Zarte Siempre was a contestant in Series 69, an octochamp in and the champion of Series 78 and the winner of Championship of Champions XV, with the highest cumulative score over a single series: 1,331. The equal-most televised contestant ever (with Conor Travers), Siempre is a long-time member of Apterous and c4countdown, and is the innovator and former chair of FOCAL. His contributions to the game, wicked sense of humour, dapper attire and consistently high-scoring gameplay make him one of the most popular members of the Countdown community. He is also head of the Meringue Defence League and is directly descended from Genghis Khan and Dann 'Bi Clog' Camiltoes. As of 2018, Siempre holds three Michelin stars - two more than Marcus Wareing.
Siempre made his televised debut on 24 July 2013, delivering a convincing 118 – 76 defeat to Rory Coleman. Four more victories followed, including a top score of 137 (at the time, the eighth highest score ever) before losing at the hands of eventual runner-up Dylan Taylor both in the Countdown contest and the personality stakes, although Siempre's win in their backstage beauty contest offered some consolation as he triumphantly maxed the swimwear round. In his heats, Siempre averaged 109.33 points per game - the highest ever average for a non-octochamp. He didn't make the finals despite scoring 656 points, 48 points higher than the number 8 seed Gemma Church, but he only amassed 5 wins compared to Church's 6. Notably, during his third game, Siempre’s declaration of AREOLA caused non-stop laughter in the studio for 15 minutes. This blooper was televised in an episode of It’ll Be Alright On The Night.
Siempre eventually returned to the programme nearly five years later, in Series 78, for another chance to make the finals. In his first return appearance, on 1 March 2018, he powered past fellow Apterite Philip Aston to end Aston's run in his seventh game. This time, Siempre's octorun was not halted as he racked up seven further victories, all with scores well over a century, including - for the first time ever - a run of three consecutive totals over 125. Siempre's octototal of 967 points made him the standout provisional #1 seed, as well as the second highest scoring octochamp of all time behind only Dylan Taylor himself.
Three months later, in his quarter-final match against Jan Pask, he amassed 124 points and won by 105, the biggest winning margin ever recorded in any finals match. Siempre thus advanced to the semi-finals to take on #4-ranked Phil Davies. This match was extremely close, with Siempre's first-round disallowal of disagreer ☓ meant that Davies maintained the lead through the second commercial break. Ultimately, however, Siempre recovered with two further letters spots to confirm his victory after the final numbers round. He then zoomed off to the green room to change his trousers and enter the grand final dressed as a snooker player, before hysterically laughing at Philip Aston dramatically declaring GAYNESS in his semi-final.
In the ultimate show of the series - a rematch of himself against Aston - Siempre took an early 8-point lead with REPUSHED, but then lost it after having superking x disallowed. The scoreline was 118 - 118 (the highest ever in a Grand Final) going into the crucial conundrum USEDLOGIC. Zarte answered with GLUCOSIDE in 10 seconds to seal victory and setting a new record for the highest score ever achieved in a Grand Final in the process. His “xicount” total accumulated over his 11 shows is a record 1,331 points, breaking Dylan Taylor’s record by 12 points.
Siempre returned to Championship of Champions XV in January 2019, where he faced Paul Erdunast in the first round for a highly-anticipated match between the two highest-scoring “xicounts” of the tournament. The game was decided only by the letters rounds: Siempre took the lead with RELEASOR, but Erdunast levelled the scoreline with his finding of AUTODYNE. But Erdunast fell 8 behind again after his invalid play of noshiest x lost to Siempre’s SHOOTIES. With neither player unravelling the crucial conundrum AMRESTIVE, Siempre won the match with a score of 113 to Erdunast’s 105.
Siempre then faced fellow octochamp Thomas Carey in the last Quarter-final. Here, Siempre showed no sign of slowing in a game with 4 nine-letter words available. Siempre and Carey found LARCENOUS in round 1, but Siempre quickly thundered into a 36-point lead with BLOWSIEST and DIVAGATED beating Carey’s BLOWIEST and DIVAGATE in rounds 4 and 5 respectively to storm to 82 points out of 82, the highest ever score after 6 rounds. Despite Carey clawing back with his play of TIRAMISUS in round 12, Siempre maxed the final letters round, solved the last numbers round and the conundrum to win with a score of 150, the highest ever achieved in the history of Countdown. The players’ combined score of 272 is also the highest ever. His win set up a "threematch" between him and Philip Aston: only the second proper threematch ever, after Natascha Kearsey vs Peter Cashmore. Here, Siempre scored 106 points – his lowest score since returning to the show – but it was enough after Aston had maderiser ☓ disallowed to fall behind yet again. Siempre is the first contestant ever to beat the same player 3 times.
