The Samovar

Countdown letters game
July 10, 2007, 1:33 am
Filed under: Frivolity, Games, Java, Programming | Tags: ,

I’ve been quite impressed by the abilities of my shiny new phone, especially the sort of games and programs you can run on it. I downloaded software to calculate poker odds, translate words between 15 different languages, connect to Google maps, and tell me all sorts of political statistics from the CIA World Factbook (which surprisingly I’ve already used in one argument I got into with someone!).

So I wondered if I too could write some fantastic software for my phone. What I really wanted to do was to write a program to crack the Enigma code on my phone, thus proving the claim that is sometimes made that modern phones have as much computing power as the whole computing effort of WW2. That seemed too much like hard work though. So instead, I set myself the more modest task of beating Dictionary Corner in Countdown.

For those who don’t know, Countdown is a gameshow in the UK. One of the games is to find the best word you can make with 9 randomly chosen letters in 30 seconds. After the contestants have said what their best words are, Dictionary Corner tell them what they could have got. Obviously they use a computer to do it, but until now we the viewers have been at a disadvantage unless we were willing to have our laptops out while we watched the show. No longer!

I present the mobile phone Countdown letters game solver (click to go to the download page, for Java enabled phones). It will find the five best words you can make in only 10 seconds (or less on a newer phone than mine).  Here it is in action on a Countdown conundrum:


Sadly, even the awesome power of the mobile phone is not enough to beat Countdown legend Conor Travers (14) who managed to get this one in under two seconds.

Do please download it and have a go with it. It works on my phone but I’d like to have feedback to find out if it works for other people’s phones. For the technically minded, it requires J2ME, including MIDP2.0 and CLDC1.0,  or better.