Sam made his debut on 26 August 2020 against two-time winner Pete Reynolds, where a spot of the nine-letter word LONICERAS helped Sam win with an impressive 114 points to Reynolds' 33. The following day, Sam reduced multiple gameshow contestant Bernie Kingston to the lowest ever score in a 15-round game with just 5 points. Sam won an additional six games on the trot, including a personal best of 124 points, and accumulated 939 points en route to becoming the sixth octochamp of the series and the first octochamp since the COVID-19 hiatus. He came up with some very obscure words along the way, such as MOWDIES, TAIHOAED and WINDIGO. Clips of his eighth win were shown on Gogglebox on 11 September.
Sam returned to the show on 11 December 2020 to play the second quarter-final match against number 7 seed Damien Doughty. Sam took an early in the first two letters rounds, before Doughty beat him in the first number round. Sam eventually broke away by finding MASTIGURE for nine and solving a difficult conundrum – CRAZYLILO to ZIRCALLOY – to prevail with 121 points and qualify for the semi-finals, where he took on number 3 seed Leo Smith in the second semi-final. Both players found REFASHION for nine in the first letters round, before Sam established a convincing lead. However, Smith fought back by beating Sam in three letter rounds, but Sam later spotted one of the newest additions to ODO, SEMITONAL for nine, to take the game with 124 points and qualify for the Grand Final against number one seed Luke Johnson-Davies, setting up only the second episode in more than 7,000 to feature two contestants bearing double-barrelled surnames, the first being Episode 882 between Derek Stuart-Clark and John Gough-Cooper.
In the final, Sam played a close game to Luke, with both players scoring in the early rounds. But Luke soon picked up speed and Sam was unable to keep up with his strong word power, although both players found EUTOPIANS for nine. Sam notably gave a complex solution to the second numbers before bowing out with his first defeat and garnering an overall total of 1,279 points in his run.
Outside of Countdown, Sam is an active member of the world of competitive puzzles. In 2018, he won the UK Sudoku Championships on his first attempt, followed by a runner-up finish in the same event the following year. He also came 40th in the 2019 World Sudoku Championships in Germany.
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Guest||Lex||Max|
|7331||26/08/2020||P||Pete Reynolds||33 – 114||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||Nina Hossain||Susie Dent||132|
|7332||27/08/2020||P||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||117 – 5||Bernie Kingston||Dr Linda Papadopoulos||Susie Dent||131|
|7333||28/08/2020||P||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||124 – 12||Phil Savage||Dr Linda Papadopoulos||Susie Dent||133|
|7334||31/08/2020||P||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||121 – 17||Matt Duffy||Dr Linda Papadopoulos||Susie Dent||128|
|7335||1/09/2020||P||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||123 – 17||Malcolm Slee||Dr Linda Papadopoulos||Susie Dent||134|
|7336||2/09/2020||P||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||110 – 42||Mike Spencer||Dr Linda Papadopoulos||Susie Dent||122|
|7337||3/09/2020||P||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||111 – 40||Jay Brown||Paul Zenon||Susie Dent||125|
|7338||4/09/2020||P||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||119 – 37||Anthony Podmore||Paul Zenon||Susie Dent||140|
|7408||11/12/2020||QF||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||121 – 71||Damien Doughty||John Inverdale||Susie Dent||133|
|7412||17/12/2020||SF||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||124 – 83||Leo Smith||Levi Roots||Susie Dent||157|
|7413||18/12/2020||GF||Luke Johnson-Davies||112 – 95||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||Levi Roots||Susie Dent||135|