I interviewed Apterous's current Top Dog, Jack Worsley [pictured left with his broken COLIN Hangover trophy], for Countdown in Leeds's successful and very entertaining 'match programme' last month. So here's a FOCAL special for Vox Ludio with the series 66 champion...
You’re top of the FOCAL league after 3 events. How do you feel the season is going for you so far?
Of course I'm happy to be at the top but there's still a long way to go. I think FOCAL's a cool idea and, although it hasn't changed my approach to events too much, it certainly adds a new dimension to them for many people. I'm sure we'll be able to call it a success come December.
In February, you were pipped to the post at CoBristol in a close final against Jack Hurst. What was going through your mind during the game?
I felt reasonably relaxed throughout. I was surprised when a couple of my words were disallowed - particularly RETABLED - but I got the rub of the green with the new words at both COLIN events. Therefore, I couldn't complain when things went against me. The other Jack was a worthy winner. You'd have thought he'd never been away from the Countdown scene. In reality, it was his first event for over two years.
How are you going to bounce back from that defeat?
I won't change too much. I never take Co-events too seriously (it's not the Olympics) so I'll just go there, have fun and see what happens. And I may try and bribe the host to make things easier. We'll see.
How do you feel about your chances at CoLeeds?
It's tough to say. I have cut down on the Apterous practice recently, so that should make things interesting. I hope to be challenging, but there are many tough obstacles to overcome. You can never say for certain what will happen, which is part of the appeal.
Who would you say is your main rival at Leeds, and why?
It would be unfair to narrow it down to one as the field for Leeds is very strong. Innis Carson has an unbelievable record, so he would be the obvious choice. Then there's Kirk Bevins, who never seems to lose it, despite having played very little in the last three years. I think there are a few potential winners, though, with other honourable mentions going to Dan McColm, Zarte Siempre, Tom Carey and your good self [Jen]. And then there's the awesome Conor Travers. I know he's not expected to attend, but that's still no reason to rule him out.
What does your manager, Paul Worsley, say to you in the dressing room before the start of a tournament?
Being from a sciencey background (he worked as a pharmacist), he's often advising me on the dietary front. I prefer not to do things scientifically, so I just do my own thing. On the whole, he's very supportive, which is a great help.
Countdown-loving children across the country look up to you as a role model. What are your top tips for getting to the top of the anagramming game?
There really is no massive secret. Like with anything, you need to practise hard to get to the top. Never underestimate your own potential. I remember watching the Series 64 final between Adam Gillard and Edward McCullagh. I was in awe of them at the time and I thought I would never be able to get near them. Less than a year later, I won the Series 66 final. Also, don't panic when you suffer a dip in form, as it happens to everyone. When it comes to Co-events, just enjoy them and you'll gain more from the experience. And of course join Apterous.
Finally, what’s your favourite type of biscuit?
Do Jaffa Cakes qualify as biscuits? If not, I'll say custard cream, but there aren't many types that I don't like.