Championship of Champions XII
Championship of Champions XII is remembered as one of the most consistently excellent Championships of Champions ever produced. Sixteen of the best contestants from Series 49 to 54 were assembled for a knockout showdown from the 29th May to 16th June 2006.
The tournament had originally been scheduled for the end of Series 53, but was delayed by the transition of presenters. The original tournament had a slightly different line-up, including Sweyn Kirkness and Stuart Earl, who were replaced by Series 54 contestants. Another favourite, Series 51 champion Stewart Holden, declined to enter the CoC because he was studying the Scrabble dictionary at the time.
The first three games all featured centuries, as Mark Tournoff, John Davies and Conor Travers progressed at the expense of Steve Graston, Gary Male and John Hunt respectively. The fourth game saw Jack Welsby make a mere 99 to Jon O'Neill's 94, as both missed PROSPERED. The onslaught of centuries continued, with Paul Howe making 117 against John Mayhew, Paul Gallen taking the tournament's highscore with 125 against Eamonn Timmins, and the first double century game as Chris Cummins' 101 was inadequate to overcome Matthew Shore's 109. The 86 – 48 score by which John Brackstone defeated Series 49 runner up David Wilson formed the only arguably weak point of the preliminary round.
Eight days in and it did not seem like the championship could get anyway better. However the first quarter final, Matthew Shore vs Mark Tournoff, was described by Jon O'Neill as "the greatest game of Countdown ever played" — both players scored two nines and, while Shore made a mighty 117, Tournoff made an incredible 124 to take the game. This remains by far the highest joint score ever. The second quarter final was less explosive but no less exciting, with John Davies trying to claw back an 18-point first round deficit after missing STINGAREE/RESEATING against a ferociously focussed Paul Gallen. Gallen held on confidently, running out the winner at 118 – 96. The third quarter final saw recent champion Conor Travers sneak through against John Brackstone 101 – 80, pulling out the awesome BRESAOLA in Round 13 and ultimately running out comfortable winner. The last quarter final was between Paul Howe and Jack Welsby but, faced with difficult selections, the game finished close and low-scoring, with Paul winning 83 – 72.
Heading into the semifinals were two players from Series 52 and two from Series 54, and naturally the pairings were between series. The first saw a steady scoring affair between Paul Howe and Mark Tournoff, which headed for a crucial conundrum with Tournoff a point to the good. After six seconds, he buzzed with the correct solution to STUARTFIR to take him into the final, leaving Howe disappointed for the second time in just a few weeks. The second semifinal was a battle all fans had been relishing – Gallen vs Travers. With both players making perfect scores in almost every round, including RITENUTO and HELICONS, there was little to separate them; a crucial conundrum seemed inevitable, and indeed it came, with Gallen leading by 108 to 102. Gallen buzzed in almost immediately with the solution to CHOPLOSER to claim the his spot in the final. Incredibly he had dropped just two points (KETOSIS and the DC-beating CLANGOUR.)
And so the final would be a repeat of the Series 52 final! Both players started strongly, with finds like STARFISH, SUNBEAM and CELLARET, but Gallen finally opened a lead in Round 12 with the superb pair TELECOM and DYSPNOEA. An impossible numbers game allowed Tournoff to score 7 points and come within striking distance. The game would again be a crucial conundrum! The roller spun to reveal PRONEPIPE and, just as in their previous match, Gallen buzzed quickly – but this time, there could be no mistake, as PEPPERONI gave him the points needed to take championship. Final score: 111 – 93 from a possible 118.
Gallen at last allowed himself a smile – it was a fitting end to an amazing championship.
|Mark Tournoff (52) vs Steve Graston (51)||Mark Tournoff vs Matthew Shore|| Mark Tournoff |
| Mark Tournoff |
|Matthew Shore (54) vs Chris Cummins (50)|
|Jack Welsby (52) vs Jon O'Neill (53)||Jack Welsby vs Paul Howe|
|John Mayhew (53) vs Paul Howe (54)|
|John Davies (49) vs Gary Male (51)||John Davies vs Paul Gallen|| Paul Gallen |
|Paul Gallen (52) vs Eamonn Timmins (50)|
|Conor Travers (54) vs John Hunt (52)||Conor Travers vs John Brackstone|
|John Brackstone (53) vs David Wilson (49)|
The numbers refer to the series in which each contestant originally played in the finals.
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Guest||Lex||Max|
|4113||29/05/2006||CP||Mark Tournoff||119 – 83||Steve Graston||Ron Atkinson||Susie Dent||131|
|4114||30/05/2006||CP||John Davies||106 – 73||Gary Male||Ron Atkinson||Susie Dent||131|
|4115||31/05/2006||CP||Conor Travers||124 – 91||John Hunt||Ron Atkinson||Susie Dent||138|
|4116||1/06/2006||CP||Jack Welsby||99 – 94||Jon O'Neill||Ron Atkinson||Susie Dent||134|
|4117||2/06/2006||CP||John Mayhew||87 – 117||Paul Howe||Ron Atkinson||Susie Dent||132|
|4118||5/06/2006||CP||John Brackstone||86 – 48||David Wilson||Ann Widdecombe||Susie Dent||120|
|4119||6/06/2006||CP||Paul Gallen||125 – 80||Eamonn Timmins||Ann Widdecombe||Susie Dent||141|
|4120||7/06/2006||CP||Matthew Shore||109 – 101||Chris Cummins||Ann Widdecombe||Susie Dent||131|
|4121||8/06/2006||CQF||Matthew Shore||117 – 124||Mark Tournoff||Ann Widdecombe||Susie Dent||139|
|4122||9/06/2006||CQF||Paul Gallen||118 – 96||John Davies||Ann Widdecombe||Susie Dent||127|
|4123||12/06/2006||CQF||Conor Travers||101 – 80||John Brackstone||Kim Woodburn||Susie Dent||130|
|4124||13/06/2006||CQF||Jack Welsby||72 – 83||Paul Howe||Kim Woodburn||Susie Dent||118|
|4125||14/06/2006||CSF||Paul Howe||88 – 99||Mark Tournoff||Kim Woodburn||Susie Dent||126|
|4126||15/06/2006||CSF||Paul Gallen||118 – 102||Conor Travers||Kim Woodburn||Susie Dent||120|
|4127||16/06/2006||CGF||Paul Gallen||111 – 93||Mark Tournoff||Kim Woodburn||Susie Dent||118|