Gordon 27 - 67 Gabriel Thallon
Coral Heath 43 - 85 Martin Thomas
Dave Ryan 56 - 58 Steve Hyde
MSR 60 - 42 Fiona Titcombe
Chris Marshall 18 - 85 Bradley Horrocks
Jonathan de Souza 73 - 47 Darren Godfrey
Phil Stanton 59 - 66 Jeff Clayton
Paul Talmey 47 - 59 Adam Dexter
Suzy Turner 52 - 47 Last Ashwin Hero
Toby Pereira 62 - 35 Jill Thwaites
Dave Robjohns 65 - 37 George Baker
Elizabeth Beer 61 - 41 Sam Prouse
Prune 0 - 51 Adam Thwaites

Round 5

Finals
Adam Latchford 56 - 66 George Armstrong
Jack Hurst 69 - 37 Dan Byrom
Thomas Cappleman 63 - 54 Callum Todd
Tom Carey 62 - 42 Tim Hebbes
MK Open
Ahmed Mohamed 72 - 40 Brendan Whitehurst
Ronan Higginson 65 - 62 Rob Foster
Gabriel Thallon 59 - 49 Tom Stevenson
Martin Thomas 48 - 40 MSR
Steve Hyde 32 - 59 Adrian Fletcher
Jonathan de Souza 51 - 54 Bradley Horrocks
Jonathan Wynn 59 - 42 Graeme Cole
Jeff Clayton 43 - 58 Dave Ryan
Adam Dexter 61 - 20 Coral Heath
Stewart Gordon 45 - 54 Toby Pereira
Fiona Titcombe 60 - 49 Suzy Turner
Chris Marshall 58 - 48 Dave Robjohns
Phil Stanton 34 - 58 Darren Godfrey
Last Ashwin Hero 26 - 61 Elizabeth Beer
Adam Thwaites 48 - 39 Paul Talmey
George Baker 25 - 44 Jill Thwaites
Sam Prouse 64 - 0 Prune

Round 6

Finals
Dan Byrom 46 - 50 Adam Latchford
George Armstrong 62 - 51 Callum Todd
Jack Hurst 64 - 35 Tim Hebbes
Thomas Cappleman 60 - 57 Tom Carey
MK Open
Ahmed Mohamed 68 - 48 Gabriel Thallon
Brendan Whitehurst 53 - 67 Ronan Higginson
Martin Thomas 44 - 50 Adrian Fletcher
Bradley Horrocks 67 - 40 Tom Stevenson
Rob Foster 68 - 38 Dave Ryan
Jonathan Wynn 52 - 49 Adam Dexter
Toby Pereira 49 - 56 MSR
Fiona Titcombe 48 - 52 Steve Hyde
Jonathan de Souza 55 - 65 Chris Marshall
Graeme Cole 52 - 49 Jeff Clayton
Darren Godfrey 65 - 43 Elizabeth Beer
Suzy Turner 51 - 47 Stewart Gordon
Jill Thwaites 26 - 57 Coral Heath
Dave Robjohns 53 - 28 Adam Thwaites
Paul Talmey 42 - 56 Phil Stanton
Last Ashwin Hero 15 - 67 Sam Prouse
Prune 0 - 46 George Baker

Round 7

Finals
Adam Latchford 47 - 71 Callum Todd
Dan Byrom 51 - 68 Tim Hebbes
George Armstrong 44 - 65 Tom Carey
Jack Hurst 54 - 72 Thomas Cappleman
MK Open
Adrian Fletcher 49 - 73 Ahmed Mohamed
Ronan Higginson 73 - 40 Bradley Horrocks
Rob Foster 73 - 47 Gabriel Thallon
Brendan Whitehurst 55 - 71 Jonathan Wynn
Steve Hyde 54 - 71 Martin Thomas
MSR 47 - 30 Chris Marshall
Darren Godfrey 41 - 72 Tom Stevenson
Dave Ryan 54 - 71 Graeme Cole
Fiona Titcombe 72 - 45 Adam Dexter
Toby Pereira 58 - 59 Suzy Turner
Coral Heath 47 - 58 Dave Robjohns
Jeff Clayton 48 - 70 Jonathan de Souza
Phil Stanton 65 - 40 Elizabeth Beer
Stewart Gordon 49 - 44 Jill Thwaites
Sam Prouse 65 - 22 Adam Thwaites
Paul Talmey 68 - 27 George Baker
Prune 0 - 69 Last Ashwin Hero

Grand Final
Jack Hurst 54 - 39 George Armstrong
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Gavin Chipper »

Thank you for running this event - I had a great time.

