October 14, 1981
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The contestant is asked to write an oversized check for an amount that they think, when added to the price of the prize, will total between $7,000 and $8,000 (inclusive). If the sum of the two amounts totals within that range, the contestant wins both the prize and the cash; if the amount falls outside of the desired range, the contestant loses the game and the check is voided, with "VOID" stamped onto the check.
The contestant is given the check they wrote to keep as a souvenir whether they win or lose. Bob Barker has jokingly mentioned that staff members often find voided checks in garbage cans outside the studio.
Check Game is known for contestants becoming confused by the rules. Several contestants have attempted to write the check for amounts over $5,000 and several contestants have attempted to write on the game board's eggcrate displays (though this is typically edited out in most episodes). While these difficulties might appear to endanger Check Game's status in the active game rotation, the confusion has become something of an inside joke over the years. Former Price Is Right host Bob Barker once stated that it is actually one of the reasons he enjoys the game. Contestants playing this game are commonly asked if they know the rules and, if so, are then asked to explain them.
Drew Carey, in a similar vein to the "Ezekiel Barker" running gag on the Barker's Bargain Bar pricing game, implies that the show has been using the same (magic marker) quill pen since 1872, 1873 or other (less frequently used) 19th-century years. The game has used a magic marker designed to intentionally resemble a quill pen, complete with the quill feather.
The checks used are not legal checks. As noted above, the checks are given to contestants as souvenirs, win or lose. Each bears the same check number (4620 while Bob Barker hosted the show and 1133 since Drew Carey has taken over), the show's logo, the signature of the current host, the contestant's name in the "PAY TO THE ORDER OF" field, the prize name in the "MEMO" field and the invalid date of "TODAY, 19/20NOW".
The original name of Check Game was Blank Check. The game began using its current name on January 29, 1987 upon the threat of a copyright infringement lawsuit from Barry & Enright Productions, who had produced a game show called Blank Check. The suit is rumored to have stemmed from a playing in which Bob Barker said, "I wish Goodson-Todman would get a game show called Blank Check, find someone else to host it, and get me a new game!"
From the game's inception until February 3, 1989, the winning range was $3,000 to $3,500. From February 3, 1989 through July 17, 2008 the winning range was $5,000 to $6,000.
Check game increased the range on September 23, 2008. The winning range was $7,000-$8,000.
Check Game was not played after May 14, 2009 until returning on June 20, 2013, with an all-new look, complete with new monitors replacing the eggcrate displays. The new displays are dark green, and if it's ruled a loss, the 3 displays turn red; if it's ruled a win, the 3 displays flash a bright green.
A near perfect Check Game win (March 13, 1997)
A perfect playing of Check Game (January 4, 1999)
A Misunderstanding Check Game win (October 2, 2002)
Derrick Ferree plays Check Game (October 4, 2005)
The Return of Check Game from 2013
First Check Game win of the new set (November 18, 2013)
Another Misunderstanding and win (November 20, 2014)