Siempre’s final match was against Series 77 runner-up Bradley Horrocks. Once again, Siempre took the lead with an opening-round spot of HEDARIM and won the third numbers round (this time picking 3 large). Before the final numbers round, Siempre became the fifteenth Champion of Champions, and in doing so joined Harvey Freeman, Nic Brown, Don Reid, Scott Mearns and Graham Nash in an elite band of Grand Slam winners. His cumulative score across his entire run is 2,472 points, more than any other contestant, and he also shares Conor Travers’s record for the most wins (20) on Countdown.
His Co-event career began when he attended CobliviLon in 2012, actually winning 7 games out of 6. However, history has unfortunately and cruelly been amended so that it officially says that he came in 18th place, which is still respectable, especially as he was crouching for the entirety of the tournament.
This was followed up by an appearance at Lincoln in 2013, where he finished in a solid 15th place with 4 wins out of 6. He later went to CO:REA 2013, finishing on 3 wins and 463 points to ensure another top-15 finish. Siempre was also the overall victor in Group B at Countdown in Leamington Spa, winning a magical unicycle and a leprechaun in the process. In the same year, he co-hosted CobliviLon with Amie Bateen.
2014 saw him come runner-up to Series 63 champion Jack Hurst at COLIN X, while in August he won CoMultiLon after the final against James Robinson was cancelled - with Siempre having the most points throughout the day, he was declared the winner. Later that evening, he won the inaugural Apterous Ring Of Fire tournament, having seen off Jamie 'Laverty' McNeill with a reference to Stiliyan Petrov's scrotum. He has since won Countdown in St Albans 2016.
In 2015, he launched his own Co-event in Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. In his fourth edition, he introduced 10-letter conundrums for the first time.
His contributions to Apterous have included organising the long-running Aptotude League series and, until 2017, an Apterous version of the Belgian reality television gameshow The Mole, famed for irritating anyone who wanted to play a spot on Saturday Night Apterous.
In 2018, he won the Apterous 10th Birthday Championship.
Siempre competed in the 2018 FOCAL Finals as the #4 seed, and finished in 3rd place, winning 4 out of 7 games.
|Champion of Champions
Championship of Champions XIV
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Guest||Lex||Max|
|5739||24/07/2013||P||Rory Coleman||76 – 118||Zarte Siempre||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||130|
|5740||25/07/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||114 – 34||Ian Talbot||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||127|
|5741||26/07/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||103 – 49||Brenda Widger||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||123|
|5742||29/07/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||137 – 41||Michelle Furnell||Dan Walker||Susie Dent||143|
|5743||5/08/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||103 – 26||Sam Wheeler||Dan Walker||Susie Dent||124|
|5744||6/08/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||81 – 120||Dylan Taylor||Dan Walker||Susie Dent||121|
|6774||1/03/2018||P||Philip Aston||97 – 121||Zarte Siempre||Myleene Klass||Susie Dent||135|
|6775||2/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||111 – 64||Keith Howkins||Myleene Klass||Susie Dent||124|
|6776||5/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||118 – 70||Donal Casey||Myleene Klass||Susie Dent||124|
|6777||6/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||128 – 23||Jonathan Stoneman||Liz Bonnin||Susie Dent||132|
|6778||7/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||130 – 62||Patrick Gray||Liz Bonnin||Susie Dent||144|
|6779||8/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||130 – 39||Dave Burch||Liz Bonnin||Susie Dent||145|
|6780||9/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||118 – 29||Steve Shingleton||Liz Bonnin||Susie Dent||123|
|6781||12/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||111 – 65||Anthony Jenkin||Liz Bonnin||Susie Dent||125|
|6847||14/06/2018||QF||Zarte Siempre||124 – 19||Jan Pask||Helen Fospero||Susie Dent||133|
|6851||20/06/2018||SF||Zarte Siempre||112 – 88||Phil Davies||Helen Fospero||Susie Dent||123|
|6853||22/06/2018||GF||Zarte Siempre||128 – 118||Philip Aston||Paul Zenon||Susie Dent||136|
|6984||8/01/2019||CP||Paul Erdunast||105 – 113||Zarte Siempre||Kate Humble||Susie Dent||131|
|6991||17/01/2019||CQF||Thomas Carey||122 – 150||Zarte Siempre||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||168|
|6992||18/01/2019||CSF||Philip Aston||73 – 106||Zarte Siempre||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||129|
|6994||22/01/2019||CGF||Zarte Siempre||116 – 83||Bradley Horrocks||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||123|
|Championship of Champions Winners|
I : Mark Nyman | II : Clive Freedman | III : Harvey Freeman | IV : Nic Brown | V : Tim Morrissey | VI : Wayne Summers | VII : Don Reid | VIII : Chris Rogers | IX : Natascha Kearsey | X : Scott Mearns | XI : Graham Nash | XII : Paul Gallen | XIII : Steve Briers | XIV : Dylan Taylor | XV : Zarte Siempre