I think the non-alcoholic drinks were a nice change from last year where there were only alcoholic options. One thing I would say though is that, I don't think drinks really make good prizes because they don't travel well. I mean, I didn't get a prize and I got a lift back, but if I'd got a prize and was getting the grain back, I probably would have given it away. There was an event not very long ago where there was a mixture of chocolates and drinks, and if I recall correctly, every chocolate prize got picked before any of the drinks got picked. It's a bit like when you're in an Indian restaurant eating poppadoms, and the mango chutney is always the first to get polished off and it's not even close.*

Also, I think 11:30 or even just 11:15 is a better start time than 11:00. 11:00 is still a bit early and it can be quite tight if you are engaging in other activities in the morning and having breakfast after.

But still, it was great event and these are minor considerations really.

*Graeme Cole once said that in his experience it's the onion, but I think he must hang out with a statistically anomalous bunch of people.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Fiona T »

Gavin Chipper wrote: Sun Nov 26, 2023 10:02 pm
Also, I think 11:30 or even just 11:15 is a better start time than 11:00. 11:00 is still a bit early and it can be quite tight if you are engaging in other activities in the morning and having breakfast after.

But still, it was great event and these are minor considerations really.

*Graeme Cole once said that in his experience it's the onion, but I think he must hang out with a statistically anomalous bunch of people.
Well I love that part of any countdown event is the parkrun, but it is a (growing) minority of us that participate. Most people are coming to play countdown and many think the more countdown the better! But a late morning start also means people can travel to the event on Saturday. 11 feels about right to me. :) I genuinely would be thinking twice about attending an event where I couldn't fit in my parkrun first - there's a couple of Scrabble events I've not attended for that reason, but accept I'm probably a minority of 1 in my priorities.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Graeme Cole »

Gavin Chipper wrote: Sun Nov 26, 2023 10:02 pm *Graeme Cole once said that in his experience it's the onion, but I think he must hang out with a statistically anomalous bunch of people.
Last night I went for a curry with seven other people from this social group, and guess what, the onions got used up first. Basically you're calling this forum a statistically anomalous bunch of people, and, well, we already knew that.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Gavin Chipper »

Graeme Cole wrote: Sun Nov 26, 2023 10:33 pm
Gavin Chipper wrote: Sun Nov 26, 2023 10:02 pm *Graeme Cole once said that in his experience it's the onion, but I think he must hang out with a statistically anomalous bunch of people.
Last night I went for a curry with seven other people from this social group, and guess what, the onions got used up first. Basically you're calling this forum a statistically anomalous bunch of people, and, well, we already knew that.
I'm beginning to think it's just you who eats a load of onion, skewing the statistics.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Andres Sanchez »

Are onions the new steroids?
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Gavin Chipper »

One other thing - if there's a grand final at the end of a tournament and no screen with the scores, it's important to announce the scores at the end of each round.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Adam Beach »

Gavin Chipper wrote: Mon Nov 27, 2023 2:46 pm One other thing - if there's a grand final at the end of a tournament and no screen with the scores, it's important to announce the scores at the end of each round.
My bad. I was a complete scatterbrain and overcome with nerves during the final. My board was intended to be used a score display but I forgot to bring my number tiles. Epic fail.

It would be beneficial for me to hear feedback from others about how I hosted the event, what improvements could have been made, the difficulty of the conundrums etc. Also, should I get the opportunity to additionally host next year’s finals, I’ll undoubtedly be bringing a whistle. :lol:
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by JackHurst »

Adam Beach wrote: Mon Nov 27, 2023 9:10 pm
Gavin Chipper wrote: Mon Nov 27, 2023 2:46 pm One other thing - if there's a grand final at the end of a tournament and no screen with the scores, it's important to announce the scores at the end of each round.
My bad. I was a complete scatterbrain and overcome with nerves during the final. My board was intended to be used a score display but I forgot to bring my number tiles. Epic fail.

It would be beneficial for me to hear feedback from others about how I hosted the event, what improvements could have been made, the difficulty of the conundrums etc. Also, should I get the opportunity to additionally host next year’s finals, I’ll undoubtedly be bringing a whistle. :lol:
Honestly you smashed it out of the park, you're a great host :)

Hope to see you hosting more event next year and hopefully the finals again!

