Letter distribution

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JimBentley
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Letter distribution

Post by JimBentley » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:36 pm

Since Soo did his letter distribution page in Series 54, I thought I'd have a look at Series 57 to see if anything had changed. This is all just observed data - it's not definitive by any means - but a few things do seem to have altered (for one thing, the mythical fifth "U" made an appearance on more than one occasion):

A - 13 (only once, in this game)
E - 16 (twice; here and here)
I - 11 (three times)
O - 10 (seven times)
U - 5 (three times, including this one where all five were out within the first six letters games)

B - 2 (loads of times)
C - 3 (loads)
D - 6 (loads)
F - 2 (loads)
G - 3 (loads)
H - 2 (loads)
J - 1 (loads)
K - 1 (loads)
L - 5 (loads)
M - 4 (loads)
N - 8 (12 times)
P - 4 (loads)
Q - 1 (loads)
R - 9 (4 times)
S - 9 (9 times)
T - 9 (18 times)
V - 1 (loads)
W - 2 (just the once, in this game)
X - 1 (loads)
Y - 1 (loads)
Z - 1 (loads)

So, changes for A, E, U and W, there. I'll have a look at Series 55 and 56 when I can be arsed, which may be never. Instructive stuff nonetheless!

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Paul Howe » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:53 pm

Could the second W maybe be an upside down M? It seems a strange letter to include twice, and if there really were two of them it's extremely unlikely they'd only appear in the same show once.

Aside from that, whenever I have watched Coutndown recently my impression has been that the selections are slightly trickier than they used to be.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:55 pm

As soon as I saw that list I immediately thought of something. There was a topic I started one day where an 'M' had been turned upside down and was used as a 'W' because I asked, if that was an 'M' would've it have made a longer word.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Jon O'Neill » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:57 pm

Maybe they got someone new to shuffle them. When I think about how subjective to the shuffler the distribution is, that makes a lot of sense. When I saw the lady do it there was no particular method, no algorithm, just the unwritten rules in her head.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Jon O'Neill » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:58 pm

Joseph Bolas wrote:As soon as I saw that list I immediately thought of something. There was a topic I started one day where an 'M' had been turned upside down and was used as a 'W' because I asked, if that was an 'M' would've it have made a longer word.
Well remembered. It was definitely an upside-down M, because they look different.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:00 pm

Ginger Jono wrote:
Joseph Bolas wrote:As soon as I saw that list I immediately thought of something. There was a topic I started one day where an 'M' had been turned upside down and was used as a 'W' because I asked, if that was an 'M' would've it have made a longer word.
Well remembered. It was definitely an upside-down M, because they look different.
I have just found my post in the old C4C and Message #14547 does focus on that 2 W' game :D.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:09 pm

Thank you Jim for going through the games of Series 57 and compiling this list. Its nice to know if there are any changes as COLIVER will be using the most up-to-date letter distribution list :D.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by JimBentley » Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:23 pm

No problem! But I should've remembered that the second "W" was a reversed "M"...ah well, most of the others should be right, anyway. Or as right as they can be - there's only 120-130 games in a series, which probably isn't quite a large a sample as is needed to be sure.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Howard Somerset » Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:44 pm

I've just had a quick look at the programme in question, and can certainly confirm that the W in round 13 was differently shaped from the W in round 4. The W in round 4 is wider at the extremities. The W in round 13 has the same dimensions as the three Ms that appeared in other rounds.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Jon Corby » Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:50 pm

I seem to recall there was also an episode last series which had two Z's, although one turned out to be an N on its side.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Michael Wallace » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:29 am

so because it's half 4 am, and because I'm supposedly doing some work that involves letter distributions, and because I'm a bit of a sad git who finds this interesting, here are what the letter distributions *should* be based on wikipedia's letter frequency stats http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_frequencies and the presumption that the list above accounts for the entire deck (129 letters?)

a 13 10.54
b 2 1.92
c 3 3.59
d 6 5.49
e 16 16.39
f 2 2.87
g 3 2.60
h 2 7.86
i 11 8.99
j 1 0.20
k 1 1.00
l 5 5.19
m 4 3.10
n 8 8.71
o 10 9.68
p 4 2.49
q 1 0.12
r 9 7.72
s 9 8.16
t 9 11.68
u 5 3.56
v 1 1.26
w 1 3.04
x 1 0.19
y 1 2.55
z 1 0.10

no fancy formatting, but that's because it's late and I'm lazy and really should be working, I think you're a clever enough lot to work out which is the actual list and which is the 'expected' number, I think W has got to feel hardest done by

