He first appeared aged 18 and scored 96 points in his first game, and went on to compile 846 points with a top score of 121 and two scores of 117 in his first eight games. He scored 'only' 92 against Rita Willmott but came back above 100 with 108 points against John Hunt. The final was a tense affair. Gallen beat #3 seed Mark Tournoff with FIACRES and MITOGENS in the first four rounds, but Gallen failed to score on the first numbers, so the score was 30 – 25 in Gallen's favour after 5 rounds. Both players equalled each other in every round from them on, until Tournoff tried INTERNETS ☓ which was only listed with a capital letter. Gallen had MIRIAD ☓ disallowed in the next round, and after both players scored on the numbers, it was a crucial conundrum. Gallen buzzed in on three seconds but gave no answer and the rest of the time was allowed to Tournoff. He then saw the right answer, as indicated by reducing himself to dejection. Tournoff duly spotted PARTRIDGE and won the game dramatically 92 – 89.
He was invited back to the Championship of Champions XII where he beat Series 50 runner-up Eamonn Timmins by 45 points, including two nine-letter words. The quarter-final was against John Davies who was unbeaten with 12 wins out of 12. The Series 49 champion slipped up offering the invalid gratinees in the first round, whilst, Gallen had STINGAREE. The players scored equally in every round until Gallen could only find a five whilst Davies had CABBIE. This wasn't enough to force a crucial conundrum, and Gallen won 118 – 96, in a game closer than the scoreline suggests. The semi-final was against Conor Travers who was also at the time unbeaten. As in the previous game, the players scored in every round apart from Travers who offered BOING for five when Gallen had a six. This meant another crucial conundrum PRESCHOOL which Gallen solved to beat another previously unbeaten player. In the final, to win the competition, Gallen would have to beat Mark Tournoff who was both an unbeaten champion and the only player ever to beat Gallen.
In the final, both players played an impressive game with all maximums for both players all of the first 11 rounds, including the impressive STARFISH in round 1. It was Gallen that took the lead in rounds 12 and 13 with TELECOM and DYSPNOEA. Again all Gallen had to do was score points on the final numbers game and he would avoid a crucial conundrum, but he got the numbers game wrong and let Tournoff in for a crucial conundrum. This time Gallen made no mistake, and took the conundrum PEPPERONI for himself and took the Championship of Champions title with him too, carding a then-record 14 maximums in the process (a record eventually beaten by Kirk Bevins in Series 60). Both players have 14 wins from 15 games, their only defeats being against each other.
Since his appearances on Countdown, Gallen studied Law at Belfast University and has become a keen competitor in the world of Scrabble. In 2012, he became the first person born outside the British Isles to win the National Scrabble Championship, and won the ABSP Masters in 2013, 2014 and 2019 and the British Elimination Scrabble Tournament in 2013 and 2017. He has been ranked number 1 in the world, holds Grandmaster status and replaced Allan Simmons as Saturday’s Scrabble columnist for The Times in 2017.
|Champion of Champions
Championship of Champions XII
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Guest||Lex||Max|
|3762||31/08/2004||P||Roy Thearle||83 – 96||Paul Gallen||Barry Norman||Susie Dent||124|
|3763||1/09/2004||P||Paul Gallen||117 – 49||Harry Brunt||Barry Norman||Susie Dent||135|
|3764||2/09/2004||P||Paul Gallen||103 – 77||Claire Marston||Barry Norman||Susie Dent||140|
|3765||3/09/2004||P||Paul Gallen||103 – 82||Ray Jones||Barry Norman||Susie Dent||122|
|3766||6/09/2004||P||Paul Gallen||117 – 35||Jean Tully||Charles Collingwood||Susie Dent||123|
|3767||7/09/2004||P||Paul Gallen||106 – 57||Ed Pritchard||Charles Collingwood||Susie Dent||121|
|3768||8/09/2004||P||Paul Gallen||83 – 39||Stephen Todd||Charles Collingwood||Susie Dent||117|
|3769||9/09/2004||P||Paul Gallen||121 – 47||Mo Yusuf||Charles Collingwood||Susie Dent||128|
|3834||9/12/2004||QF||Rita Willmott||61 – 92||Paul Gallen||Rick Wakeman||Susie Dent||125|
|3838||15/12/2004||SF||John Hunt||47 – 108||Paul Gallen||Richard Digance||Susie Dent||130|
|3840||17/12/2004||GF||Mark Tournoff||92 – 89||Paul Gallen||Richard Digance||Susie Dent||119|
|4119||6/06/2006||CP||Paul Gallen||125 – 80||Eamonn Timmins||Ann Widdecombe||Susie Dent||141|
|4122||9/06/2006||CQF||Paul Gallen||118 – 96||John Davies||Ann Widdecombe||Susie Dent||127|
|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|
|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