Finalist Conundrums were decent I would say, probably on par with last year. I'll post my thoughts on each when I have a bit more spare time :)
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Fiona T »

JackHurst wrote: Mon Nov 27, 2023 9:39 pm
Adam Beach wrote: Mon Nov 27, 2023 9:10 pm
Gavin Chipper wrote: Mon Nov 27, 2023 2:46 pm One other thing - if there's a grand final at the end of a tournament and no screen with the scores, it's important to announce the scores at the end of each round.
My bad. I was a complete scatterbrain and overcome with nerves during the final. My board was intended to be used a score display but I forgot to bring my number tiles. Epic fail.

It would be beneficial for me to hear feedback from others about how I hosted the event, what improvements could have been made, the difficulty of the conundrums etc. Also, should I get the opportunity to additionally host next year’s finals, I’ll undoubtedly be bringing a whistle. :lol:
Honestly you smashed it out of the park, you're a great host :)

Hope to see you hosting more event next year and hopefully the finals again!

Finalist Conundrums were decent I would say, probably on par with last year. I'll post my thoughts on each when I have a bit more spare time :)
Seconded - you did a great job! Conundrums seemed a good level, although I think mebbe the tiebreaks don't need to be harder as Adrian and I managed to demonstrate! :D It did get me thinking about whether I need a separate way of doing it with the software tho - the idea was that you just take the next conundrum out of the same file, but I'm thinking of a situation where you have two new players on a tiebreak - you could burn through a lot of conundrums!
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Gavin Chipper »

Adam Beach wrote: Mon Nov 27, 2023 9:10 pm
Gavin Chipper wrote: Mon Nov 27, 2023 2:46 pm One other thing - if there's a grand final at the end of a tournament and no screen with the scores, it's important to announce the scores at the end of each round.
My bad. I was a complete scatterbrain and overcome with nerves during the final. My board was intended to be used a score display but I forgot to bring my number tiles. Epic fail.

It would be beneficial for me to hear feedback from others about how I hosted the event, what improvements could have been made, the difficulty of the conundrums etc. Also, should I get the opportunity to additionally host next year’s finals, I’ll undoubtedly be bringing a whistle. :lol:
Overall it was great.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by JackHurst »

Focal Finals Conundrums Thoughts

Here's my thoughts on the conundrums selected for the finals this year. Overall, I was looking for a mix of difficulty levels - medium, hard, and very hard - to truly challenge the finalists. Here's a breakdown of each conundrum:
  • CASEIFORM: Good pick! I think this kind of conundrum does a good job of separating great conundrum players from good conundrum players (which is what you want to do at finals).
  • CHALKFACE: Too easy for finalists.
  • COOPERANT (tiebreak): Good pick!
  • DAYSPRING: Great pick! What I liked about this one is that if you didn't know if you could work it out as a reasonable guess, but you wouldn't be sure.
  • FLOWERAGE: Too easy for finalists.
  • HANDSOMER: Good pick!
  • LIBERTIST: Great pick! It's tough, but gettable, and has lots of dead ends, so makes for a nailbiter.
  • PEREGRINE: Great pick! The dead end of ING, the closeness to PEPPERING, both makes for some possible hesitation on this one. It's also not straightforward to spot, so has a reasonable difficulty level.
  • ASYNDETON: Good pick! It missable, but if you know it it's quite a fast solve, and most players at finals levels would know this word. Personally I would expect something harder for the overall final of the year.
Overall, a pretty good set from Adam! Clearly quite a bit of effort put into finding good conundrums and it shows. Nice job :)

Shuffles:
It's cool to get funny/appropriate shuffles - NONSTEADY and RANDYPIGS will stick in my memory. However this doesn't need to be a focus, and shouldn't be a hard requirement. If you've found a great conundrum but can't get a meaningful shuffle, don't let that stop you from using it.

Ascension List & CoC 16:
All of the finalists conundrums are from the Apterous Ascension list. To really test players out, you need to mix in some non-Ascension cons. This year's CoC on TV was almost entirely non-ascension, and ended being generally very hard, but it made things very exciting because it wasn't a foregone conclusion that each conundrum would get solved. This is especially important in 9 rounders, where a much stronger player still might only get chance to take one round off of their opponent. Sometimes that should still be enough to deserve the win imo. I think roughly 50% non Ascension Conundrums in the mix would be great.

Examples of GOOD Non-Ascension Conundrums for Finals:
  • VOCALBIKE
  • WORRIEDBT
  • SLYPORISY
  • CUPIDFFEZ
  • WIDEMILFY
For a detailed analysis of each suggestion, see the hidden content below.