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:42 pm

I am quite interested in knowing what the original letter frequencies were to be honest. If you take the letter rounds from the Series 5 Final for example (http://www.thecountdownpage.com/final5.htm) you get the following:

A: 4, B: 2, C: 2, D: 2, E: 8, F: 2, G: 4, H: 3, I: 8, J: 2, K: 0, L: 5, M: 1, N: 3, O: 4, P: 2, Q: 1, R: 1, S: 6, T: 3, U: 0, V: 1, W: 2, X: 1, Y: 3, Z: 2

I know this ain't the entire amount each letter could've appeared, but I can't help but think that there were more J's, Y's, and Z's combined than R's, S's and T's combined.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Julian Fell » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:18 am

Interesting stuff Jim, thanks for doing the work... so as well as the letters tiles being shuffled more randomly now than they were before (you're right about that Jono - Damian said so), there've also most likely been some subtle changes to the actual distribution... I think we're all agreed in any case that the letters selections have been harder this series and the previous one, than they had been for quite a while (certainly compared to when I was on - though they also had an 'unfriendly' period for a while circa series 49 & 50. Maybe it's a cyclical thing!)

And yes, the distribution in the early series was HORRIBLE - wouldn't surprise me at all if there were more Js than Ss, etc. ... it puts the efforts of early Countdowners into context I think!

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:54 am

juj wrote:so as well as the letters tiles being shuffled more randomly now than they were before (you're right about that Jono - Damian said so)...
I agree - definitely more randomly, especially when in the last series an 'O' and 'U' made it into the Constonant pile and M's were being turned upside-down to make W's :lol:.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Charlie Reams » Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:21 am

I'll update the page at some stage, Jim, and may update CountGen if anyone's bothered.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:09 pm

I've just come across the Official Countdown Dictionary that was published in 2001 which mentions the following Letter Distribution:

A - 15, B - 3, C - 3, D - 5, E - 20, F - 2, G - 4, H - 2, I - 14, J - 1, K - 1, L - 5, M - 3, N - 6, O - 11, P - 3, Q - 1, R - 6, S - 7, T - 7, U - 5, V - 2, W - 2, X - 1, Y - 2, Z - 1

Was this book designed before Countdown went to 45 minutes?

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Julian Fell » Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:16 pm

Whether it was or it wasn't, Joseph, that book is the biggest load of crap ever - it is littered with mistakes from start to finish. On his site, Mike Brown once tried to keep a list of the mistakes, but in the end there were so many that he had to give up. So don't believe anything that book says! Grrrr!

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by James Hurrell » Thu Jan 31, 2008 6:55 pm

I am particularly annoyed with myself on this subject. When I was there back in November, myself and Mikey Lear made a point of asking the 'shuffler' what the letter distribution was and she very kindly gave us it and we noted it down. I said that I would keep it for such an occasion as this to post.......and I've gone and bloody lost it. I definitely remember that there was 1 of J, K, Q, V, W, X, X and Z, but that isn't much good on its own. Having read some previous comments, the message that started this looks pretty close from memory. I do know this, and it is probably something you didn't know already, but 'the shuffler' is told every now and again to 'include an extra H or F or G' for example so the distribution doesn't stand still. The way you approximate it currently seems good to me.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:18 pm

James Hurrell wrote:I am particularly annoyed with myself on this subject. When I was there back in November, myself and Mikey Lear made a point of asking the 'shuffler' what the letter distribution was and she very kindly gave us it and we noted it down. I said that I would keep it for such an occasion as this to post.......and I've gone and bloody lost it. I definitely remember that there was 1 of J, K, Q, V, W, X, X and Z, but that isn't much good on its own. Having read some previous comments, the message that started this looks pretty close from memory. I do know this, and it is probably something you didn't know already, but 'the shuffler' is told every now and again to 'include an extra H or F or G' for example so the distribution doesn't stand still. The way you approximate it currently seems good to me.
If they want to add an extra letter, then it should be a 2nd Z in my opinion. There are quite a few words with 'ZZ' at least so it would make for more interesting selections.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Dinos Sfyris » Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:42 pm

Joseph Bolas wrote:If they want to add an extra letter, then it should be a 2nd Z in my opinion. There are quite a few words with 'ZZ' at least so it would make for more interesting selections.
Yes but what are the odds of those two Zs coming up in the same round as well as the other letters facilitating a double Z word? Very limited I'd say. Although don't get me wrong I'd love for a nine like MEZZANINE to come up :)

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Fri Feb 01, 2008 10:16 am

dinos_the_chemist wrote:
Joseph Bolas wrote:If they want to add an extra letter, then it should be a 2nd Z in my opinion. There are quite a few words with 'ZZ' at least so it would make for more interesting selections.
Yes but what are the odds of those two Zs coming up in the same round as well as the other letters facilitating a double Z word? Very limited I'd say. Although don't get me wrong I'd love for a nine like MEZZANINE to come up :)
You would have to put the 2 Z's in the pile with no more than 2 consonants (so 4 consonants all told, incase of a 5-vowel selection) between them to make sure that if 1 is picked at the beginning of the selection the other will be too, but not sure what the percentage is.

