Car numberplate game

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A car numberplate game is a car game playable in the United Kingdom and other countries with a suitable car registration scheme. Most are solitary games, or can be played individually in competition with other people.

In Europe[edit]

One variant of the number plate game involves spotting cars with each number from 1 to 999 in order. The letters around the numbers are ignored. This may have been playable in the UK when number plates read X111 XXX, but since the new system was introduced in mid-2001, such plates have become rare and this particular game hard to play.

A much quicker game is to seek the 26 letters of the alphabet, again in order. For those with difficulty finding I, Q, Z or other 'tricky' letters allowing a single numberplate with the two letters adjacent to the required letter can be allowed (thus X123HXJ can be an I as there is an H and a J on the one plate) (use Y+A for Z and Z+B for A). To make it even easier, allow triple characters to represent anything (with X123PPP or ABC222X the triple is a 'wild card').

To make this a competitive game between two teams, have one team work forwards through the alphabet and the other team work backwards.

Another European version is spotting a plate and taking the letters - in order - and trying to construct a word which contain all the letters in the right order. For example, a Swede might on the plate "SVG111" construct the words "sving" ("swing"), "Sverige" (Sweden). Points can be rewarded in different manners—by finding the shortest word or finding the longest word.

Another entertaining game is to simply read out the letters as you see them. e.g.: "XHV" becomes "KSZZHVV", and so on.

In some countries, such as France or Germany, you can look for cars from different regions. In France, the last two digits of the number plate shows the car's department (e.g. 49 is Maine-et-Loire and 16 is Charente.). German plates also indicate where the car is registered (e.g. RA is Rastatt and LIP is Kreis Lippe), however this changed from 2014.

Another game is spotting unusual vanity plates, where the car owner has paid a premium to get a particular code, like "REDBMW", "HERTOY," or "BONZO". In most European countries, premiums for such license plates are very high (sometimes as much as 2,000 euros), so very few drivers own such plates.

One variant of the game; particularly popular in the United Kingdom involves taking the last three letters of somebody's number plate and creating a three word sentence from the characters. For example, if somebody's number plate ends with the characters ZKG (XX## ZKG), you could have the sentence 'Zebra Kills Giraffe'. Typically irregular characters such as Z,X and Q are limited to a very small amount of words; for example, 'Z' is limited to the word 'Zebra' and a small amount of others such as 'Zulu'. This game is not playable with most European number plates, unless they contain three characters in a row. This game can be particularly funny to players when more explicit words are used to form a sentence.

In North America[edit]

A North American version of the game, commonly referred to as the "license plate game," involves attempting to find a license plate from each U.S. state and/or Canadian province. After one player has spotted a plate especially rare in that region, the other players get a higher number of points by spotting another plate that matches the first. If you call out a license plate that has already been named, or you yell out the wrong state, you have to punch yourself in the face or pull out a hair from your head as a penalty. This is also possible in Ireland.

Another game common in North America is "license plate poker," in which the contestants attempt to form poker hands from the characters on license plates. Since North American plates have shorter texts than those in Europe, this is more difficult than it would seem. Flushes are obviously impossible, and straights are exceedingly rare.

A third game is spotting unusual vanity plates (as in Europe).

A fourth game is spotting a license plate from another state or country, punching someone, and yelling out the state or country it is from.

A fifth game involves spotting a double letter or number (i.e. ABC-113 or ABB-113 for two punches).

A point scoring variation of the game is played in the U.S. by assigning each plate a point value based on the last digit on the plate. Letters are assigned points based on their position in the alphabet, e.g., a plate with the letter M for the last digit is worth 13 points. A further variation allows points for plates that end in zero by moving back in the plate until a non-zero digit is found. In this variation the hypothetical plate ABC120 would be worth 20 points. Points are totaled for either the current trip or multiple legs of a trip by agreement.

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