[spoiler]

- OLIVEBACK: The most plausible word you could make from the letters. Sounds like some sort of animal, but unless you 100% know the word, you're probably holding off until the 29s mark to buzz because of the ABLE/IBLE dead ends.
- ZIPCUFFED: Super low probability, and not in the apto list means most players wouldn't have seen this word before, however once you process the letters, it's really the only plausible word that can be made from the letters. It's missable, but a good test of anagramming ability rather than a memory test.
- BRIDEWORT: Similar to the logic for oliveback.
- PYROLYSIS: Looks incredibly nasty to begin with, but if a player holds their nerve and is able to work through possible words from the letters they could arrive at this in the 30s. PRYO being common prefix, and LYSIS being a less common suffix.
- MIDWIFELY: Jumps out at the solution, so might get solved quickly by players. It's non ascension, so most players wouldn't have seen this word before and go insta-solve.

[/spoiler]

Collaborating with Another Setter:
Collaborating with another setter is a good way to get the feel for the conundrums. It's important to get the right person to collaborate with though. They have to be a player who is stronger than the average of the field, or somebody who has extensive experience (10+ years) setting conundrums to outfox top players. So Rob Foster and Ben Wilson respectively :)

For more discussions on Co-Event conundrums, check out this thread: Co-Event Conundrum Discussion

Looking forward to your thoughts and suggestions!
Last edited by JackHurst on Tue Nov 28, 2023 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Thomas Cappleman »

JackHurst wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 9:15 am [*] FLOWERAGE: Too easy for finalists.
:( (Spotting this would have got me into the final, and I had basically all the time to do so because George only buzzed with it on about 28 seconds)
JackHurst wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 9:15 am [*] ASYNDETON: Good pick! It missable, but if you know it it's quite a fast solve, and most players at finals levels would know this word. Personally I would expect something harder for the overall final of the year.
Interesting that you think this. It's only been on the Asecension list since 2020 - which may be some Countdowners' entire career, but very short for me! At least in Apterous conundrums, I've seen it just once, and none of the other finalists have seen it many times. As it happens, looks like George has seen it the most and still had no idea on the day. It's also one where if you don't know it you've basically got no chance, as it doesn't build from guessable elements.

Otherwise agree with your assessments. Certainly on the day there were only a couple of matches where there was any difficulty working out who had won it, which is always the aim.
JackHurst wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 9:15 am All of the finalists conundrums are from the Apterous Ascension list. To really test players out, you need to mix in some non-Ascension cons. This year's CoC on TV was almost entirely non-ascension, and ended being generally very hard, but it made things very exciting because it wasn't a foregone conclusion that each conundrum would get solved. This is especially important in 9 rounders, where a much stronger player still might only get chance to take one round off of their opponent. Sometimes that should still be enough to deserve the win imo. I think roughly 50% non Ascension Conundrums in the mix would be great.
I think a mix is reasonable. Going entirely the other way and it being all non-ascension would have different problems. It risks making conundrum-solving skill too important, and favours those who go out of their way to find the obscure ones. Plus knowing a conundrum will be non-ascension leads to a very different approach. Now Ben has publicly said that's what he does for the top Lincoln tables at the end, I'll definitely play them differently if I get there.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Fiona T »

Thomas Cappleman wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 9:46 am
JackHurst wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 9:15 am [*] ASYNDETON: Good pick! It missable, but if you know it it's quite a fast solve, and most players at finals levels would know this word. Personally I would expect something harder for the overall final of the year.
Interesting that you think this. It's only been on the Asecension list since 2020 - which may be some Countdowners' entire career, but very short for me! At least in Apterous conundrums, I've seen it just once, and none of the other finalists have seen it many times. As it happens, looks like George has seen it the most and still had no idea on the day. It's also one where if you don't know it you've basically got no chance, as it doesn't build from guessable elements.
I wasn't a fan of this one either (for the same reason I wasn't a fan of some of the CoC cons) - it's one you either know or don't - you've got little chance of actually working it out. I can't begin to guess what it might mean. (Just looked it up and yeah I guess it makes sense!)