I know they do 2-vowel conundrums, so they could still do MEZZANINE as a conundrum surely?

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Damian E » Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:20 pm

Although there IS a set number of letters of each kind, we're always fiddling around and changing it, so any sort of 'list' of what letters there are won't really be a true representation.

Sometimes we ditch the J Q Z for a few shows, other times we add or remove other letters. It all depends on how its going. By luck, we get the odd time when the selections fail to yield anything remotely juicy, so if we have a run of rounds like this, we'll fiddle about and change something. It is after-all, a game people like to play, so we try and make it as player-friendly as possible.

Have been toying with the idea of what to do about the redundant 'Q' for years now. We have qibla, qanat, qintars, but other than these few words, its a waste of time without the U, and for me it spoilts the round a bit.

Maybe for the C of C, we'll think about introducing the 'goatdown' round, whereby the selector gets to NAME the last letter of the 9. Then again, maybe we won't. :o

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Charlie Reams » Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:44 pm

Haha, the granny population would freak out. But it's definitely a good idea.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Damian E » Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:55 pm

Have actual totals of letters we use, but bear in mind my earlier post above.

Consonants - B2 C3 D4 F2 G3 H2 J1 K1 L5 M4 N6 P4 Q1 RST9 VWXYZ1

Vowels U6 - then lost the will to live before the rest had been counted.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Charlie Reams » Fri Feb 01, 2008 5:11 pm

So Jim was completely right except one extra U (totally plausible) and two extra Ds (quite surprising - maybe that's been changed lately.) Cheers for the info Mr Eadie.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Fri Feb 01, 2008 6:35 pm

Damian E wrote:Sometimes we ditch the J Q Z for a few shows, other times we add or remove other letters. It all depends on how its going. By luck, we get the odd time when the selections fail to yield anything remotely juicy, so if we have a run of rounds like this, we'll fiddle about and change something. It is after-all, a game people like to play, so we try and make it as player-friendly as possible.
So in the series when the J went missing, that would've been down then to the previous series etc?

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Fri Feb 01, 2008 6:40 pm

Damian E wrote:Have actual totals of letters we use, but bear in mind my earlier post above.

Consonants - B2 C3 D4 F2 G3 H2 J1 K1 L5 M4 N6 P4 Q1 RST9 VWXYZ1

Vowels U6 - then lost the will to live before the rest had been counted.
I know you have spare sets in case some get marked/scratched and separate sets for conundrums etc, but how many sets all told do you have/use? I remember once too writing in and asking how much they were to make/purchase and I think I got a reply saying £300, is that right?

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by James Hurrell » Fri Feb 01, 2008 11:58 pm

Looks like there are 2 fewer 'N's than Jim had too.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Damian E » Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:12 am

Joseph Bolas wrote:
Damian E wrote:Sometimes we ditch the J Q Z for a few shows, other times we add or remove other letters. It all depends on how its going. By luck, we get the odd time when the selections fail to yield anything remotely juicy, so if we have a run of rounds like this, we'll fiddle about and change something. It is after-all, a game people like to play, so we try and make it as player-friendly as possible.
So in the series when the J went missing, that would've been down then to the previous series etc?
No mate, thats not true. Don't know of any full series where the J went missing.
Joseph Bolas wrote:I know you have spare sets in case some get marked/scratched and separate sets for conundrums etc, but how many sets all told do you have/use? I remember once too writing in and asking how much they were to make/purchase and I think I got a reply saying £300, is that right?
3 sets in all. And £300 a set? Dunno who your reply was from, but it can't have been anyone from the team. You're miles out.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:42 am

