Monday, October 29, 2018

Countdown: The Numbers Game

Countdown: The Numbers Game


The Numbers Game is part of a worldwide famous game show called Countdown.  Countdown is a game show that has two contestants: a champion and a challenger.  There are three type of rounds:

Letters Round: a contestant chooses 9 letters consisting a combination of vowels and constants.  Both contestants have 30 seconds to come up longest valid work possible.

Numbers Round:  this will be described in detail below.

Conundrum:  this is the final round of a game, where both contestants are to solve an anagram (usually made of two or three smaller words) of nine letters.  It is a toss up.  Sometimes one player is so far in the lead that this round is just for show.

In the British game show, a champion who wins 8 straight games retires. 

This game show is enjoyed around the world, mainly in Britain (1982 - present), France (1965 - present) named Des chiffres et des lettres, Serbia (1993 - present) named TV Slagalica, and Turkey (1990 - present) named Bir Kelime, Bir islem. 

Curiously, this game show has never aired in the United States: only two unsold pilots.  Thank goodness for YouTube.

Rules of the Numbers Round

We are given six numbers.  Typical the pool of numbers contain a pair of each integer 1 through 10, one 25, one 50, one 75, and one 100.  Out of the pool, six numbers are selected.

 A target number, also an integer, between 100 to 999 is randomly selected.  Your goal is to create a mathematical sentence using only the following:

* Addition
* Subtraction
* Multiplication
* Division

You want to get to the target number exactly if possible.  Sentences that get near the number, within 10 high or low, are allowed.  On the British game show, the most points are given for hitting the target exactly (10), 7 for being 1-5 away, and 5 for being 6-10 away.  The game show allows 30 seconds. 

All results, including immediate results, must be integers.  Several calculations may be combined.

Using a Deck of Playing Cards

You can simulate a Numbers Round by using a standard deck of playing cards.    Designate the cards as follows:

* Aces count as 1
* 2 - 10 count as their value
* Jack counts as 25
* Queen counts as 50
* King counts as 75
* Joker counts as 100

Use can think of a three digit number for a target, or let a calculator or computer application determine the target numbers. 

Example Games

Drawn Numbers: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 25 (Jack) -  Target Number: 528

One possible solution is:

 ( ( 4 - 1 ) × 7 × 25 ) + 3 = 528

Drawn Numbers: 4, 5, 5, 7, 8, 75 (King) - Target Number: 590

There are two ways I found to get the target number:

7 × 75 + (8 + 5) × 5 = 590

8 × 75 - 5 - 5 = 590

If you need more help, watch the videos in the Sources section to get a better idea on how the Numbers Game is played. 

Try These Number Games

See what you can come up with... depending on the draw, it could be difficult and it could be easy.  Have fun!

Drawn Numbers: 4, 5, 5, 7, 8, 8.   Target Number: 598

Drawn Numbers: 1, 2, 3, 6, 25 (Jack), 75 (King).  Target: 118

Drawn Numbers: 1, 2, 3, 3, 6, 6.  Target Number:  102

Drawn Numbers: 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 50 (Queen).  Target Number: 611


1.  Use only the numbers drawn.  You can use a number twice if the number has been drawn twice. 

2. Get close to the target number as possible.


Maths Teacher:  "Countdown Numbers Game 6 February 2018" - published 2/11/2018
Retrieved October 29, 2018

Maths Teacher:  "Countdown Numbers Game 29 January 2018" - published 2/12/2018
Retrieved October 29, 2018

Countdowngoofs: "Countdown - The Most Extraordinary Numbers Game Ever?" - published 2/18/2009
Retrieved October 29, 2018

Wikipedia "Countdown (game show)"  - last edited 10/22/2018
Retrieved October 29, 2018


All original content copyright, © 2011-2018.  Edward Shore.   Unauthorized use and/or unauthorized distribution for commercial purposes without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited.  This blog entry may be distributed for noncommercial purposes, provided that full credit is given to the author.  Please contact the author if you have questions.


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