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WEEKLY WHINE

Jasmine’s The Price Is Right Strategy Guide: Bonkers

Hi there, I’m Jasmine. Today, we’re going to talk about another pricing game on The Price Is Right, Bonkers.

Bonkers is played for a four digit prize. At the start of the game, you are shown a wrong price. In fact, all four digits in the price are wrong. You are given four paddles to place above or below the four digits, based upon whether the correct digit is higher or lower than the digit shown. Once you have placed all four paddles, you race across to a table and press a button to discover if the paddles are correct. If at least one is incorrect, you will hear a buzzer, indicating that you must try again. You are permitted as many guesses as you can possibly attempt within thirty seconds.

Far too many contestants move the paddles around at random every time. This is a recipe for disaster, because it increases the likelihood of repeating the same guess, as Lorena did twice.

You should also not look to the audience, as Drew frequently admonishes contestants. Atantron did not heed this advice, and he could manage only four guesses within the time. To make matters worse, his third guess was the same as his first one, and his fourth was the same as his second, so he ended up with only two unique guesses.

This game has a limited solution space: with four paddles, and two choices for each, there are a total of sixteen combinations. The objective, therefore, is to maximise the number of unique guesses you can make within that time. The all time record is nine guesses. Most players, though, play at a pace to make at least five guesses within the available time.

Unlike the Clock Game, however, in Bonkers your knowledge of the prize and the digits shown can actually improve your chances dramatically. You can make an educated guess about the first digit and conclude, for example, that the trip is more than US$7,999 or less than US$7,000. This leaves eight combinations for the other digits. Even though the last digits are more difficult to guess, you can still play the odds, as with the Dice Game. For instance, if the last digit shown is an 8, you should probably not place the paddle above it.

Therefore, here is the strategy I recommend:

  • Make your first guess based upon the prize and the digits shown. You should be thinking about this while Drew is explaining the game, so that you can place the paddles the instant the clock starts.
  • If your first guess is wrong, change one paddle. I recommend changing the last paddle unless the last digit shown is an outlier, like a 2 or an 8.
  • If that’s also wrong, change a different paddle.
  • With each successive guess, change only one paddle at a time. On every other guess, change the first paddle you changed. Change another paddle on the second time, and one of the remaining two paddles on the fourth time. As with the Tower of Hanoi, this is a simple way to ensure that you do not repeat a guess.

For example, your sequence of changes might look like this:

  1. Paddle 4
  2. Paddle 3
  3. Paddle 4
  4. Paddle 2
  5. Paddle 4
  6. Paddle 3
  7. Paddle 4
  8. Paddle 1

So now that you know how to play Bonkers, shall we try it out? Below, we have randomly selected a four digit number, along with another four digit number to show you. Simply click where you would like to place the four paddles, and then click Submit. If you are correct, we will reveal the winning number. Otherwise, just keep trying until the time expires.

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