## Tips for improving at Countdown

“Tips for improving at Countdown” is aimed at helping to improve your score both when watching the TV show and also when playing the Letters and Numbers App game.

It is essential for you to know about the way to handle the order of mathematical operations summarised as BODMAS.

**Numbers rounds need a knowledge of BODMAS**

Contestants may use only the four basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and do not have to use all six numbers. It is often necessary to use brackets as the sequence of mathematical calculations is of paramount importance. * BODMAS* is an acronym or mnemonic used to help pupils remember the correct order to complete mathematical calculations. Click on the underlined link for more information on the order of operations.

### So many different outcomes

In some games, there are many ways to reach the target exactly. Not all games can be solved, and for some randomly generated numbers it is impossible even to get within 10. It is most difficult when six small numbers are chosen and the target number is quite large. One large and five small numbers is the most popular selection, despite **two large numbers giving the best chance of the game being solvable exactly**. Selections with zero or four large numbers are generally considered the most difficult. However below is a tip which suggests you could do very well with four large numbers

## Tips for improving at Countdown for numbers rounds

#### Practise mental arithmetic

You should be fast enough to try several different methods to reach the target in 30 seconds, in case your first ones aren’t successful. **Know your tables**.

#### Try split multiplication

This involves adding or subtracting smaller numbers from a given large number to get closer to the target when you multiply up. If the target is 472 with the numbers 75, 8, 6, 4, ’75 x 6′ is 450 and ‘8 x 4’ is 32 so (75 x 6) + (8 x 4) = 482.

#### Learn the 25, 75, 125 and even 175 times tables

It is quite easy with the 75 times table when you realise that every four lots of 75 take you to 300, so for instance 9 × 75 is the same as 2 × 300 + 75, which equals 675. In our app called Spelling there is also a section to practise the more difficult to remember but very useful 13, 75 and 125 times tables.

The app is available from Apple. In the next update we will be adding the 175 times table. The reason why is explained below.

Download the Spelling and Tables app – its free to try. Click on the icon to get to the Apple Store.

**The spelling app with times tables practice** is also available on the Google Play Store. Click on the icon below.

### How to beat competitors

Above we mentioned that the best way to get to the exact number is with two large and four small. **However if you want to do better than others you might try four large numbers.** This idea is suggested by a few people who have written about Countdown. This is what Alaric Stephen had to say.

“In number rounds of Countdown you have to pick six numbers in total, some of them large and the rest small. There are only four large numbers:

25, 50, 75 and 100

Most people pick either one or two large numbers and try to multiply a large number by some combination of the small numbers to get in the vicinity of the target. Then they use the rest of the small numbers to fine tune it up or down a bit. This strategy works well.

**The problem is that everyone does this,** so it is hard to get much of an advantage over your competitors.

### When playing countdown the goal is not to try to get as close as possible to the answer, it is to get closer than the other player.

Some of the top competitors pick all four big numbers (which are always the same) and learn lots of tricks beforehand that your competitor has not learned. By learning your 75 times table you already have a huge advantage over a casual player. It is also worth knowing your 125 and your 175 times tables really well.

eg You have the numbers 8, 9, 25, 50, 75 and 100 and want to get to 847.

Straight away we can see 8 x 100 gets us close. Adding on 50 gets us to 850. We have 9, 25 and 75 left 75/25 =3. Subtract this and you have the answer.”

The writer advises to hold back on the 25 and not use it straight away. In the above example you used the 25 to eventually get the number 3.

There is a lot more advice you can follow on the alaric stephen website

He does have advice on how to more easily get to the 900’s using four large numbers – it is called 937.5 and is very interesting. He argues that the 900’s are difficult to get but 4 large numbers make it easier.

You can try out using four large numbers on our app

If you select practice mode you can try out his theory without being timed until you have mastered some of the tips he gives.

### Tips for improving at Countdown with Conundrums and Wordmix

For the conundrum, there is a lot of luck involved. Look for common prefixes and suffixes (e.g., RE-, PRE-, SUB, -ING, -ED) and hope for the best! This is something which true Letters and Numbers addicts put hours into mastering, so there’s no easy solution. Improving your vocabulary and word knowledge is the way to go. Have a look at the Vocabulary app which is aimed at improving your word knowledge and extending your vocabulary.

**Tips for improving ****at Countdown in the Letters rounds**

Start thinking as soon as the first letter appears – do not wait for all nine to be in front of you. There are a few strategies you can use:

#### Building words from parts

Generally words are short. Most words of 7+ letters are made up of a short word root combined with a common ending or prefix. Once you have spotted one of these, your job of finding a long word becomes much simpler.

These four endings are extremely common in longer word and should always be considered when they appear in a selection.

**-s**

**-ed**

**-er**

**-ing**

In the nine letter sample below -ed sticks out as a word ending

### S W R T H E A D T

If you use ed you could easily find

HATED 5

DARTED 6

TARTED 6

And maybe even THWARTED 8

### M G E S R A N I U

You could look for -s endings, -er endings or -ers ending but the ing ending is always a good bet

MUSING 6

ARMING 6

MEASURING 9

A few more very useful word endings you can try

-est, -er, -iest

-y, -ly, -ily

-sion, -tion

-Ist, -ism

-able, -ible

#### Letter frequencies

Some letters found more frequently in English than others.

Some letters occur more commonly in the English language than others, and the Letters and Numbers letters pile is weighted to reflect this. For instance, there are many more E’s and S’s than Z’s. This means that words made up purely from very common letters – DISASTERS, NOTARIES, PRINTERS, DESERTED, and hundreds of others – are more likely to occur regularly. Learn a few, and you’ll probably get the chance to look very clever without needing to be an anagram expert. Better still, learn which letters you can combine with these words to make a longer word. Use first the most frequent letters. Rare letters are a distraction and although you may have time in Scrabble to eventually use an x or z and get a good score, in a timed game it is not so easy.

## Practice may not make you perfect but ,,,,,,,,

Above all practise, practise, practise and the best way to practise is by downloading our Letters And Numbers app. In Practice Mode you can practise without time constraints.

In addition you can download our app for free from the App Store or the Google Play Store. This screen shot shows the app offers all the aspects of the TV show – the combo option is like the format of the show. You can just play numbers or any of the other options. Combo would be the most challenging.