NUMBERS was based on a TV show that was supposed to have been a national
network game, but ended up only being seen in the local Los Angeles area.
They forgot to tell Milton Bradley, however, and this home game reached
the national market anyway. Here, a description of the game show
that few have seen.
cardboard game cards (40 total gameboards)
One slotted "Secret
Word" game card
Game box with
slides that fill the thirty slots on the game cover
32 long letter
strips (One each of letters A-Z, plus an extra A, E, L, R, S and T)
(On the reverse of each letter strip are some six-letter words to use in
the bonus game.)
Each game card
has 30 spaces, on which are scrambled each of the 26 letters of the alphabet
and four "blanks". Each game begins with the two teams of two player
each studying the game card for fifteen seconds. The game card is
One team plays
at a time. The two team members take turns calling out numbers on
the game board. As each number is called out, the letter beneath
the numbered slide is revealed briefly to all players, then covered up.
(In other words, except for brief peeks behind the numbers as they are
called, the game board is always fully covered.) The object for the
teammates is to uncover letters in the correct order to spell common words.
Words are worth ten points a letter (three-letter minimums), so the longer
the word, the more points a team scores. After each successful word,
the team begins again and tries to create a new word (using the same letters
A team stays
in control until they pass, fail to make a word or uncover one of the four
"blanks". Play then passes to their opponents. The first team
to 150 points wins and plays the "Secret Word" bonus.
The "Secret Word"
is a six-letter word chosen from lists printed on the back of the letter
strips. Using the letter strips, the Secret Word is placed on the
special game card and hidden under the game cover. In the Secret
Word game, only the numbers 1-24 on the game board are used.
The two members
of the winning team take turns calling out six numbers on the game board.
As the numbers are called, the slides are removed. (In the bonus
round, the slides are not replaced until the round is over.) After
all six slides are removed, the teammates confer and are allowed one guess
at the Secret Word for $1,000 each. If they are wrong, a new number
is called and the players guess again, this time for $900. Play continues
with each removed slide reducing the amount of the prize by $100.
If the players fail to identify the Secret Word, they each receive a $100
DIFFERENCES TO TV SHOW:
Well, we only
recently learned that there actually WAS a TV show, for years we thought
it never aired. We've never seen it, and it appears not very many
If the TV show
played exactly like the board game, it's easy to see some of the problems
with it. Memorizing the location of a handful of letters isn't difficult,
and the show could easily have fallen into a rut of players looking for
the same old words every time. We assume the idea was to have contestants
paired with celebrities, but if the pairs were made up of couples or friends,
they could easily have planned successful strategies long before entering
We would love
to learn more about this interesting bit of lost game show history.
The copyright on the box is for Desilu, the Lucille Ball company which
wasn't exactly known for its game shows! Any information that any
TV historian or insider could share
with us would be appreciated.