With the right program, could it be you?

Despite the evidence that winning big on the National Lottery can be more like a bed of nails than roses, millions of people keep trying. For the computer-literate, the logical step is to get a program to choose the numbers for you, to save you the effort of standing in the newsagent's on Saturday morning desperately trying to generate a random sequence that didn't come up last week.

Help - with the numbers, at least - is at hand. I tried Lottery Cracker, a Windows program that claims to maximise your chances of winning the lottery by maintaining records of all past draws and being able to concoct truly random selections.

The Analysis section provides a mass of statistics, including how frequently the different balls have been drawn and how many weeks it is since each was last drawn.

Cracker is careful to cover all the options. It can generate entries based on the most or least commonly drawn numbers or give completely random selections. It can even introduce a random element into predictions based on past results.

The program does do some things which humans find difficult. For example, its choices are truly random, and it can churn out multi-line entries without repeating numbers. It can also "wheel" numbers, repeating them in successive selections.

Does it work? I judged that random numbers were as likely to win as those based on previous results, so I got Cracker to generate three sets of random numbers, a set of seven, a set of 15 and a set of 48. Any six of the seven would have delivered a jackpot. Any six of the 15 would have delivered at least one prize. The set of 48 was an afterthought. Perhaps rashly, I staked pounds 20 on Cracker's recommendations, then started planning my early retirement.

I won pounds 10. And that came from the final set of random numbers.

Cracker will appeal to lottery addicts. But at pounds 30 a copy, it's more likely that its publisher, CCA Software, will be the real winner.

CCA Software can be contacted on 0161-480 9811.

DAVID TEBBUTT

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