This past week, Dutch people might have seen my brother and I participate in a game show on national TV. We spent waaaay too much effort preparing for it - let me share some of the things we did.

But first, let me describe the game. If you're familiar with Mastermind: it's like that, but with words. You guess a word, see which letters are correct, and which are in the right place. You have five guesses to find the right word.

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Using a subtitles-based corpus of Dutch words, I wrote a script that gave me three words that covered most commonly occurring letters for every letter of the alphabet. We memorised those and used them as our first guesses, and have two left to guess the right word.

I also wrote a small application that allowed us to practice the game. This way, we started to recognise and internalise patterns, in addition to making it easier to memorise the words. Try it out at

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So how did it go? Pretty well! We ended our winning streak yesterday, had a lot of fun, and even went viral with a naughty joke:

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If you're in the Netherlands, you can view the episodes online, starting with the first one here:

And for a more detailed write-up of this thread, see my blog:

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