JackHurst wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 9:15 am
  • PEREGRINE: Great pick! The dead end of ING, the closeness to PEPPERING, both makes for some possible hesitation on this one. It's also not straightforward to spot, so has a reasonable difficulty level.
I like this one (and it was on my list for future events) but there is the spelling issue. Playing along, my opponent and I both wrote down a different spelling of the word. I think I heard one of the front tables say something about spelling too. Ideally spelling shouldn't come into conundrums
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by JackHurst »

I wanted to give shout outs to a few of the players

George was fantastic the whole day and I think everybody (except myself!) in the room were saddened to see him come so agonisingly close. Hope to see you get your first event win under your belt soon!

Ahmed was incredible in the open, I think(?) maxing every single letters round! There's lots of talk about WFT as the clear top three, and for a long time Ahmed has been the 4th best player, closing that gap. I think that gap is now well and truly closed and we have WFTM as a top 4. This year Ahmed has won 3/3 of the events he attended, and also won the CoC. Not only has she shown that he's capable of playing at the very highest level almost all of the time, but on the rare occasions he's played not at the highest level he's capable of, he's shown that he can get results under pressure, which is the mark of a true champion!

And to all of the other players in the top 8, it was a pleasure playing against all of you. So many of the games swing on the finest of margins, which then end up having huge ramifications on the end results of the day. Yesterday I don't think I was the best, I was just the luckiest.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Dan Byrom »

JackHurst wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 2:11 pm George was fantastic the whole day and I think everybody (except myself!) in the room were saddened to see him come so agonisingly close. Hope to see you get your first event win under your belt soon!
Agreed!

JackHurst wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 2:11 pm And to all of the other players in the top 8, it was a pleasure playing against all of you. So many of the games swing on the finest of margins, which then end up having huge ramifications on the end results of the day. Yesterday I don't think I was the best, I was just the luckiest.
You were definitely the best!

Although I had a bad day results-wise, I still had a good time, and playing you and the other top players has helped me learn a lot about how to up my game for the next season.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Gavin Chipper »

JackHurst wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 2:11 pm Ahmed was incredible in the open, I think(?) maxing every single letters round! There's lots of talk about WFT as the clear top three, and for a long time Ahmed has been the 4th best player, closing that gap. I think that gap is now well and truly closed and we have WFTM as a top 4. This year Ahmed has won 3/3 of the events he attended, and also won the CoC. Not only has she shown that he's capable of playing at the very highest level almost all of the time, but on the rare occasions he's played not at the highest level he's capable of, he's shown that he can get results under pressure, which is the mark of a true champion!
Definitely this. I've seen it as a big four for a while.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by George Armstrong »

Might as well throw my two cents into this. Firstly
JackHurst wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 2:11 pm George was fantastic the whole day and I think everybody (except myself!) in the room were saddened to see him come so agonisingly close. Hope to see you get your first event win under your belt soon!
Still can't quite believe that, especially after last year's wooden spoon! Ultimately I feel I got very lucky. Out of all 16 cons in the finalists folder I reckon CASEIFORM was probably the only one I'd have beaten Jack to. See the time I got it as an absolute mad punt vs the other Jack as to the only reason I knew it so quickly https://www.apterous.org/viewgame.php?g ... #r37215539 . Plus the debacle with the Adam conundrum giving me another close win. Wasn't making the final without those bits of luck. Regardless, the better man definitely won on the day. Gonna take a lot to repeat that in the future.
Thomas Cappleman wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 9:46 am looks like George has seen it the most and still had no idea on the day. It's also one where if you don't know it you've basically got no chance, as it doesn't build from guessable elements.
100% believe that I've seen it the most - would be typical! Tbf I've never (and likely will never) sit down and learn things. So either it sticks by chance or it doesn't (equally see CASEIFORM).
Fiona T wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 10:09 am Ideally spelling shouldn't come into conundrums
Speaking of CASEIFORM, Adam solved it in his game but says he would've pronounced in SEE-ZI-FORM rather than CASE-I-FORM at a Lincoln style event, which could mean a host presumes he's answering with CEASIFORM and deny him the solve. Personally I'm fine with spelling being a part of cons for Bristol events, but Lincoln events need to be careful with not writing cons with potentially dubious spellings/pronunciations. (And if someone's gonna complain that I'm offering two options rather than one, just go for the latter!).

Was happy with the general level of our cons (ASYNDETON aside ;) - was praying that one of my Final option cons for Sheffield miraculously turned up!). The only one of my 7 games that was a insta solve for either myself or my opponent (in this case both) was HANDSOMER with Adam.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Adam S Latchford »

George Armstrong wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 7:37 pm

Speaking of CASEIFORM, Adam solved it in his game but says he would've pronounced in SEE-ZI-FORM rather than CASE-I-FORM at a Lincoln style event, which could mean a host presumes he's answering with CEASIFORM and deny him the solve. Personally I'm fine with spelling being a part of cons for Bristol events, but Lincoln events need to be careful with not writing cons with potentially dubious spellings/pronunciations. (And if someone's gonna complain that I'm offering two options rather than one, just go for the latter!).

