# 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.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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Math­e­mat­ics in Movies: Har­vard Prof Curates 150+ Scenes

Mul­ti­pli­ca­tion: The Vedic Way

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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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