# Incredible Mental Math Gymnastics on “Countdown”

Countdown is a British TV game show revolving around words and numbers. In the numbers round, contestants select six of twenty-four shuffled tiles with numbers on them. Next, a computer generates a random three-digit target number and the contestants have thirty seconds to get as close to that number as possible by combining the six numbers through addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This memorable episode of Countdown aired in March 1997 and starred James Martin and his rather unusual way of arriving at the target number of 952.

One YouTube user suggested a different way: 6 x 75 = 450; 450 ÷ 50 = 9; 100 + 3 = 103; 9 x 103 = 927; 927 + 25 = 952

I found yet another way: 100 + 3 = 103; 103 x 6 = 618; 618 x 75 = 46,350; 46,350 ÷ 50 = 927; 927 + 25 = 952

What about you? Any more suggestions?

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

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• connor says:

Cool!

A much more lengthy one: 100/25=4; 4*6=24; 50-24=26; 26-6=20; 20*50=1000; 25-3=22; 22*1000=22,000; 22,000/25=880; 880+75=955; 955-3=952

• Saturnino says:

30 seconds?? wow!!

100+25=125; 125-6=119; 119*(6/3)*(6/3)*(6/3)= 119*2*2*2 = 952

• Armchair Caver says:

The solutions by connor and Saturnino both use a number more than once: connor uses 6 more than once, Saturnino uses 2 more than once.

The rules of countdown don’t allow multiple uses of a number (unless of course the number appears twice on the board)

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