This would have been absolutely fair to rule in form of my opponent in lincoln
I was lucky I had to write it down. I knew how to spell the word but for whatever reason i'd have pronounced it the other way and it'd be right to rule against me and should be ruled against others in future

Thanks for a great event guys!

Enjoyed it a lot, didn't play horrifically but was justified coming around bottom of the pack. cya at lincoln xox
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Thomas Carey »

I guess since basically every other finalist has commented i'll say some shit. All of my cons except my final game (with George) were crucials (and all of his were crucial except our game too!)

Caseiform - I think this is decent but surprised people are saying it's one of the best of the day. I don't know the word from real life, only from seeing as a 9 often enough on apto/wordlists since the letters are high enough probability. Not necessarily a bad thing but yeah. It helped me as I was a little bit faster than Callum on the crucial here.

Chalkface - yeah this was a bit easy, I lost the buzzer race and hence the game to Adam after blowing a 21 point lead so I'm incredibly biased though. It's not trivial though and would have made a decent open con.

Dayspring - yeah great. This was the only one I didn't get within the first 10 seconds, just about within time but jack was way ahead. Unfortunately the better conundrumist won this one, can't really complain.

Flowerage - decent enough I'd say. On paper it looks too easy but it stumped me and Dan for a good few seconds before I buzzed and got it and I know some of the other finalists struggled too so, harder than it looks?

Hansdomer - this one is very good, it fulfils the trinity of common letters, word everyone knows and not an easy suffixy one. I got it pretty quick against Tim thanks to getting it to HORSEDAMN and remembering I'd set that in a horse themed supernundrum a while back.

Libertist - yeah another good pick - this one has a lot of potential segments and it took me a little bit too long to see it, tcap beat me to the buzzer but again it was a good few seconds in.

Peregrine - I'm going to be honest, since it was my only non crucial I hansforded this one (successfully). Sorry George but you were too good on the day. I wouldn't have got many others by doing that so it was wise to not do it when the conundrums mattered.

Asyndeton - I did know the word and got it around the time jack did, which surprises me since it doesn't feel like it should be an instant spot. I guess I thought the word was more widely known so I would have said it was a pretty good con, but apparently not. I guess test them out on a few people if you can but that's not always easy when you don't know who'll be at the event.

Overall great bunch of lads, well picked beachy. Cheers maus


The supernundrum, for reference (the starting 9 letters of the nine solutions are another conundrum):

FOALINNIT
HORSENEST
HORSEMINI
HORSERING
HORSEDAMN
HORSECRAP
HORSECUNT
HORSEDIES
HORSETOMB


cheers maus
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Callum Todd »

I think the conundrums were great. The one thing that's pretty clear from the above comments is that there was a good range of difficulties and feels to the conundrums, which is exactly what you'd want from a co:event in my opinion. Some of the conundrums even have a wide gap in perception of difficulty among players which is just perfect. Really well chosen, I don't think I would swap out a single one of them.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Bradley Horrocks »

I echo the positive sentiments about the conundrums. I do believe that there should be some advantage in being ahead going into the conundrum, in that there is a non-zero chance that neither player solves it, and in that case the person in the lead wins. I knew in some of my games on Saturday that the chance of the conundrum going unsolved was slim to none, making a 9 point deficit as useful as a 9 point lead. It's tricky to find a single conundrum in Bristol formats that can cater to the range of abilities in the room. Do you set separate tougher conundrums for crucials? Or for the top N tables once players are seeded? These scenarios could allow more adjudicators for each conundrum. Perhaps just accept the scoring system is the way it is? I don't have the answer, but someone else might have something to offer.
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Re: FOCAL Finals and MK Open - 25th November 2023

Post by Adam Beach »

Thanks a lot for the comments and feedback regarding the conundrums and my hosting. I agree with Jack's view on FLOWERAGE being too easy as a con for the finalists. In typical Adam fashion, this was meant to be one for the openers, but I stuck it in the wrong file. Epic fail #2. Saying that, if it stumped Speedy Tomzales (Maus, fwiw) for a few seconds, I might get away with it.
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