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Jon O'Neill

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Jon O'Neill
Octochamp Statistics
Final positionSemi-finalist
Points total804
Conundrums solved6
Jon O'Neill in Series 53...
...and again under eight years later in the 30th Birthday Championship!
Carol Vorderman marvels at another of the ginger genius' outrageous solutions.

Jon O'Neill was an octochamp in Series 53, a participant in Championship of Champions XII and a semi-finalist in the 30th Birthday Championship. He is also an Apterite.

Appearances on the programme

Series 53

He started off with a narrow 20 point win over Steve Smith before scoring 96 against Peter Wallis. All of his next five games were centuries including a high score of 114 against Theresa Turrell. In his final game, he dropped to 94, but still qualified for the finals as number three seed with 804 points.


In the quarter-finals, he played Judith Young in a close game. The game hinged on O'Neill making 209 from 75, 100, 25, 6, 10, 50, which involved him doing 50 × 100 + 75 to make 5075 before coming back down again (although it can also be solved by doing 100 + 75 + 50 − 10 − 6). Though Young beat him with SEARCHED in Round 12, O'Neill won by a score of 90 – 74, where failing to unravel the conundrum IRONCASTS separated him from a score of 100.

In the semi-finals, he faced John Mayhew, the number two seed with 811 points. O'Neill led by seven points going into Round 13, where he was beaten by THEOREMS and trailed by one point going into his choice of numbers. Controversially, he didn't choose four large and went for just one large number. Both players scored 10 points and the lights were dimmed for a crucial conundrum (EROGENICC), but neither player could solve it and Mayhew won the game by a solitary point. It was the second conundrum of French origin in a row that O'Neill had failed to solve.

Shortly after this, he was apparently spotted by Wayne Mardle, who misspelt O'Neill's name in the former's autobiography.

Championship of Champions XII

One year later, O'Neill was invited back to Championship of Champions XII, and faced Series 52 octochamp and semi-finalist Jack Welsby. O'Neill started badly, missing AMOEBAS. O'Neill couldn't beat Welsby in any letters rounds, and uncharacteristically was beaten by Carol Vorderman in both choices of four large numbers. O'Neill did get the conundrum FAYRPOINT but it was Welsby that won the game by just five points.

30th Birthday Championship

O'Neill returned to Countdown in 2013, as one of 41 contestants taking part in the 30th Birthday Championship. He received a bye to the first round, and won his first game against Series 59 octochamp and semi-finalist Kai Laddiman by a score of 101 – 76. O'Neill then beat Series 6 champion Darryl Francis in his second game, scoring a personal best of 122 in the process. He then equalled his personal best in his quarter-final against the Series 66 champion Jack Worsley, and in the process, he achieved a max game, becoming only the third person in the history of the 15-round format to achieve this feat. In the semi-finals, he played the formidable Series 54 champion Conor Travers. He managed to hold Travers for nearly every round, but his gamble of sulphated ☓ in Round 6 backfired, and Travers solved the conundrum FINEGIRTH in one second to achieve an unprecedented third consecutive max game. O'Neill’s semi-final spots make him among the strongest players to never win a series.


On 19 September 2014, he was a special guest on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. O'Neill joined Sean Lock and Jo Brand's team. Unfortunately, he missed a numbers target to Jon Richardson, saying it was hard to concentrate, but did redeem himself by solving the conundrum SNOGAMILF in under a second.

Away from Countdown

Since appearing on Countdown, O'Neill has played at a number of Co-events, achieving third place at CoBris 2007, second place at COLIN 2008 and COLIN 2009, before winning his first event CoLei2 later in 2009.

He also participated in every Countdown Online Masters from 2008–2015, excluding 2014. In 2008, he reached the quarter-finals, losing 100 – 99 to Series 47 champion Chris Wills. In 2010, he reached the grand final, losing to Series 60 champion Kirk Bevins, and in 2015, he reached the semi-finals, losing to future Series 78 champion Zarte Siempre.

In 2009, he became the first moderator of the off-topic subforum on c4countdown.


# Date Type Contestant 1 Score Contestant 2 Presenters Guest Lex Max
3898 01/04/2005 P Steve Smith 67 – 87 Jon O'Neill Richard Whiteley Carol Vorderman Mitch Murray Susie Dent 143
3899 04/04/2005 P Jon O'Neill 96 – 72 Peter Wallis Richard Whiteley Carol Vorderman Nicholas Owen Susie Dent 120
3900 05/04/2005 P Jon O'Neill 106 – 54 William Moore Richard Whiteley Carol Vorderman Nicholas Owen Susie Dent 140
3901 06/04/2005 P Jon O'Neill 102 – 46 Ola Odutola Richard Whiteley Carol Vorderman Nicholas Owen Susie Dent 124
3902 07/04/2005 P Jon O'Neill 101 – 61 Gill Johns Richard Whiteley Carol Vorderman Nicholas Owen Susie Dent 133
3903 08/04/2005 P Jon O'Neill 104 – 66 Phil Squires Richard Whiteley Carol Vorderman Nicholas Owen Susie Dent 119
3904 11/04/2005 P Jon O'Neill 114 – 43 Theresa Turrell Richard Whiteley Carol Vorderman Julia McKenzie Susie Dent 132
3905 12/04/2005 P Jon O'Neill 94 – 58 Gary McEnaney Richard Whiteley Carol Vorderman Julia McKenzie Susie Dent 118
3955 28/06/2005 QF Judith Young 74 – 90 Jon O'Neill Richard Whiteley Carol Vorderman Philip Franks Susie Dent 122
3958 30/06/2005 SF John Mayhew 89 – 88 Jon O'Neill Richard Whiteley Carol Vorderman Philip Franks Susie Dent 117
4116 01/06/2006 CP Jack Welsby 99 – 94 Jon O'Neill Des Lynam Carol Vorderman Ron Atkinson Susie Dent 134
5625 21/01/2013 30B1 Kai Laddiman 76 – 101 Jon O'Neill Nick Hewer Rachel Riley Margaret Mountford Susie Dent 132
5641 12/02/2013 30B2 Jon O'Neill 122 – 91 Darryl Francis Nick Hewer Rachel Riley Ken Bruce Susie Dent 130
5649 22/02/2013 30BQF Jon O'Neill 122 – 104 Jack Worsley Nick Hewer Rachel Riley Dr Phil Hammond Susie Dent 122
5653 28/02/2013 30BSF Jon O'Neill 102 – 120 Conor Travers Nick Hewer Rachel Riley Jenny Eclair Susie Dent 120
Cats26 19/09/2014 S Jon O'Neill,
Jo Brand
& Sean Lock
52 – 24 Jon Richardson,
Vic Reeves
& Rob Beckett
Jimmy Carr Rachel Riley Adam Buxton Susie Dent 69

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