Damian E wrote:
Joseph Bolas wrote:
Damian E wrote:Sometimes we ditch the J Q Z for a few shows, other times we add or remove other letters. It all depends on how its going. By luck, we get the odd time when the selections fail to yield anything remotely juicy, so if we have a run of rounds like this, we'll fiddle about and change something. It is after-all, a game people like to play, so we try and make it as player-friendly as possible.
So in the series when the J went missing, that would've been down then to the previous series etc?
No mate, thats not true. Don't know of any full series where the J went missing.
Sorry :oops:. What I meant to say was, in a past series where the 'J' went missing for a few weeks, would that have been down then to the previous series etc? I think I have worded my question right this time :lol:.
Damian E wrote:
Joseph Bolas wrote:I know you have spare sets in case some get marked/scratched and separate sets for conundrums etc, but how many sets all told do you have/use? I remember once too writing in and asking how much they were to make/purchase and I think I got a reply saying £300, is that right?
3 sets in all. And £300 a set? Dunno who your reply was from, but it can't have been anyone from the team. You're miles out.
It was a long time ago when I wrote the letter. It was before I first applied for Countdown, so it would be no later than 1997. As for who the reply was from, it may have been a lady called Michelle, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Julian Fell » Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:01 pm

It was in series 47 that the J went missing wasn't it? - and for more than a few weeks. I think it didn't appear for most of the series. Not that I noticed it myself - I don't keep track of these things - but I remember a lot of people saying. So you were half right Joseph. But I'm pretty sure that one was a mistake - I think I remember you saying that Damian? Anyway nice to have you contributing!

Btw I myself don't have a problem with the redundant Q thing - after all it's only going to spoil maximum one round per show, and I think a 'Qu' tile would confuse me totally! But I'm sure other people see it differently...

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Charlie Reams » Sun Feb 03, 2008 3:31 am

I don't think it's a spoiler anyway, it just lets you concentrate on the other 8 letters - a bit like having an 8-letter selection, which makes for a bit of variety. For example, see Round 8 of this game, where the Q probably made things more exciting.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Joseph Bolas » Sun Feb 03, 2008 10:44 am

Julian wrote:Btw I myself don't have a problem with the redundant Q thing - after all it's only going to spoil maximum one round per show, and I think a 'Qu' tile would confuse me totally! But I'm sure other people see it differently...
The 'Q' is pretty useless, although there are a few words you can have, if there is no 'U' in the selection. In my opinion a 'Qu' tile would definitely confuse things. It would seem weird to declare a 9, but then come up with a 10-letter word :lol:.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Marc Meakin » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:57 am

Bumping this cos I can't create a new one.
If the first three rounds ( i.e.first 27 tiles ) where from a pool of the 26 letters of the alphabet plus an additional A what would be the best distribution for maximum points ?
GR MSL GNDT MSS NGVWL SRND NNLYC NNCT

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Thomas Cappleman » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:56 am

Marc Meakin wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:57 am
Bumping this cos I can't create a new one.
If the first three rounds ( i.e.first 27 tiles ) where from a pool of the 26 letters of the alphabet plus an additional A what would be the best distribution for maximum points ?
Interesting. Ignoring the fact that you don't have enough vowels for 3 valid selections, I'll put in an initial bid of SQUAWKING, OUTPLACED and FRYBHJMVX for 39 points. Can almost certainly rearrange better to get an actual vowel into the last selection.

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Thomas Carey » Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:40 pm

Thomas Cappleman wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:56 am
Marc Meakin wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:57 am
Bumping this cos I can't create a new one.
If the first three rounds ( i.e.first 27 tiles ) where from a pool of the 26 letters of the alphabet plus an additional A what would be the best distribution for maximum points ?
Interesting. Ignoring the fact that you don't have enough vowels for 3 valid selections, I'll put in an initial bid of SQUAWKING, OUTPLACED and FRYBHJMVX for 39 points. Can almost certainly rearrange better to get an actual vowel into the last selection.
You've used two Us and no Z :(
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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Thomas Cappleman » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:41 pm

Thomas Carey wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:40 pm
Thomas Cappleman wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:56 am
Marc Meakin wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:57 am
Bumping this cos I can't create a new one.
If the first three rounds ( i.e.first 27 tiles ) where from a pool of the 26 letters of the alphabet plus an additional A what would be the best distribution for maximum points ?
Interesting. Ignoring the fact that you don't have enough vowels for 3 valid selections, I'll put in an initial bid of SQUAWKING, OUTPLACED and FRYBHJMVX for 39 points. Can almost certainly rearrange better to get an actual vowel into the last selection.
You've used two Us and no Z :(
Ah, yes.

Anyway, improved to SQUAWKING, BOTCHEDLY and FARM+JPVXZ (plus other equivalents) for 40

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Re: Letter distribution

Post by Marc Meakin » Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:32 pm

How many variations of a nine letter word are there without any repeat letters ?
GR MSL GNDT MSS NGVWL SRND NNLYC NNCT

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