The Letters Game is the most common game played on the game show Countdown on UK TV. The other
game is the Numbers Game for which we also have a
Solver. (We have no affiliation with the Countdown
television show or Channel 4.)
- Q1. How is the game played?
- Q2. What words are permitted?
- Q3. How do you use the solver?
- Q4. Is the solver perfect?
Nine letters are selected at random with the contestant only being able to choose the ratio of vowels
and consonants (within some fixed constraints). Both contestants get 30 seconds to find the longest
word they can using all or some of the letters. The contestant that finds the longest valid word wins with
a bonus for using all nine letters.
The television show also has a very similar game called the Conundrum. This is a set of letters which
hide a single nine-letter solution. The contestants are shown the letters and the first to press the buzzer
with the correct solution wins the points.
The words must be single words found in the English language. The dictionary for the television show is the
New Oxford Dictionary of English. Included are all "reasonable" inflections of valid words found there.
Excluded are Proper nouns (starting with a capital letter, e.g. London, William ),
words containing hyphens or apostrophes (e.g. far-away, whene'er),
abbreviations (e.g. UNESCO, BBC) and
words that only exist in phrases (e.g. polloi from hoi polloi).
Use of the solver should be very easy.
The letters can either be entered directly in the spaces below the cards (e.g. if you have an existing
game you wish to solve). Alternatively, you can select individual letters at random by pressing the Add consonant
and Add vowel buttons as the contestants do on the television show. To get a complete game at once
a number of buttons are present to provide a complete set with a named ratio of vowels to consonants. The
letters selected at random are compatible with the television show. (The same number of each letter
is present with the same frequencies.)
If you have a solution, you can optionally enter it in the space provided.
To solve a game, simply press the Solve button. The tool will then produce a list of all
the longest answers and show you the results. If you provided a solution it will be compared with
the best possible solutions.
The tool will always find the longest words that it believes are valid
for the set of letters you enter. In that sense it is perfect. However, the dictionary used by the solver
is not the same as the one used on the show. Some words generated will not be allowed as the dictionary differs and there are possibly some words that would be permitted that are not in our lexicon.
The relationship between the two will improve over time as we work to improve the tool.